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Flowers of Evil

Houston, a hero lives in your midst -- a Meat Hero.
Mark Brewer

Politics in the boardwalk town of Kemah tend to be a little off-kilter, and luckily for us folks who don't live there, it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

There have been accusations of political opponents stalking one another; now we have an attempted character assassination by bouquet.

Mayor William King e-mailed residents May 15 to let them know the squalid details. He said he came home from a doctor's appointment on May 14 in time for the delivery of a dozen roses and a card addressed to "Wild Bill."

The unsigned, handwritten note told "Wild Bill" that the author couldn't wait until King returned from his trip so that they could…so that they could…well, as King described it to residents, "The note then proceeded to describe the most filthy, pornographic acts you can imagine."

Who can imagine? A 75-year-old Kemah retiree, or, say, a reporter for a publication that has "Adult Services" ads filling its back pages? Alas, King was out of the country on vacation and unavailable to describe specifics. The e-mail did further titillate, though, by adding, "I am not talking run-of-the-mill profanity. I am talking about graphic descriptions of perverted sexual acts."

Wild Bill, you are such a tease.

Kemah police investigated and found the flower order had been placed at League City Florist via a plain envelope slipped under the door overnight. The envelope contained the note, a $100 bill and instructions to deliver on Friday afternoon.

"The obvious intent was that the flowers be delivered when [King's wife] Melissa was home in a sophomoric attempt to make her believe I was having a sorted affair," King wrote. Again, his vacation prevented us from learning just what a "sorted" affair is -- it sounds kinky. If not sordid.

"Fortunately," King wrote, "Melissa and I have the kind of marriage that she would not have believed such nonsense for a moment had she gotten the delivery."

We guess she knows just how wild her Bill can get.

No arrests have been made in regards to what King called "this fiendish act," but knowing Kemah, we're sure there's more to come.

Wind Beneath My Buffalo Wings

In these strange days of war and terror, the word "hero" gets tossed around pretty easily. But Jose Garcia of Houston has what most cops, firefighters and members of the armed services don't: an actual declaration that he is, indeed, a hero.

In this case, a Meat Hero. Garcia won the honor by being declared the finest meat cutter among all the 175 Texas Roadhouse restaurants nationwide. Tina Turner may have sung, "We don't need another hero," but she never met Garcia.

Like comic-book heroes of yore, Garcia is laconic about his super-abilities:

Q. How does it feel to be a Meat Hero?

A. Well, I feel the same, you know. I feel the same. I feel good. I feel proud. You know, that's all.

Q. Do you get more women now because you're a Meat Hero?

A. Oh, no, man. Nothing like that, man. The women, they don't care if you're a Meat Hero or no. They care about your packet, that's all. (Hair Balls note: Yes, he said "packet" -- as in "pay packet" -- not "package." He's not that kind of Meat Hero.)

Q. Is there such a thing as a Meat Villain?

A. No. No, no, no, no, no.

Q. Like maybe the Hamburglar?

A. I don't know, maybe.

Q. Do you eat a lot of meat?

A. Maybe once a week, twice a week, that's all…I like it, oh, God, it's my favorite, steak or whatever. But you always look at the meat and you cut it, it's kind of gross. But you know, I like it. Even then, it's bad for you, you know. It's bad for your health, your heart, you know. But I like it, I love it.

Q. Do you think you can repeat as Meat Hero next year?

A. Oh, no…Because I don't want to be a meat cutter anymore. I want to skip out, you know what I mean?

Garcia says he wants to train to move up to manager status. Perhaps Tina Turner was right, after all.

Big Bucks But No Job

Galveston rolled out the fanfare and the big bucks when it hired Gil Langley to be CEO and president of the city's Parks Board. Now, less than a year later, he's gone amidst a ton of turmoil.

Langley was a private consultant when Galveston hired him at a salary of $120,000 in April 2003. That was a hefty hike over the $83,000 his predecessor made in the job, and it's more than the $115,000 paid to the head of Houston's parks department. (The Galveston job, however, does include duties with the convention and visitors bureau, which are handled separately in Houston.)

Langley resigned after a marathon closed-door meeting May 3; since then there's been much talk of lawsuits, and board members have clammed up.

But one board member, Sheila Lidstone, says events came to a head with a special meeting called while she was out of town in March. At that meeting board members gave Langley a $20,000 raise and $30,000 in easily attained performance bonuses. Combined with previous raises, that made his salary a whopping $180,000 -- ten grand more than new Houston police chief Harold Hurtt is getting.

(Hey, you're saying, that can't be right -- Galveston has a population of 57,000, as opposed to Houston's two million. But you're forgetting Hurtt has no convention and visitors bureau responsibilities.)

Lidstone, who had criticized Langley's performance for much of his tenure, says the meeting notices and minutes did not reveal the size of the financial bounty. She thought Langley was getting a $5,000 salary adjustment.

"From the first of March to the end of April, I was never alerted that the $5,000 was actually $50,000," she says.

Once word of the $50K got out, board members began to hear from some of Galveston's budget-hawk citizens. Lidstone won't go into details ("A million people are threatening to sue," she says), and other members didn't return calls. However, the Galveston County Daily News has reported concerns that Langley had continued to do consulting work on the side and hadn't followed proper budget procedures.

A public relations specialist who received Parks Board work was later found out to be a girlfriend of Langley's, although she told the News that the relationship began after the work was completed. Langley himself is unreachable.

As for Lidstone, she says the board is "really trying to work together" as they deal with the brouhaha.

A search is on for a new parks head. Who, we're guessing, won't be getting a $180,000 salary.

Wonders Never Cease

You think you've seen everything, and then along comes a snooty, pompous wine connoisseur. So much for stereotypes.

Brenda Kieser, a PR woman, was putting together a silent-auction fund-raiser for the Texas Chefs Association and convinced Christopher's Wine Warehouse to donate a wine-tasting event. Owner Christopher Massie estimated its worth at $1,000.

The winning bid, though -- from Kieser's roommate -- was $200. The winner called and set a date; Massie later backed out, saying he had a paying group that night.

So Kieser called him. And according to Kieser, he said, "I don't want you cheap people in my place. If all they can afford is $200, I don't want them here." He refunded the $200, she says, and then she went to the Better Business Bureau. BBB president Dan Parsons says he sent a letter to Massie but never heard back.

Or maybe all this didn't happen at all, if you believe Massie. He says he's never heard of Kieser. Or the Texas Chefs Association. And he never heard from the BBB about the alleged incident, and of course he never disparaged potential customers by calling them cheap. "I would never say anything like that," he says.

Not a lot of middle ground there.

Parsons notes that Massie "was pretty nasty" with the BBB in dealings about a previous complaint and that Kieser "sounded credible" to him.

Obviously Parsons and Kieser live in some sort of Bizarro World where wine experts are snobs. Enjoy the André with the rest of the Great Unwashed, you two.


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