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Interview with Bill White

Bill White

Bill White

Today we begin my interview series for the 2010 Democratic primary, and we begin it with the man who has helped get so many of us excited about the 2010 elections in Texas, former Houston Mayor Bill White, who is running for Governor. I don’t think a whole lot of introduction is required here, but White has been a very successful businessman, an Undersecretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, a past Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, and of course a three-term Mayor of the City of Houston. Without further ado, here is the interview:

Download the MP3 file

One thing to add: In the interview, White refers to a report by the Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness, which apparently isn’t available on Governor Perry’s website even though he appointed five of its members. (Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and then-Speaker Tom Craddick appointed the other members.) White provided a copy of the report to me, which you can get here. It’s long and detailed, but the Executive Summary, which begins as follows, gives you a good taste of what it’s about.

The Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness envisioned for Texas a dynamic economy that is competitive with the best economies in the world and that ensures opportunity for a high quality of life for all citizens of the state. This vision can be accomplished only if Texas commits to:

• Educating a highly skilled workforce capable of functioning effectively in a global economy.
• Developing an expanding and innovating economy that can take full advantage of the skills of this workforce.

Texas is not globally competitive. The state faces a downward spiral in both quality of life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population (both youth and adults) to higher levels of attainment, knowledge and skills. The rate at which educational capital is currently being developed is woefully inadequate. Texas also needs an innovation-based economy in all the state’s regions that can fully employ a more capable workforce. It must generate more external research funding, and commercialize ideas and intellectual property at a volume substantially greater than currently taking place.

So there you have it. I will maintain a list of the interviews I do on the 2010 Election page. As always, feedback is appreciated.

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  1. John says:

    I have heard everyone state White is a successful businessman, can someone please expand on that. He was at a law firm and made a lot of money and then he worked for a rich guy’s family office. Not sure either of those occupations qualfies someone as a businessman, I mean you never have to worry about sales and making payroll at either. I think someone who runs a grocery store or a McDonald’s is better qualified to be a businessman. And he did not run the city like a business, unless you count increasing the City’s debt by 50% and never once cutting a budget

  2. JT says:

    I can’t vouch for White’s bona fides as a businessman. But I do want to take issue with one observation that John made.

    The practice of law is most definitely a business. You must sell/market your firm and its services to potential clients (and current ones for that matter). If you don’t, you have no revenue.

    You must collect attorney fees owed from current clients. If you don’t, you can’t make payroll. Law firms employ a large amount of support staff. If a law firm is not run like a business, it will fail in short order.

    Just my $0.02. YMMV.

  3. John says:

    Sussman was a big firm before White came and is still one today. yes he was good but if that is the criteria then there are 1,000+ lawyers in town with the same skill set. I don’t think White was ever managing partner there. I will concede law firms do need to be run but I don’t think he was very active in that, I just think people use terms like businessman etc too liberally (and I don’t mean that in the political sense). But I think you could argue Farouk knows more about running a business and creating a product the market wants than White.

  4. Noah Horwitz says:

    Below is a simple animated video that is a satire of houston politics in 2009.

  5. […] 2011 municipal elections. Anyway, you can listen to the interview I did with White for the primary here, and while White will receive all or nearly all of the newspaper endorsements, the most important […]