In Houston there glitters a man named Roy Mark Hofheinz, a striking figure in lapelless saffron silk suits and jackets bedecked with crests and insignia. His shirts are handmade, and his cameo cuff links are as big as half dollars; he weekends in a shore showplace called "Huckster House," in which he has installed, for the edification of his guests, a room fitted out like a jail cell. It is sometimes a bit difficult, even for Houston (pop. 714,000), to face the fact that Roy Hofheinz is its mayor.
Last week, amid a characteristic clang of court rulings and choicely phrased insults, Houston was trying to make up its mind whether Roy Hofheinz should continue as mayor. Against him was ranged the city council, eight men dead set on kicking him out for "misconduct, inability and willful neglect of performance of the duties of mayor." Roy Hofheinz was truculent and ready for the fight: "As long as you're dealing with men of good purpose you can compromise," he bellowed to the citizens about their city councilmen, "but with cattle like these you can't."
"Cookie-Jar Boys." Roy Hofheinz, 43, is not cattle, but a bull. He made his noisy way apace with Houston, the biggest and boomingest city in Texas. At 19, son of a laundry-truck driver, he passed the Texas bar exam; at 22, he was elected to the state legislature. As county judge in Houston at 24, he presided over four courts and five administrative boards.
Eight years later he quit politics, proclaiming that he would make a million dollars before he was 40 and then come backall of which he did. He made his million in real estate and radio, was elected mayor of Houston in the fall of 1952.
In city hall, Mayor Hofheinz put through street-building and public-works programs, overhauled the city's purchasing department so thoroughly that he saved the taxpayers $360,000 a year. But none of this impressed the eight city councilmen, who did not like the mayor's freewheeling ways or his tendency to talk down to them about their jobs. The councilmen soon began to call their mayor a liar and "a drunken sailor on a spending spree." Mayor Hofheinz replied that he could run city hall much more efficiently without the city council, and he accused the councilmen of trying to line their pockets with city funds, dubbing them "cookie-jar boys." Such was the state of the civic war in Houston that one of the councilmen recently challenged Mayor Hofheinz to a public fist fight at the City Coliseum, with proceeds from the sale of tickets to go to the Houston city treasury. This was a show, however, that Roy Hofheinz preferred to duck.
Disappearing Houses. At issue was control of Houston's $70 million-a-year expenditures and the 6,000-man city payroll.