Chron: METRO bigwigs, light-rail contractors really like Gene Locke (updated)
Mayoral candidate Annise Parker chimed in with a somewhat more subdued "me too" in her discussion of the matter with the Chron's Caucasian Think Tank.
This is a rare moment in our lackluster mayoral campaign in which we did not expect a "me too" (subdued or otherwise) from Establishment mayoral candidate Gene Locke. As we noted back in July, David Wolff already endorsed Locke with the maximum, $5,000 campaign donation, and Mr. Establishment does not strike us as the sort of candidate who would bite the hand that feeds him.
In today's Chronicle, Bradley Olson and Carolyn Feibel report that certain METRO board members and light-rail contractors have supported Mr. Establishment to the tune of $33,000 in contributions. Later in the story, we found these two grafs illuminating:
Metro Chairman David Wolff also held a March 17 luncheon for Locke to which he invited more than 70 people. Within two weeks of the event, people on that list of invitees had donated $24,500 to Locke's campaign. In the past nine months, those on the luncheon list have donated $46,000.
City ordinance bars appointees to city boards and commissions from soliciting contributions for political candidates; they are not prohibited from giving themselves.
We're sure Wolff has a creative definition of "soliciting" that would explain away all those donations to Locke as mere coincidence (although strangely, the newspaper did not seem to press him for that definition). Indeed, The Houston Way requires no less of the Establishment and its candidates.
UPDATE: The really curious thing about this story -- which involves some nice work tracking down the invitees of Wolff's "non-soliciting" meeting and how so many eventually donated to Locke -- is why the Chron editors sought to bury their reporters' good work. It's a two reporter story that uncovers some new elements of The Houston Way at work on behalf of the Establishment mayoral candidate, and instead of giving it Sunday front-page treatment, the Chron buried it on B5, above the life insurance ad and opposite the legal notices on B4 -- not the highest-profile pages in the newspaper! Are editors at the establishment newspaper also in the tank for Mr. Establishment Candidate? It certainly begs the question.
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* These would be good starts -- along with booting HPD Chief Harold Hurtt and considering a shakeup of other, technocratic departments that have sacrificed the public interest for political interests under Bill White -- but it would be helpful to know whom the candidates would appoint to those positions. A CompStat adherent at HPD? Someone like Bill King at METRO? Urban planners with a penchant for pretty charts and daydreaming?