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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."


 

At least the County Judge is current.......There’s been some talk in Harris County about the County Judge and Commissioners and their campaign expense reports. The subject has been the topic of recent stories in the daily newspaper particularly as it relates to campaign finance reporting.

The Texas Ethic Commission recently changed the rules to require that politicians tell us in their filings about the investment profits they have made when they invest their campaign donations.

Whaaaat? All the rest of us are bleeding in our IRA and retirement accounts and Harris County Commissioners have so much unused campaign money they can profitably invest it? We need to take some investing lessons from those fellows.

All these stories got me to thinking about our own commissioners. I don’t think any of them are raking in that much money. Well, maybe County Judge Bob Hebert.

But Commissioner Andy Meyers is spending his for living expenses as fast as he brings it in. Commissioner James Patterson doesn’t try to collect very much. Commissioner Tom Stavinoha ran a tough primary campaign and used his campaign money for what it was intended--getting elected, albeit he was unsuccessful.

Commissioner Grady Prestage uses a lot of his money to travel to various conferences.

Anyway, the upshot of all this was I decided to look up our commissioners at the new website the county judge made available for the first time in January, 2008. This is a voluntary submission of copies of the commissioners’ filed reports which are scanned and placed on the Public Information Center site.

First, let me tell you how to get there if you are interested in scrutinizing them in detail. This is the address: www.fortbendcountynews.info/go/doc/1529/188692/

But, if that doesn’t work, go to the county’s web site home page and on the right at the bottom is “Public Information Center.” Clicking that will put you on that site. Once there, go to “News and Information” across the top of the page. A drop down menu will give you “Postings.” Click there and you will see the commissioners and their reports listed.

I took a look at them for you and a quick scan of them revealed this: County Judge Bob Hebert is the only one who has either submitted and been scanned for the report due July 15, 2008. But the Judge, who was fined for paying his wife to be his treasurer, probably should have continued to pay her, even if out of his own pocket. His filing is missing the all important totals page which is also signed by him and notarized. He also is using a form that was last revised in 1999.

All of the other commissioners July 15 report is missing. I don’t know if they haven’t filed them with the judge’s office, something that is voluntary, or if they just haven’t been scanned yet.

But their previous reports show that Commissioner Stavinoha’s (Pct. 1) 2-25-08 report is missing some information, is unsigned, and is not notarized.

Commissioner Prestage (Pct. 2) is not in for July 15, but his Jan. 1 report is totaled, notarized, signed, and he uses a current form.

Commissioner Meyers (Pct 3) doesn’t have his July 15 report up yet, but an old report from Jan. 15 shows he filed electronically, took in approximately $22,000 and spent $33,976. But not to worry. He has $38,000 plus left.

This is the commissioner who took $33,000 to use personally and the Ethics Commission fined him around $1500 but didn’t make him put it back in his campaign account. Just know that if you give Andy money, he’ll add it to the $100,000 he already makes to live on.

Commissioner Patterson (Pct. 3) doesn’t have his July 15 posted, but the January 1 filing is correct.

The point of all this is that these guys take thousands, make thousands in salary, and make decisions about our taxes and running the county. Sometimes, some of them do a good job; sometimes they don’t.

 

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 30, 2008