Skip to main content

2010: Nobody's Schedule Is Perfect

Pop quiz: Which elected official's spokesman argued that their workload "may not be evident through a simple review of listings on a calendar"?

Democratic candidate for Texas governor Bill White campaigns in Henderson at the East Texans for Texas rally

Pop quiz: Which elected official's spokesman argued that his workload "may not be evident through a simple review of listings on a calendar"?

You could guess either gubernatorial candidate, Republican Gov. Rick Perry or Democrat Bill White, and you'd be right — in spirit.

Perry's campaign has been brushing off recent attacks pointing out that the governor's official schedule is seemingly light on actual governing. Perry recently defended himself, saying, "Texans know that I am mobile, I am agile, and I'm going to continue doing work for them 24/7."

But the actual words in question came from a spokesman for White, the guy currently knocking Perry's schedule, when questioned by the Houston Chronicle in August 2009 if White's run for Senate was cutting into his ability to serve as mayor.

Here is an excerpt of an e-mail by White's mayoral spokesman Frank Michel published by the Chronicle nearly one year ago:

He is always on call and is frequently asked to deal with issues on nights, weekends, etc. His frequent string of e-mails, phone calls, memos, etc. to city staff, even when he is traveling outside the city, may not be evident through a simple review of listings on a calendar, but almost any director or senior staff member can attest that mayor remains highly active managing city business in this way. Just because a mayor may not be physically present in City Hall at any given moment does not mean he or she is not engaged in some city matters.

This line of defense sounds awfully familiar to the Perry camp. "It is completely hypocritical for Bill White to be making the attacks he is when he himself has admitted that a public official’s workload cannot be completely determined by what’s on a calendar," says Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier.

White spokeswoman Katy Bacon argues that the issue is about long-standing reputations as much as it is about calendars.  As examples, she points to a New York Times Magazine profile noting that Perry is "never one to be confused with a workaholic" and compares it to a Chronicle story — the one that inspired Michel's comments — that says White became "notorious for working 16-hour days."

"If Perry works more than his schedules show, he should certainly prove it," Bacon says.

The Texas Tribune Member Drive Fall 2021 banner

Support public-service journalism that’s always free to read.

Yes, I'll donate today