I don’t understand Sugar Land......
I’ve lived and worked in or near Sugar Land for the better
part of three decades. Not only have I lived and worked near
Sugar Land, I’ve run a newspaper in Sugar Land which has put
me in contact with the entire spectrum of the humanity of
Sugar Land, from mayors to factory workers, from social
divas to church ladies, from pastors to politicians. In
other words, the whole gambit of personalities.
Sugar Land has always wanted to be
“sweeter.” Citizens of Sugar Land have never wanted to
believe they are just like every other small suburban city
with the same good living, the same ills and the same woes.
I remember early in my newspaper career
when I sent a reporter to the police department of Sugar
Land to pick up the “offense reports” for the week. When he
arrived, the chief left out the back door, and another
policeman and a citizen police groupie took the reporter in
the back room and threatened to beat him up if he didn’t
leave. Seems the police in Sugar Land, perhaps reflecting
the general belief of its citizenry, felt that any offenses
that occurred in Sugar Land were not for public consumption.
After that incident, I had the effrontery
to write a letter to the mayor and each member of city
council detailing the incident. The offense reports were
grudgingly available the next week, but it was a long time
before anybody in Sugar Land would speak to me publicly.
Over the years, I’ve had reason to
believe the police department was sitting on some of the
same information, but most of that personnel has retired or
gone into hiding. However, I am understandably sensitive to
that situation about police information and certainly not
above repeating the letter to the city council and the rest
of Fort Bend through the pages of this newspaper.
All of this is not to complain about the
recent incident involving the murder of a teenager by her
classmates, but rather a discussion about the complexity of
In the recent murder case involving the
Clements High School teens, the Sugar Land police have been
very forthcoming, as much as possible not to jeopardize the
investigation. If you question why Fort Bend County Sheriff
Milton Wright is involved, the reason is that the body was
found in an unincorporated area of the county, thereby
putting much of the investigation into the hands of Sheriff
The reason I still don’t understand Sugar
Land is because last week “Money Magazine” named the city
third of the best places to live in the United States. It
had the third highest median household income; the highest
job growth percentage 2000-2005 (at 30 percent-thank you EDC);
and the second lowest median house price (at $214K). The
survey goes on to mention everything from math scores to
museums to body mass index. Take a look at it on the CNN Web
Yet just this week, two teens were
charged with the murder of their Clements High School
classmate - two teens who lived in the upscale First Colony
subdivision of Sugar Land. Early reports have tagged it as a
And this event isn’t the first murder of
a teen by Clements classmates in Sugar Land. I’ve spent many
hours talking to Ben Elledge, father of Brandon Elledge who
was lured behind Sweetwater Country Club and shot for his
car stereo by two of his classmates almost 20 years ago. The
Elledges had moved to Sugar Land from Sharpstown because it
On any weekend in Sugar Land, you’ll see
hundreds of families enjoying the quality of life in the
area. They are participating with their children in youth
baseball, soccer, basketball, swimming. They are picnicking
and biking--doing a myriad of things together.
Sugar Land and most of the small towns in
Fort Bend seem almost idyllic. The grim scepter of teen
murder doesn’t loom over the green spaces with families
having fun. Of all the small cities in Fort Bend, Sugar Land
has the most money, or at least the display of money.
However, as three families found out this past week, that
doesn’t protect you from tragedy.
Maybe it’s not Sugar Land I don’t
understand; maybe I just don’t understand kids with money
and brains and a future behaving so horribly.
And the beat goes on..... Supposedly
most of the politicians who are poised to take Tom DeLay’s
place on the ballot are not letting the recent judicial
ruling stop them from continuing to campaign for a job they
might not even be eligible to get. Now that’s optiminism, a
necessary ingredient for a politician who must answer to the
whims of the voters every two years for this particular job.
DeLay’s words at the Chamber of Commerce
“tribute” to him notwithstanding, he doesn’t have the money
to mount a viable campaign as he has used it all for his
legal defense. That’s why we hardly saw any DeLay yard signs
in the primary. He didn’t buy any.
This also means Teresa Raia, Dean Hrbacek
and Andy Meyers are doing everything they can do to make
sure that Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace does not get on the
ballot, even though he is the clear choice for the average
Republican. But Hrbacek et al are determined to punish
Wallace for having the nerve to run against Hrbacek and BEAT
him for mayor when he still had another term before term
limits disqualified him.
Since that time, Hrbacek has done
everything he can to besmirch the reputation of Mayor
Wallace, and usually with the help of a lap-dog editor at
another newspaper who is gone as of last week.
In Raia’s questionnaire to precinct
chairs about who they want to replace DeLay, she asked some
pretty pointed questions about different economic and
ethical questions concerning the likely candidate.
Unfortunately, I have been around so long that I have prior
knowledge about some serious ethical questions concerning
Howard and Meyers, Raia’s choice for replacement. I’ll be
glad to provide those for anyone interested.
Leaving a sinking ship....... Long
time Fort Bend ISD in-house attorney Bernadette Gonzalez
served the school district notice this week that she would
not be returning. Gonzalez has been off a month on
accumulated sick leave. I’ve been informed that she and her
husband have other positions in the Austin area and she
would prefer not to say where for fear that certain elements
in Fort Bend ISD will go after her new job. Can’t say as I
blame her as Charles Dupree, who is now the acting
superintendent for Pflugerville, suffered the same fate.
Gonzalez was relegated to the back bench
by former board president Lisa Rickert, who began requiring
that FBISD attorney David Feldman be present at almost every
meeting because she didn’t believe Gonzalez when told she
couldn’t do certain things.
When Feldman failed to agree with Rickert
and his fees began to climb because of the extra work,
Rickert engineered his firing.
She hired Bracewell & Giuliani, which
doubled Feldman’s fees. When the district sent out proposals
for law firms, Bracewell & Giuliani didn’t even respond.
What a mess. No wonder Gonzalez has joined over half the
administrative staff in leaving. And I hear that new
president Steve Smelley allowed the meeting to last til 2
a.m. last night. Have we bought (elected) a pig in a poke?