Monday, March 27, 2006

Moonlighting with Carol Alvarado

The Houston Chronicle’s Lori Rodriguez, in a profile of under-siege Council member Carol Alvarado, drolly noted that

Alvarado has taken well to the more rewarding side of public service. Beyond her $50,000-plus annual council salary, she supplements her income with consulting fees primarily for advising out-of-town Hispanic-owned businesses on the how-tos of seeking public contracts.

Hmmm. An elected public official counseling private businesses on how to snare public contracts. The beckoning vista for potential conflicts would seem to be broad and wide. Should we just presume that Alvarado is not taking fees for advising these firms on how to do business with the city of Houston (which we guess would be like Pete Rose NOT betting on baseball)? And that she does not conduct this sideline business out of her council office(s)? Here’s hoping one of the daily newspapers in town will fill us in on Alvarado’s extracurricular endeavors.

Rodriguez also quotes the apostate Hispanic politico Gabe Vasquez, formerly of the Houston school board and the city council, offering a jaundiced view of both Alvarado and the political milieu in which she operates. He calls it the "Chicago ward-boss model" of politics and adds: “It's about power, authority and control.”

Yep. That, at bottom, is the root of Alvarado’s problem (except for the authority and control she didn’t exercise over her bonus-taking employees at the mayor pro tem’s office, if that indeed is the beginning, middle and end of that story, and we’ll stand by until the tale is fully told). Vasquez forgot to mention the perks---the travel opportunities, the free food you get to shovel in at all those luncheons and evening functions, the deference and kowtowing to which you’re routinely subjected, etc., even for holding a wholly meaningless and redundant office such as mayor pro tem. But we suppose that falls in the “power” category.

Meanwhile, on an unrelated subject, Slate blogger Mickey Kaus, not trusting his local newspaper’s reporting, took in the big anti-immigration legislation rally in Los Angeles and determined (with his own eyes) that the number of protestors waving Mexican flags was about equal to those carrying U.S. flags (which he says organizers had instructed marchers to bring). We noticed that the kids who walked out of Eisenhower High School in Houston’s Aldine school district on Monday were also into the Mexican flag thing.

This sort of display used to puzzle us. But now we recognize the flag-waving as a manifestation of the aggressive sense of entitlement/resentment harbored by a growing number of illegal immigrants. You see the same sort of attitude from 16 year olds who walk around in those Yo Soy Mexicano T-shirts with the pictures of Zapata or whoever (they don’t say Yo Soy Mexicano-Americano). When we see one we’re always tempted to ask the wearer, Well, why don’t you roll on back there, although we fear such a show of insensitivity might earn us the censure of the Upper West Siders on the Chronicle editorial board.

As we’ve written, we’re of two (or possibly three of four) minds on illegal immigration, but we do think that as long as you’re in this country you ought to make an effort to be a part of this country (including buying car insurance, learning English, ensuring your kids don’t mar the entire town with graffiti, losing the nostalgie de la boue, etc. ).

Kaus suggests the Mexican flag-waving only serves to harden anti-immigrant sentiment and will result in even tougher legal measures ... perhaps even a wall. We think he’s right.

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