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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."


 

The trifecta of bad....You’ve heard of people who can _____(expletive deleted) a bowling ball? Well, it seems our state representative Charlie Howard is one of those.

I have obtained an advance copy of next month’s Texas Monthly, only to learn that Howard has hit the publication’s “10 Worst” for the third time.

Although Charlie originally campaigned to serve only two terms (I have plenty of money and I only want to serve), later amended to claim he said three terms, is now in his seventh term (14 years), he’s close to being named to the All-Star list of bad legislators for the number of times he’s appeared on the list.

The public didn’t realize and some of us political junkies didn’t snap that the challenge to Craddick in the opening days of the session lead to major contention during the entire session. We also didn’t realize that actions by Charlie Howard led to the final confrontation between the speaker and everyone else which almost led to a shut down of the entire session without some important bills being passed.

It went thusly:

As a good Republican who had served seven terms in the House and was a Craddick true-believer, Howard was finally rewarded with one of the easiest committee chair jobs in the legislature. He was appointed as chairman of the Local & Consent Calendars which means he was the gate keeper for all the bills that are unimportant to anyone but the particular representative’s public. In other words, congratulatory or laudatory proclamation-type bills. The committee’s mission according to the state’s web site is “are in fact local or will be uncontested, and have been recommended as such by the standing committee of original jurisdiction.”

Some examples are “In memory of Harry Lee Westmoreland, Jr.” or “Congratulating Sugar Land Regional Airport for being named the 2007 Reliever Airport of the Year.”

But Charlie either let his power go to his head or he didn’t exactly understand what his job was all about because according to the magazine he allowed only bills filed by Republicans (or Republicans who supported Craddick) to get on the Calendar, or with rare exceptions, bills filed by the few Democrats who supported Craddick.

According to Texas Monthly, local bills lingered until “all Hell broke loose.” When legislators realized what was happening, Democrats started torpedoing the bills which made it onto Calendars by debating them for over 10 minutes which automatically kills the bills.

In a show of bipartisan solidarity, Republicans started pulling their own bills, and jumped on the microphone and called Charlie down, demanding he put up the Democrat bills also. Supposedly, Charlie had to take his medicine and it was characterized by Texas Monthly as “Like the Boston Tea Party, Howard provided the spark that ignited the revolution” at the end of the session.

I think after this display of ineptitude, and in view of the fact that Howard has already served four more terms than he promised, and his earlier criticism of former representative Jim Tallas for making the “Worst” list, Charlie needs to go.

Fort Bend County was underrepresented for many years in the Texas legislature. (We won’t even discuss the embarrassment of Tom DeLay.) Dora Oliva has served us, but I’m concerned by Dora’s mind-set these days.

Only recently with the election of Kyle Janek, Glenn Hegar and John Zerwas has our representation been truly representative of the type of people who populate our community--people who are highly educated, selfless, and can get along with their fellow legislators (the true key to getting anything done in Austin).

And I think the reason we now have some good representation in Austin is because the above lawmakers are elected by voters other than those ultraconservative Republicans who vote in Charlie Howard’s district. It’s time Sugar Land was represented in the Texas House by someone who has a more global outlook than Charlie Howard. And it’s time that Howard got out of the way and announced his retirement, so someone worthy would come forward.

Did the punishment fit?....I never weighed in how I felt about FBISD and the Carpenters’ imbroglio concerning the teacher who missed 22 days of school for appearing on “The Bachelor.”

First, I think “The Bachelor” is a silly show that is insulting to women. I think the teacher should be ashamed for appearing on something so demeaning.

A little time has allowed me to think on the situation more and I think the whole incident could have been avoided if both Dr. Jenney and Ms. Carpenter had acted with a little more professionalism.

No one knows the role that Ms. Carpenter’s immediate supervisor, Mark Smith, played in the situation. But Ms. Carpenter should have asked permission from Mr. Smith for the extended absence of the teacher.

However, Dr. Jenney should have reprimanded Ms. Carpenter by calling her down and putting a letter in her file. His choice of a week with no salary or a demotion was heavy-handed, and one can’t help but wonder if he was just trying to scare his troops as the new superintendent.

Well, he chose the wrong person to make an example of, but in my opinion, she overreacted and could have taken the week with no salary and gone about her business. Either she or her friends involved the media, and her husband’s letter inflamed the fire.

This all left a bad taste in my mouth. If you are no longer happy with a school district, vote with your feet. But to make a public spectacle out of it, while satisfying my personal desire for a good story, was unprofessional in my opinion. If you want to go...go

But bottom line, it’s a shame that such a well-respected teacher and principal and then her winning coach husband are lost to the district over something that should have been resolved.

I’m keeping my eye on Dr. Jenney.

 

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:  July 18, 2007