Crazy, Man, Crazy
Janie Reyes, the personnel director for county government, warned against the potential for on-the-job violence in a July 12 memo that itself might send members of one particular demographic cohort over the edge. Reyes, the wife of attorney Frumencio Reyes and a longtime Democratic Party activist, informed county officials and department heads that there are "various levels" of workplace violence: "It can begin as simple insubordination and threats and escalate to murder, suicide or even arson ... the tragedy of workplace violence occurs when clues are not recognized or are not revealed to the next level of management."
Appended to the memo were several pages from a personnel manual Reyes says she picked up at a recent national Society of Human Resource Management convention in Chicago. One of the extracts provides 21 clues to help managers spot potentially violent workers and begins with the admonition: "Be aware of the following traits in your employees." Among such suspicious telltale signs as low tolerance for frustration, frequent anger, lacks empathy for others and abuses drugs and/or alcohol is clue number 19: is a Caucasian male in thirties or forties.
Another clue is defensive when criticized, a trait Reyes freely exhibited when The Insider called to get an explanation for her dissemination of what some workers took to be a racially insulting reference. The personnel director defended her memo by pointing out that white maleness was only one of a number of characteristics associated with perpetrators of workplace violence. Moreover, Reyes said that since the profile was lifted from a training manual, it shouldn't be construed as her point of view. "I didn't make it up," she said, displaying behavior congruent with clue number six: blames others for mistakes and difficulties. She then inquired as to who had forwarded her memo to the Press, suggesting that perhaps clue number 13 may apply: has fantasies of retaliation; holds grudges.
Meanwhile, county government's top Caucasian male in his thirties or forties, County Judge Robert Eckels, was unavailable for comment. But a quick scan of the list of clues indicates that Eckels might fit the potentially violent worker profile in a number of ways besides his race, gender and age. He is known to be unhappy with the slow-moving negotiations to keep the Astros in Houston, and so could possibly fit clue number one: has low tolerance for frustration. He might also be justifiably suspicious of others' motives, particularly Astros owner Drayton McLane and Commissioners Court nemesis Steve Radack. But we were unable to determine whether Eckels, a onetime deputy constable, meets the criterion for the pivotal clue number 17: owns or has access to weapons.
What's a guy to do when he's been caught up in the FBI's investigation of City Hall corruption and needs to find a place to chill over the summer? If you're Ross Allyn, a former City Council aide to Ben Reyes (another central figure in the feds' sting), you head to Charlotte to work with Houston's EPIC Special Events promoting Funday in the Park in that North Carolina city. Far from being a brainchild of Bob and Elyse Lanier, Funday is a nationally marketed program developed by EPIC, which is operated by Houston restaurateur Bob Borochoff.
Allyn, a member of the team that promoted developer Wayne Duddlesten's downtown hotel proposal last fall, approached longtime associate Borochoff shortly after the bogus Latin-American businessmen Allyn had been working with were revealed to be undercover G-men. "I don't need to be unemployed, and I don't need to be in Houston," Allyn told Borochoff, and Borochoff offered him the Charlotte assignment. "He says he didn't do anything wrong, and I believe him," says Borochoff. Allyn's job in Charlotte includes soliciting sponsors for the Funday program, a role that might give some North Carolinians pause if they knew the solicitor unwittingly had been working with FBI agents out to bribe Houston councilmembers.
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Home Is Where the District Is
Ed Chen was one of the rainbow assemblage of Republican activists who went to court to overturn the torturously drawn 29th and 18th congressional districts. One likely side effect of the resulting U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating those district lines could be the reconfiguring of Democrat Ken Bentsen's neighboring 25th District into a Republican-friendly zone. But Chen had done his part for the cause even before that ruling. In January, Chen's wife was looking for a tenant for the family's three-bedroom rent house on Drummond in the Ayrshire subdivision, smack in the middle of Bentsen's district, and ended up renting to none other than lawyer Brent Perry, Bentsen's GOP opponent in the current 25th District. Just a happy coincidence, explains Chen, who says he wasn't even aware Perry was a Republican when the lawyer responded to a rental sign posted in the yard.
Speaking of rent houses and congressional districts, wasn't that Dr. Eugene "Won't somebody elect me to Congress?" Fontenot lurking in the background during the recent court hearings on redrawing the unconstitutional lines? Two years ago, Fontenot rented a house in Meyerland in losing to Bentsen in the 25th District; this year, he stayed in his own house in Spring but lost the GOP primary for the 8th District seat. But Fontenot is one determined millionaire. Now he's telling folks he plans to run in one of the redrawn districts if new elections are ordered this year -- possibly in a district where the field would include Republican Congressman Steve Stockman. That would be a pairing the likes of which hasn't been seen since whenever it was that Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi last got together.
Loneliest Job in Town
Last week we indicated that 50 municipal judges had received late notices on their annual dues from the State Bar of Texas, when in fact only the 15 full-time city jurists were so notified. Chief Judge Sylvia Garcia blamed the late notices on a failure by City Controller Lloyd Kelley's office to forward the necessary backup documentation specifying the individual judges whose dues were being paid by the city. But Kelley's chief of staff, Allen Baquet, claims the office did indeed send along the paperwork it received from the muni courts when it paid the judges' Bar dues. "Don't let your unremitting attacks on Mr. Kelley cause you to be so sloppy," Baquet wrote us. "Just call and ask for the facts. Like the Maytag repairman, we'll be waiting." Baquet didn't return our subsequent phone inquiries -- he must have been out on a service call -- but Garcia's assistant, Anna Otero, says that Kelley's office, instead of sending the documentation to the Bar, filed it away. After the late notices hit their targets, Otero says, she contacted Wesley Dormer of Kelley's staff, who retrieved the filed-away statements. Otero then sent a courts employee to pick up the statements and dispatched them by Fedex to beat a looming deadline. Dormer says he recalls talking to Otero about the dues problem, and while he doesn't remember all the details, he acknowledges that her account is "highly possible." 'Nuff said, Mr. Baquet?
The Insider is available by phone at 624-1483 or 624-1496 (fax) or by e-mail at email@example.com.