The Insider

A Matter of Degree ...
HISD board president Arthur Gaines and trustee Ron Franklin, his predecessor as president, clashed recently over whether River Oaks Elementary should be open to children from the nearby neighborhood after which the school is named. (Franklin led the charge for the change; Gaines favored retaining the school's all-Vanguard program status.) Now there's another reason for the two to duke it out on the playground: when graduation time rolled around last month, Gaines learned that diplomas sent to the outgoing HISD senior class bore Franklin's signature. An HISD spokesman says the printing company accidentally missed the changing of the guard, and no slight to Gaines was intended. Gaines did not return a call for comment, but a source close to the board president says Gaines was fuming and wants new diplomas mailed out with his name inserted in place of Franklin's. "These kids may be the only ones in America with two diplomas," laughs the source, "including a collectors' item with a bogus title."

Bringing In the Sheep
Since City Council was transfigured to its current mix of at-large and district seats in the late 1970s, races for the 14 positions usually have attracted a potpourri of candidates and campaign styles. But lately, a pre-fab campaign team for all seasons seems to be in place, composed of most of the same folks who helped put Mayor Bob Lanier and County Judge Robert Eckels in office. Latest case in point: David Ballard, a real-estate broker from Garden Oaks and the anointed replacement for controller aspirant Lloyd Kelley in the at-large Position 3 seat on Council. Not surprisingly, Ballard's Bob-lite literature includes the Bob-like declaration that Houston "is on the right track -- we've done a good job focusing on crime and the infrastructure in the last few years." Ballard's and Kelley's campaigns are shaping up as near-carbon copies of the successful John Peavy team in the special Council election earlier this year. All the usual downtown heavyweights are aboard, starting with mayoral confidante Joe B. Allen, Port Commissioner Ned Holmes and the Greater Houston Association's Jim Edmonds. And, of course, Joe B.'s money-raiser of choice, Sue Walden, is de rigueur for all the campaigns.

Get Thee to Another Salon
The owners of a Westheimer hair studio exercised salon justice recently after two visits by Alley Theatre associate artist Robert Wilson. By their account, Wilson had tried to dye his cropped hair black for his production of HAMLET a monologue, but was forced to seek professional aid when his tresses turned an eerie shade of indigo. Sweeping into the salon the next day, Wilson commanded all present to be silent so a member of his entourage could interview him as his hair was done. "We were in shock," one of the proprietors says. Two hours into a coloration, Wilson announced he had to leave -- at once. "We weren't done -- we tried to tell him," says the owner, but Wilson charged ahead until he glimpsed his brassy, pink-brown pate in a mirror. He then chewed out the salon staff and stalked out without paying.

Act Two occurred the following morning when Wilson returned with a French makeup artist. The princely one instructed his companion to demand immediate attention so he could make the afternoon matinee. But alas, poor Robert, the owners decided at that point to cut their losses and sent Hamlet packing.

The Insider appears here each week courtesy Tim Fleck.


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