Time passed, as time always does and eventually after a lot of phoning around to both networks permission was granted to use the NBC footage for a joint interview the next morning. NBC retained the rights to use it for Nightly News however and did so. They played it close to the vest, allowing only a few people to know what they had footage of for the national news program, so while Blaine was sitting down with Vanessa Mathis off KTBU phones were starting to ring at various levels of power.
To start with, the mayor of Houston called Blaine’s boss. Well not his direct boss but his department manager.
“Mister Curtiss, do you have a Mr. Blaine working in your division? A Mr. James Blaine?”
“Well, your honor, we did but he gave his two weeks’ notice, well two weeks ago. He’s only 40 but he said he’d come into some money and he wanted to pursue a pet project of his. I imagine he means his photography. He does it on the side and he also does it for us when we have major events. Why do you ask?”
“I take it he didn’t say just how much money then? Please, when you have a moment find the web broadcast of NBC Nightly News. Your boy was on there. He “came into” 455 million dollars. And declared war on the two party system. Now, what can you tell me about him. Is there anything we need to know about when the media phone in the next 15 minutes?”
“Well that explains a few things. I’ve not seen a work request across my desk from him in six months. There’s nothing too bad to worry about. He’s got a somewhat caustic sense of humor but it doesn’t really effect his work. He once threatened to make up signs in English, Spanish, Chinese and Urdu and posting them in the rest rooms saying something like ‘Welcome to Houston. This is a flush toilet. If you are unclear as how it works please ask a staff member to demonstrate.’ He even sent me a mockup along with some photos of clogged toilets. Even though I knew he wouldn’t actually do it I checked with some people, and the Chinese and Urdu were grammatically correct. His theory was that if he shamed everyone equally people would be take more pride in the public restrooms and gain more attachment to public spaces.”
“I’m not sure if that’s the most incredibly racist thing I’ve heard in a while or the most brilliant. Is this the same guy that was rumored to have started a twitter war with METRO a couple years back?”
“I’d say ‘brilliant’ he did include it in English after all, and was placing blame everywhere. No one ever proved who really started that Twitter War. But it did shed light on just how badly METRO was being managed. People down here are really dependent on METRO, and we need more people who even if they don’t need something like METRO to make sure it is run properly.”
“So then what are his politics? We’ve heard an announcement but do we know his actual politics?”
“He chose to be a civil servant when he could have been anything else. And I do mean ANYTHING. He’s one of the smartest employees I’ve ever had. I just found the clip from NBC. I’ve actually met this Dr. Shephard he mentioned. He was here to speak at Rice two years ago and was visiting Blaine at his building when I ran by there to drop off some tickets for their teen group to go to an Astros game. Blaine stepped out to try and get ahold of one of the kids mothers about the tickets and while he was outside Dr. Shephard told me he was always surprised that Blaine had chosen this. He’d had the opportunity to work with the National Park Service, to teach at the university level, to be a historian, and he’d chosen to run after school programs and make sure kids ate and learned to appreciate their communities. There wasn’t even a childhood incident that he’d ever heard of that led him in that direction. His parents had both been Christian school teachers. This was just what he felt was best for him to do. He was and still is a believer in the Social Gospel.”
“Do Christian Schools actually teach the Social Gospel? I thought they were for scared white families who won’t attend Catholic schools or public schools and want to win football championships.”
“His family isn’t from Texas. That may be part of it.”
“Anyway, is there any risk for us from his having worked for us? Is there anything risky in his work record or background that you know of?”
“Nothing about his work or personality. But having employed someone who’s going after entrenched political power isn’t always about who the person actually is. It’s about who he’s perceived to be or can be made out to be.”
“Yes, I’m well aware of that. I am mayor of the 4th largest city in America after all….”
“I’m sorry sir, I spoke out of turn.”
“…. I’ll worry about the political fallout. You worry about explaining to the city council why a building manager found it easier to repair his building from his own wallet then through city funds. I hope that’s not common.”
“No, not common. But then neither is someone winning nearly half a billion dollars. Who knows perhaps they’ll still be some windfall for us.”
“you got how much maintenance cost deferred that can be used for other buildings?”
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