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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

Something doesn’t smell right.....It’s hard to understand why a civic organization like First Colony Community Association would continue with its plans to fill in five neighborhood pools with dirt for a cost of $1 million and leave them as green space when such opposition has come forth from the neighborhoods. But then I started getting emails from residents who have had dealings with FCCA over the years and their current high-handed treatment of their own ratepayers are not so surprising. They’ve gotten away with it for years. Why stop now?

I find it interesting that the company that did the “survey” that found that the communities wanted all these parks razed and a new “schlitterbahn” style water park built in the neighborhood had as its vice-president an individual who is also on the FCCA board of directors. When I called both Sherrie Knoepfel, executive director of FCCA and Joyce Walter, board member and Vice-President of Creative Consumer Research, both were on vacation. In fact, after numerous phone calls and an office visit, I have yet to be able to speak to Sherrie Knoepfel who seems to be dodging my calls.

As far as Creative Consumer Research, we all know how “creative” surveys can be fashioned to get the results you want. It would just seem to me that FCCA, who can skew the results of any poll by the questions they ask, would have the decency to at least do business with a survey company without ties to the board of directors.

One of the reasons I want to talk to Sherrie Knoepfel is to inquire about the budget issue of legal fees.

I have discovered that FCCA has incurred some legal fees to defend itself in a lawsuit that they have partially lost resulting from a 2007 nominating committee and election.

The residents who brought the suit have offered to settle the suit if FCCA will agree to establish procedures that will assure any future elections will be conducted with unassailable integrity. They want to require that ballots that have been cast be sent directly from the individual voters to an independent CPA for counting, and they want to prohibit the current management of FCCA from soliciting votes for particular candidates. According to the men who filed the suit, Chris Goodrich and Tom Swonke, these suggestions have been spurned.

Mr. Goodrich says, “At this point, I feel most of the current FCCA board and Executive Director have little regard for conducting themselves in accordance with established rules, let alone being accountable to residents of First Colony. The FCCA board seems to have always regarded the issues raised in connection with the 2007 Nominating Committee with contempt and as being “petty”. We view the situation differently and are concerned that the management of FCCA should be concerned with the integrity of how it conducts its annual elections and how it conducts its other business. Frankly, we don’t understand FCCA’s conduct in this matter since they could have easily fixed the irregularities and then proceeded with the election properly. Instead, they chose to spend FCCA funds defending the lawsuit that they’ve now partially lost.

My repeated calls to the executive director to try to find out how much legal fees have been expended on this matter have all been ignored.

I got a call back this morning from someone at FCCA who says she is the press person and that although the executive director is out of town, they are preparing a press release which should be ready by our next deadline. She said that the press release will explain all the “lies” that have been told about the planned projects.

“What lies?” I gruffly asked (Okay, I shouted). “I just want to ask some questions which the press release might not address. Nobody will return my calls or come to the front when I personally visit.” I said.

You're not going to believe this.....This press person also said what I guess she thought were the magic words to a newspaper publisher. She said the “marketing manager” wanted to get with me also when the executive director returned.

Oh pleazze. The marketing manager? Now what possible reason should I be meeting with the marketing manager?

Sometimes the blatant hypocrisy of some of our community leaders amazes me.

I know that many of you disagree with me. Heck, I’m the woman that thinks we can get out of this current economic mess we’re in if rich people and rich corporations would simply pay their fair share of taxes, an idea that is an abomination to most of you rich Republicans. Nobody actually needs over $1 million a year salary. Nobody.

But, this little lecture does have a point. If the Star did not look into community affairs, you would be stuck with a garden club newsletter. Nothing against garden clubs--I love garden clubs--but a newspaper, even a community one, should be more.

I can’t tell you how many politicians have admitted to me privately and unsolicited that knowing I’m looking over their shoulder keeps them more committed to the community and earning their salary honestly.

Recently, we even participated in stopping a cell tower in New Territory that the community didn’t want and rose up against.

That’s why it surprises me that FCCA isn’t more responsive to the wishes of its residents, many who question its current “master plan.”

Makes you wonder if someone’s brother-in-law or cousin is a pool designer/builder. Yeah, at this time, something doesn’t smell right. I’m sure the forthcoming press release will make it all clear.

And if not that, my meeting with the “marketing manager” will really go a long way to explaining things. Ha!

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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