I said they were a day late and a dollar short. But I was too.
Nonetheless, the Beaumont Enterprise editorial mostly reflects my thoughts upon hearing about this back in January of this year.
I didn’t intend for the response to become a blog post but that’s what happened.
It’s a good question. Why not just talk to citizens?
And why the need for a so-called “grassroots panel” when Lt. Governor Dan Patrick had been elected into office a couple of months beforehand? After campaigning for the office as much as a year beforehand, Dan Patrick should have his dainty little index finger poised on the pulse of the GOP and Tea Party voters that put him in office.
State Senator Dan Patrick organized a Tea Party Caucus and advisory committee in 2011 and 2013. Both were composed of fellow legislators.
But this panel was extra-legislative and composed of private citizens representing a single political interest. The Tea Party. And in fact only represented a narrow portion of the state as all of it’s members were from the major metropolitan areas of Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin/San Antonio and Houston and it’s suburbs.
And in fact it was not the only such panel created by the Lt. Governor this legislative session.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Boards of Private Citizens will have individual committees on water, transportation, tax policy, energy, economic development and economic forecasting. Among its members are energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, San Antonio real estate developer Gene Powell, Midland oilman Tim Dunn and Brint Ryan, the owner of a Dallas-based tax firm.”
The Advisory Board of Private Citizens was composed of six separate boards and made up of fifty-five private Texas businessmen. Thirty-seven of which were donors Dan Patrick’s campaign for Lt. Governor.
“Each one of these committees is going to play a vital role in helping us as we move through the session,” he said, adding that the board’s members would be able to use their experience to educate lawmakers in both chambers about the consequences of proposed legislation. “I’ve always been a person who believed it’s good to surround yourself with people who are more knowledgeable than you are in certain areas.”
As for transparency in state government?
It happened this week. It was said that Dr. Hani Tohme, the former city water director, had to fight to make it happen.
Maybe the Beaumont City Council didn’t want to hear it. It’s much easier to sweep unpleasant things under the rug than to have to deal with them. It seems to be the way with this city council.
“It’s another great day in Beaumont!”
The council’s mantra. You’ll hear it at least once during their weekly meeting in council chambers.
Except that it’s not.
A loyal city employee may have been unfairly demoted.
Gethrel “Get” Williams-Wright has been on the Beaumont City Council for eight years now. She was elected to the city council in 2007.
Former council member at-large Becky Ames ran for mayor that year after serving since 1997. And Andrew Cokinos was finally too sick to fulfill his duties on city council for 21 years.
The race was wide open with 8 candidates vying for the two seats. Excepting “Bruce” Hendrix, all were new faces to the at-large election. Charlie Foxworth, “Get” Wright, Allen Lee, Delores Davis, Leroy Lewis III, Dean L. Tucker, and W.L. Pate, Jr..
When it was over citizens of the city of Beaumont had elected a white man and a black woman.
But is was close. Gethrel Williams-Wright won her seat with 27.72 percent of the vote. She defeated Charlie Foxworth by only 135 votes. It was said at the time she won because of the support of the Beaumont Firefighters Union Local 399. Williams-Wright is a long time union supporter and activist.
W.L. Pate, a local businessman, won with 28.14 percent of the vote.
It was a largely uncontested election in 2013. Excepting the race for Beaumont mayor. As a result, voter turn-out was dismal. 3662 total ballots cast. Under 10 percent of registered voters.
In the race for the two at-large city council seats a total of 3613 votes were cast for the two incumbents. Gethrel “Get” Wright and W.L. Pate, Jr.. One black woman and one white man.
Two votes, two candidates. As the only two choices it would make sense that both got around the same percent of the vote. Maybe a little more or a little less here and there.
But that’s not what happened. Because it was decided largely by race and the refusal of both black and white voters to vote for a candidate of the other color.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It starts with a cue from the former Texas First Lady Anita Perry.
It’s loud, booming. Obnoxious and puerile.
Rick Perry supporter
Let’s protect our border
To hell with anyone who don’t believe in the U.S.A.
Rick Perry all the way.”
A kind of thing you might hear as the outlaw gunslinger enters town. Or a presidential race in this instance.
And slinging it he was.
Sweat and bullshit staged before a C-130 freshing painted with Perry’s new logo.
Flanked by what seems to be glaring twin security guards who did not know where they were.
The Rick Perry Show is here.
She ran. And she lost. To two others.
On Saturday Gwendolyn Ambres’ ambition to represent Ward 4 in the Beaumont City Council came to an end. For now anyway.
But she’s not gone. Not yet. Gwen is still president of the defunct BISD Board of Trustees. An actor waiting for the final act.
Melanie Smith, wife of former Ward 4 city councilman and current Jefferson County District Clerk Jamie Smith, will face Robin Donatta Mouton in a June 20th run-off election.
The loser could face Gwen in a later run for the BISD school board. If there’s ever an election.
Mayor Becky Ames will be back to play monitor for the city council playground for another two years. Another major defeat for “Unc” Jones.
In 2013 “Unc” said he was chastised by Beaumont City Councilman Mike Getz for costing the city unnecessary money. Save for his run against Becky it otherwise would have been an uncontested election for all city council incumbents.
It’s a good question. But no one asked.
Would any member of the Beaumont City Council have delayed the removal of this hazard if they lived next to it? If it was in their neighborhood? If they just drove by it everyday on the way to work?
The BISD Board of Managers was in executive session for about an hour.
What was said in an hour? Did they discuss the issue of public perception?
Especially given the controversy over the contract of the last superintendent of BISD. Dr. Timothy Chargois. A man who was the second black superintendent of BISD and fired by the Board of Managers last fall for “good cause”. A controversy manufactured by two trustees of the now suspended BISD board. Mike Neil, who now resides in another state, and Tom Neild both white men who represent largely white wealthy districts.
In spring of 2012 Dr. Chargois’ contract stipulated that he would earn a base income of $215,000.00 a year for the term of 3 years and 5 months. The two trustees quibbled over that but the real problem were the automatic raises that they say were not in the first draft of the contract. Their evidence was an unsigned and undated copy they released to the media.
On January 29, 2015, the office Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham asked this of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a letter:
Whether a current elected Texas School Board Trustee, whose powers have been suspended due to the Texas Education Commissioner installing a Board of Managers, may run for or serve in a city council position of an incorporated town within the boundaries of the school district.
The question surrounded the declared candidacy of suspended BISD Board President Gwendolyn [Gwen] Ambres for the Ward 4 Beaumont City Council seat.
As it turns out, Ms. Ambres was never “ineligible” to run for the seat in the first place because of the “incompatibility” of the two elected positions. The seat on the Beaumont City Council being that of an incorporated town within the boundaries of the Beaumont Independent School District. In most cases of incompatibility “persons who accept and qualify for offices that are incompatible with offices they already hold ipso facto relinquish their prior posts”. It’s really quite simple.
For everyone except the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office.
Citing Article 16, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution that states “all officers within the State shall continue to perform the duties of their offices until their successors shall be duly qualified”, the District Attorney appears to be on a fishing expedition to find a reason that Ms. Ambres could not even run for city council.
According to the D.A, Ms. Ambres is stuck in limbo to an elected position she can neither voluntarily resign from or be replaced by the current BISD Board of Managers. Continue reading