In black and white: Beaumont is racially divided at the polls

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.
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The Rick Perry Second Coming

 
 
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The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

_______________

It starts with a cue from the former Texas First Lady Anita Perry.

It’s loud, booming. Obnoxious and puerile.

County-rap.

“Shotgun toter
Republican voter
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.

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Beaumont City Council election results: Gwen gone and Getz wins twice

wp_20150311_002She 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.

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New BISD super Frossard movin’ on up to the tune of $249,000

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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.

Over money.

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.

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Ward 4 voters, not the Jefferson County District Attorney, will determine who represents them

 

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

Even with classroom overcrowding will the BISD Board of Managers terminate more teachers?

 

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.

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The BISD super search redux Part 2: Still no transparency

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.

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