The Insider

Another, the aviation committee, is chaired by at-large Councilman Joe Roach, one of the most active Council supporters of Rob Mosbacher. Roach infuriated Lanier by implying that the mayor had delayed a vote on the airport food-concession contract for political reasons. "It's one thing to endorse Rob," says one Lanier partisan, who believes Roach was trying to capitalize on media coverage of the issue. "That's legitimate. But he tried to create a two-day story there." Whether Roach keeps the chairmanship of a committee prized for great free trips remains to be seen.

Brown made much of his commitment to a higher ethical standard at City Hall, and one of the first indications of whether he's serious will be his appointment of a chairman for the Council ethics committee. "Hopefully it would be someone who's not indicted," cracks a City Hall wise guy, referring to Councilmen Michael Yarbrough and John Castillo, who stand accused of taking payoffs in the FBI's Hotel Six sting. Councilman Jew Don Boney, Brown's selection as mayor pro tem, and Councilman Felix Fraga, both of whom were scrutinized by the federal grand jury but not indicted, might not be the most appropriate candidates for chairman of that committee, either.

A Brown insider says the chairmanship will likely go to at-large Councilman Chris Bell, who made extensive use of the ethics issue in campaigning against Yarbrough aide Richard Johnson. Bell is also a Democrat who is philosophically in tune with Brown and could be counted on not to use the committee post to undermine the new mayor.

And if all that isn't enough administrative patronage to dispense, Brown will also be moving to put his own stamp on the Metro board with a handful of new appointments. The smart money is betting that transit agency Chairman Holcombe Crosswell, a Lanier intimate, will make way for a replacement untainted by anti-rail sentiments.

By the way, this political smorgasbord, just like the mayoral gala at the Wortham, is by invitation only. Remember: Don't call Brown. He'll call you.

... But you can call The Insider at (713) 624-1483 or (713) 624-1496 (fax), or contact him by e-mail at Insider@houstonpress.com.

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