Friday, October 20, 2006

Houston City Council Campaign Finance Disclosure Trivia Quiz, Part 4 (Special “Cleared by the Klan” Edition)

We recently gave Google News Archive Search a spin by tapping in “Oscar Holcombe,” figuring his long run as mayor of Houston (intermittently, from the 1920s through the 1950s) would give us a good idea of the search engine’s capabilities. As it turned out, most of the hits were to, which unfortunately does not meet our baseline requirement for a search engine (it’s not free) and does not include reproduced pages from the three Houston dailies (although it appears that Holcombe for some reason was frequently chronicled in the Port Arthur News).

Our search did, however, turn up an interesting article on Holcombe from the Dec. 27, 1948 Time magazine. Written with that jaunty mid-century Luce-ian élan, the profile appeared on the occasion of Holcombe’s election to a ninth term as mayor (he’d be elected twice more) and examines his durability as a political phenom in “raw and rollicking” Houston.

We had always figured Holcombe for the rawboned reactionary type, but come to find out it was the “Old Gray Fox” who set the tone for the inclusiveness and diversity and whatnot that, as we’re often reminded (by people who mostly consort with people like themselves), is one of the city’s great strengths. Check it out:
In 1922, after he refused to fire three Catholics from his administration, he was opposed by the 10,000 members of Sam Houston Klan No. 1. The Klan started a campaign of vilification, denouncing him as a chronic drinker and gambler. A Baptist, Holcombe demanded that the Baptist Ministers' Association try him on the charges at a public hearing. Although nine of the 13 ministers on the "jury" were Klansmen, they cleared him after a one-day "trial" held at the Rice Hotel a week before election. He won the election. Three campaigns later, however, he was defeated. One reason: he swung an umbrella at the publisher of a Houston newspaper who had threateningly brandished a letter-opener during a heated argument. "You just can't explain that sort of thing to the people," said Holcombe.
Hell, those were the days---when a newspaper publisher could pull a letter-opener on a mayor with impunity. So in honor of the umbrella-swinging longest-serving mayor in the city's history, and all the riches he reaped flipping land in the city he long governed, let’s take one final Houston City Council Campaign Finance Disclosure Trivia Quiz:

This councilmember and her $2,500-a-month political consultant opened a legal defense fund PAC earlier this year that has reported receiving contributions from former Portland Trailblazers great Clyde Drexler ($1,000), the person for whom the Shirley A. DeLibero Rail Operations Center was named ($200), former Temple grocery-supply magnate Drayton McLane ($1,000), some person with an apparently limitless amount of disposable income named Bob Perry ($5,000), traffic watchamacallhim David Saperstein ($1,000) and erstwhile mayoral hopeful Ned Holmes ($2,500).

A. Carol Alvarado

B. Carol Alvarado

C. Carol Alvarado

D. Carol Alvarado

Answer to last quiz: B.) Pam Holm

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