Insider

Wulfe contends the current system should be replaced by two four-year terms, which would allow for more stability in city government and eliminate the costs of an election every two years. Wulfe is interested in getting polling data on the feasibility of pushing a public referendum to change the law. He is consulting with Rice political scientist Bob Stein and his University of Houston counterpart Dr. Richard Murray.

Discord in Whitmire Land
State Senator John Whitmire is temporarily living in his mother's house in Houston while trying to reconcile his way back from a separation and divorce suit filed by wife Becky Dalby Whitmire earlier this month in Judge Bonnie Hellums's court.

In her suit, Becky Whitmire cites personality conflict and marital discord as the reason for the couple's estrangement. She asks for the Whitmires' imposing pink brick Georgian home near Memorial Park, as well as the interior furnishings, a 1998 BMW 528 and a Mitsubishi Montero. She also wants their guest house located on ranch property in Chapel Hill, Texas. Included is a requested temporary restraining order asking that the senator be enjoined from spending any of the couple's cash assets beyond customary personal expenses.

Becky Whitmire is the daughter of state District Judge Giles Dalby of Garza County, in West Texas near Lubbock, and she is an heiress to the 16,000-acre Dalby Ranch. The couple has two teenage daughters. She's represented by attorneys Marshall Brown and Joel Nass. Their firm represented Cheryl Turner in her divorce from state Representative Sylvester Turner.

The senator says he and his wife are still trying to work out their differences through counseling, and he's hopeful a permanent split can be avoided.

Affirmative Action
Mercenaries
The city of Houston is defending its affirmative action referendum by using outside legal representation from a law firm whose partner is a conservative Republican and former GOP congressional candidate. Brent Perry did not advocate affirmative action in his campaign. The participation of his firm, Zummo and Perry, apparently didn't help much on an ideological level, as state District Judge Sharolyn Wood, a Republican, last week threw out the results of last fall's referendum. Wood found that the language used by the city on the ballot did not represent the intent of the voters who signed a petition mandating the vote.

Wood will rule later on whether Edward Blum, the anti-affirmative action activist who sued the city, can continue to be involved in the legal effort to secure a new referendum now that he has moved from Houston to West University.

Assistant City Attorney Helen Gross, the supervising city lawyer in the case, says she has no complaints about the quality of the work done by the Zummo and Perry firm on behalf of the city. Still, one legal critic allows he'd feel a lot more confident if the city's chosen counsel actually believed in what they were defending.

Tell The Insider all about it. Call (713) 280-2483, fax (713) 280-2496 or e-mail insider@houstonpress.com.

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