When Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire
announced plans to develop an ambitious monorail mass-transit system, Lanier was
vocal in his opposition to the project. Whitmire fired him from his METRO
position and then invited reporters to contact her for comment at Lanier's
annual Christmas party. Incensed, Lanier ran against her in the next mayoral
election and won. Nearly his first act as mayor was to scuttle the monorail
project and divert its funding to beefing up the police force, resulting in a large
drop in the local crime rate.
In keeping with his infrastructure
background, one of Mayor Lanier's signature projects was an effort to improve
the unevenly paved streets and cracked sidewalks of Houston's urban core.
Though critics called it a boondoggle to line developers' pockets for
performing unnecessary work, the project succeeded in revitalizing some neglected
areas of the city. Both during and after his time as mayor, Lanier was also a fierce
advocate for diversity in government and business. In 1997, term-limited from
running for a fourth term as mayor, he appeared in a TV ad opposing a ballot
proposition to end affirmative-action policies in city hiring and contracting,
urging viewers not to "turn back the clock to the days when guys who look
like me got all the city's business."
Bob Lanier died on December 20. He
was 89. Appropriately, it's a solo hit for Team Bubba: 10 points (5 for hit + 5