Curiouser and Curiouser

Ex-congressman Stockman is labeled a co-conspirator in prescription fraud

Since Polland is a political ally of Stockman's and chairman of the county GOP, his role in representing Robbins would seem to raise conflict-of-interest issues, since the feds clearly want Robbins to cooperate in building the case against Stockman. Asked about that aspect of the investigation, prosecutor Lewis replied, "That would certainly be a good question to ask Mr. Polland."

Get Your Political Salsa, Extra Hot!

GOP chair Polland represents an indicted friend of Stockman's.
GOP chair Polland represents an indicted friend of Stockman's.

Houston Hispanic politics have always seemed a little spicier, with a more personal edge than black and Anglo counterparts. The escalating rhetoric surrounding the race for the eastside District I seat indicates nothing has changed.

District I incumbent John Castillo and District H's Gabriel Vasquez, two of council's three Hispanic members, are trying to throw up a roadblock to the ambitions of Mayor Lee Brown's staffer Carol Alvarado, who is running to replace the term-limited Castillo.

Vasquez is calling on Alvarado to jettison her campaign treasurer, Port of Houston chairman Jim Edmonds, because one of her areas of responsibility at City Hall is the port.

"Can you imagine, as her treasurer, Jim approaching architects and engineers, legal consultants, and people who do business with the port and asking them to contribute to Carol Alvarado's campaign?" says Vasquez. "To me, that's a conflict of interest. To me, it's unethical. I think Jim should resign from her campaign."

Vasquez also sees a conflict in Alvarado's work at City Hall for Brown and her campaign for office, though he isn't calling for her resignation from the administration -- yet.

The new feuding is all too reminiscent of the bitter struggle between former councilman and current federal prisoner Ben Reyes and his followers versus estranged protégé Al Luna and political consultant Marc Campos in the late '70s and '80s. Recently, new battle lines formed between Vasquez against State Senator Mario Gallegos, Campos and a posse of Houston Hispanic state reps.

Vasquez ran for council over the Gallegos's bloc's opposition and triumphed, though not without a particularly nasty incident where he and state Rep Jessica Farrar cussed each other out in a parking lot. Now Gabe and Castillo are endorsing District I candidate Al Flores against Alvarado, and tempers around town are edging toward a steady boil.

Campos, a close friend of Alvarado's and a consultant to Gallegos, claims Vasquez is a power freak who won't stop till he assumes Reyes's old position as El Jefe.

To the charge of power grabbing, Vasquez has a ready comeback. "I think they're just looking in a mirror and seeing themselves," he replies coolly.

Vasquez's call for Edmonds to resign from the Alvarado campaign draws a laugh from Campos. "Has he ever heard of Ned Holmes?" retorts the consultant, referring to Edmonds's predecessor as port chair who routinely served as campaign finance chair for a number of city officials.

Alvarado says she's proud to have Edmonds supporting her and has no plans to ask him to resign. She adds she will be taking a leave of absence from her City Hall post to campaign after Labor Day. Alvarado professes surprise that Vasquez and Castillo would be meddling in another council contest.

Campos is not quite so diplomatic. "Gabe is sick, man," says Campos. "Gabe and Castillo are both lying buddies. There's such a thing as a liar's club, and they're in it."

Isn't it reassuring to know that some things haven't changed in the new millennium?

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