Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Perry gets my nod as poster child for the out-of-touch politician who has lived most of his adult life on the company credit card."

All choked up over this Mansion mess

July 24, 2008

Bob Buckel
Azle News
Copyright 2008

Governor Rick Perry can probably continue to get re-elected until his world-famous hair turns gray or falls out. He just looks like a Texas governor ought to look (as a [female] former staff member said, “like he just just stepped out of a Wranglers ad”).

And hey, no ideas means no bad ideas, right? If you don’t count the Trans-Texas Corridor, that is.

But pretty as he is, Perry gets my nod as poster child for the out-of-touch politician who has lived most of his adult life on the company credit card.

He and his wife, Anita, recently launched a campaign to solicit donations to help restore the Governor’s Mansion which, you may recall, was gutted by fire in early June.

The Mansion – a 152-year-old landmark just across from the Capitol, was in the midst of being remodeled. The fire just made that job more extensive, expensive and difficult.

But don’t fret. The Perrys aren’t homeless. They had moved last fall to a hovel in the hills above Austin, where the state is paying $9,900 a month to rent them a gated estate until work on the Mansion is finished.

Now it looks like they will be staying a bit longer – maybe even until his term expires in at the end of 2010. Even if he is somehow not re-elected, it may be hard to evict them.

I was surprised so few eyebrows were raised over the pricetag of their temporary quarters. But now that they’re seeking donations to restore the Mansion, I just have to say something.

How can you look people in the eye and ask for money when they’re paying $10 grand a month for you to live off-campus? In what universe does that seem right?

Does this bother anyone but me?

I noticed the first donor to kick in was Dolph Briscoe, a former governor who owns a good chunk of South Texas.

Dolph put in $100,000 – generous, but it’s not going to break him.

I await a report on what the Perrys themselves are going to kick in. I know nothing about their personal fortunes or finances, but I do know a little math.

If they could just lower their lifestyle a bit and squeeze into a $5,000-a-month lean-to, they could redirect almost $60,000 a year into the Mansion’s restoration fund. If they could get by on $3,000 a month, they’d match Dolph’s donation in 14 months.

Friends who live in Austin assure me that you can indeed live there for less than $10 grand a month. One has a good job and he and his family live quite well – but the servants’ quarters at the governor’s rented estate would still be an upgrade for them.

Maybe I’m way off. Maybe that $9,900 a month is a bargain for the taxpayers of Texas. In the circle they run in, maybe it’s embarrassingly cheap. Or maybe as long as Rick buys his own hair gel, we’re getting the last laugh.

But if they’re going to ask the rest of us – who buy our own gas and pay our own rent – to kick in to restore the Mansion, it would make me feel better if the Perrys would prime the pump a little themselves.

© 2008, Azle News:

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