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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."


 

Boon or Boondoggle?....Unless you have been hiding in South America or asleep like me, you may not know that the upcoming school board election has inserted itself into the argument about FBISD’s proposed Global Center for Science and Technology.

I have to admit with only one grandchild (so far) in FBISD, I only pay attention to what is going on there when there is a move afoot to do something radical, like fire a superintendent. If things rock along smoothly, I’m afraid that I don’t pay the attention I should, especially since FBISD taxes are my highest bill.

So this Global Center for Science and Technology doesn’t have a complete price or plan yet, although a committee, headed by former Sugar Land mayor David Wallace, to study it and make a recommendation.

Two main things we know is that a Science and Technology Center was built at Superintendent Tim Jenney’s former school district in Virginia Beach. It cost $23.5 million. So my guess is that is the goal price for this one.

And Wallace says a private/public partnership can be utilized to fund it. Wallace says, “...we believe the center could be funded without any need to raise taxes, or take away resources already allocated for other district purposes.”

Notice he said “raise” taxes. He didn’t say hat no tax money would be used.

There are some very high flown reasons put forth for the development of this center, along with some practical ideas. I don’t want to throw cold water on educational ideas that might work, but it seems to me that if FBISD, which is supposedly running a deficit budget this year, had $23.5 extra dollars to spend on science and technology, they would upgrade science instruction for each campus instead of some expensive “pie in the sky” teacher training center. From what I’ve heard, we are short on teachers now, along with books, supplies, etc.

At a candidate forum recently, residents vying for election to the board broke down in these factions: Bruce Albright and Carlos Cain who are running in Position 6 and Position 2, respectively, both criticized plans for the Center.

In position 6, Cain’s opponent, current board president Sonal Bhuchar, did not attend the candidate forum hosted by the Fort Bend Employee Federation. FYI, the board president is elected by members of the board rather than the citizen electorate. If Cain were to beat Bhuchar, he would not be board president. Each year there is an election among the members of the board to elect their officers.

In Position 2, Albright’s opponent Marilyn Glover said she had not made a decision about the Center yet. And the other Position 2 candidate, Rodrigo Carreon, did not show for the forum either.

Another FYI: candidates have to live on certain sides of the district to run for positions, but everybody can vote for all positions.

Cars, again.....Most of my regular readers know that about every six months I stew, rant, and blather about the sheriff’s department take-home cars. What really torques my jaw is the fact that it’s not the patrolmen who get the take home cars. These are the lower paid sheriff’s employees who could probably really benefit by having a free ride. But they have to share their patrol car with someone else on another shift.

No, it’s the higher paid “detectives” and other rank who get take home cars. Not only do they get these cars, they get free oil, gas, tires, batteries, oil change, brakes, everything associated with driving that car.

The last time I did an open records request, I discovered that the sheriff’s department had 119 cars. That was some time ago and probably a lie then with some cars hidden. Currently, the sheriff has about 225 cars checked out to his department. That’s a conservative estimate.

I’ve told you a lot of stories over the years about using these cars. The one about the guy who took his to New Orleans with two “nieces.” The chief deputy’s new wife who hadn’t even taken “detective school” and got a new car which she wrecked the first day.

There’s a hundred stories in the big city.

Anyway, I’ve been told the Constables and Deputy Constables often use their county cars on their second jobs. You know, if you are working security at a bank, it doesn’t hurt to have a patrol car sitting in the parking lot.

The constables and deputy constables have about 40 total county cars checked out to them; ten per constable department.

So now the sheriff is jealous. He wants his guys to be able to use their county “ride” on extra jobs. If not, the constables might get all the good jobs.

So the sheriff is trying to have the okay to take county cars on extra jobs passed through commissioner’s court on the down low.

Just remember, any time you see a county car that is being used for something besides county business, that is costing you the taxpayer about $500 per month, conservatively.

It’s my party......My birthday is this week. I only bring it up so you know what age appropriate gifts to get me. I will be 1,000 years old.

B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at beverly@fortbendstar.com.

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:
April 30, 2009