Gov & Country: On â??Rick's Camp' and Bill White's Honor Guard

Would-be Guv Bill White, apparently okay with cameras.

Greg Harman

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Seems like ever since the Gov heroically rescued his daughter's puppy, the victim of a lone coyote's gaze, which every True Texan knows to be an obvious signal of evil intent (refer to the Great Coyote Eye-Plucking War of 1889), questions about a little misunderstanding called the Trans-Texas Corridor have drained from favor.

I feared the tidal shift was a permanent one when I read this morning that the Perry-edition â??Coyote Special' pistol (optional laser site extra) is reportedly selling fast and furious. The rush has been so thorough that patriotic rural-feeling urbanites in shitkickers are hopeful that it may soon be fashionable to hang coyote carcasses on suburban and urban fence posts to warn away would-be predators (decay-averse Census takers, perhaps?) the way our noble country kin do.

But one Mr. Bill White could pull us back from that eventuality. This morning White stepped into the room at C4 Workspace to help push coyotes off the media menu and move the state into transportation talk. You could tell by reading the creases on his brainpan that here was a man unfazed by Perry's pistol-packin' machismo. Here was a man with ideas. Here was a man who would most likely not ask me to look up “Act of God” in a dictionary.

Slowly the roomful of well-dressed transportation experts stopped kicking around well-worn ideas of how to get commuter rail lines boogering around Alamo City â?? and lamenting the massive amounts of funding light rail would require â?? when White starts laying out his approach.

Here's the spiel:

Things got rough for the only reporter in the room when after 30 minutes at C4 and more than 10 minutes into White's talk Tweedledee No. 1 White press flack, apparently noticing my camera gear for the first time, wandered over to ask my affiliation. “San Antonio Current” seemed to work for him, and I was left to sit and enjoy an intelligent and congenial White â?¦ for 10 more meaningful minutes.

Then Tweedledum No. 2 White press flack whispers that he'd like to see proof I am who I am. A little irritated now, I asked the neighbor on my left to inform the youngster. I sort of loathe press badges on the principle that if a meeting is open, it's open to all. I mean, who is going to stop Nelson Wolff, on my right, from recording the morning talk?

“That's Greg Harman,” came the response.

Again, feathers appeared to settle. For a bit. We're deep into an interesting Q&A about gas tax options and the pitfalls of simply not funding road work because of popular anti-tax attitudes when I'm tapped a third time. “Can you come outside with me?”

Coincidentally, perhaps, my third and final memory card had just filled up and it's getting close to the time I should be jetting to another meeting across town. I flash my press pass as I pack up my bag. “It's not about that,” the rudest of the piggies says. “Just come outside.” Strangely, excuses and apologies meet me at the door where I make a point not to shake any hands.

Fears over infiltration by “Rick's Camp” (which I took to mean, perhaps, a Hill Country retreat for mentally impaired Republicans) were thick. And, regardless, agents of the press were not supposed to be sitting in on this sensitive gathering, I'm told. Nope. We were supposed to wait outside for the open flow of dialogue inside to subside and then gratefully collect whatever prepared sound bites White ladled out at the post-meeting confab (complete with sidewalk podium).

Soon after arriving back at the office, I received a call from Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, who organized the event. The flacks, he said, were “totally out of order.” Such cluckfests are, by nature, open affairs. “They're totally open,” he said. “You'd have to have a bomb for anybody to ask you to leave.”

And, to get personal with it, White's aides should remember they “are not at the apex of power,” he continued, and as a “common courtesy” should have connected with the man who gathered the chickens into the shade in the first place. For my part, I'll be awaiting an old-fashioned hand-written apology from the White Patrol and maybe a less paranoid sit-down with the candidate another time.

But enough on my petty grievances, here's more White.

On the Trans-Texas Corridor:

Oh. In case you're wondering how that press conference came out: Here's the news burp it all amounted to in the end.

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