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Chron profile of Ben Hall

As promised from last week.

Ben Hall

Ben Hall

When Ben Hall left the city attorney’s office in December 1994 after three years as a confidante to and attack dog for Mayor Bob Lanier, observers assumed the ambitious 38-year-old’s path would lead back to City Hall someday.

Some thought the self-described “reliably controversial” barrister’s confrontational style was a liability, that he should keep a low profile for a while. Others said Hall could succeed Lanier in just a few years if he kept his name in front of voters.

Hall, the top challenger to Mayor Annise Parker, who is seeking a final two-year term on Nov. 5, acknowledged that he had mapped out the road back to 901 Bagby himself.

“One thing I think any political person should have is financial independence so that they are not tempted to be swayed by idle temptation,” Hall said then, “and so this will help me in my financial independence.”

“This” was a job with renowned trial attorney John O’Quinn’s firm. Nearly 19 years and plenty of big-ticket victories later, the “South Carolina country boy” has certainly achieved the financial independence he sought.

Hall’s name identification with voters had faded by the time he launched his candidacy in January, but he has used his checkbook to make up the deficit. About $2.2 million of the $2.7 million he had raised as of late last month came from his own pocket.

The Chron’s profile of Mayor Parker was the previous Sunday; I blogged about it here. Hall does have a good story to tell – in many candidates, it would be a very compelling story. In Hall, however, I’ve never felt like that story has ever connected to a clear idea of what kind of Mayor he would be. I’ve read his press releases, I’ve critiqued his crimefighting plan, I’ve done an interview with him, but I still don’t have a clear picture of what he would do on big issues like budget, pensions, and quality of life. He’s clearly a smart guy, and I believe he’s genuinely motivated to make Houston a better place. But after all this time, I still don’t know how he would go about it.

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  1. joshua ben bullard says:

    @lisa falkenberg=stop poutting=your attacks against ben hall along with the attacks from mayor parker are in poor taste and not what Houston represents,again=if parker and you claim Houston is doing so well,why spend all of your time attacking hall=in Houston we don’t take kindly to folks that attack=from the back,and lisa falkenbeg,parker ,and the chron are doing just that=lets go back and look at ben hall once more time=Harvard law grad,former city attorney,owns property that carries a very very high tax bill=maybe I should take the time to tell cgron and falkenberg now=nobody cares about ben hall asking a few questions before he pays his taxes=the fact is he and his wife paid them all and in full=besides we all know hes a lawyer,hes supposed to.and so what he didn’t go to your set up from the get up editorial review=the reader can see now your paper already was going to endorse parker and last I checked theres a word for that ,its called discriminatory,and that’s what you need to stop doing lisa= theres a run off with parker =no doubt,when that happens then I will decide if she packs….Joshua ben bullard.,

  2. Steven Houston says:

    Joshua, that just sounds like more spin from the pro-Hall camp. Hall’s now going around suggesting he never owed the massive amount of taxes and the government was just retaliating from losing a case. The thing is, he signed on the dotted line that he did in fact owe the amounts in question after fighting tooth and nail to pay less. Independent experts looked at the matter and believe he was always in the wrong but he can’t have it both ways. A lot of people still believe he should release his tax returns too, not just because they think he’s hiding something but figuring anyone willing to buy an election with over $2 million of his own money would be ready to line his pockets when taking the ~ $200k/year job.

    If the unpaid taxes issue was the only matter of concern, and the economy was still in the dumper, I think he’d stand a better chance against Parker. His two faced stances against pensions, his lack of knowledge of how the office works/what powers it has, and the little matter of enriching himself when leaving office with a city contract sure don’t help his campaign. You can spin away anything you like in broken English but the facts remain the same; he has no plan that he’s willing to share on just about everything. If that doesn’t scare you, you’re living on wishes and rainbows that he’ll turn out okay based on nothing more than hating Parker.