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POLITICAL .NTELLI Holiday Fruitc REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED… In early November, the tiny North Texas burg of Clark agreed to officially rename itself DISH, Texas. In return, all of the town’s 55 homes will receive 10 years of free satellite television from the DISH Network and its parent company EchoStar Communications. The deal proved wonderful fodder for national media outlets and blogs, most of which happily mocked Clark’s decision to join such locales . Oregon, and Truth or Conseguen-. ,.-:, New Mexico, among the ranks of towns that have turned themselves into municipalities of corporate marketing. The man least pleased with the name change is L.E. Clark, who incorporated the town five years ago in Denton County just north of Dallas-Fort Worth and named it after himself. Mr. Clark has been fielding a lot of calls from reporters lately. “Isn’t that story about worn out by now?” he asked when reached by phone. Well, no, actually. As it turns out, the real reason the town changed its name had little to do with DISH or corporate marketing or even free access to all five incarnations of ESPN, but rather a more purely human motive-spite. Clark, the 71-year-old owner of an airplane and RV dealership, served as mayor of Clark, Texas, for the town’s first five years. Even in such a small community, Clark soon developed a nemesis-Mitch Merritt, who owns the RV and mobile home park. They clashed frequently over land-use, water, and sewage issues. “He sued me I don’t know how many times in five years,” Clark says. Two county grand juries investigated Clark after complaints from Merritt \(no charges were ever tried the ballot box. He won a referendum to have his RV park de-annexed from the town. Then the feud grew to Lifetime movie-of-the-week proportions. Mitch IvIerritt’s 30-year-old son, Bill, a wealthy Dallas attorney, bought a double-wide in town eight months before the mayoral election and filed to run against Clark. Last May, Bill Merritt beat Clark by a single vote, 40-39 \(that’s votes, not that as many as 10 of Merritt’s 40 votes were cast fraudulently by people who no longer lived there, but county officials refused to overturn the election. It wasn’t a smooth transfer of power. After ceding the mayor’s office \(such as it Merritt, Clark ripped the town’s flagpole out of the ground in front of city hall and carted it home with him. One of Bill Merritt’s first acts in office? You guessed it: “Several people have said they want a new name [for the town], and I’m not opposed to it,” Merritt told a Dallas Morning News reporter back in July. That’s how tiny Clark, Texas, wound up in DISH Network’s 10-city naming contest. As for the burg’s namesake, Clark is still bitter that his nemesis has seized power and rechristened his town after a satellite TV network. He did benefit on at least one ccueit Asked if he too gets free satellite TV, Clark said, “You bet. That’s the only thing I got out of five years of work was a free DISH.” RULING THE JOURNAL WAY The Texas Supreme Court’s recent decision that the state’s public school finance system is unconstitutional has drawn a fair amount of national media attention. So it wasn’t surprising that The Wall Street Journal devoted an editorial to the ruling on November 29. What the Journal editors wrote, however, probably shocked most anyone who actually has read the majority opinion, especially the seven members of the Supreme Court who produced it. The editorial begins predictably enough, given the Journal’s conservative bent. It reads: “What was sur prising and welcome was the Court’s unanimous ruling that the Texas school system, which spends nearly $10,000 per student [actually, it’s $7,142 per student-well below the national average, but let’s not quibble over the WSJ’s numbers], satisfies the ‘adequacy’ requirements of the state constitution. Most remarkable of all was the court’s declaration that ‘more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students.” But then the editorial board dives down the rabbit hole by raising the issue of school vouchers. “Even more encouraging,” the Journal writes, “the court endorsed more choices for parents and the state’s 4.3 million school kids. It said flatly: ‘Public education could benefit from more competition.” In fact, the court didn’t state that, flatly or any other way. To the contrary, the court went out of its way to say clearly why it wouldn’t address the voucher issue. The court’s full statement reads: “We cannot dictate how the parties to a lawsuit present their case or reject their contentions simply because we would prefer to address others. Perhaps, as the dissent contends, public education could benefit from more competition, but the parties have not raised this argument, and therefore we do not address it” [emphasis added]. How did the Journal editors read so selectively and get it that wrong? Probably because they lifted the quote verbatim from a November 22 press release issued by the Texas Public based right-wing think tank. It seems clear that the TPPF was the genesis of the Journal’s editorial. Two wordfor-word quotes from the court ruling appear in both the Journal piece and the group’s statement. The Journal editors were also eager to give the TPPF credit for the Supreme Court’s supposedly pro-voucher ruling. The editorial states: “The Texas Public Policy 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 16, 2005