Insider

Asked why the high turnover rate continues, Womack explained that not everyone wants to work as hard as Congresswoman Lee.

"Because she works so hard, we are pressured with work from other Congress areas," claimed Womack. "A lot from Tom DeLay, Ken Bentsen, other Congresspeople. And we've got to send out those letters saying, 'I'm sorry, you're not in our district.' "

The continuing staff turmoil has kept alive rumors that Councilman Jew Don Boney will challenge Lee in the Democratic congressional primary two years from now.

"If he can get his hands on some money it would be a hell of a race," a former Lee staffer says of a Boney/Lee face-off. "I don't know if he's any more pleasant than she is, but I could see the Lanier crowd getting behind him and raising some money just to thumb their noses at her."

The Hidden Cost of Model-Netics
A year ago, The Insider delved into the mysteries of Model-Netics, the corporate psychobabble created by American General's former chairman Harold Hooks and foisted on the Houston Independent School District by Superintendent Rod Paige.

Billed as a management language with 151 models, or glyphs, as its alphabet, the program requires 20 one-hour training sessions to indoctrinate bureaucrats to the point where they can parrot slogans like "northbound train" [meaning "get with the program"] or "cruel sea" ["terminated for the organizational good"] back and forth at each other. For the last year, the district has been busy training administrators down to the principal level.

Both Paige and his chief of staff, Susan Sclafani, are Model-Netics devotees who carry Model-Netics memory-joggers that allow them to constantly brush up on the rather esoteric terminology of the program.

When queried by The Insider last year, HISD spokesman Terry Abbott characterized the acquisition of the program as a real bargain for the district, with Model-Netics provider Main Events Management, a subsidiary created by Hooks, donating $862,000 worth of services for a bargain-basement $161,310.

But in addition to the money paid to Main Events Management, there are also the salaries of ten staff members in charge of training fellow bureaucrats to consider. According to a district source, the salaries come to a cool $470,974, a rather lavish outlay of the district's scarce resources.

There may also be new worlds for Model-Netics to conquer close at hand. Former American General executive Al Haines is now Mayor Lee Brown's second-in-command, and is a big believer in Hooks's brainchild. He has not ruled out implementing Model-Netics in the city bureaucracy.

Got a gripe? Want to vent? Have some documents to share? Call The Insider at (713) 624-1483, fax him at (713) 624-1496 or e-mail him at Insider@ houstonpress.com.

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