August Texas Monthly offers interesting article on Houston dogfighting, and a Tribute To White

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The Chronicle‘s Bradley Olson calls our attention to Mimi Swartz‘s Texas Monthly article on the Houston Mayoral race.

It almost reads like Mrs. White* back in the day: Bill White good, VERY VERY good. In comparison, the three serious contenders to replace him are small.

There are other touches that remind us of Houston’s Biggest Blog**:

“We’ve never had a mayor who wanted to run for higher office,” says Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University. “Different ambitions set up different agendas. . . . Lanier’s idea was to pick three things and do one. White picked ten things and did fifteen–well.”

That’s Houston’s Expert on Everything, Bob Stein, a sometime mayoral advisor. Oh, and someone named Marty Stein is the mayor’s agenda director. Those little tidbits don’t turn up in the story.

There is a reference to Bill King, who decided not to run for the office this time:

For more than a year, a prominent conservative businessman, Bill King, has been showing local breakfast groups a Cassandra-like PowerPoint presentation that purports to reveal how the city employee pension fund and other “unfunded liabilities” will bring financial disaster to Houston soon–maybe even before the election. If King is right, Brown and Parker, as public servants, will be in big trouble. “Annise hasn’t been waving her hands and saying the sky is falling,” said one campaign junkie. “After eleven years, she can’t run as an agent of change.” A fiscal crisis in the middle of a Senate run would also be bad for White–if he saw one looming. “In brief, Mr. King is just wrong,” White says. “Because we planned ahead and built up cash reserves, Houston is in far better shape than other cities….”

In a relative sense, perhaps, but that bit of politico-speak doesn’t really refute the story that King has been telling. As we’ve noted for quite some time on the little blog, the unfunded pension fund liabilities still loom, despite minor improvements that Mayor White made early in his administration. We hope Mr. King keeps talking about municipal finances***, and that whoever wins the race taps his expertise in addressing the looming problems.

Anyway, those were the parts we found most interesting in this Great White Tribute.

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t even think that was the best Houston-centric article in the August issue. We would bestow that honor on Skip Hollandsworth, for his fine (but disturbing) article on the undercover officers who got inside Houston’s underground dogfighting culture, before busting many of the sickos involved in it. It’s well worth reading if you’re a subscriber.

* Cory Crow’s name for an earlier Chron editorial board.
** AKA the Chronicle, another term coined by Crow.
*** We’re not a breakfast group, but we’d welcome his presentation at a future blogger meetup.


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Kevin Whited
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