Perhaps we hadn’t fully thrown off the downy blanket of sleep. But no, our eyes did not deceive: Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey appeared to be writing something about Bill White that was not a gushing tribute to the genius of the two-term mayor. In fact, Casey appeared to be taking issue with someone else who had written a gushing tribute to the genius of the two-term mayor. As Casey tells it:
It could be one of the most effective political fundraising brochures in Texas history, an "independent study" that paints Mayor Bill White in heroic terms.That right there got our attention, because it’s usually Casey doing the Soviet Realist-style rendering of our pure-hearted, muscular and forward looking chief executive.
To boil it down beyond nuance, Casey was referring to a paper that three Rice University MBA seekers put together for an independent study project of White’s leadership, which was forwarded to the mayor by one of the trio’s faculty adviser. White was so enamored of the thing that he passed it along to his good buddy, energy executive Michael Zilkha, who according to Casey “made a financial contribution to have it published and wrote a cover letter” before sending copies off to local business types, using a distribution list provided by the mayor. The publication strongly, and wrongly, suggested it had the imprimatur of Rice U, according to Casey.
The columnist relates that
Even Zilkha, in his cover letter, expressed some reservations regarding the paper's breathless conclusion that "Bill White has 'remade our city government so that it is idiot proof and that he has effected permanent structural changes that will long out last him.' "“… government so that it is idiot proof … ” Is this what passes for scholarship at Rice these days? And they say the public schools are in trouble. (Casey doesn’t offer details, but did the authors provide any examples of these “permanent structural changes?” Hey, we keep an open mind, but from out here in the barnyard this smells like a steamin’ crock of horse doo.)
We found this column disturbing, whether or not that was Casey’s intent. Here he is barely into the fourth year of his probable six-year tenure and Bill White’s already preening for posterity. And we thought Bob Lanier was vain, just because everybody had to blow smoke up his ass telling him how smart he was (and, yeah, he was plenty smart) before he could be comfortably seated. (’Course, on the other hand, under White there’s been a noticeable fall-off from the previous two administrations in federal prosecutions of council members, city administrators and City Hall lobbyists.)
We probably should just be grateful that the city finally got our neighborhood back in order after the year-long suspension of the in-progress water pipe project caused by the bankruptcy of the contractor that got the work despite its history of tax delinquencies. Yes, let’s raise a statue, or two, to Bill White, The Man Who Made Houston Idiot-Proof.
And to Rick Perry … we mean Rick Casey … keep it up. Seriously.