Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ken Lay, City Money, Small Polynesians, and Mayoral Forums

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:30 PM

By Mills-McCoin
Image By Shelby Hohl

I made the decision to attend one of the many Mayoral Forums that Gene Locke, Roy Morales, Annise Parker and Peter Brown have been attending since the start of the Mayoral Race. They seem to be doing their part; so I should do my version of due diligence. There’s a mayoral forum on August 18th from noon to 1:30PM put on by the Houston Area Table, Houston Tomorrow and the FPH. For more information, please call 713-782-8833.

My odd and questionable preparations for this forum included a plane ride to visit a semi-forgotten Houstonian- Kenneth Lay.
If you really believe he’s dead... well, that’s adorable. Ken Lay lives on a remote island in the south Pacific... because that’s how much money he stole.
Don’t forget, Ken Lay lived in Houston for a very long time; and is well-versed in how his city operates. Ken Lay was a baaaaaad man; there’s no doubt he shook the Devil’s hand a few times. So I figure he could probably shed some light on what exactly I should ask a candidate running for Mayor of Houston.

After I landed on the makeshift airstrip, I made a direct route to the beach which is where I was told I would find Ken Lay. Sure as shit, there he was- donned in tropical attire and large and in charge... of some of the smallest polynesians I’ve ever seen. He was sitting in a beach chair, being fanned, with a drink in one hand and a stick in the other. There was a medicine bottle at rest on the table next to him.
I approached softly.
“Hey asshole! Get off my property!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. He turned around and smiled at me, which was very creepy at the time.
“HA! I’ve literally never heard that one before. So who the hell are you?” he asked as though he’d been a gentleman his entire life.
“Just a concerned citizen of Houston, TX,” I answered.
“Oh... well come on down.”
As I walked down to the shore, I saw several of Ken Lay’s pint-sized manservants run to fetch me a beach chair and a drink. Oddly, the drink was not served in a coconut. It was served in a chalice covered in jewels.
“Sorry, we ran out of coconuts. Soooooo, how can I help you?”
“Mr. Lay, you can tell me everything I need to know about a Mayoral Race in Houston.”
“Oooooh yeah, that’s comin’ up, isn’t it? Probably in November.”
“Probably. But there’s a mayoral forum on the 18th of August that I’m preparing for.”
“Well, my strange visitor, you should definitely look into Ordinance #2006-1001. Also known as the Limited Use Banner Sign ordinance. It requires businesses to obtain a permit to display any sign constructed of cloth, canvas, light fabric or other light material, not to exceed 40 square feet in size.”
“How much is the permit?”
“Altogether it’s $150. And that gets you seven consecutive days in any 30-day period to use the banner.”
“You’re kidding?”
“Hell no! I’m not kidding. It’s a travesty; a horribly non-creative way of using small businesses as revenue capillaries. Not to mention it puts a shit load of red-tape out there making it harder for small businesses to advertise and generate revenue for themselves,” he exclaimed in a squirrelly voice.
I began writing frantically on my notepad.
“Okay, ok, ok... you got anymore?”
“Damn, son! Wake up. There’s probably hundreds of these knick knack permits and fees and ordinances that take money out of modest pockets,” he said as began to pick up the momentum of a crazy man. He picked an odd time to be honest, I thought.
Ken Lay ranted and raved, continuing to open my eyes about the red-tape injustice that comes out of City Hall. He detailed the levels of vanity in which these ordinances are founded; claiming they “help keep the city stay clean and maintain a proper metropolitan appearance.” He referenced innane bike ordinances, poor pay structure for city workers, ridiculous street closure prohibitions, etc... And by that point, Ken Lay was standing up, yelling and swatting the polynesians with the stick. I was forced to get him another drink and calm the crazy crook down.
He popped a pill out of the medicine bottle and slowly explained to me the approach I needed to take.
“Listen, you’re a smart kid. Obviously. You found me. So channel that energy into finding where the City’s money comes from and where it’s going. That applies to these Mayoral Candidates as well. They have donors. They have big name contributors. Peter Brown wants a giant fast train that stretches from Houston to Dallas and San Antonio. So, I’m betting there’s some contractors that contribute to his campaign... blah blah blah... Boy, this is basic politics.”
I could tell he was getting tired from a lonely life on an island, exiled from the world for his wrongdoings. I felt sorry for him almost. Ken Lay made me realize that there are some silly evils that go unnoticed because we spend most of our time gawking at the giant ones. Like Enron.
His eyes were growing weary, as well. I think it must’ve been the pills because I didn’t taste any alcohol in the drinks. So, I gathered my things and got up to leave.
“Mr. Lay, thank you for your time. I really appreciate the lesson,” I said with the utmost sincerity.
“No problem, strange visitor. I’ll be rootin’ for ya. Come back anytime... Hey, I heard Mattress Mac torched his ware-...” his voice trailed off as I made my way through the jungle, back to the plane.

Don’t forget. Mayoral Forum, August 18th. 713-782-8833 for more information.


At August 21, 2009 at 7:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, umm, this was posted August 20th, after the forum on the 18th. Still funny though.


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