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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 29 years."


 

It was everything I thought it would be ... It was worth giving up my regular Thursday night card game with the buffaloes. I’m talking about the meeting of many of the Republican precinct chairs with their unrepentant County Chairman Gary Gillen. The “family” party failed to attend their children’s Christmas performances, Christmas shopping was left undone, and gifts could wait until another day to be all gussied up because precinct chairs called an emergency meeting to deal with their rebellious county chairman after they heard he had taken over the lucrative Lincoln Reagan dinner, the party’s major fund-raiser.

Public humiliation ...It was a public flogging of epic proportions of Gillen and after it was over, Gillen told them to “bite me,” and said he would continue to plan and execute the event.

Well, okay, he didn’t say, “Bite me,” but he might as well had said that because he reminded those assembled that no matter how they voted on a number of resolutions meant to bring him to heel, they had no standing. They were simply resolutions that carried no legal binders.

In the beginning ... It all started on May 18 when Gillen was sworn in after a narrow victory over Linda Howell for the non-paying job of Republican County Chairman. At that first meeting, a new set of bylaws were voted in by a coalition of precinct chairs mad at the power that the former chair, Eric Thode, wielded; a group of so-called Christian coalition members; and former Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek and his posse who had been mad at everybody who has even spoken to the man who defeated him for mayor, David Wallace.

At that first meeting, Gillen told the group that he had reserved a ballroom date for the Lincoln Reagan dinner and had booked a speaker. One of the precinct chairs stood up and told him, “Mr. Chairman, you don’t have the authority to do that.”

Gillen explained at this last meeting that he was told that May was almost to late to start planning for the large event and that few dates were even left in February, 2007 at that time. He told the precinct chairs that was when he decided to form a PAC to host the event since his hands were obviously tied otherwise.

He can’t do that, can he? ... Many of the speakers at the recent meeting, “the humiliate Gary Gillen meeting.” were indignant. Linda Howell, whose vice chairmanship was forced on Gillen by a majority of the above precinct chairs, displayed a shaky voice and was almost in tears. One precinct chair, Paul Ware, told Gillen that a fly is on the wall here and it’s a Democratic fly listening. Ware predicted that if the party didn’t stand together, they would lose it in two years. “This needs to end here tonight. All know is, I’m a Christian and will stand against the enemy until the day I die.”

Some of the other comments were equally undecipherable. Don Braley, a precinct chair from Missouri City, said, “This is just plain wrong. I heard you said the by-laws ties your hands. That’s admitting you did something

wrong!”

They were beside themselves. It was fun to watch.

Keeping your cool when those about you ... Gillen displayed a remarkably calm exterior and let anyone speak who wanted to speak. Outgunned and outmanned (the votes to asked him to cease and desist, hire an attorney, and appoint a committee passed by 35-14), he calmly stood by as he was excoriated in public and finally at one point said, “I am not going to be interrogated. My statement stands.”

Function of the party ... Most of the executive committee do not understand that the county party is itself a PAC. By state law, it has only one function, and that is to conduct the primary every two years. All of the other stuff--newsletters, phone banks, headquarters, advertising--is just extra. However, some of the precinct chairs are full of themselves and told Gillen so that night. Teresa Raia said, “We are not the little people. We take our responsibilities seriously.” Gillen’s calm demeanor left at that point when he told her he had never said anything of the sort. And later she said, “We didn’t start this. Our chairman did.”

Howell said if Gillen is allowed to continue to host the Lincoln Dinner that “it will gut the party.” She said it (Gillen hosting the Lincoln Dinner) takes all the power and the power of the party will fall apart if it happens.”

This group must be doubly worried since Gillen earlier sent out an e-mail announcing the number of tables which have already been sold to many prominent Republicans and elected officials.

Former Chairman Eric Thode said this reminded him somewhat of the actions of Betsy Lake in Harris County a number of years ago. She was being hamstrung as the county chair by a small group of power seekers who had their friends run for precinct chairs (admittedly a thankless job). Lake quit the group and established another Republican Party which quickly became the dominant party while the other group went broke and soon disappeared.

Has it come to this? ... Although Gillen hasn’t gone that far yet, it may come to that before this is all over. There are probably some in the party that would like to see the last of the malcontents and would welcome them being in a different party.

Many Republicans are like the Democrats of ten or so years ago who felt they didn’t leave the party, it left them. Many moderate Republicans who have been Republicans for years feel the party has been hijacked by elements who call them RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) if they don’t march lock step with the new group’s social ideas.

I call them Republicans Come Lately. They are the hypocrites who preach Christian ideals yet act in a very unchristian way by cutting funding for poor children, trying to give tax money to churches (who already enjoy tax breaks themselves) and pandering to businesses who use the mantra of “free trade” to send American jobs to developing countries and leave our workers without employment.

Bah Humbug! I’ve worked myself into such a snit I’ve broken the first rule of writing--keep it short enough to read!

 

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:  December 27, 2006