Two More Jeers, er, I Mean, Years! Yeah, That’s It…
Houston has another election coming up, and this time we are choosing who will run our hometown for the next two years. The big fight is the mayor’s race. Right here at the top let me state that race should have nothing to do with it. And let me also state with absolute clarity that I am for the re-election of Lee P. Brown.
First, under his leadership Houston has been spared the problems of other cities such as Belfast and Jerusalem. Note how rarely armored cars patrol our streets, and count the days since last you had to flee tear gas. Genoa and Seattle held economic conferences and had to call out the riot police. When Houston held its economic summit the affair was so dull and stilted it was called “the Lee P. Brown Memorial Conference,” even though Brown was nowhere around. Now that’s a peacemaker.
Brown first came to the mayor’s job in 1997 by defeating Rob Mosbacher, as have most Texans. The mayor was re-elected in 1999 by turning back the dual juggernauts of Jack Terence and Outlaw Josey Wales IV. Even though no one had ever heard of the two candidates, between them they garnered 33 percent of the vote. It only shows the power of the resume. This time he faces two council members, Orlando Sanchez and Chris Bell, who are both running on the platform, “Anybody But Brown,” and that they are.
There are some who say that our mayor is carrying a lot of baggage, but those of you who have seen him leaving on his weekly trips know that he has aides to do that for him. As for the nickname, “Out of Town Brown,” picky, picky, picky. Speaking of airports, have you noticed that huge color photograph of Mayor Brown greeting us as we depart Bush Intergalactic Airport for our city? No other mayor had the self-confidence to duplicate Mao Zedong. We have to respect leadership, even when we have to pay for it.
There are those who questioned the mayor’s trip to South Africa accompanied by aides and two bodyguards. I’ll give you the honest explanation: because it’s there. Some even wonder about Brown taking locution lessons and charging the $1,200 bill to the taxpayers. If you have ever heard the man speak, you would not question that expense.
These are minor matters and not worthy of debate. The real problem facing Houston is who hid the plug for the city’s drain? As for city finances, oh, sure, some of you nervous Nellies like to point out that, even though the city has been taking in record revenues, we still keep dipping into other funds to pay the bills. But according to the City’s Department of Smoke and Mirrors, we ended last year under budget by $6 million, even though the city spent $14 million more than originally planned. That’s because City Hall took in $20 million more in taxes than expected, and if that’s not keen fiscal foresight, I don’t know what is.
The Department of Public Works and Engineering has come in for some second-guessing because its employees have been grossly inflating the number of potholes they dig. And, yes, there has been some criticism of their dumping unused asphalt at the end of the day because they were supposed to have used it all. As for all other citizens’ complaints such as broken water pipes, backed up sewage and crumbling curbs, they are simply the signs of a busy city. And about the $6.5 million spent for road plans that were never used, well, that’s close enough for government work.
Frankly, much too much has been made of the city’s financial and infrastructure woes. The fact that any private company in Houston that cooked the books this way would go belly up, not to mention undergo a stockholders’ revolt and scrutiny from the SEC, is immaterial. Just look at the big picture; think Olympics 2012!
In the meantime, I think it is evident that Houston voters really have but one choice in the upcoming mayoral election. Move to Belfast. ih