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
Not only is BISD Board of Trustees Board President–in suspension of course–apparently on the ballot for Beaumont City Council Ward 4, she is also on there legally.
And that is the opinion of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Now it is up for the voters to decide.
It started out innocuously enough.
A Board of Managers ordered an audit of Beaumont Independent School District employees, including classroom teachers, by the Texas Association of School Boards [TASB].
Its purpose is to determine how many more teachers are needed to reduce classroom size. Some of which presently have over thirty kids stuffed into them. And to maintain state law that allows only twenty-two students to 1 teacher per classroom in the elementary schools.
Maybe innocuous except for some employed by the Beaumont Independent School District. And specifically the assistant director of title programs.
On Wednesday April 29th, the BISD Board of Managers will meet in closed session to discuss “the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee.
To judge from the political signs up around the South End Gwen Ambres is still in the three person race for Beaumont City Council Ward 4.
Or perhaps if that is not convincing enough, there is this sample ballot on the Jefferson County Clerk’s website.
Ironically, the process began in a glass house. Of sorts.
The Beaumont Independent School District Board of Managers convened in a glass encased conference room at the Edison Plaza to interview five persons. One of whom could be the next superintendent of the district.
Of course for the interviews they went into a room with no view.
Five in all. That’s what it was narrowed down to. No names yet.
Two superintendents in since October of 2012.
One chosen by the now defunct Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees and one chosen by Texas Education
Commissioner Michael Williams.
One fired by the current BISD Board of Managers, the other on his way out according to carefully laid plans of the Texas Education Agency.
Upon being named to the Board of Managers, former Lamar University president Jimmy Simmons said that “the [BISD] financial house will be set straight and will be transparent.”
But this promised financial transparency didn’t extend to other BISD matters. It hasn’t extended to the search for a new superintendent to lead the district after the Board of Managers has served its term and a new elected board of trustees is in place.
These days CJ Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas likes to think himself a man of reason. But this was his reaction to an inquisitive police officer who stopped him and his son while on a “hike” in Temple, Texas.
You might get the idea that Grisham had planned this encounter from the start. Gun, camera for recording the incident, son as witness and particularly his quick draw reaction. His insolence toward the cop is even more shocking given this man is a Master Sergeant in the United States Army. A veteran. Ultimately man who would put his own son’s welfare in jeopardy to make a political statement.
But when put up against Kory Watkins head of Open Carry Tarrant County he could seem quite reasonable, though perhaps still highly annoying. Watkins is the star of a recent selfie video in which he threatens the entire Texas Legislature. Continue reading