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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."


 

Me and Charlie......State Representative Charlie Howard understandably disagreed with my assessment and complaints of his skills as a legislature in last weekís column. I had to face him when I went to the Fort Bend Chamber lunch the next day. I guess I knew he would be there as a couple of other legislators were speaking (Hegar and Janek). We managed to avoid each other, although I heard that he ran around asking some mayors to tell me what he had done for their cities in this session of the legislature.

Charlie even brought a copy of the press release announcing that he had received an award from the Eagle Forum by my office.

That didnít impress me very much as I think the Eagle Forum is some rich womenís (Phyllis Schlafly) attempt to justify her opposition to her sonís lifestyle. The Eagle Forum continues to fight against gender equality and feminism and has expanded its reach to also focus on homosexuality, education, abortion and the United Nations. Her son, John, was outed by a now defunct magazine in 1992.

The award Howard received was given because of the votes he cast during the last legislative session. According to their press release, he voted against tax increases and any expansion of gambling. He was also recognized for his vote to require voter photo I.D. and for Jessicaís Law.

Itís not so much that I am impressed with the award, but I am impressed with the fact that Howard even cares what I think.

So I decided to take another look at his last legislative session. In the 80th (2007) session, Howard authored 39 bills and jointed authored seven. Of the bills where he was the single house author, a total of four were passed. Where he joined with others to author a bill, four more passed. Actually, for a legislator who claims he is not in Austin to pass bills but to make sure bad bills arenít passed, his record for the past legislative session isnít bad. Several were legislative ďgivensĒ, i.e. about a municipal utility district.

Charlie flatly denies that his chairmanship of the local calendars committee was what sparked the anarchy at the end of the session. According to him, anarchy reigned for almost the whole session.

Charlie pointed out to me that he is 35th on the seniority list which governs so much of what happens in Austin. (Silly me, I thought how you stood with the speaker governed what happens in Austin.)

In any event, Charlie has always voted for Craddick so he is okay on that point also.

He told me that when he first ran for the legislature, he thought he could accomplish what he wanted to do in Austin in one or two sessions. ďI was naive,Ē he now says. Thatís his excuse for overstaying his promise to only serve two or three terms. Charlie now says he never ďpromisedĒ to only serve two or three terms. I told him I knew exactly where I was standing and what I had on when he made that promise.

Thatís when he pointed out his seniority and said it was a way to get things done for Fort Bend. And he did bring up an interesting point. Charlie pointed out that he could retire from the legislature right now and receive about $44,000 annually in retirement rather than the $7,000 annually he currently receives.

He also admitted if Janek quits, he might run for his job. He said he didnít want to go to Washington; he was too old to establish seniority there; and he didnít want to run back and forth on an airplane every weekend; plus raise a million dollars every two years.

I took a look at his campaign finance report (filed electronically on the Texas Ethics Commission web site. Check it out. Itís fun.) and found that Charlie has $ 271,372.54 in his campaign account as of January, 2007, so he certainly has the bucks to either run for Janekís job or donate to other candidates.

How do I feel about Charlie now? I feel a little better, but I know heís not Fort Bendís ďgo toĒ guy in the legislature, and after 14 years, he should be. I still think he is more concerned about legislation having to do with religion and home schooling than with what is needed in Fort Bend. I donít think he ignores us, but I still think he is focused on a narrow agenda that has nothing to do with the majority of citizens in Fort Bend.

But for $7,000. what can we expect?

It is impossible to talk to someone in the District Clerkís office....Glory put up so many roadblocks to keep from having to deal with the public, and they are still in place. I had hoped that Annie Elliott would change some of that, but so far, itís been business as usual.

When you call the main switchboard of the county, a recorded message says to press 2 for the District Clerkís office. That accomplished, then you have to listen to two LOOOONG website addresses. Here is an example.

Blah blah, blah, visit our web site at wwwdotcodotforthyphenbenddottxdotus. Go to the upper right hand side and click on etc, etc.

Now this is repeated twice before you are even offered any other options. The other day I begged Bo Randall, who is the gatekeeper at the county switchboard, to connect me to a real live person. Bo had to take care of another call but came back twice and said she was trying. Finally she connected me to an extension that a recorded voice said to leave a message.

Well, ok, I thought, Iíll leave a message and at least someone MAY eventaully call me back. Then another recorded voice said, ďSorry this mailbox is not accepting any messages at this time because it is full of unemptied messages.Ē

Couldnít you just reach through the telephone and try to strangle someone?

I eventually found a place where I could talk to a live person, but Iím not going to tell you because it took some real sluthing and brilliant powers of deduction and you might tie it up for me the next time I want to use it. I asked the live person to tell Annie Elliott to call me back.

Guess what? She did, not too long after. I complained to her about the telephone situation. She said she was having to do a lot to change quite a few things. i didnít remind her she had been in office since January because she had been so nice to call me back.

But now I am.

 

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