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September 29th, 2003:

SEC targeting Kenny Boy?

What could be sweeter than the prospect of Karl Rove doing the frog march? How about Ken Lay doing the perp walk?

Federal regulators have asked a federal court to force former Enron Corp. Chairman Ken Lay to hand over documents they believe will shed light on the company’s collapse.

Lay has refused to turn over the records, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, trying to determine whether Lay engaged in any fraudulent activities at Enron, has subpoenaed documents from Lay’s tenure at the one-time Houston energy giant.

In a filing today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, SEC officials argued the documents they want to review are corporate records that Lay has no right to withhold.

“It is well settled that a corporation has no Fifth Amendment rights and an individual cannot resist the production of corporate records based on the Fifth Amendment, even where the records might tend to incriminate the individual personally,” the SEC argued.

We’re still a long way from Kenny Boy getting his butt dragged into a courtroom. But this is a start.

If you’re going to delude yourself, you may as well dream big

Super Bowl Fever means different things to different people, especially people who hope to earn a few grand by renting out their houses during Super Bowl Week.

With the $6,900 a day she hopes to get renting out her southwest Houston ranch-style home during Super Bowl week, Tobi Shvartzapel wants to buy a car and take her family to Disney World.

Nicholas Howard III, a barber, could pay off his mortgage with the $25,000 he is asking for a week in his three-bedroom home.

The $8,500 that student Andrew Abrameit wants for a week in his two-bedroom condo would nearly pay a semester’s tuition at South Texas College of Law.

Scores of locals have shown interest in renting out their places at breathtaking prices, and many are advertising on Web sites that charge, in some cases, hundreds of dollars.

These poor people not only paid upwards of $250 apiece to have their homes listed on a web page that apparently solicits potential renters, but now their friends and neighbors all know what suckers they are. Seemed almost cruel to read the reaction from the Host Committee and folks in Tampa and San Diego who fell for this pitch about the likelihood these people will cash in, but there you have it. Somewhere, PT Barnum is having a good chuckle.

Sanchez overview

The Chron did the first of three promised candidate overviews yesterday with this entry on Orlando Sanchez. It’s a decent enough effort, and struck me as being reasonably fair to its subject. I thought this was pretty damning, though:

“If it was controversial and/or not his idea, he was reticent to get involved in any sort of leadership role,” said Rob Todd, who served on City Council with Sanchez for six years. “He’s one who likes the tea-party aspect of politics, but he’s not one to clean up the dishes afterwards.”

Todd, a Republican, is supporting White, a Democrat, in the mayor’s race, which is officially nonpartisan.

Sanchez sometimes missed meetings in Houston while on international trade missions for the city.

“He was sort of the secretary of state for City Council,” Todd joked.

The city does not track attendance at regular City Council meetings, but Sanchez’s scanty attendance at budget workshops — where council members have an opportunity to give their input on the city’s $1.4 billion budget — is on record. In 2001, after declaring his candidacy for mayor, Sanchez attended eight of 18 budget workshops. He attended one meeting out of 20 in 2000 and one of 23 in 1999.

For someone who’s made as much hay as Sanchez has about the Brown Administration’s incompetence, a record of missing meetings does not inspire confidence. I wonder if and when White or Turner will emphasize this.

In any profile of Orlando Sanchez, there are two items that one is legally required to mention. One is his ethnicity and his ability to attract Hispanic voters.

In 2001, Sanchez received overwhelming support in the Hispanic community, in spite of active opposition from many of the city’s other Hispanic elected officials, mostly Mexican-American Democrats.

“These races have become partisan,” said Democratic political consultant Marc Campos, who is working for Turner this year. “I just cannot be supporting a Republican. He’s a nice guy and everything, but he’s a card-carrying Republican.”

As Democrats and Republicans vie for Hispanic votes, though, Sanchez has won national Republican support. President Bush and former President Bush both endorsed him in the last election.

“It’s not just because he’s Hispanic,” said City Councilman Gabriel Vasquez, who recently switched to the Republican party and is running for city controller. “It’s also because he’s qualified, he’s educated and he’s someone we can be proud of.”


Whether Sanchez shares the political leanings of Houston’s Hispanic voters or not, many believe he will get their support.

“Anybody with an S, a Z or a vowel on the end of their name is likely to pick up a majority of the Hispanic vote,” said former Port Commissioner Vidal Martinez, who is supporting Sanchez.

As I’ve said before, Sanchez probably needs to do at least as well with Hispanics as he did in 2001 when he got 62% of their vote in order to contend. I’ve been skeptical all along that he will do that well, but it’s based on gut feel and nothing else.

The other item is, of course, Sanchez’s looks.

Additionally, Sanchez is well-spoken and good-looking, with dark hair, a chiseled chin and piercing blue eyes.

“God, he’s gorgeous!” exclaimed one woman after watching him walk out of a downtown office building.

Sheesh. John Williams said Sanchez has steel blue eyes, now Rachel Graves says they’re piercing blue eyes. I think the Chronicle needs to issue a style guide on this topic so there’s less confusion in the future.