September 21, 2003
Mayoral melange

A few quick hits on stuff related to the mayor's race:

- Tim Fleck notes that Orlando Sanchez still can't decide if he's for rail this time around or if he still opposes it like he did in 2001.

Sanchez reported that he'd met with the Metro board and its chairman, Arthur Schechter, as well as agency officials the previous Friday, and "there was some confusion because they showed me two active resolutions…So I'm sort of making sure that I have all the data necessary that Metro gets its house in order and gives me all the information."

When Sanchez campaign consultant Dave Walden was asked about the meeting, he had a few corrections to make to his candidate's comments. The get-together was on a Thursday rather than a Friday, no Metro board members were there, and chairman Schechter did not attend either. According to Walden, who was present, the participants included Metro Vice President John Sedlak and the agency chief financial officer, Francis Britton.

The consultant explains that because the resolution voted on by the Metro board had some handwritten addendums, Sanchez wanted to see a final version to make sure the pivotal commitment to continue road and street subsidies for area municipalities was intact.

"I'm getting the sense that Ambassador Schechter has not signed the resolution, so it seems that things are still in flux," comments Sanchez. "And I want to make sure that Metro says without equivocation, 'This is it, this is what we're going to put out.' "

That's news to Metro legal adviser Jonathan Day. He says the Metro board did consider the resolution twice, but took its final vote on August 28. "There is no question or ambiguity about their action," says the attorney. "They called the election." As for Schechter's not signing the resolution, Day explains that a signature is not required to make it valid.

Sanchez's reticence to take a position is understandable. If he opposes any rail, he alienates downtown power brokers who want the nascent Main Street rail connected to the suburbs and the airports. If he gives even a half-hearted endorsement for the transit plan, he drives westside conservatives and rail opponents into the arms of Berry.

Pathetic. No wonder his campaign is treading water. Sanchez was full-throated against rail in 2001, going so far as to support City Counil member Rob Todd's moronic and wasteful lawsuit that would have stopped the existing construction in its metaphorical tracks and forced a vote on whether to keep building it or rip it all out. (Yes, the anti-rail forces around here are that zealous.)

Unfortunately for Orlando, opposition to rail, which was tightly wound up in opposition to Mayor Lee Brown two years ago, isn't as popular now with Brown vacating office as it was then. He's still smart enough to read the tea leaves, even if he can't figure out what to do about them.

You know, if I were a tad bit conspiracy minded, I'd say that one explanation for John Culberson's recent move to block the Metro referendum is to provide cover for Sanchez (whom Culberson endorsed before and is endorsing again) and his waffling. Who cares if he has no position if it's a moot point, right? Makes as much sense as any other motive I could ascribe to the man the Chron is now calling Tom DeLay's Mini-Me.

- Speaking of endorsements, one endorsement that Sanchez will not be getting this time around is from the Bush clan. A little grist for the mill for those who are following the President's falling appeal nationally:

[A] recent Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll indicates that support from the Bushes could be insignificant or even risky.

Bush's ratings in Houston have sagged in the face of a sputtering economy and concern about the war in Iraq.

Houstonians are about evenly split on whether they approve of Bush's performance as president (43 percent) or disapprove (46 percent).

Sadly, I can't find this poll anywhere on KHOU. I'll keep looking.

- As long as we're talking about Presidential involvement in this race, there's this Rick Casey column wich suggests that despite what the story above suggests, the White House really does want Orlando Sanchez to win the election, and is planning to covertly induce Michael Berry to drop out in return for a Congressional district created just for him (carved, presumably, out of Nick Lampson's CD 9). I suppose anything is possible, but given my earlier impressions of Casey, I won't be putting much stock into it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 21, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack