Gov. Rick Perry has found an unlikely — and apparently unwitting — ally in his effort to paint Bill White as a liberal spendthrift who left Houston in arrears: Mayor Annise Parker.[SNIP]
In somewhat stilted and carefully chosen comments this week, Parker and White praised each other and insisted they have a good relationship, although a spokeswoman for Parker said she would remain neutral in the upcoming November contest. Parker also could not recall the last time she spoke to the former mayor.
“Mayor Parker has told me she supports me,” White said. “I gave numerous speeches saying there were cuts made in 2009 and further efficiencies needed to be found in 2010 and 2011. And for the good of the city, I wish Mayor Parker the best.”
Parker said the difficult circumstances she inherited do not have “anything to do with any previous administrations.”
“I have had a clear and consistent statement about the White administration, and that is that I inherited a well-run city,” she said. “Where I disagreed with the choices of the last mayor, it is not because I didn't think he was making appropriate or good choices, I've just made different choices.”
Her assertion that White left the city on solid financial footing was in stark contrast to her comments two months ago, when she said the city, in “unbusinesslike” fashion, had been spending more than it has taken in “for years.”
The change in tone came a day after Parker chief of staff Waynette Chan and White aide Elena Marks met over lunch. Neither answered questions about the meeting except to say, through a spokesperson, that they are friends and the lunch was nothing more than “girl talk.”
The “unbusinesslike” quote has become something of a signature in missives from Perry's campaign and was the subject of heated phone calls between close supporters of White and Parker in the days that followed, sources say. Perry also has highlighted Parker's harsh words about the White-appointed management of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Opposites attract and all that, but Annise Parker and Rick Perry still make very strange bedfellows.
That hasn’t stopped the Republican governor from turning the Democratic mayor into an ally, taking any opportunity to use her words against his challenger and her predecessor, Bill White.
A recent example: a May 13 missive from the Perry camp describes Parker’s “efforts to clean up the fiscal mess that White created during his six years of deficit spending,” then quotes Parker at a city council meeting saying her budget is “the first…in the last five years that has not used pension obligation bonds to balance it.”
In Perry campaign-speak her comments translated to “Liberal Bill White has zero fiscal discipline. While mayor of Houston, Bill White borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars so he could claim that his budgets were balanced” — even though in her own release Parker “stressed that the City of Houston remains in sound condition.”
However, as the Houston Chronicle points out, this is a change in tone from Parker’s assertion two months ago that the city had been living outside of its means in a “unbusinesslike” fashion “for years.” Parker’s new perspective comes “a day after Parker chief of staff Waynette Chan and White aide Elena Marks met over lunch,” in a possible effort to reduce tension — which both Parker and White deny exists — between the current and former Houston mayors.