The Insider

As for the top job in public works, City Hall sources say Jerry L. King, deputy general manager at Metro Transit Authority in charge of mobility engineering projects at the agency, is among the front-runners the mayor is considering to succeed Schindewolf as director.

Jew Don's Favorite Hobby
Mayor pro tem Jew Don Boney may be a City Council member first, but he also owns a private business called BSR Consulting, which has been paid to work on city-related elections. In fact, BSR received $12,000 last November from the Rebuild Houston/Together political action committee that supported the city bond issue, a proposition that Boney had voted in Council to put on the municipal ballot.

Contractors who stand to benefit from the construction work generated by the bond issue were major contributors to the Rebuild Houston war chest. In his official capacity, Boney will also help set the spending priorities for the bond money. Rebuild Houston also contributed funds and conducted joint get-out-the-vote efforts in support of the much more controversial and closely contested referendum on the city's affirmative action program, which Boney has championed since he was elected to Council in 1995.

Boney was hired to work for Rebuild Houston by Lanier's then mayoral chief of staff Dave Walden, who took a leave of absence to ramrod both the bond issue and affirmative action efforts. Boney also worked as a consultant in county judicial races two years ago. Quantum Consultants' Nancy Sims, who hired Boney then, says she cannot recall a previous situation in which a City Council member doubled as a political consultant in a city election.

Boney denies the payments to his company amount to a conflict of interest. "I've checked with an attorney, and there is nothing illegal or unethical about my making a living as a consultant," says the mayor pro tem. Boney claims his work for Rebuild Houston amounted to a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote effort.

Of course, that's all a matter of definition. Perhaps Jew Don means that first he got out the votes, and then he drove them to the side that was paying him.

Gerry's Guy
New York and Houston politics have lately been intertwined, and Mayor Brown continues the trend with his billing as special guest at a fundraiser for New York senatorial candidate Geraldine Ferraro in River Oaks March 2. The event is being staged at the home of former Rob Mosbacher supporters Neal Manne, a Susman Godfrey attorney, and his wife, Nancy McGregor, a former counsel for the CIA and FBI. To snuggle up to Ferraro and hobnob with Brown, attendees are asked to shell out a contribution somewhere between $500 and $1,000.

During the last mayoral election, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsed Mosbacher, while predecessor David Dinkins weighed in for Brown, who served as police commissioner in the Dinkins administration. Dinkins showed up at Brown's inauguration, and told The Insider he was delighted to use it as an excuse to avoid Giuliani's swearing-in for a second term back home.

If recent political history is any indication, Republican members of City Council will be countering Brown's pro-Ferraro tilt with a fundraiser of their own for incumbent GOP New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato in the near future.

How Dare You Take My Perks?
A former top bureaucrat at the University of Houston system claims former lieutenant governor and dollar-a-year chancellor Bill Hobby unfairly ousted her two years ago, and wasn't even enough of a gentleman to provide a golden parachute to soften her fall from academic grace. Former senior vice chancellor B. Dell Felder has filed a federal suit in Houston accusing Hobby of firing her to deflect criticism from himself over the handling of the school's public TV station, KUHT-Channel 8.

Felder was among the last of the top-ranking UH officials to be ousted in a purge that took down chancellor Alexander Schilt and campus president Jim Pickering. Felder has since become vice president of academic affairs at California State University at Monterey Bay.

Felder claims that her support for long-distance learning programs at the UH-controlled Channel 8 brought heat on Hobby from professors who feared that a reliance on televised classes could result in faculty and staff reductions. According to court papers, while Hobby told Felder he supported her efforts, Hobby "was vacillating with respect to the station improvements and distance-learning programs as a result of strong protests made by faculty members to him and the board of regents." Hobby called in Felder and demanded her resignation on January 5, 1996, states the suit, saying, "she was not appropriately discharging the duties of her office."

Felder's suit alleges that, in addition to stifling her freedom of speech and damaging her reputation, Hobby denied her the same generous terms of departure afforded other top system bureaucrats. "Motivated by the intent to retaliate against Dr. Felder ... defendant Hobby caused Dr. Felder to be denied payments and benefits which otherwise would have been paid her consistent with system policies and past practices." The pleading contrasts the treatment of Felder with that of former chancellor Schilt, whose ouster was cushioned with a two-year leave of absence, one of those years at full pay and the other at three-quarters salary. Schilt also received free use of system and university facilities, an automobile, payment of accrued value in an executive life insurance policy and other cash benefits, according to Felder's suit.

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