Monday, April 27, 2009

The Fickle Finger of Favor

The last time a Finger wrote anything that captured headlines was that episode in ancient Babylon, when King Belshazzar learned the days of his reign were numbered.

"Eeny, Meine, Miny, Moe--yours is the Kingdom next to go" is a loose translation, and ever since, people in power have been intrigued to learn the meaning of the writing on the wall.

Deep inside the folds of today's paper was a bold-faced headline telling of another Finger's writing, this time a marketing letter, penned in-part for the Mayor of our fair City. It seems real estate developer Marvy Finger helped compose an epistle that rode over the Mayor Bill White's signature, pushing an upscale downtown highrise being built next to Hizzoner's version of the Babylonian Gardens, Discovery Green Park.

Back in 2007, Mayor White offered to Mr. Finger his official support for projects that would help in the revitalization of downtown Houston. Marvy took that to mean possible tax abatements for the high rise, and asked the mayor for as much.

Mayor White instead wisely offered to provide support in other ways, and so the pair penned the letter that in January went to potential occupants of the new digs, all across the land.
Or at least across the city.

Today's newspaper article could be deemed to be just this side of critical of the cozy nature of the letterwriting campaign, noting that the story unfolded as the result of "documents obtained through an open records request by Texas Watchdog, a group that promotes open government and investigative journalism."

The headline almost tattles the tale, "Finger helped mayor write marketing letter"...nyah-nyahh, nya-nyah-nyaahh.

Here now is my interprettation of the matter.
Mayor White could have tinged his reputation to match that of his other-hued predecessor by acceeding to a developer's request for favorable tax treatment for the project. Wouldn't be the first time that's ever happened around here.

But Bill White opted for a more statesmanlike course of action, offering the implied endorsement of the office of the Mayor for a season, while preserving the revenue-generating potential of the new development for future generations.

Ironic, don't you think, that the Mayor of Houston could see the handwriting on the wall, while his Democratic brethren back east are still dreaming dreams, and seeking the meaning thereof?

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