I’ve just got to vent....I received an e-mail from a reader castigating me for making a crack about county commissioners naming the “India Herald” as the official county newspaper. The reader thought I was making a smarty remark about the Indian man who owns the “Fort Bend Independent.” I wasn’t. And by the way, the Fort Bend Independent isn’t independent by any stretch of journalistic measure.
Anyway, I would never make fun of someone for their ethnicity. The official newspaper of Fort Bend County really is the “India Herald,” voted by those same county leaders who can’t even fill out or add up their campaign finance reports correctly.
The reason I was making fun of them is that the number one state law about choosing an “official” newspaper is that it be a newspaper of general circulation. I hardly think the “India Herald” qualifies as a newspaper of general circulation, but perhaps when someone is really ticked off with deep pockets sues the county for improper notification about a bond election, tax rate, or some such official business because they didn’t receive proper notice, then the county can spend the money they think they are saving by using the “India Herald” to defend themselves in court.
Commissioners spend millions of dollars each year funneling business to their “friends” who make large campaign contributions, but then worry about spending $30,000 annually to give the citizens proper notice.
Full disclosure requires me to tell you I have a financial interest in the Star printing the county’s legal notices, but more than that, I am ashamed that the county chooses such shoddy products as the “India Herald” and the “Fort Bend Independent” to represent Fort Bend County. I’m talking not only print quality, but context, layout, and distribution.
A letter of a different sort.....
I am writing to tell you how very much I enjoy your column! In June of 2003 our family moved here from Topeka, KS. Our son began his soph. year at Clements H.S. and we settled into our new environment. Your column was then - and still - a terrific window into life and politics of the community we now proudly call home. It continues to inform and educate and entertain. Your candid, straight - from - the - hip views are admirable!
Several Thanksgivings ago I introduced your work to my daughter, Abigail, and her boyfriend, David (both Chicago residents) who were here visiting. They loved “Bev’s Burner!” And so, every week since then I have mailed your column to them “up north.” On the phone we will sometimes discuss a point of interest from your weekly news.
The “graphic tribute” that I enclose today was designed and sent to me by Abigail and David [email@example.com]. I simply couldn’t resist sending a copy to you!
Fort Bend is mighty fortunate to have you to “Tell it like it is!”
Truly, we are loyal fans.
Rebecca S. O’Malley
Then we hear this...... I received another letter from a resident about the new jail being built to the tune of $79.7 million that was supposed to be finished by now, but looks like it will be October when it is finished. This resident wondered how much money Fort Bend County has spent housing prisoners at other jails while Fort Bend has continual construction delays.
The reason the writer is so concerned with the delay is because Fort Bend has hired Carter, Goble, Lee to oversee the construction for $2 million. Then the county also has a highly paid bureaucrat called the Director of Facilities Management and Planning. If we have him and an architectural firm (which should supply some oversight), and a $2 million contract, then why is the building behind schedule and why does it look so bad?
Haven’t any of the commissioners been over to look at that jail and if so, why aren’t they raising holy hell? None of the brick panels match. Not one.
The panels are so bad, you wonder about the next hurricane. The panels are sunk in, warped, and the grout lines do not match. The bricks do not line up with each other on any side of the building.
Is the sheriff himself blind? He has to see the building every day. Has someone built him a retirement home? Does he think he is going to retire and not have to worry about the building?
Are Commissioners blind? Now I’ll admit, you have to get out of your car and walk around the building to see how bad it is, but you would think with the construction delay, someone in charge over there would have at least checked it out.
And guess what? The same company, Carter, Goble, Lee, is in contention for a contract to oversee the commissioning and management of the new building.
More trouble in FBISD..... Newly appointed interim director of transportation James Hoss, was appointed after the sudden resignation of the former director. The former director resigned soon after testifying before the board of trustees about a scuffle between his assistant and a driver. It is suspected that trustees later found out some information left out in the previous testimony.
Anyway, the new interim director has a couple of employees who have had some legal troubles themselves. One was a convicted felon and did not complete her probation and community supervision until two years later. Then she had check charges filed against her which she only recently (June 29, 2009) made restitution.
Another employee was hired by FBISD after he was convicted of assault while working at HISD. He’s been heard to brag of his immediate hire by FBISD after getting in trouble with HISD.
Mr. Hoss himself is no stranger to trouble as he was accused of slapping a student while substituting as a driver back in 2003. Although the FBISD police were called, (the deputy who investigated had both a mother and father working for FBISD as drivers) the charges were eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence. Since that time, the student’s guardian and two aunts have received promotions at FBISD. One aunt is now Mr. Hoss’s interim operations supervisor.
Hey, maybe the kid needed slapping.
Or maybe the FBISD transportation department is run much like the Fort Bend Country’s Sheriff’s department--you either have to be kin to somebody or in trouble to be hired or promoted.
And before you deputies who are actually good get all mad a me, remember you know it to be true and you put up with it.
Also at FBISD.... The school district gives each of its teachers five days for sick leave and several other reasons. The State of Texas does the same. This means teachers get 10 days of sick leave et al per year. These state days are pretty inviolable and may be transferred to other school districts plus paid for upon retirement. The district can put any rules it wants upon the days it grants, but generally districts usually follow the state guidelines. So it was surprising when a new policy of judging teachers’ attendance “below expectations” if they missed six or more days in a year. Excluded from counting are absences due to jury duty, non duty, school business, and religious holidays limited to 2 days.
I can understand the district wanted to cut down absenteeism. It’s sometimes hard to get a substitute; substitutes have to be paid; and continuity in the classroom is mitigated with substitutes. However, I don’t want my kids going to school when some teacher is forced to go even if ill.
The district has all sorts of rules and regulations about absentees. They even have an absent bank where teachers can join and put a few days a year in the “bank” in case they need them for an extended time.
I don’t know what the answer is but I don’t think an attendance rating can affect anything except perhaps merit pay, if available, or promotions. However, as far as promotions go, management already knows whether local applicants have a good reputation for attendance without a form filled out. I've been told that a committee composed of both teachers and management came up with a form to be filled out at the end of the year that will remind employees of just how many days they have been out.
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