October 2003 (v6 i2)
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Governor Perry grounds Democrats to bedrooms
"I hate you! I wish I'd never been born!" cries Sen. Shapleigh
by Ryan Martinez, Associate Editor


Governor Perry gives a stern scolding to the
tardy Democrats.
THE CAPITOL — Gov. Rick Perry angrily ended the probations of 10 disobedient Democrat senators Oct. 13, re-imposing a set of penalties upon them that had originally been dropped in September. In addition to levying a $5,700 fine against the senators and revoking their Capitol parking rights, Perry grounded them to their bedrooms until the next legislative session in January 2005.

"You've been very, very bad little senators," said Perry on the Senate floor, moments before signing the bill that the Democrats had tried to thwart. "You let your constituents down by playing hooky in New Mexico. I want you to reflect on what you've done. And if you even think about watching the WB or using the phone, you have another thing coming, missies."

The "Texas 11" ran away from the state congress in July to boycott a Republican-backed redistricting plan and prevent a Senate quorum-the minimum number of senators needed to vote on a bill. Staying at a girlfriend's house in Albuquerque, the Democrats were shocked when one of their own, Houston Sen. John Whitmire, returned to the Capitol after Perry promised him a pony.

With the quorum in place, the senators had no choice but to return for a third special session and to face punishment from Perry, who had been waiting on the Capitol steps with the porch light on. Although he initially issued penalties, he repealed them on the condition that the Democrats attend every day of the new session. His fleeting goodwill ended Oct. 14, when Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, kept rolling his eyes during Senate proceedings.

"Is there something that's bothering you, Senator Shapleigh?" asked Perry. "Yeah, your stupid face," responded Shapleigh, loudly smacking his gum.

Furious, Perry reacted by re-imposing the original penalties and, in addition, grounding all of the Senate Democrats, except Whitmire, to their bedrooms.

"I hate you!" cried Shapleigh. "You never let me live my own life! I wish I'd never been born!" The hysterical senator then proceeded to run all the way to his El Paso home, where he flung himself on his bed and buried his face in a lace-trimmed pillow.

Perry scolded the red-faced senators who remained, threatening to mete out his gubernatorial brand of tough love should they continue to act up.

"Even though you were legitimately voted into power, I'm beginning to wonder if you deserve your offices," Perry said. "You've interrupted our sessions; you've delayed our new district map; you even made your lieutenant governor cry."

Crossing his arms, Perry added: "[Lieutenant Governor] Dewhurst and I are going to have a long talk over the break about whether or not to redistrict you out of office."

Perry brought in legislators from the House to illustrate to the Democrats how a 'good' lawmaker behaves.

"Look at Martha over there," Perry said, pointing to House Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston. "Martha doesn't whine that the new map disenfranchises minorities. Why can't you be more like Martha?"

The Texas 10, now under bedroom arrest, had heard several similar speeches throughout the session.

"Ugh! Not that damn Martha Wong again," said Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, as he brushed his hair in front of his vanity mirror. "Every time Perry opens his mouth, it's 'Martha Wong this, Martha Wong that.' If he likes Martha Wong so much, why doesn't he marry her and have ugly babies?"

Throwing his curling iron on the bed, Barrientos exclaimed: "Martha, Martha, Martha!"

Of all the Democrats, Shapleigh has reportedly taken the grounding the worst.

"It's awful what it's done to him," said Eduardo Hagert, Shapleigh's Chief of Staff, who recently visited the senator at his home. "He just mopes around in his room all the time, listening to Avril Lavigne and Evanescence. He won't even let his wife enter, except to have her empty the trash bins of Kleenex."

Shapleigh's only contact with the public since his grounding has been a press release scrawled on a Lisa Frank notebook pad. In it, he addresses Perry with a quote from Simple Plan's "Perfect," a song about strained father-child relationships:

"I'm never gonna be good enough for you/You can't pretend that I'm alright/And you can't change me!"

Sources who saw the original copy say the lettering had been smeared, mostly likely by the congressman's tears.
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