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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."


 

What about Bob.....Former Fort Bend Star columnist Susan DuQuesnay Bankston now has a web site called, ďKiss My Big Blue ButtĒ complete with a picture of a donkey at the top. I can only assume that the Big Blue Butt refers to her donkey (ass) representing the Democrats. Yes, Susan is an unrepentant Democrat and it appears at this time that maybe she has been right all along.

In any event, Susan takes great pleasure in scampering over to the courthouse several times a year as soon as the political contribution and expense reports come out. As a public service, she scans the reports and posts them on her web site.

The first report she scanned this year was County Judge Bob Hebert. After posting them, she threw a wall-eyed, snot-nose, hissy fit about him paying his wife a total of $6,200 for keeping his campaign books. Susan contended it was bad form since she says Hebert tells everyone one he is independently wealthy. She goes on to point out that he voted an 18% raise for himself and the other commissioners, while giving the other county employees a 3.3% increase.

She rightly points out that the man makes $105,000 so it isnít like he is starving. And to top it off, giving his wife the $6,200 is ILLEGAL, particularly since some of the amount was for past years in which the records have been destroyed. She contends that this could have been the second or third time he has paid his wife for her bookkeeping services since the records have been destroyed for us to check. Plus, itís still ILLEGAL to pay your wife for any personal services with campaign funds.

So after reading all this, I decided I would call my friend Bob and see if he realized what he was doing was ILLEGAL.

In speaking with Bob, he assured me that the practice was totally legal and that he had promised his wife $100 a month for keeping his campaign accounts and since he had money left over this year, he just caught her up on several years when he had not paid her. His reports said, ď$5,000 for campaigns 12-18-01 to 12-31-05.Ē Then another $1,200 for campaign 2006.

Okay, so I took Judge Hebert at his word although I fully intended to explore the legality question a little further when the very next day, Judge Hebert called back and said on second thought, the practice was illegal and he had reimbursed his campaign and filed an amended report. Bob said the law had changed recently, and he got to thinking about it and called the ethics commission where he found that he was indeed in violation of the law.

Well, by then I was curious about just who Judge Bob had given his campaign money to.

He had given away about $70,000 that had been contributed to him for his campaign. The big winners were the ARC ($14,100), Child Advocates of Fort Bend ($5,000), the Fort Bend Fair Association ($5975), and the Rose Rich Chamber ($5,000). The Fort Bend CORPS received $3,000 with $2500 going to the American Cancer and $2650 to the American Heart. The Richmond Historical Assn. got $2500 and Sekula-Gibbs got $2100 for her ill-fated campaign. Various other charities received $500 to $1000 donations from Hebert.

Remember also this is for only the last half of the year. At the end of December, 2006, Judge Hebert still had $53,137 left in his campaign coffers.

You can see Judge Hebertís report and the other commissioners at http://www.kissmybigbluebutt.com.

I will say this about Bob, many other politicians would have ignored the question and refused to take another look at the situation, knowing full well that John Healey would do nothing even if it was against the law. But Judge Hebert called the ethics commission right away, then called me to tell me Susan was right after all. I know Susan gets all bent out of shape about politicians using the money that non-bid vendors give them to donate to charity. She claims its taxpayer money because it is profits made by companies who donít have to bid.

Itís a hard sell, because they are giving the money to non-profits for whatever reason (to get their names in the newspaper, Susan says). But Judge Hebert does so much good with his campaign money, that itís good to see that he wants to make sure itís not tainted. I gotta hand it to him for that.

What a waste.....Houston home builder Bob Perry gave over $16 million to state and federal political candidates, yet 34% of those receiving money from him lost their races. Interestingly, that $16 million doesnít even take into account the contributions Perry makes to local candidates. Iím reminded of this because he made a $1000 contribution to James Patterson for this past cycle. Those little thousand dollar contributions never make it to ďMoney WatchĒ which tracks state and federal campaign giving.

I canít help but think what that $16 million could do if donated to some charity or disease fighting organization. It could probably wipe out hunger in Houston and find a cure for something. I guess political power is more important to some than helping others. Itís not much of a legacy.

I know Iím going to get in trouble for this.....I went to the annual Fort Bend Chamber banquet this past weekend and as usual it was a first rate affair. Two dear friends, Ursula Coates of Tempower and Bridget Yeung of Fort Bend Financial, were awarded the Volunteer of the Year and the Vickie Hamilton Award respectively. Both were very deserving.

However, three taxing entities to whom I pay taxes, had each purchased tables for the event. A table is $1,000. Guilty parties are Fort Bend ISD, City of Sugar Land, and City of Missouri City (I still havenít sold my house there).

Now Iím sorry folks, but that is just wrong. Thatís my tax money and even though in the greater scheme of things, itís just pennies, it is still wrong.

Itís nice for members of the various boards to take an interest in the community and attend the social/civic event of the year, but there is not a person on any of the boards who could not afford the $100 per person tag. Even though FBISD board members do not get paid, the cities pay their council men/women a stipend of several hundred dollars a month, so they can darn well afford it.

And there is no justification for it. It is not an educational event. It is strictly entertainment and except for the public relations factor, there is no reason for the politicos to be there. Let them politick on their own dime.

 

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:  February 08, 2007