The Insider

New Sportsday Dawning?
Sports junkies hungering for more local coverage after the closing of the Post may have a new supplier in Houston Sportsday, a free weekly scheduled to debut on August 25. Sportsday publisher Matt Wagner says a couple of Houstonians he won't identify ("You'd know their names") are backing the publication. It will be edited by Jim Carley, a former Post staffer who also edited the defunct Oiler News. The 48-year-old Wagner, a neophyte publisher who's ghostwritten articles for business execs and composed real-estate sales pieces, says he decided after the death of the Post that there was a real demand for additional sports news in Houston. Wagner claims he's lined up former Post writers as the backbone of his staff, but declines to name names until contracts are formalized. "Robert Falkoff is involved and interested," says Wagner. He also indicates Kenny Hand and Ray Buck are being wooed. "I have verbal agreements," says Wagner, "but until contracts are signed I've got nothing but words." Hey, isn't that what sportswriting is all about?

Meanwhile, the Houston Reader -- which for months has been trumpeting itself as a new general interest weekly publication "getting ready to hit the streets of Houston" -- is keeping folks guessing. Past press releases have touted now-expired publishing dates (the last we saw "confirmed" the appearance of the first issue for July 5) and offered a tantalizing bill of contents, including "political opinions from various conservative angles" and a weekly column from Houston Police Chief Sam Nuchia. "Oh, just keep your eyes open, you'll see us," replied a Reader spokeswoman when asked about the current publishing schedule. Dare we blink?

Condemning for Dollars
Harris County lawmakers are unrivaled among Texas politicos when it comes to feeding at the trough of the state Department of Transportation for court-appointed highway condemnation gigs. It was then-attorney general Jim Mattox who in 1988 issued an opinion that such double-dipping for two state paychecks is legal. Curiously, Mattox's then-girlfriend Marta Karpan, whom he later married, also got in on a little bit of that action. Karpan served as a special commissioner appointed by former Houston Judge Ed Landry during the summer of 1990, shortly after Jimbo got thumped by Ann Richards in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but while he was still attorney general. Karpan received two payments totaling $500 in transportation department funds, according to the state comptroller's office. Shortly thereafter, Karpan, a onetime publicist for convicted Galveston foundation king Shearn Moody, became Mrs. Mattox.

Maybe He's a Bit Overqualified
Houston lawyer Bill White, who recently stepped down as President Clinton's deputy secretary of energy, is eyeing a political future in Texas, with one possible port of entry being a run for chairman of the state Democratic Party against a would-be successor hand-picked by outgoing Chairman Bob Slagle. But after perusing the form letter White sent out recently to the party faithful, you'd have to conclude that he might be overqualified for the less-than-glamorous post of party chairman. White, for instance, claims credit on behalf of the Energy Department for "decreasing the nuclear danger." He writes: "Our security forces have helped locate and secure supplies of bomb-making material in the former Soviet Union ... I have signed an agreement committing them to shut down the dangerous nuclear reactors at Chernobyl." Come to think about it, maybe it would take a guy who shut down Chernobyl to handle some of the hot-air reactors in the Texas Democratic Party.

The Insider is compiled to merit your confidence by Tim Fleck.

 
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