Thanks to term limits, turnover among Houston city council members is fairly regular, and institutional memory be damned. But an ever-fresh supply of new meat means that at least some of that meat will be highly flavorful.
This decade didn't disappoint when it comes to that aspect of council-dom, so herewith we count down our five most entertaining council members of the `00s.
5. Michael Berry
If there's a right-wing opinion to be expressed, Michael Berry is your man. He does it now on the radio, where he has helped transform once-proud KTRH-AM from a hard-hitting, well-respected news station to an unlistenable blob of wingnut blathering. ("Our listener poll question today: Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ, or merely one of his evil minions? Head to our website and vote now!!")
But before that he did it on council, where he said seemingly anything that popped into his head. Convinced Houston was eager to adopt his views, Berry ran for mayor in 2003 as an alleged wunderkind in his early 30s, but the expected groundswell never emerged and he dropped out.
4. Al Hoang
Who's Al Hoang, you might well find yourself asking. Especially if you live in District F, which Hoang was just elected to represent. As Slampo of Slampo's Place has entertainingly shown, Hoang isn't exactly a District F homeboy. In fact, he didn't even become eligible to vote in the district until three weeks before the election.
Houston ordinances make it clear you have to have resided in a district for a year if you want to represent it, but Hoang demonstrated a bold media-relations policy when the Houston Chronicle called him to follow up on Slampo's work: He hung up on them.
Somehow, we're betting this is going to be one fun councilmember.
3. Jolanda Jones
A track star, a former Survivor contestant, someone who paints her office "Pepto-Bismol pink" and demands the city install a shower near her workplace? What's not to like?
Jones has shown a knack for controversy -- she read a letter in a public forum calling a black firefighters union official a "house Negro," always a classy thing to do -- and absolutely no tendency to think before she talks. That led to an unheard-of announcement by some of her colleagues that they opposed her re-election. Luckily for the sake of reporters and City Hall followers, Jones won -- a squeaker. "All that's really required is to win by one vote," she told reporters.
2. Bert Keller
Not good: When a story about you reads "In early June, he had a late-night visit to a topless bar, then ran amok in an inebriated state and drove his Ford Expedition into a parked truck. He left the scene and later pleaded guilty to DWI."
Worse: When that story continues
Now the 39-year-old official has found out the hard way that his estranged wife, Susan Sanders Keller, has been seeing his City Council pal and fellow conservative Robert Percy "Rob" Todd behind his back for months.
Recent public sightings of District E representative Todd and Susan out on the town prompted Rob to tell Keller that, henceforth, the couple is going public with the relationship. That leaves Bert in a difficult position, since he has to go to work and sit five feet away from his wife's new boyfriend.
The decade started with the juicy story of Keller and Todd, which eventually included near-obsessive phone-calling between the paramours and a physical confrontation at a Houston nightclub. Keller's days as a councilman were few, but fun.
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1. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs
Ah, DraculaCunt. Not all of your wackiness was demonstrated on council -- you saved some of it for the world's most unnecessary Congressional term, before which you promised to balance the budget (during the month or so you'd be serving as a temporary replacement).
During her time on council, Sekula-Gibbs was known mostly for rambling on endlessly ascolleagues fidgeted impatiently; she believed her medical knowledge (of dermatology) was relevant to just about any subject at hand. She got elected to the council largely on the strength of her name, which at the time included a husband who was a beloved former local TV anchor.
When she eventually ran for Congress in 2006, she won a special election to fill Tom DeLay's unexpired term. Events forced her to run as a write-in candidate; one voter wrote "Shelly DraculaCunt Gibs." And it counted.
That will earn a gal lifetime membership in the Entertaining Council Members Hall of Fame.