Texas Monthly Gives A Big Ol' Slobberin' Kiss To Bill White
The first few grafs give the flavor:
by S.C. Gwynne Mayor Bill is on the move. Strapped into the passenger seat of an unmarked Lincoln Town Car, cell phone stuck firmly to his ear, he rolls through the vast grid of streets. He issues orders, barks out instructions. In the waning days of August 2005, something terrible has happened, and in some ineffable, fate-ridden way, it has fallen to him to fix it."The Book of Matthew is the overriding policy goal"?
That terrible thing is Hurricane Katrina. The storm, which has slammed into the Gulf Coast, has also loosed a flood of evacuees. Of these, 200,000 have landed in Houston. There is no guidebook or FEMA manual that addresses such a massive shelter operation. In Dallas, 30,000 victims have arrived, and Mayor Laura Miller is already complaining that her city is nearing the saturation point. In Houston, 30,000 people will come through the Astrodome alone.
This is Mayor Bill's problem. This is why he is pounding through the city at all hours of the day and night in the wilting, late-summer heat. He is learning, as the rest of America will soon realize, to its horror, that the federal government cannot be counted on for much of anything. Nor, really, can the State of Texas. Nor, really, can anyone else. No one knows what to do.
Except, as it turns out, Mayor Bill. In those first moments of chaos, he makes a large conceptual leap: The evacuees are not going home. Almost no one believes this, because it's unthinkable that a single city could possibly absorb so many people. Mayor Bill believes this. Even better, he has a plan. Well, it is more of an objective, with the details to follow. But it is an extraordinary idea. "The overriding policy goal," he will say later, "was to treat people the way we would want to be treated. We wanted people to be on the path to living with independence and dignity, to finding work and getting their children in school." Permanently. Mayor Bill is old-fashioned: a Sunday school teacher who believes in the mysteries of God and in the quaint notion that people are inherently kind and generous. Each time he welcomes someone into the shelters, he offers a verse from the New Testament: "When I was hungry, you fed me. When I needed shelter, you took me in." The Book of Matthew is the overriding policy goal.
They must be furious at White For Whatever headquarters.