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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."


 

The hubris of leadership....I am often astonished by the arrogance of some of our appointed and elected officials.

For example, I recently was informed that FBISD’s global center for science and technology was still on the drawing boards. I thought everyone agreed that in the economic climate of today, the science center was a program we did not have to have.

The global center for science and technology was FBISD’s answer to low science scores on the TAKS tests. Rather than throw a bunch of money at the classrooms, the district in its bid to build something it could name after somebody proposed a project that, except for its name, wasn’t going to do much for anybody, what with loading kids up and busing them several miles once or twice a semester so they could spend scant minutes at the center before loading on a bus and heading back to their home campus.

I had no idea the district was still kicking that ill-fated idea around until the board started talking about a bond election in order to not only build more schools, but of a more immediate nature, repair some schools in bad shape. Board members were informed that money still left over from previous bond issues was being saved for the science center rather than being used for current repairs.

Are you kidding me??? It is inconceivable to me that with as much controversy over the center in the first place that it would still be on the agenda.

Does the superintendent, Dr. Tim Jenny, realize that the effective term of a school superintendent is about five years, and he is dangerously closing in on that term.

When board members Lisa Rickert, Laurie Caldwell, Stan Magee, and Ken Bryant (yeah, I still remember the names and will for a long time. Our district lost about three years during that fiasco and is still paying for it), dismissed Dr. Betty Baitland and the HR department head was appointed to take her place and serve as interim superintendent, there were predictions that no one would apply for the job. It was thought the contentious board would keep good applications away. The district claimed it received over 40 applications but went all the way to the coast of Virginia to hire Dr. Tim Jenney, who by that time had resigned from the school's system and was working at Regents University, the college founded by Pat Robinson.

Dr. Jenney had apparently done a good job of straightening up the Virginia Beach school system before leaving and hopes for his leadership in FBISD were high.

However, it has been rocky. I’ve never known of a superintendent that the teachers hated so universally. He brought many administrators from Virginia Beach with him which may have been a good thing as schools have a way of becoming inbred, but it has resulted in untold resentments.

Now we find that amid all the other economic problems plaguing the school district, a “secret” fund is still being kept aside for the building Dr. Jenney wants to build. The hauteur of this action seems almost unbelievable. Shame on Dr. Jenney and shame on the school board for letting our schools go dangerously lacking in repair while still harboring conceited thoughts of a “science center.”

Which brings us to another example of conceit......First Colony Community Association voted last week 6-0 without a single question or comment from the directors or Executive Director Sherrie Knoepfel to spend $640,000 of your money to dismantle Edgewater Park and redevelop the green space as a “Splash Pad” even though 86% of residents in the surrounding three neighborhoods and 1,000 households in First Colony generally signed petitions asking the board to stop construction.

Right before the board’s unanimous vote without discussion to spend $640,000 on this unwanted amenity, the board talked about raising your annual dues by $ 5 before finally deciding that, for this year only, dues would remain the same. During the discussion of dues, not one director talked about saving $640,000 by not building the Splash Pad, including newly appointed director Anthony Maroulis who obviously wants a future political career as he ran for the Missouri City council last year. I think he has just about put the nail in the coffin of that ambition as many of us have long memories, right Lisa, Laurie, Stan, and Ken?

And but another example.....Last week Sheriff Milton Wright threatened to withhold police protection from some subdivisions who decided to hire constables to perform extra patrol for their areas, instead of continuing to pay “protection money” to the sheriff’s department for doing the job they were supposed to be doing anyway.

This “protection” money is being used to continue to buy “take home” cars for various members of the sheriff’s administration, some of whom do not even live in Fort Bend County. These people are using our taxpayer paid gas, tires, batteries, oil changes, and cars to go back and forth to their home. For those of us who know what the IRS allows, you can’t charge your employer for going back and forth to work--unless you work for the Fort Bend County sheriff.

A month after he was elected to a new four-year term, Sheriff Milton Wright announced that his chief deputy was going to be running for his job with his full blessing. Then Sheriff Wright checked out. He can usually be found playing golf or dominos at the country club. And yet he is still collecting his paycheck--$105,000 per year not counting a significant medical plan, vacation, and retirement. This means that before the end of his term, he will “steal” over $400,000 from the taxpayers of Fort Bend.

He’s already collecting retirement from the state as a former DPS officer and former Texas Ranger. He’s what we call a “double dipper” and that term isn’t always confined to just his professional life.

He arrogantly drives his county car to all the places he “plays” and leaves it parked for all to see. His is just about the worst case of hubris I’ve ever seen but he’s in good company with other Fort Bend honchos.

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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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