The Insider

Shooting (Yourself) from the Lip
Loose lips may not necessarily sink ships, but they can cost a Harris County constable some deputies. A recent Press story on Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino quoted the colorful lawman calling District Attorney Johnny Holmes and the five members of Commissioners Court "assholes." A week later, an angry Commissioner El Franco Lee asked the court to reassign two deputy positions he had given Trevino to another constable. Trevino protested to no avail, as the commissioners approved the switch. The constable accused Lee of endangering constituents in the Fifth Ward, where the deputies had been assigned. "I guess he's forgotten where he came from," Trevino said.

Lee claimed the transfer had nothing to do with the constable's scatological digression. But when a state lawmaker called Lee at Trevino's behest to ask that the transfer be reconsidered, Lee reportedly told him it was a done deal. "And I've got five asshole votes to pass it," he deadpanned.

Pressure Drop at UH
The University of Houston's long-simmering season of administrative discontent is now approaching the Mount Saint Helens mode, with main campus President Jim Pickering quitting last week to avoid a public beheading. In his resignation letter (in which he said he would be claming a year's paid leave at his $150,000 annual salary), Pickering took some parting shots at his former godfather, UH System Chancellor Alex Schilt, who is apparently hanging from the same precarious perch. Schilt's main supporter on the board of regents, chairman Beth Morian, is suddenly waffling in public statements about Schilt's future. The new synergy driving the board is lawyer John O'Quinn and his breast implant lawsuit client, Houston first lady Elyse Lanier, a development that campus sources say contributed to Pickering's impending departure. According to one of those sources, O'Quinn "totally disrupted" a recent search for a new law school dean, a move that angered the outgoing president.

Also on his way out is UH Provost Henry Trueba, the highest ranking minority on the main campus, who resigned this week upon his return from a jaunt to China. Trueba, a former Jesuit priest, suffered from an increasingly common scourge of the computer age that likely contributed to his resignation: someone fished out e-mail from the provost that was chock full of attacks on Pickering and the UH System. Some of the juicier items were relayed to the regents, several of whom deemed the material rank insubordination.

Consultants in Collision
The controller candidacy of Councilman Lloyd Kelley is scripting another chapter in the adventures of Houston's political version of the Hatfields and the McCoys -- the Blakemores and the Waldens. Consultant Allen Blakemore, Kelley's longtime adviser and (up to now at least) his campaign manager, and his wife Elizabeth have been crosswise for some time with fundraiser Sue Walden and her husband, Mayor Bob Lanier's co-chief of staff Dave Walden. Blakemore managed the recent Council campaign of Katherine Tyra against winner John Peavy and attacked some of Peavy's supporters as downtown "good ol' boys." Many of the same good ol' boys are now backing Kelley for controller, and several would like to replace Blakemore in the councilman's campaign. Sue Walden, who raised funds for Peavy, is now in line to raise money for Kelley, making for a potential political fuel-oil-and-fertilizer recipe -- if and when she and Blakemore join forces.

Tim Fleck is The Insider. Contribute to the commonweal by contacting him at 624-1483 (voice) or 624-1496 (fax).


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