in Houston, Texas
David Wolff (not Metro chairman) unloads from Istanbul (not Constantinople)
Thursday, May 06, 2010, 11:41PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Hagia Sophia

Was it really so surprising for the former chairman of a crumbling byzantine empire to turn up in the capital of the crumbled Byzantine Empire?

Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Snyder went looking for David Wolff for comment about information he had gotten that Wolff's favorite president and CEO was going to be ousted Friday and paid off by the Metro Transit Authority. Wolff had plenty to say when Snyder found him.

In Istanbul.

Istanbul was once known as Constantinople. Until this Turkish city was sacked and pillaged by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Constantinople was a center of world culture and the capital of an empire whose name has become an adjective to describe political intrigue.

“This guy is being fired for political reasons,” Wolff reportedly told Snyder, long distance.


Wolff went on to say he considered Wilson a superb leader in the transit process, even if he came up a little short in handling the politics and the media. He most likely would disagree with Mayor Annise Parker's assertion -- in Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg's piece today -- that Wilson and Wolff were largely responsible for jeopardizing a $900 million federal rail grant for Houston.


“I think we would have had this grant in February had it not been for this hostile environment,” Wolff said.

There appears to be a pattern developing among ranking officials to flee the ruins of Metro for the ruins of some colossus whose glories are centuries past. Wilson might not be in the fix he is in had he not insisted on doing rail business in Spain, an empire whose zenith was 400 years ago. Or had he decided to leave his executive assistant behind.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or Photo of the Hagia Sophia by flickr user David Spender, used via a Creative Commons license.
Mike Snyder
Thursday, 05/06/2010 - 04:12PM

A slight correction: Wolff's comments to me came before, not after, the mayor's comments to Lisa Falkenberg. Lisa called the mayor's office for a response to what Wolff had said about the mayor's role in Metro's troubles. The mayor's comments led her column.

Trent Seibert, editor, Texas Watchdog
Thursday, 05/06/2010 - 04:43PM

Hey Mike. Thanks so much for letting us know. We've tweaked the story to reflect the clarification you've pointed out. We so appreciate you reading us.

Mike Snyder
Thursday, 05/06/2010 - 06:09PM

I enjoyed the allusions in the piece to crumbling ancient empires.

Sunday, 05/09/2010 - 04:12PM

Historical Correction: You refer to "this Turkish city" in the context of the shameful sacking of Constantinople in 1204 AD by the Catholic Crusaders. The city was a Greek city from ancient times up until the Turks conquered it in 1453 AD. Sadly the betrayal of the Byzantine Greeks by their fellow western "Christians" led to a fatal weakening of this glorious empire and ultimately it fell to the Turks.

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