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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 28 years."


 

You can tell it’s political season.... When even the Fort Bend Republican Women’s club gets snippy. This week was the monthly meeting and the ladies (and a few men) heard the candidates for Republican County Chair pitch their candidacy and answer a few questions from the audience.

The meeting was going well and right on schedule. Candidates for several other offices were there as well. Eric Thode, who has lead the party for the past 16 years during its time of rapid growth in Fort Bend, did his thing with recognizing all the officeholders and candidates with the office they hold or are vying for. Eric does this without any notes and seldom misses anyone.

Well, things were going swimmingly with new president Marsha Gaines, the retired tax assessor, when the Liz Mitton, a spinmeister for several causes, asked the candidates if they would continue Eric’s practice of recruiting tables to the Lincoln Dinner and then list himself as a major contributor.

He just laughs....There is a continuing attempt to embarrass Eric who is resigning in March when the new county chair is elected. The flap about the Lincoln Dinner, which Eric has made wildly successful if attendance is any measure, started at the executive committee (precinct chairs) meeting last week. Mitton, who usually is an apologist for the new FBISD board majority, was just continuing the cabal.

She tried to not only ask the candidates the question, but to make a little speech about it and tried to pass out some things she had written. However, Marsha Gaines squelched that real fast and asked her to sit down. Mitton later handed out her diatribe at the door.

I don’t know why a certain group continues to try to embarrass Eric. He has stated many times he is leaving in March. Eric moved his family to Houston several months ago, but kept his voting at his parent’s home in Missouri City in order to continue to lead the Republican party through the primary. I think it was a thoughtful thing for him to do and we should appreciate his sacrifice as the job doesn’t pay a penny and certainly takes time away from his family.

Additionally, I don’t think it embarrasses him as Eric and most of the rest of the party knows what a wonderful job he has done for the past 14 years.

Much has been made of Eric’s support of certain Republican candidates in primary elections. However, in the 14 years he has been chairman, he has done this a handful of times.

Many county chairs in Texas do this (although admittedly many don’t), and Eric has always defended his right to do so, citing the freedom of speech guaranteed us by the Bill of Rights. He had performed yeoman service for the party for many years so I don’t understand why he is now under the gun. I guess it’s because he is leaving and those afraid to speak up before are now gutsy.

A thankless job....There are three candidates running for county chair, a far cry from years past when we had to beg someone to take the job. It shows the strength of the Republican party in Fort Bend and, hopefully, after the election we can all make up and still work for the party.

Legal bills mount.....I told you last week I would tell you about the legal bills the (supposedly) fiscally responsible Fort Bend ISD board has piled up in recent months since a new majority has been elected. These are the legal fees related to Board governance ONLY and were billed by David Feldman’s law firm. Items dealing with employees, lawsuits, grievances, etc. were excluded from these amounts, as were those from Lloyd Kelley, hired by the board to “investigate” accusations made about earlier district administration.

Jan. 2004 1,056.25

Feb. 2004 nothing

March 2004 592.50

April 2004 81.25

May 2004 1,356.25

(Lisa Rickert and Ken Bryant were elected to the board in May 2004.)

June 2004 5,923.75

July 2004 448.75

Sept. 2004 81.25

Oct. 2004 448.75

Nov. 2004 2,461.26

Dec. 2004 8,381.25

Total 26,836.25

mo. avg. 2,236.35

----------------------------------

Jan. 2005 3,700.00

Feb. 2005 6,781.85

March 2005 3,761.25

April 2005 2,012.50

May 2005 4,987.50

(Laurie Caldwell and Stan Magee elected to the board in May 2005.)

June 2005 9,485.00

July 2005 6,562.50

Aug. 2005 12,847.05

Sept. 2005 11,427.05

Oct. 2005 8,427.05

Nov. 2005 12,016.60

Dec. 2005 not available

at this time

Total (without Dec.) 82,035.60

Mo. avg. 74,57.78

As you can see, legal bills climbed after the election of Rickert and Bryant, and higher still after the election of Magee and Caldwell.

If one adds the amounts incurred since the “new majority” took over, the data is startling. From June 05 through November 05, the Board spent $ 60,792.50 for an average of $10,132.08 per month towards Board governance/advice. This is in addition to the amounts spent upon the full time FBISD attorney and staff and additional fees paid to Lloyd Kelley.

When I asked why the bills were so much higher, I was told by several board members that the “new majority” didn’t trust the in-house legal counsel so Feldman was asked to attend many meetings that he had not attended before and thus racked up the many hourly charges.

Much has been made in other forums about the early departure of Charles Dupre who had promised to stay until Feb. 3, but left last week after acting Superintendent Manuela Pedraza told him he could use some of his local accumulated time to leave early and suggested he do so. Wonder where she got her orders?

I feel like Bette Davis who said in one of her movies, “What a mess!”

 

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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   Last Update:  September 07, 2006