The Insider

Bettiismo and Anti-Bettiismo
FBI sting hostess Betti Maldonado's Port Authority ship may be taking on water

rapidly, what with Mayor Bob Lanier and others musing aloud about the possibility of replacing her as the city's representative on the commission. But Maldonado isn't going down without a fight, judging by a literary torpedo she's fired at the bow of state Senator Mario Gallegos, with copies forwarded to Lanier, city councilmembers and her attorney, Dick DeGuerin. As revealed last week in this space, Gallegos is pushing South Texas College of Law professor Olga Moya for Maldonado's port commission seat.

Maldonado's "Dear Mario" letter opens with her expressing "shock and dismay" that Gallegos would take the action after "you had already assured us that you were no part of an anti-Betti movement in our community. In fact, when pressed about your alleged role in this ordeal, your response was that 'that dog don't hunt.' " Exactly what the philosophical tenets of an anti-Betti, or for that matter a pro-Betti, movement might be, the letter doesn't make clear. Maldonado is apparently referencing allegations by at least one supporter that Gallegos and his political consultant, Marc Campos, had a part in directing law enforcement attention to Maldonado. Both men deny having any knowledge of the sting prior to the visits by FBI agents to councilmembers that effectively made the operation public.

Maldonado goes on to take Gallegos to task for failing to contact her before recommending Moya. "I expect more from you," she writes. "As you know, there has been no evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. There have been no charges or indictments accusing me of wrongdoing. Therefore, your move to replace me is premature and disappointing." In a last twist, Maldonado goes literary by quoting Mark Twain to the effect that " 'rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.' Please don't try to bury me before I'm dead." The letter is signed "Betti Maldnado," suggesting that the stress of living in the FBI's crosshairs can even make you forget how to spell your name correctly.

Gallegos refused to respond, except to say he supports Moya because he believes she'd make a good port commissioner. Gallegos' initiative on the professor's behalf followed Lanier's acknowledgment that he was reconsidering whether to support a Council reappointment of Maldonado, whose term expires on June 15, so perhaps questions about Betti's premature internment should be directed to Lanier. Besides, The Insider knows Maldonado can't be dead yet, because Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee hasn't shown up to orate at her funeral.

Meanwhile, patrons of Maldonado's defense fund should be aware that some of those dollars will go to pay at least one of the "friends of Betti" manning her hotline. That little nugget was revealed during an on-air conversation last week between KNUZ/1230 AM talk show host Jim Evans and an unidentified woman who answered the hotline. Although the woman described her job as "informing people of upcoming events in support of Betti," she then went on to say that, as of now, nothing is scheduled. Maldonado's own Sancho Panza, Lisa Hernandez, elaborated a bit for The Insider on the status of the friend of Betti. "I personally paid her, like nothing," says Hernandez of the phone answerer. "She volunteered to work, but I felt that I should pay her, so that way I got more out of her, you know what I mean?" Maybe the FBI does, but we don't.

Hernandez acknowledged that with the prospect of a drawn out federal grand jury investigation of the sting, the community frenzy to defend Maldonado has abated somewhat. She says actor Edward James Olmos, fresh from a meeting in Mexico with Zapatista Subcommandante Marcos, has committed to appearing at a July event to support Maldonado, but the details remain to be worked out. Meanwhile, Hernandez has taken pen in hand for her own dig at the FBI's treatment of her friend, linking the sting and the recent arrest of an agent in Memorial Park in a cartoon showing a G-man exposing himself to the city of Houston.

The Angry White Black Man
Here's an indicator that conservatives from around the nation were flocking to the aid of Congressman Steve Stockman even before his home was allegedly "invaded" by the fearsome Press horde. [See "Into the Den of Stockmania," page 4.] The young volunteer who answered the door when we came calling last week, Booker T. Stallworth, was the publisher of a right-wing campus paper in Pittsburgh called the Phoenix that advertised itself as "the voice of the angry white man." As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last October, "That may be a hard pledge to keep. For starters, publisher Booker Stallworth Jr. is black. And while his staff may be angry and white, more than half are women." (They certainly must have enjoyed the Phoenix's use of the designation "COW" for a feminist organization at Carnegie-Mellon University.) Stallworth played a useful role for the Phoenix, which had been trying to shake charges that it was biased against African-Americans and other non-whites. "It's laughable when people try to call us racists," Stallworth told the Post-Gazette. "I'm on the top of the masthead." His role as official greeter for the Stockman campaign is a bit less exalted, but given the story he's spun to authorities on our visit to the congressman's compound, maybe he ought to be the one getting the $126,000 from the congressman's campaign.

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