Bush names post-White House chief of staff, prepares to move into Preston Center offices

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by By LORI STAHL lstahl@dallasnews.com

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:40 AM

With less than a week left at the White House, President George W. Bush and a small entourage are preparing to move into office space in the Preston Center area of North Dallas.

He will move into a 5,328-square-foot temporary office at The Berkshire in Preston Center. That space is leased for $34.71 per square foot. Additional space will be rented for Secret Service agents.

By summer, he's expected to move to 8,000 square feet of space once it is ready in the Sherry Lane Place building, also at Preston Center. The federal government has signed a 10-year lease for $38.95 per square foot.

Longtime Bush aide Michael Meece was named Wednesday as chief of staff for Bush's post-presidential offices. Meece, a native Texan, worked for Bush's gubernatorial campaign and later followed him to Washington, D.C. He worked in the White House as special assistant to the president and deputy director for the Office of Public Liaison.

"I'm excited to be rejoining the president's team, and to be a part of helping him in the next chapter in his purposeful life," Meece said in a statement released by the White House.

Currently a Washington lobbyist, Meece is expected to be in Dallas full time by March 1. He also worked for the U.S. Commerce Department during Bush's first term.

"He has a long relationship with a lot of the players," said Dan Bartlett, a former top White House press aide who is now with a consulting firm in Austin. "It's a natural fit in many respects."

Two other White House aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Gottesman and Jared Weinstein, Bush's personal aide, will accompany the Bushes back to Texas next week and provide continuity until Meece is on board. Neither is expected to remain with the office long-term.

The Bushes are scheduled to go to their ranch in Crawford when they leave the White House next week. Laura Bush recently said she hopes to meet the moving vans at their new Dallas home within days of arriving in Texas.

Aides said they don't know when the president will begin working at the Preston Center office, but they don't expect much lag time.

Describing himself as a "Type A" personality, the president recently said he's eager to begin working on a memoir and on his library and policy institute at Southern Methodist University.

Laura Bush, an SMU alumnus who is actively involved in planning the library complex, has said she may also have a Preston Center office. But aides said she will focus first on getting their Preston Hollow house settled before making any staff announcements.

MICHAEL MEECE

Age: 41

Birthplace: El Paso

Current job: President, the Meece Group, Washington, D.C.

New job: Chief of staff, the office of George W. Bush

Education: Bachelor's and law degrees, University of Texas at Austin

Personal: Married, two daughters

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