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
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
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
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
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
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!