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