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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."


 

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. Punish me!

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 Sugar Land.

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 Wright.

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 site.

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 “thrill” killing.

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 was “safer.”

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?

 

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