The Insider

The Enemy of My Enemy Is ... Go Figure
When it comes to the Republican primary contest for county attorney nominee, the key to figuring out the support for hopefuls Mickey Lawrence and Michael Fleming lies in some political subtleties that the candidates themselves aren't addressing directly.

Lawrence, a senior attorney for Texaco, incurred the disfavor of GOP County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, and by extension his ally on Commissioners Court, Steve Radack, after she publicly explored the possibility of running against Eversole in 1994. Back then, Eversole seemed vulnerable amid revelations that he had tapped his campaign account to buy himself clothes and golfing gear. A former Eversole aide, consultant Sue Walden, testified before the grand jury that returned perjury indictments against the commissioner for filing inaccurate campaign reports.

Now Walden is working for Lawrence, and neither Eversole nor Radack is said to be amused by that affiliation. In fact, Radack staged a fundraiser at his home last week for Fleming, who has his own problems with some Republicans. As an assistant county attorney under Democrat Mike Driscoll, Fleming conducted a bruising deposition of Republican County Judge Jon Lindsay as part of Driscoll's attempt to remove Lindsay from office for allegedly accepting a bribe to build a county road. Lindsay claims the effort was a Democratic conspiracy and Fleming an unwitting dupe of Driscoll. Walden, who is also working for Lindsay in his bid to win a state Senate seat, was responsible for a recent Lawrence mailing that was highly critical of Fleming for his role in the attempted ouster of Lindsay (it also wrongly accused him of never having voted in a Republican primary, an error for which Lawrence was forced to apologize).

"Something is going on here," observes Port Commissioner Chase Untermeyer, a former Bush administration official who is close to Lindsay. "It's either that Radack and Eversole hate Mickey Lawrence, or they aren't fond of Jon Lindsay, or they hate Mickey Lawrence to the degree they're willing to forgive Fleming what he did to Lindsay."

Radack claims it's nothing so Byzantine. "Of the two, I believe he's the most qualified," says Radack. "I feel that Michael Fleming was doing his job that he was assigned to do by Driscoll, and any of this stuff that Fleming was on some kind of political vendetta is absolutely ridiculous." Radack adds that reports he and Eversole are pursuing a vendetta against Lawrence are equally ridiculous. But like so many things in county government, calling something ridiculous is not the same thing as saying it's untrue.

Jesus Loves Me. But Not You.
Once again, the Texas chapter of the Christian Coalition is poised to be a formidable presence at the precinct conventions that will be held after the polls close for the March 12 Republican and Democratic primary elections. To help its true believers navigate the sometimes confusing rules under which the conventions are conducted, the coalition has produced a handy "Operation Precinct Workbook" to explain in fine detail how God's chosen activists can elect the chairman of their precinct caucus, ensure the passage of "pro-family" resolutions and see that anti-abortion delegates are picked to go to the subsequent Senate district-level conventions.

"This all goes very smoothly if you have a majority of the people on your side," the workbook advises. But if folks from the religious right find themselves in the minority, they should, according to the manual, "plead for fairness and justice to include some of your choices for delegates, alternates and resolutions." Nowhere in the workbook is it recommended that God's foot soldiers extend the same Christian forebearance if confronted with similar pleadings from the outmanned opposition.

But however it goes, conventioneers should always "cover the job with prayer," the workbook counsels. Participants are instructed to find a prayer partner, preferably within their own precinct, and "pray for wisdom, protection, boldness for yourself and your workers." Another workbook tip for success in the holy wars: "Don't ask people if they are registered to vote until you know they are like-minded." Lord knows we wouldn't want any heathens in the voting booth.

Moving On
Good-bye doesn't seem appropriate when addressed to a tough, spicy-tongued, ground-breaking businesswoman and feminist-politico like Char Rothrock, who moved her base of operations from Montrose to another plane last week after a lengthy bout with cancer. You figure she's still out there somewhere, giving someone hell.

After Mayor Kathy Whitmire appointed her to the city's housing authority board, Rothrock, for better or worse, made the demolition of Allen Parkway Village and redevelopment of the site her consuming political passion. "Kathy, I want to drive the first bulldozer through APV," Char often quoted herself imploring Whitmire. She didn't get to fulfill that ambition, although in the final weeks of her illness, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros did approve the latest redevelopment plan for the project.

Rothrock also successfully lobbied for the mandatory posting of notices at restaurants demonstrating the proper execution of the Heimlich maneuver. That campaign grew out of Rothrock's saving close friend Jane Cherry, an aide to Commissioner El Franco Lee, from choking on, appropriately, a cherry as they dined at Ruggles. "If I'd had tits, she'd be dead," wisecracked Rothrock long after successfully executing the chest-hugging maneuver.

Photographer Carol Gerhardt's portrait of Rothrock staring down death in the Beth Yeshurun cemetery along Allen Parkway hung beside Char's bed in the weeks before her passing. The in-your-face determination captured in the photograph is the quality that Rothrock's friends and political opponents will recall most vividly whenever her name is invoked in the future. If there's one person The Insider can't imagine wanting to rest in peace, it's Char Rothrock.

A memorial service for Rothrock will be held at the Wortham Theater complex at 4 p.m. Monday, March 4. Former mayor Whitmire will be the main speaker.


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