Any explanation for why a county agency spent 10 years allowing the Astrodome fall into disrepair while haplessly throwing millions of dollars after a sequence of doomed and bizarre plans to redevelop it would have to focus on the thoughtful stewardship of Michael Surface, who presided over the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation from 1999 until his resignation at the end of 2007. Surface’s trial on corruption charges isn’t scheduled to take place until this fall. But jury selection for the trial of his partner in the 5-count federal indictment, Precinct 4 commissioner Jerry Eversole, begins today.
The charges against Eversole and Surface allege a series of interesting exchanges between the longtime friends: Surface handing over cash and other gifts worth more than $100,000 to Eversole; Surface and his business partners popping up with a series of multi-million-dollar real-estate- and construction-related contracts with the county; and the commissioner repeatedly renominating Surface to head the organization charged with inventing a new use for the Dome.
It is a little strange: We have yet to find a single media report on Eversole’s trial or the charges against him that even mentions the Astrodome in passing. But if you’re trying to figure out how Houston’s best-known building wound up in its current dilapidated, shuttered, and apparently future-free state, you might want to pay close attention to what the folks charged with saving the place were doing all that time.
- United States of America v. Gerald R. Eversole and Michael Surface (PDF) [U.S. District Court]
- Eversole faces toughest fight in long career [Houston Chronicle]
- In Focus: Friendship between Eversole and developer [abc13]More Surface Deals Surface [Swamplot]
- Astrodome coverage [Swamplot]
Photo: Candace Garcia