A first rant.....The Texas
legislature convened a special session starting this Monday
to do something about school financing before the judicial
mandated June 1 deadline. I fear that the legislature will
simply use the surplus the state has collected over the past
two years, pass a $1 cigarette tax and a few additional
business taxes, call it a day and go home.
Then most businesses with smart lawyers
or accountants will have found a loophole in the new tax
laws before the ink is dry on the printed bill.
The school finance morass can be solved
very easily if the legislature would simply expand the types
of businesses covered by the current sales tax laws.
Lawyers, accountants, and sellers of advertising--and I’m
sure there are several other categories of businesses that I
haven’t thought of--are not now covered by the sales tax
As a business that sells advertising, I
don’t want to have to collect sales tax. It means additional
bookkeeping as I would have to collect the sales tax from
the businesses who advertise with me, keep count of it, and
send it to the state monthly. But fair is fair. Think of all
the television, newspaper, radio, internet, billboards, and
other purveyors of advertising. It would add millions to the
current sales tax collections. But this won’t happen because
all these businesses have expensive lobbyists who make sure
these businesses aren’t required to collect the sales tax.
I think we should keep an eye on our own
state legislators to see how they behave in the upcoming
special session. I wish I could take off several weeks and
cover it personally.
Second rant....I have sent out a
questionnaire to the school board candidates to find out
about certain things that I want to see in a school board
member. I want a school board member that (1) has a valid,
articulate reason for running for the board, (2) has
children currently attending Fort Bend ISD schools, (3) has
volunteered in the schools or youth-related activities, (4)
has not ever taught in Fort Bend ISD, (5) does not have
family members who work for FBISD, and (6) has attended
several FBISD school board meetings in the past year.
I have several reasons for wanting to
know these particular things about candidates. First, if
someone can’t tell me succinctly why they are running for
the board, perhaps they don’t know themselves.
Second, I am suspicious about anyone
running for the unpaid position of the school board that
does not have children attending the schools. Since most of
us are taxpayers, we certainly have the right to run, but
still, I’m suspicious of their motives.
Third, if someone is willing to volunteer
in the schools or in youth-related activities, I think that
shows their commitment to young people rather than simply
wanting a power base.
Fourth, I believe that a lot of people
who have taught in Fort Bend ISD (Rita Drabeck excepted)
that ran for the board in the past and currently are running
are simply running for their own personal agenda. We’ve all
seen this many times over the years and usually the hidden
agenda is power and revenge.
Fifth, a candidate with a family member
working for Fort Bend ISD is, if elected, in a position to
personally help that family member climb up the educational
ladder. It just isn’t a healthy atmosphere.
And sixth, if a candidate hasn’t attended
board meetings in the past year, then he/she just doesn’t
know what he/she is in for. And if a candidate does not have
the time to attend board meetings as an interested parent,
then that candidate can hardly be expected to devote much
time to the position of board member.
The board we have now is dysfunctional.
It is made up of several people who have personal agendas.
Anyone who is elected will have to deal with that for at
least the next year until the voters can get rid of some of
the board members who I have come to believe, are enemies of
They, and their supporters, claim that
Fort Bend ISD wasn’t working because it was listed as
“Recognized” in 2002, but by 2004 had fallen to
“Academically Acceptable.” (No new ratings were released for
I did some research on the TEA web site
and discovered that many schools in the state had their
ratings downgraded between 2002 and 2004. And I discovered
that of all the schools in Region 4, (Houston and
surrounding school districts), the following schools were
the only ones that received a “Recognized” rating in 2005
and none received an “Exemplary” rating: Danbury ISD and
Friendswood ISD. Statewide, only 11 schools were rated as
I’ll report the answers to my
questionnaire next week.
Third rant......I also believe that
we should have a special election to fill Tom DeLay’s
congressional seat even if it means that someone other than
some annointed person will serve for a couple of months.
It’s not fair for us to have no representation for two
months, or more. It also wasn’t “fair” for DeLay to resign
when he knew full well before the primary that he was going
to resign. Several people has said that DeLay ran in the
primary then resigned so he could collect money up until the
time he resigned, then he could transfer it to his legal
He claims that he did it for the good of
the party. Others say he did it becasuse he had discovered
through polling that Nick Lampson was going to beat him. So
does that mean he was scared of Nick Lampson? The Hammer?
Could that be why he sent his minions out
to act like a bunch of thugs at a Nick Lampson press
conference? I’m ashamed to be a Republican if they are going
to go around with bull horns and disrupt someone’s exercise
of free speech and hit 80 year old ladies in the face.
I know people have demonstrated against
DeLay before, but I’ve never heard of anyone acting the way
some DeLay supporters did a couple of weeks ago at Sugar
Land’s Town Center. I’ve never heard of a crowd being so
rowdy that DeLay couldn’t be heard. What that little trick
did was give Lampson much more publicity than he would have
received if the press conference had been ignored by the
Republicans. Are they afraid of him too?
Perhaps DeLay’s campaign manager wants to
continue to earn his salary.
Actually, I almost regret DeLay’s
resignation (if he ever really leaves) as it was a cottage
industry around my office. Just the week before, I had
received a copy of a movie to be released called “The Big
Buy. How Tom DeLay sold Congress.” The movie opened with
shots of me driving around talking about Tom with a friend.
I was practically a star! I doubt if the movie will play
Then, I spent several hours with Texas
Monthly’s senior editor Paul Burka, who I have read and
admired for years. He interviewed me for a Texas Monthly
story that will probably never see print now.
I guess the adage of “be careful what you
wish for” is true!