Naked City

Off the Desk

Naked City
Photo By John Anderson

From his office at Page Southerland Page to the dean's quarters at the UT School of Architecture, Larry Speck's phone was ringing off the hook Tuesday. He was on the horn all day fielding queries about his decision to resign his dean's post in protest of the UT Regents' treatment of the Swiss architectural firm hired to design the Blanton Museum of Art. The firm, renowned Herzog & de Meuron, quit the project after realizing there was just no pleasing those finicky regents. On the home front, Speck's wife, Mandy Dealey, was applauding her husband's decision, agonizing as it was. "He's the most principled man I've ever met," she says. Dealey will be making a tough decision in her own right in the next couple of weeks as she weighs whether to run for the legislative seat being vacated by Rep. Sherri Greenberg, Dealey, past president of both Planned Parenthood and the Mental Health Association, would run as a Democrat in what is expected to be a wide field of candidates from both parties. Health consultant Ann Kitchen announced her Democratic candidacy last week. In the blast-from-the-past department, rumors are circulating in various corners of town that former council member Eric Mitchell, who two years ago blamed voter racism for his re-election loss to Willie Lewis, is considering jumping into the race. At press time, the Oak Hill resident and insurance exec had not returned a Chronicle phone call to confirm or deny this curious rumor. As an aside, the filing deadline for candidates running for public office starts Dec. 3 and ends Jan. 3. ...

Is Police Chief Stan Knee's honeymoon finally over? The love fest he's enjoyed with the rank and file at the cop shop for the last two years was getting a tad boring anyway, wasn't it? Now the Austin Police Association (they're called unions in other parts of the country) is getting its dander up over the chief's proposal to appoint two new assistant chiefs to his leadership ring and eliminate, through attrition, two civil service positions for which officers compete by taking a written test. "We have severe heartburn over this," says APA President Mike Sheffield, "because it reminds us of the days of Chief Watson." Yikes. That's not a good sign. This is the Chief Elizabeth Watson (no relation to the current mayor) who took an overwhelming "no-confidence" hit from her officers one hot August day back in 1995, and subsequently resigned on the heels of a scathing audit that called into question her management skills. While APA's confidence in the chief is still intact, its leaders refuse to toe the line on Knee's latest personnel proposal. And APA leaders are chatting up various council members, as the matter now goes before the Austin City Council for a vote, scheduled for Dec. 2 ...

Rick Green, the freshman legislator from Dripping Springs who ran for office on an Austin-bashing platform, is the talk of the local Republican Party these days. Green raked in a cool $110,000 at a recent fundraiser at the Stone Mountain Event Center west of Dripping Springs. KVET radio personality Bob Cole emceed the affair that brought out two famed and former University of Texas coaches -- Darrell Royal and Cliff Gustafson. Green's bounty, says one GOP observer, is unprecedented for a still wet-behind-the-ears legislator, particularly considering that the GOP House candidates last year collected a mere five figures -- even with Gov. George W. Bush headlining their district fundraisers. That Green made a killing at his own fundraiser is no surprise. He was, after all, the darling of the gun lobby last session when he won approval of a bill banningTexas cities from suing gun manufacturers for damages from crimes committed with the gunmakers' products.

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    Gus Garcia, representing Bill Bradley, debated Garry Mauro, representing Al Gore, in a fundraising debate last week.

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