Helena Brown: One of Houston's Fifty Most Influential Women?
We had a major WTF moment when we saw that Houston Woman Magazine had named conspiracy theorist/elected leader Helena Brown as one of the city's "50 Most Influential Women" of 2012.
Influential in La-La Land? Definitely. But Houston?
According to a statement by publisher Beverly Denver, "Influential people are often charismatic individuals with a vast network of social and professional connections. Many times they also have earned an enviable reputation for an expertise in a particular area. Because of that, they are credible. This form of influence draws upon the notion of trust."
The honor was heralded by Brown's office, which released a self-congratulatory statement about how the councilwoman "is considered by many in Houston to be a trailblazer -- a woman paving a way for positive, eyes-wide-open approach to city governance."
We tried asking Denver questions about the selection of such a controversial figure, but she told us that it would be "inappropriate" to discuss any individual honoree and said she believed in all the women who've been selected over the past five years.
But how "influential" can Brown be when she's often the lone dissenter in Council votes, including her stance against spending $2.3 million on a bike trail, or her reluctant vote for a $26 million construction project that she believed was tied to a shady U.N. plot against American interests? Seriously, if the rest of your council members reach for the butterfly net every time you open your mouth, where's the influence?
And as far as we can tell, none of the other women on the list did the following:
1.) Chose a "senior adviser" who was banned from the investment industry after failing to pay a woman $133,875 in damages and penalties for violating federal and state securities laws.
2.) Had her staff sign a statement pressuring another staffer, newly pregnant with twins, to take a medical leave of absence, ostensibly because Brown believed that the staffer's working while pregnant might result in a miscarriage and thus a lawsuit against Brown.
3.) Charged Houston taxpayers $11,000 for a trip to South Korea under the guise of meeting with airline executives, even though the executives had canceled the meetings weeks earlier.
4.) Tried to get the city to reimburse $850 she spent to have her personal lawyer sit in on meetings she had with Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman, and $2,108 for gas money for aforementioned senior adviser William Park.
5.) Was forced to repay nearly $3,000 in taxpayer money she spent on refrigerator magnets (!) that the Texas Ethics Commission categorized as campaign advertising.
Come to think of it, maybe everyone on the committee who tapped Brown for the magazine's list had one of those sweet magnets, and every time they went to the fridge for another beer to help lubricate the selection process, they caught a glimpse of Brown's mug. You know, subliminal advertising. Scratch everything we just said: Brown's a freakin' genius.