Lunch With the Trinity Muckety-Mucks

Categories: Schutze

Yesterday I was all worried about being shut out of a closed city council meeting that turned out to be a luncheon for officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. So today I got to go. And it was … odd.

The guest of honor was John Paul Woodley Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), whose domain includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- the original and principal government agency involved in our Trinity River Project. Lunch was over in the Decorative Center, which is owned by Harlan Crow. Very nice spread: table clothes, cheese melted on the chicken, crème brulet wedges. City council member Mitchell Rasansky and I were the only males there not in ties and coats, except for a couple guys in military fatigues who stood against the wall looking everybody over.

I thought about standing against the wall myself for a while, because it would have been easier than trying to get people to shake my hand at this thing. Talk about a skunk at the picnic. Man! Everybody I ever wrote a nasty column about was there, studiously avoiding my lonely gaze. I fantasized about suddenly breaking into "Cousin Kevin" from the Who's Tommy, ("Maybe a cigarette burn on your arm would change your expression to one of alarm”). Then I realized I was being self-important. Again.

The main point, I gather, was to present a big lineup of local mucketies to impress the under secretary with the power and the glory of the supporters of the Trinity River Project.

Sometime lobbyist (and Bush bud) Bill Ceverha made a big blow-hard speech about something or other, during which he managed to identify himself by saying, “I serve on the Region C Water Planning Group.” Ceverha identifies himself this way all the time now -- a fairly pathetic brag in and of itself (picture me making circles with my index finger).

Problem is: It ain’t so true. Ceverha has never been appointed to that board and is not a member. He sits on it sometimes as an alternate for Marsh Rice, a guy who’s too busy to go himself. But Ceverha is not a voting member. Plus, real members of the board are not supposed to go around using their membership as a credential in public forums.

Ceverha, you remember, has a troubled relationship with ethics. When he was treasurer of TRMPAC, the Tom DeLay gang that corrupted the 2002 election, Texas State District Judge Joseph H. Hart found him liable for not reporting $98,330 he had doled out to candidates running against targeted Democrats. Ceverha was ordered to \ pay double damages -- $196,660 plus attorneys' fees. He declared bankruptcy instead.

Gee, I hope the under secretary was impressed. --Jim Schutze

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