Sunday, January 30, 2005

Liar's Letter

I got a letter in the mail Saturday from Commissar Mayor Bill White, a taxpayer-funded boast by His Hypocrisance about what a great job he is doing so far. This is normal in politicians, but it still seems to me appropo for a translation in common parlance.

White is a Democrat who, savvy in such matters, has ducked that fact during his campaign to be Mayor, pretending a la senator Kerry that he has no record to consider, except that in White's case the ruse worked, and many people elected a man with a resume comprised largely of White-Out.

Bill White is a career Democrat who ran as a regular guy, hiding his work for outgoing Scoundrel Mayor Lee Brown, and former President Bill Clinton. The ability to raise millions from Liberal Special-Interest Groups should have been a wake-up call, but it wasn't heard by enough people.

White's letter begins; "Andrea and I took a risk when citizens from all backgrounds helped us mount an uphill campaign to serve you as Mayor. But Houston was worth it."
Ahem. It's a bad sign when the first lie shows up in the first sentence. White spent $8.6 Million to become Mayor, and his press exposure was always that of the front-runner. The candidates with the real "uphill campaign" were anyone not named White.

White goes on; "We had bold plans to get our economy and traffic moving, make City Hall more responsive and efficient, and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. After a year of hard work, you know Houston is on the move."

Uh-huh, yeah, sure. There is absolutely no evidence to indicate that the Mayor has done anything to improve traffic, business, or accountability. The expensive train that voters rejected twice before City Council went ahead anyway, has made a name for itself, though not the sort the Mayor would brag about, and Houston is #6 on the list of cities in the nation with the worst rush-hour traffic jams. As for Business, I have not seen any rush of companies moving their Headquarters to Houston, and as for Accountability, the thuggish methods used to impose the new SafeClear program on citizens without any sort of referendum or debate in advance, and an Orwellian plan to replace cops with cameras at street intersections, again proves the Mayor's claims false.

The Mayor: "I write to share some highlights of this past year and express excitement about what we can do in 2005."

OK, I will admit this will sound cynical, but whenever a politician gets excited, that screams "Taxes!" to me.

The Mayor: "Last year our region added over 20,000 new jobs, aided by City Hall's aggressive efforts to recruit new businesses and remove barriers to the expansion of existing businesses. This helps us preserve Houston's place as America's great city of opportunity."

Many grains of salt, please, that's a lot to expect us to swallow. Let's start with the obvious: 20,000 new jobs in a "region" of over 2.16 million workers is a growth rate of 0.9%, well below anything I would brag about. And there is no evidence whatsoever that Mayor White had anything to do with business expansion in Houston. Taxes did not go down, City Hall passed no ordinances to make Houston more business-friendly, and I am unaware of even one instance in 2004 where City Hall removed a "barrier to the expansion of existing businesses". In other words, the good Mayor is still lying.

Mayor Pinnochio: "We've made City Hall more efficient and responsive by linking the pay of city employees to performance, reforming our pensions and enacting a disciplined budget which cut property tax rates."

Lie, lie, and lie. First off, while linking pay to performance is a good idea, the Mayor did not apply these rules across the board, and did not touch a single Councilman's or Mayoral aide or staff member. The pensions "reformed" were simply a matter of breaking old promises to City employees, which also touched off a rash of early retirements by firemen and policemen who would lose benefits if they stayed in. It's worth noting that the Mayor did not replace these firemen and policemen, instead closing Police Academy classes and Fire Houses in 2004. How anyone could consider that responsible is beyond me. As for cutting property tax rates, that simply did not happen. The Mayor lined up the Council to lower the growth of Property Taxes, and that in a measure which is likely to affect less than 5% of property owners, and which still allows Property Taxes to grow, and well beyond the rate of inflation.

Mayor Quimby: "You know I have fought hard to reduce the traffic nightmare by re-timing our traffic signals and speeding up road construction. And we’ve made tough decisions to enhance mobility by an improving SafeClear program, to make our freeways safer and beat gridlock."

The only person who could possibly claim that with a straight face, is a man who not only doesn't drive himself to work, but whose limousine is equipped with a flashing light and siren to ignore inconvenient traffic conditions. Here's what I know, as a commuter. In 2003, it took me an average of 48 minutes to drive to work. In 2004, it took an average of 51 minutes. I have yet to see a light in Houston timed to make traffic easier; the light that goes green at one intersection always leads to a red light at the next intersection. I suspect the City has accommodated the Mayor, but not the people. As for speeding up road construction, I'm seeing more orange barrels now than ever before, and I doubt I'm alone. As for SafeClear, how anyone can claim that a program enacted without a public vote or debate, which has already outraged thousands of citizens and led not only to threatened lawsuits by Houstonians, but also proposed State legislation to outlaw Houston imposing itself on state-owned roads, is the sheerest arrogance to me.

Mayor Whitewash goes on, but it would only serve to induce nausea in the reader; I was certainly sickened by the Mayor' idea of responsible government.

The strong of stomach can read the whole State of the City Address (or, 'I have a Greed' to be more aptly named) in the City website. But to all those coming up on a Mayoral election in the future, I'd say be warned - a candidate who hides his past is hiding his plans.

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