Thursday, January 03, 2008

Je Suis La Ville, La Ville Est Moi

We had seen the picture of Bill White sporting that pimpolicious Stetson (apparently bequeathed to him by the Red Foxx estate) at his inaugural, and we had read how the mayor quoted the theme song from The Jeffersons to underscore the direction in which Our Town is headed (“on up,” we believe it is). Yet we had no idea what an interesting speech the mayor had delivered until we went to the city’s Web site today looking for a nearby location where we could dump our Christmas tree for recycling and came across the text of his address. Although el alcalde failed to mention the indispensability of Carol Alvarado to Houston’s continued well-being, he did make a fairly extraordinary claim regarding his own stewardship of the city:

We gather on land first settled by dreamers and drifters and slaves.* They forged a new community in raw wilderness, just a half dozen generations ago.

From those humble beginnings Houston grew with unprecedented pace and prosperity.

Yet there has never been anything like the amazing progress made by this City since several of us first took this oath four short years ago.

Wow! Never? That’s a long time, my friend, but the mayor had some fun with numbers to back up the boast:
In little more than 200 weeks our urban area has added a quarter of a million new jobs.** Consider this: we have added about four times more jobs than our total population a century ago; the total new jobs we have added in four years is more than the total number of jobs within the city limits at the end of World War II, and even more than the total number of cars in the Metropolitan area back then.
… Even more than the total number of cars in Houston in 1945? Well, whatever. But we do enjoy The Jeffersons invocation. Come to think of it, Houston has always reminded us of George Jefferson: a short, balding dry cleaner trying to cover up his insecurities with strut and bellicosity.

Then there was the following, which we can only interpret as an offer of help to our love-besotted district attorney:
To my elected colleagues I issue a challenge: let us rush to help one another when we stumble on matters not affecting the public trust, and stumble we will. Let us remember that the large number of uncontested or lopsided City races and City bond issues in the last two elections reflects in part public perception of our effectiveness as a team.

Helping an elected official who stumbles may sound like a risky proposition. But remember the lesson that Dr. King taught in the sermon before his death. He said that the Levite who passed the wounded man without helping asked the wrong question. He asked himself, “If I help this man, what could happen to me?” The Good Samaritan asked, “If I don't help this man, what could happen to him?”
Or maybe that was the Alvarado reference.

He also mentioned Houston being home to Beyonce, which is always a crowd-pleaser.

*That is, real estate speculators and cheap labor.
**City government, of course, was responsible for the creation of all 250,000.

1 comment:

Marilynn said...

I've heard and read that, up until the 1900 hurricane, Galveston was the big city around here, and Houston was just a small berg. I think el alcalde needs to read up on his Texas history a bit more!