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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."


 

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 law.

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 public education.

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 2003).

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 “Exemplary.”

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 defense fund.

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 much now.

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!

 

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