Two years ago, this newspaper published an in-depth profile of Lloyd Kelley, who was running for city controller after one term on City Council. For the cover of that issue, we spliced a picture of Kelley's head onto the body of a bulldog, and in the headline we asked whether Kelley was a "Watchdog? Lapdog? Or just a dog?"
The question was purely rhetorical. The answer, then as now, was "just a dog." As Brian Wallstin's piece and subsequent Press stories made clear, Kelley is a grasping hack politician, devoid of scruples, who'll do and say just about anything to get elected to higher office.
Not everyone agreed. The Chronicle seemed to endorse Kelley about every other week prior to the 1995 election, and some of Bob Lanier's money supporters chipped in to ensure Kelley's smooth ascent to the controller's office, the idea being that Kelley wouldn't be the nuisance to Lanier that George Greanias had been.
And a few weeks after our story appeared, Kelley was elected controller, though barely, over a no-name, underfunded opponent who had made a late entry into the race.
But give Lloyd Kelley time.
In the 21 months that Kelley's been controller, the Chronicle's editorialists have been moved to denounce him even more often than they once endorsed him, most recently after it was revealed that Kelley had cut his former campaign treasurer in for a $75,000 slice of an auditing contract with the controller's office.
Yeah, everybody's on Kelley's case now. A few months ago, Wayne Dolcefino and Channel 13 trained their hidden cameras on Kelley and caught the controller spending an inordinate number of working hours at his new home in the Woodland Heights, tending to his yard, walking his dog and meeting with potential campaign donors.
Channel 13 even followed Kelley to the SplashTown amusement park, where he had ventured one fine summer day in the company of his two children and a female employee of his office.
It was about that time that I came to regret our gimmickry that had transformed Lloyd Kelley into a dog -- as well as the whole "dogboy" thing we subsequently pushed into the local political vernacular. It was all, I'm afraid, a bit over-the-top.
In fact, it was downright mean, and for that I'd like to apologize.
To any and all dogs who were insulted by our association of Lloyd Kelley with their species, I'm truly sorry.
I realize now that likening Kelley to a warm-blooded, four-legged creature noted for its loyalty, attentiveness and good nature was a slander on all members of canis familiaris everywhere.
In my many years of owning dogs, of being chased by dogs, of asking dogs to please pipe down 'cause it's 3 a.m., I've never known one to hide behind its offspring when caught doing something questionable.
Dogs aren't like that.
Lloyd Kelley is.
Certainly, a dog wouldn't exhibit the kind of disloyalty to Houston taxpayers that
Lloyd Kelley has by setting himself up to run for a statewide office next year -- first it was land commissioner, for the last few months it's been a seat on the Railroad Commission -- while seeking re-election as controller in November.
Dogs don't take their masters for chumps.
Lloyd Kelley does.
And I don't believe that even the most unruly, un-housebroken mutt would stand on its hind legs at a public meeting and engage in the kind of reckless character assassination that Lloyd Kelley did on September 20 when he addressed the State Republican Executive Committee in Austin.
By now, you've probably heard what Kelley told the Republican leadership: that he had to win re-election in Houston before he could get on with the business of running for statewide office, and, hey, by the way, his opponent down there -- that would be Judge Sylvia Garcia -- had not only been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, but she's gay.
The first observation is true. The second, as Garcia has been having to tell the media constantly since Kelley's speech, is a bald-faced lie.
After his pandering promotional speech, Kelley told an Austin-based Chronicle reporter that, yeah, "it's no secret" that the middle-aged, unmarried Garcia is gay, but it's not really an issue in their contest, and, by the way, the rumor is that Garcia is "dating" a female employee in her office.
Kelley tried to rationalize his slander by saying he was just responding to Garcia's suggestion that he was having an affair with the woman from his office who accompanied him to SplashTown.
Garcia says that, too, is a lie, that all she's done is cite Dolcefino's stories in making the inarguable observation that Kelley isn't being paid almost $100,000 by taxpayers to go to SplashTown or work in his yard.
"I have never mentioned who he was with, but if the shoe fits, yeah, wear it," says Garcia, who's on an unpaid leave as chief judge of the municipal courts. "The issue is, he's not in his office."
Of course, seasoned Lloyd Kelley watchers were hardly surprised he had stooped to gay-baiting. It was just a matter of time.
"The best Garcia could do is beat me up because I took time off to spend with my kids," Kelley told the Chronicle a few days before his Austin speech.
Let's set aside the question of whether taxpayers should have to subsidize Lloyd Kelley's quality time with his children, or his bid for statewide office. And let's not even bother with the ludicrousness of Kelley, who's been married three times and hasn't hit 40, parading in public as Mr. Family Values.
Let's forget all that, and consider the rumor that Kelley himself is gay.
Oh, I just started it. I mean, I have no evidence that Kelley is gay, but how do we know for a fact that he's not? After all, Channel 13 caught a steady stream of men going into Kelley's house in the middle of the day, and how can we be sure that all they were doing was discussing city finances or plotting out Kelley's run for railroad commissioner?
I tried to get to the bottom of this "Lloyd Kelley is gay" rumor by leaving a message with Kelley's right-hand man at the controller's office, David Hagy, asking him if he could have Kelley call me to confirm or deny that's he's a homosexual.
Hagy, who's too nice a guy to be working for Kelley, offered a good-natured "no comment" when asked about Kelley's sexual orientation, but he "absolutely" denied that he himself has ever had sex with Kelley.
Likewise, Allen Blakemore, the Republican consultant who's turned a buck or two from shaping Kelley's political career, emphatically denied ever having sex with Kelley.
That's narrowing it down.
As to whether Kelley is gay, Blakemore said, "You'll have to ask him, or either his current wife or his last two ex-wives," meaning, of course, that a guy who's been married that often couldn't be gay.
Well, I did try to ask Kelley, but as of our deadline I was still waiting for him to call.
It doesn't matter. We can safely say one thing about Lloyd Kelley: He's beyond reproach. He has no shame.
But I suspect that some of his enablers, the people who've supported and bankrolled his political ambitions, do have a sense of shame.
They should have to answer for Lloyd Kelley.
If you were angered by Lloyd Kelley's remarks, why not call the Chronicle to see whether the paper will again endorse Kelley for controller? The number is (713) 220-7171. Ask for Richard J.V. Johnson.
Or ring up Port Commission Chairman Ned Holmes -- (713) 621-1880 or (713) 864-7200 -- and ask if he regrets hosting a fundraiser for Kelley a few months ago.
And what about Bob and Elyse Lanier, Mr. and Mrs. Diversity themselves, who've cuddled and stroked and tolerated Kelley for the last two years? Maybe they should be asked how it looks for the city's "image" to have a lousy bigot as its second-ranking elected official. The number at City Hall is (713) 247-2200.
Here at the Press, we're doing our mea culpas over Lloyd Kelley.
We're dropping the dog shtick.
Henceforth, we'll just call Kelley "Weasel."
And I'll apologize in advance to any weasels who might be offended.
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