And, now, the secret can finally be revealed to the Lake Highlands community.

After seven years of bringing hard-hitting stories from the streets of Lake Highlands to the pages of the Lake Highlands Advocate magazine, the Big Cheese here at the Advocate approached me in 2001 and proposed that I go on an extended undercover mission into politics and run to represent Lake Highlands in the Texas Legislature.

At first, I was reluctant to surrender the power, prestige, and handsome compensation of my position as the back-cover opinion columnist for the premier community publication in the Greater Northeast Dallas area. But, after much reflection and the prospect of adding “The Honorable” to my name into perpetuity, as well as learning that my handsome compensation would be enhanced from a comfortable “nothing” to a tycoon-level salary of  $600 a month, the siren song proved to be too great. I succumbed and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2002.

Over the following four years, consisting of two regular sessions and a record seven special sessions, I collected observations and experiences (and some rip-snortin’ hate mail) in anticipation of eventually returning to Lake Highlands to report to the Advocate brass and share what I learned with our loyal readers.

Now that I’m back and ready to report on my special assignment, your first question is undoubtedly: “Is that Governor Perry’s real hair?” Well, it looks real enough, but let’s just say he was frequently in touch with Phil Spector, Donald Trump and Rod Blagojevich.

Your likely next question is: “What did I learn from my experience?” Well, I learned that politics makes otherwise intelligent people do goofy things, and otherwise goofy people do goofier things. On the plus side, this realization enabled me to have access on a daily basis to entertainment that was far superior to most comedy clubs, without having to pay a cover charge or even leave the Capitol. On the minus side, I became painfully aware of who was in charge of making policy for Texas.

In 2006, when Advocate readers demanded that I return to writing my column and sent a replacement to the Texas House, I thought my political undercover assignment was finally over. But the Big Cheese wanted me to spin the wheel one more time and try to return to the Legislature in 2008, in order to collect some more scoop on Austin legislators, as well as discreetly compile a list of all dignitaries with tattoos.

Once again, however, Advocate readers let their voices be heard — so here I am. Out of office and off the campaign trail, I’ll now be able to once again pick up my pen and take off the gloves (and, if I’m smart, I won’t do it in that order).

I’ll be writing about issues that affect our community, like:
 
• Crime — Where is it, and who’s committing it?

• Education — Why do they keep taking our property-tax money and leaving our schools worse off?

• Strip clubs — Why do we still have a strip club in Lake Highlands?

• Redevelopment — Will it really happen, or will the economy, neighborhood associations and developers get in the way of progress?

It is admittedly risky for me to now reveal the sensitive, previously confidential information I’ve collected over the past eight years and write about what I’ve learned in a publication whose readership spans at least three full pages in our local Mapsco. But, as a professional journalist, I believe there are stories that must be told — which will inevitably lead to a tell-all book deal with an ample commission agreement.

I am reasonably confident that the widespread recognition and unlimited income that will result will not affect my commitment to bringing you the straight-up, unvarnished musings tumbling around in my mind.

And, even if it does, the widespread recognition and unlimited income will keep me from feeling too badly about it.