Positive Pub For Mayor White

Categories: Hurricane Ike
Someone's found somtething good out of Ike, and it's Mayor Bill White.

White is the subject of a positive story from the Associated Press going out on the wire this afternoon, generally praising his reaction to Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and not giving him much blame for the Rita traffic disaster.

As we've said, we're having linking problems, do here's an excerpt:

Hurricane Ike puts Houston's mayor in spotlight

By JAY ROOT
Associated Press Writer
Houston's quiet-spoken mayor is hardly one for bold moves. But there was Bill White, telling Houstonians to ride out Hurricane Ike because it was too late to escape.

It may seem like the wrong advice when a monster storm is on its way. But given the chaos that ensued in 2005 when the city evacuated ahead of Hurricane Rita, the risky move may be the safest one.

White, a low-key and unassuming Democrat, was new to office when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. He scored high marks then for welcoming evacuees from that storm into the nation's fourth-largest city.

A few weeks later, he faced another test with Rita. Evacuations were ordered and millions fled, causing traffic jams so big that cars ran out of gas or overheated. Ultimately, the evacuation proved deadlier than the storm itself. A total of 110 people died during the exodus, including 23 nursing home patients whose bus burst into flames while stuck in traffic.

Somehow, White deflected most of the blame, in part because any missteps were overshadowed by the devastation in New Orleans following Katrina, said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray.

"White sort of had these hurricanes that defined him, generally favorably," Murray said. "If you're not a klutz, you can usually make a natural disaster a plus."

Is he calling George Bush a klutz?

-- Richard Connelly

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