Naked City

Capital Metro hires Ann Richards; Linda Dailey decides against running for Place 6; three candidates : Raul Alvarez, Gloria Mata Pennington and Rafael Quintanilla are running for Place 2 on City Council

Move over Lance Armstrong! Capital Metro now has another star lobbying for light rail: Former governor Ann Richards has been hired to work for the local transportation agency. On Jan. 24, the Cap Metro board agreed to pay Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand, a Washington-based lobby/law firm, $180,000 over the next year to help the agency secure federal dollars for its proposed $1 billion light-rail project. Richards will be part of a seven-member team working on the project. Dianne Galaviz, Capital Metro's business development manager, said the contract calls for "more than lobbying. They will provide advice and counsel. We are monitoring all the different federal appropriations because we are requesting funds. We are monitoring a whole slew of information." Galaviz said the contract's cost is "very fair and reasonable" given the number of issues that need to be addressed. She added that Verner Liipfert won the contract because the firm has both Democrats and Republicans and has experience in transit-related matters.

Cap Met critics believe the money may be wasted. Gerald Daugherty, owner of the Pleasant Valley Sportsplex and a longtime critic of the agency, called the move "an extreme waste of money. This transit authority is spending money for something that they're not even sure this community wants. It's the tail wagging the dog." -- Robert Bryce

It was political theatre at its wierdest Wednesday at what was supposed to be the announcement of Linda Dailey's candidacy for City Council Place 6. "There's going to be a surprise," Dailey told a reporter before things got underway. A surprise, indeed. Like an eerie sense of déjà vu, with Eric Mitchell and Bob Larson, two former council members, chatting amiably in the City Hall lobby. "I'm just an innocent bystander," Mitchell explained. Another glance around the lobby found forgotten ex-candidate Robert Stobaugh, a Circle C "activist" who ran unsuccessfully last year for City Council. Stobaugh spoke first, and criticized the current council for not building more roads.Then someone introduced "family advocate ... Lin-da!! Dai-ley!!" and all that was missing was a brassy John Philip Sousa riff. Dailey, a registered nurse, laid out what appeared to be her platform, but in her closing remarks she explained that recent personal developments had caused her to decide against running for the seat. But there is another candidate, she added brightly, "who will bring integrity back to Place 6." And just when some folks thought she was about to introduce, say, Eric Mitchell, she threw her support behind previously announced candidate/police officer Danny Thomas. Talk about anticlimactic. Thomas took the podium and promised to work hard so "we can take this city back." Afterward, a genuinely surprised Larson expressed disappointment in Dailey's decision. He said he doesn't know Thomas but is willing to consider supporting him. With that, he said his goodbyes and walked out the door...

Meanwhile in the Place 2 race, now there are three: Raul Alvarez, Gloria Mata Pennington, and Rafael Quintanilla have all made official their bids to succeed retiring Council Member Gus Garcia. Of the trio, Alvarez, environmental justice director for the Sierra Club, is quickly emerging as the neighborhood planning guy, the top fundraiser, and perhaps the one with the broadest base of support among environmental and Hispanic activists. Attorney Quintanilla, with a long history of community involvement, shouldn't have much trouble raising funds either. Pennington, a newly retired city employee, has rounded grassroots support, including strong parks advocates and seniors -- the folks she worked with in her city job managing programs and services for seniors.

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