White vs. Tollett cage match in February?

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After Jordy Tollett hired Rusty Hardin and proceeded to convince the GHCVB board to let him take an extended leave (including 12 weeks’ worth of vacation time), we speculated that Tollett had managed to escape rather cleverly what seemed like a much too transparent effort by Mayor White to arrange his exit.

Last Friday, the Chronicle‘s Kristen Mack ran with a hard-hitting column that suggested the same. Here are some excerpts:

Jordy Tollett

A KPRC (Channel 2) television piece catching Tollett on camera downing several drinks during the noon hour and Mayor Bill White’s not-so-subtle suggestion that it may be time for Tollett to go, led the bureau’s board to consider his future on Thursday.

In classic Tollett style, he came to the board meeting at his request and left on his own terms — taking an extended leave to seek professional help starting next week for an unspecified problem.

City Hall and political gossips are wondering whether Tollett can withstand this latest storm, perhaps the strongest one he has faced.

Some of us have speculated that it was conceivable that the mayor’s office was happy enough to see that KPRC-2 hit piece on Tollett run, since the mayor was, as Mack wrote, quick to suggest that Tollett’s time might be up. Former Councilmember Carroll Robinson sounds like he might be buying that theory:

Bill White

White’s opinion is important because of his own political power and because the city provides the bulk of the bureau’s budget.

But he has no formal authority over Tollett. The board does.

It would have been setting a dangerous precedent for the bureau to let Tollett go based solely on the television piece, Robinson said.

“The circumstances have to be clear that he committed an egregious act,” Robinson said, suggesting that if White wants to get rid of Tollett he should say so rather than using a television report about “Jordy doing something that is not illegal or immoral as justification.”

Mayor White rarely picks fights that he stands to lose, but I’d put the odds even in this one. The February discussion of Tollett’s contract ought to be entertaining for local political junkies.

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