Here’s what I’m calling “super shorts” — starting with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Everyone by now realizes the governor is betting his political career on the assumption that there will be no blackouts this winter. “I can guarantee the lights will stay on,” Abbott told KTBC-TV in Austin last week.

It’s $10 billion now. While I was on vacation, the Texas Railroad Commission voted to approve raising $3.4 billion in bonds to pay gas companies in a bailout because of the February freeze-out. Add the $6.5 billion in bonds the (public) Utility Commission approved for electricity companies. That’s $9.9 billion. Who’s paying it back? Look in the mirror.

The post freeze-out money games played by state leaders reminds me of the Journalists’ Prayer (yes, there is one) that seeks to give my colleagues strength to expose “the half-truth which deceives and the slanted word which corrupts.” Amen.

Whatever happened to the $10 million super fountain that was supposed to open this month at Klyde Warren Park? Donated by Nancy and Randy Best, this project was supposed to host the world’s tallest water jets and alter the Dallas skyline. Construction was supposed to begin in the summer with an opening this month. Project spokesperson Tony Fay tells me, “The pandemic and its residual effects have slowed this one. ... We have been ready to start construction since Nov. 1. However, we are still waiting on one of the required city permits.” Construction is expected to take six months.

The flood of cryptocurrency miners to Texas in recent months is due mostly to our deregulated electricity market. Bloomberg reports that “Texas, already home to the most vulnerable power grid in the U.S., is about to be hit by a surge in demand for electricity that’s twice the size of Austin’s.”

A different kind of punishment. The official address for Dallas Police Department headquarters changed this year from 1400 S. Lamar St. to 1400 S. Botham Jean Blvd. That’s a permanent reminder to police and the rest of us about Jean’s death at the hands of a confused Dallas police officer.

Hear a financial adviser on Dallas-Fort Worth radio? You might want to switch stations. In Dallas according to The Watchdog’s scorecard, their track record is abysmal: Bobby Eugene Guess, who hosted the Dollars & Sense show, is in prison for fraud. James Poe lost his Found Money Radio show after he agreed to pay a $35,000 civil penalty for mishandling management fees and lost his financial adviser registration. Doc Gallagher has been sentenced to life in prison for his Ponzi scheme. Now here comes the latest, Mark Plummer, who promoted gas and oil investments on Smart Oil and Gas. He agreed to pay $500,000 to settle charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he improperly spent investors’ money on personal purchases.

Notice how many companies use the word “integrity” in their name? Integrity Plumbing. Integrity Automotive. Integrity Air Conditioning. Integrity Insurance. Integrity Pest Control. Integrity Real Estate and many more. This is the owners’ way of saying “You can trust us. We’re not like our competitors.” It demonstrates how the old saying of “honesty is the best policy” no longer rings true in a variety of industries.

I have a hypothesis about Texas state government: After watching state leaders fail to bolster the electricity grid (something the rest of us want) and their removal of restrictions on carrying handguns (despite polls showing most Texans didn’t favor this change), I have come to the conclusion that this government doesn’t work for us. Elected state officials actually work for a dozen or so individuals who write the million-dollar campaign donation checks. The rest of us get to watch.

The group, which I wrote about last week, warns Dallas County property owners that if they click on a website promoted in a postcard sent by the Dallas Central Appraisal District — — they are redirected to a dot-com website handled by a server in Bulgaria known for its involvement in criminal activity. The group says the overseas site could insert malicious code in your computer. Dallas Central Appraisal District tech director John Milam told the group the domain is redirected to servers in Bulgaria and the Netherlands, but it’s hosted through Amazon Web Services. Appraisal district spokesperson Cheryl Jordan tells The Watchdog, “There is no problem and no story. Trust me.”

I can’t stand the NextDoor website. I’m hit with sensational headlines and find out the coyote who killed the cat, for example, happened 10 miles away. Hardly next door. I know I could personalize the list of neighborhoods. But why bother? NextDoor, along with Facebook, er, Meta, has become the go-to place to lie about local political candidates and elected officials. It’s Slander Central.

You know the difference between a journalist like me and an amateur social media poster? I try to contact the people I’m writing about before I publish. When I tell them what I’ve learned in my reporting, they can correct me. Social media posters vomit whatever they want to say in a public post. It may or may not be true.

I can’t stand NFL overtime rules. Play is too short. I like the college OT rules because an exciting OT period can last a lot longer.

‘Tis the season to donate to charities. Stay away from phone solicitors. And before you write a check or pull out your credit card, check a couple of websites for reputation information: CharityWatch and GuideStar. Also, in a search engine, type in the name of the charity plus the phrase “Form 990.” Often their annual tax returns are available online. Sometimes when I see how much a charity’s CEO is paid, I go, “Never mind.”

Hurst lawyer Chuck Noteboom demonstrates how lawyers can fight back far easier than the rest of us. He told me how after accumulating 800,000 points on his Capitol One account, he tried to redeem them. But the bank informed him that his account was closed, and he’d get nothing. Noteboom sued in justice of the peace court. He faced off against a Capitol One lawyer from Houston. Noteboom won $18,000, half for damages and the rest for attorney fees. In victory, he jokes about the company’s ad slogan, “What’s in your wallet?”

Fortunately, the travel club scheme has died down considerably. That’s where fast-talking salespeople try to convince potential customers that by paying thousands of dollars, they’ll get massive discounts on travel and hotels. Truth is, the discounts aren’t so great. One company got in deep trouble with the state a decade ago. Sealand Travel Club/Royal Palms Travel had to pay the state $30,000 in penalties and $20,000 in attorney fees. Now, a decade later, several former customers told me they suddenly received bills for annual membership fees even though they canceled long ago. Unfortunately, a buying mistake from the past can still come back to haunt you.

Finally, some lucky readers are going to read the next sentence and get money they didn’t know belongs to them. Check the website for money that may be owed to you. You don’t need to hire a company that promises to search for you. Just claim it.

DAVE LIEBER, The Dallas Morning News’ The Watchdog investigative columnist, is the author of the new biography “Searching for Perot: My Journey to Discover Texas’ Top Family.” Visit

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