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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 30 years."


 

Don’t look now....I used this space last week to express my disappointment with some of the current crop of elected officials in Sugar Land. I told how I had been travelling the county extolling the ability of the new generation of politicians in Fort Bend County--their education, their erudition, their dedication to the common cause--when I was blind sided by a show of three Sugar Land city fathers totally not getting it.

Then this weekend I was invited to speak to a group of seniors citizens (of which I suddenly awoke to the fact that I am a senior citizen myself). This group was at the local synagogue, and they were more than a little bit interested in current affairs and county politics.

I told them how I started the Fort Bend Star and a couple of stories about particular incidents in the past 30 years then had a question and answer period.

One lady who told me she was new to the area, asked me a question that has haunted me for the past several days.

I’m thinking with her years of knowledge she may have just hit on something that should be obvious to us all.

She asked me if the current group of politicians, and I’m assuming she was not referring to just Fort Bend County and its environs, were actually any better than the good old boys of the past.

I told her that I certainly believed they were and told the story about an old former county commissioner who fished and played dominos so much that about the only time he showed up was to sign paychecks, and then he left his county car running while he ran into his precinct barn to accomplish this task.

She wasn’t entirely convinced but was too polite to say so, and after I left the meeting and continued to think about it, I’ve decided I’m not entirely convinced either.

Those good old boys may have shown an inordinate amount of interest in activities other than county or city business, but they either took care of business themselves or hired employees who could. It’s been my experience that most politicians are undone by their inability to attract and hire good staff that makes them look smarter than they really are.

Heck, look at Tom DeLay. He was undone by his ability to hire such good staff that most of them went on to start such outstanding businesses that they came into the headlights of regulators.

Oh, wait a minute. Those ex-staffers had such good lobbying businesses because they used to work for DeLay and still had access to him which they seemed to have sold.

Forget it. I think we have the old chicken or the egg conundrum here.

So back to “are current politicians better than the good old boys of the past?” I’m reminded of the current elected officials who raise most of their huge campaign funds from non-bid vendors to the various entities for which they are elected. For example, Fort Bend County Commissioners get thousands of legal bribes from engineers, developers, attorneys, architectural firms, etc. in the form of campaign contributions. And more than one politician practically lives on his campaign account. They buy cars, cell phones, gas and insurance for their kid’s cars, and any number of unspecified items which they list under the heading of credit card payments.

They hire their wives, adult children, brother-in-laws, etc. And that’s just for their campaign accounts. No telling who they’ve put on the county payroll that we don’t know about. They need to be hiring people who make them look good, not people who can’t get a job elsewhere.

So the more I think about it, the more I believe that my questioner may be right. The education and sophistication of new politicians enable them to suck better at the public teat with thousands of campaign dollars thrown in than the guys of old.

If you want to check out who gets and spends what, go to “kissmybigbluebutt.com” where the former Juanita has scanned all the campaign finance reports from most of our county commissioners. (They are on the left side of the web site by name.)

Meanwhile, back in the city....While I think some of the Sugar Land city fathers showed an amazing lack of something when they showed up for a meeting without doing their homework and ignored the recommendation of their professional staff, most city elections have not been tainted with the big money of campaign financing by vendors.

For one thing, city elective offices don’t pay enough to live on. This means that a candidate is not running for his/her livelihood. A city elected official has to have another job. He/she is what our Founding Fathers were shooting for in the form of “citizen legislators” who did not make it a full-time job.

However, with all the big money floating around Sugar Land and FBISD now, we need to keep an eye on their campaign accounts also.

Another senior moment.....This past weekend I also participated in a fund-raiser for the Meals on Wheels program which has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, all started by a small group of hell-raising seniors in Needville who wanted to continue their quilting, and leading me to believe, “Don’t mess with granny.”

Because of the resulting publicity, proceeds were down for the event and I felt compelled to donate. It costs a little over $2,000 to take a senior a meal every day for a year. I couldn’t afford the whole amount but City Councilman Dennis Parmer and his wife Becky went in with me, and we “shared a senior.” We went together and contributed enough to feed one senior for one year.

When my mother lived in West Texas before she came to live with me, I arranged for the local Meals on Wheels to deliver her a meal every day. We paid for it because we could afford it. I knew that someone would stop by her house every day, and I knew that she would get a least one meal as she arrived at the point that she would not cook for herself.

It allowed her to live at home another year.

The program is dear to my heart and besides, I may need it myself one day.

So if you have some money that you would like to contribute to a charity this year, I recommend the Meals on Wheels program. It is tax deductible, of course.

There are 200 seniors on a waiting list to receive the service

 

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:  August 29, 2007