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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."


 

Making music with my friends....A group of residents in New Territory, who come together for the past few election cycles to interview and endorse candidates, have come under fire for being a PAC (political action committee) without being registered with the Texas Ethics Commission.

One would think that a group of like-minded citizens could exercise their Constitutional rights of assembly and speech, and they can. However, the rub is when they spend money to endorse any candidate because that changes the civics of the situation. Any printed material is supposed to contain a disclaimer which states who is paying for the material.

And one reason the actions of these New Territory residents is coming under fire is because two of its members are elected officials, and as their detractors say: they should know better. The officials in question are FBISD school board president Lisa Rickert and Pct. 4 Constable Troy Nehls. As another elected official said, ďYou would think the President of FBISDís board and a Constable who is supposed to uphold the law......could follow the law.Ē

So I called Rickert and Nehls and found out the following information. Rickert said the group came together because they were residents of New Territory and wanted to elect good officials whose interests matched those of New Territory. Rickert said the main organizer was New Territory resident Bart Hatfield. Rickert said the group was informal and included different people at different times. She said the vote did not have to be unanimous.

Hatfield said the group used to be called ďNew Territory VotesĒ but they were asked to quit using the name because they were not an official part of the homeowners association. Hatfield said they did not presently have a name.

Nehls said that the group interviewed candidates in seven races and chose five candidates to support. He said that so far the group has not incurred any expense. He said that in past elections the group had printed and passed out fliers while walking the neighborhood for candidates and at soccer and other athletic games.

Hatfield said the group had made endorsements in two previous school board elections and had plans to made endorsements in the upcoming primary.

So I called the Texas Ethics Commission and spoke to attorney Natalia Ashley. She told me that rules state that any general purpose political action committee, and that is what this sounded like, did not have to name a treasurer and file with the ethics commission unless they spent over an aggregate total of $500.

She pointed out the $500 trigger included any monies spent by the group from its inception, whether it had a name or not. In other words, for the New Territory group, the monies they spent for the previous two school board races has to be included. And she pointed out that after the establishment of a PAC, a 60 day waiting period was in effect.

Constable Nehls said the group has not spent $500 yet, and I would imagine, given the small numbers of homes covered, that the $500 amount hasn't been reached. But future elections might pull the trigger.

So the next time you get together with your friends, interview candidates, and spend $500 to support the chosen candidates, make sure you file with the ethics commission and have a designated treasurer.

Listening in.....I donít know why there is such an uproar over the warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists. The last I heard, we already had 100,000 hours of un-translated wiretaps and didnít have the manpower with the Arabic language skills willing to work for the government to translate these documents.

I canít understand why we are wiretapping all those activists and peace groups when we have all those un-translated suspected Al Qaeda conversations.

Here comes the judge.....Iím not sure the Iraqis are ever going to be able to govern themselves. They canít even seem to successfully put Saddam on trial. Judges keep quitting, prosecutors keep quitting, Saddam keeps disrupting the proceedings. How can we expect them to run their country when they canít even try a cruel despot like Hussein?

Be my valentine.....On this day of love (Tuesday), I want to remind you to be careful who and what you hate. If not, your rebellious children will become whatever and whoever you

See BEVís BURNER, page 5

hate. One of my more bigoted friends just discovered that his daughter was marrying someone outside her culture, race, and political party, and that his son was gay.

You know what they say.....Liars figure and figures lie. Dick Morris, who was the featured speaker at the Lincoln-Reagan Republican Gala this Saturday (which was wildly successful) said that our congressman, Tom DeLay, didnít do anything that most congressmen in Washington hadnít done. What Morris didnít say was that in most states using corporate money for political purposes is not illegal. In Texas, it is. Whether DeLay did or didnít (exchange corporate money for ďcleanĒ money from the national party for Texas candidates) will be up to a jury at a later date.

Rumor control....It has been floated that at the Republican dinner where Steve Smelley was introduced as a candidate for the school board, a fracas later broke out between current board member Bruce Bains and Smelley. It was even told that Pct. Chair Linda Hancock had to pull them apart. Supposedly Smelley had to be escorted from the building.

I donít know where people get their information. It just astonishes me when people flat out make stuff up. First, Linda, who is not a precinct chair and never has been one, is too small to break up any fight. Second, Bains and Smelley are friends and Bains had told many people he was not running again. And third, Smelley did not have to be escorted out.

The real story is that Mike Gibson, who once ran for Republican County Chair, accosted Smelley in the hall outside the event and started complaining about the district. Smelley, knowing that Gibson does not have children in the district, told him off. Linda Hancock came along and told Smelley to just ignore Gibson.

And yes, Smelley, who has served before, has filed to run for the board.

Itís that time......Early voting will open next Tuesday, and you can see a schedule in our Voterís Guide in this issue. Many voters who vote otherwise in the general election do not vote in the party primaries which are occurring on March 7. But the reason it is so important is that in many contested Republican primaries, the March 7 votes is the final vote as candidates may not have an opponent in the general election.

So if you want a voice in local elected officials, you need to vote now. Get with it!

 

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