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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."


 

Important election notice....This past Monday was the first day to file to run for the FBISD board of trustees with March 12 being the last day to sign up. And on that same subject, April 12 is the last day to register to vote for the Sat. May 12 election.

I’m reminding you of this because the two FBISD positions up for election are currently held by former board president Lisa Rickert, famous for running off good personnel and costing the district big bucks while touting savings, and her fellow traveller, Ken Bryant.

You remember the headlines all during 2005-06 until Steve Smelley was elected to calm things down. Rickert and Bryant led the charge to “retire” Superintendent Betty Baitland. Rickert took liberties while serving as president by stopping meetings mid-meeting, spending hours in executive session, sometimes until 2 a.m.. and running up huge legal bills before firing the board’s attorney.

You remember Rickert and Bryant who voted to pay $40,000 to attorney Lloyd Kelley to find out dirt on Baitland. After his report, to paraphrase one board member, “Is that all there is?”

It is incumbent upon us to field good candidates, and particularly in case either of these two rampageous board members decide to run again, Due to their chaotic actions, Fort Bend ISD lost at least a year of development. I can’t begin to tell you how bad it was, but we must make sure that people who care about education, rather than political power, run for these important positions.

What a mess.....The Republican Lincoln-Reagan Dinner (both men are currently twirling in their respective graves) continues to astonish many members of party insiders and those of us that keep us with those things.

When that group of precinct chairs, lead by Dean Hrbacek, Teresa Raia, Linda Howell, and several others decided to take all power away from their duly elected county chairman, Gary Gillen, with a set of Draconian by-laws, Gillen was unable to make any decisions without consulting powerful committees or all the precinct chairs.

He established a political action committee to handle the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, a traditionally large money-raiser for the party.

They took him to court, he counter sued and Judge Tom Culver presided over an agreement between the two competing parties to host the dinner. Tom Campbell, who had formerly run against U.S. Representative Tom DeLay, was mutually agreed upon as the co-host.

Something I think everybody has forgotten is that Gary Gillen is head of both groups--the Republican party and the PAC. The reason I think they have forgotten this is that the traditional role of the county chair in planning the program for the dinner is now being shared with Tom Campbell, who has behaved either incredibly naÔve or stupid, or maybe a little of both.

First rattle out of the box is the Campbell group sent out thousands of pages of information about the dinner to potential attendees who had already received an invitation, all without a political disclaimer. They said the judge had allowed them to do this, although I don’t think the judge wanted them to break the law. They ignored the by-laws that they had used to hamstring Gillen.

Next, they solicited Bob Perry to bid $20,000 as speaker sponsor, then called Dave Wallace whose $15,000 had already been accepted and whose $15,000 had paid for this for several years, and asked him to up his bid if he wanted the privilege of introducing the speaker. Dave was rightfully ethically offended that he was pulled from the program and asked to ante up more. He took his $15,000 and went home.

Then the Campbell group decided that Sugar Land City Councilman Thomas Abraham, who might be running for mayor, was pulled from the program to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. Thomas had bought a table and his good friend had donated some very expensive jewelry for auction items. That was pulled.

Additionally, many elected officials say they are skipping the dinner this year and several big spenders have vowed to sit on their hands during the live auction bidding.

The spin...At this point in time, it doesn’t seem that the dinner will make as much money as previously, but mark by words, there will be spinning that it is Gillen’s fault.

I called Tom Campbell because I had supported his bid against DeLay and felt like he was an honorable man. Campbell is such a nice guy that it is hard to be mad at him, but I told him I thought the “bidding” for places on the program wasn’t nice. Campbell retorted that it was not nice to support one Republican candidate over another, thereby buttressing my theory that some people in the party are still mad at former chairman Eric Thode and are taking it out on Gillen. I think Campbell is mad because he was left off the “informal” poll that Thode sent out right before his term expired.

Campbell thinks the dinner can still be a success and that a lot of different people will attend as a result of the additional mailing.

Death by by-laws.....I’ll have to admit that I formed my opinions early. I called Gillen the morning after his first meeting of precinct chairs in May, a meeting I call “the night of the long swords.” I told Gary that morning that I thought he should resign because the people supporting Linda Howell would never give up and would continue to snipe at him until they destroyed the local party. “Give it up,” I said. I felt they had never made donations to the local party and would soon self-destruct. Then he could come back in a few years and “save” us. Gillen told me then that he refused to preside over the demise of the local Republican party and was going to stay the course.

Tom Campbell can put as good a face on it as he can, but I still think this ain’t over. I'll bet they wish they had let Gary handle it now.

Me, I’m trying to score a ticket to the Friday event at Quail Valley Country Club honoring State Representative Rick Noriega, a Democrat in District 145, who recently served 14 months in Afghanistan. His wife served in Rick’s place in the Texas house and the night is being billed as “A Tribute to an American Family.”

That sounds nice.

 

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:  March 07, 2007