In September of 1990, Carole Keeton Rylander got lots of press coverage when she launched the "Ann Watch." Rylander was the campaign co-chair for Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, whose opponent was Democratic state treasurer Ann Richards. Complaining that Richards was "campaigning for higher office at the same time she's milking the taxpayers for $74,698 a year for a job she is not doing," Rylander called a press conference and repeatedly asked, "Where's Ann?" She then led a handful of Republicans in a march from the Capitol to the Treasury office.
Today, the more pertinent question is: "Where's Carole?" In search of an answer, this reporter made repeated trips to Rylander's office at the Texas Railroad Commission. Each time, Rylander's minions reported that she wasn't in the office. (For the record, Rylander currently makes $4,549 more per year than Richards was making as treasurer in 1990.) Herewith, an edited transcript of taped conversations with officials in Rylander's office during recent visits:
- Sept. 24, 11:51am. Trey Newton, Rylander's assistant, says, "She's not here today. She's out traveling." Where is she? "I don't know." Is she campaigning? "I don't have her schedule." When will she be here? "I don't know. I don't have her schedule." (Rylander was in East Texas campaigning.)
- Sept. 25, 9:02am: Newton again is uncertain as to his boss' whereabouts. "She's out to meetings today." Where? "I don't know. Nora keeps the schedule." Is she campaigning? "I don't know."
- Sept. 28, 11:10am: Colleen Ryan, Rylander's press aide, also claims ignorance. Where is the commissioner? "I don't know." You don't know? "I do not. She's in meetings." Is she traveling? "She's not traveling." When will she be back? "I do not know." When can we schedule an interview? "I don't know. I really do not know. I'm sorry she's very busy. She's out of the office in meetings." Does busy mean she won't talk to me? "I really don't know. I really don't know."
- Sept 29, 3:47pm: Ryan again is uninformed. Is Rylander here? "No." Can you tell me where she is?"No. I don't know where she is." Do you know when she will be back? "No." Can you tell me when we might schedule an interview? "No." Is she out campaigning? "I do not know. She's in meetings. She's a busy woman." Can you call me to tell me when she will be in? "I can't guarantee you that I can give you a call." Is there a reason why she won't talk? "She is busy. She's busy. That's why she's not talking to you."
- Sept. 30, 11:37am: Ryan is out of the loop again. Is Rylander here? "I don't know where she is." When will she be in? "I can't answer that." Tomorrow? "She's in meetings. That's what I can tell you." Can you tell me with whom? "No." Is she campaigning? "I do not know that. I do not have a copy of her schedule in front of me at all times." Is she in Austin? "I don't keep her schedule." It seems curious to me that as a press aide you don't know where she is. "Maybe you are assuming too much."Is she in Houston? There is a debate there tonight."I don't know. I don't work on the campaign." Eight years ago, Rylander lambasted Ann Richardsfor taking the state taxpayers' money while running for another office. Is she earning her pay here? "Most definitely. Carole works harder than anyone else I've ever worked for." If she's earning her pay, why isn't she here? "Often she's not here because she's in meetings." (Rylander debated Paul Hobby in Houston on Sept. 30.) -- R.B.