Never happened before….Some of you may have noticed that Bev’s Burner from last week was simply a repeat of the week before. That has never happened before. I’m not saying we’ve never made a mistake before, just never made that particular one.
When we discovered the mistake Wednesday morning when the newspaper came back from the printer, we immediately put the new column, meant for that week, on our web site.
But never one to waste a good column, I’m running the old, new one this week. However, I’ve added a few more comments to it.
It’s all about Charlie…..I wrote a news story about redistricting this past week that you probably read on the front page of this newspaper. Now I’ll tell you the real story.
Sugar Land city councilwoman Jacqueline Baly Chaumette has expressed interest in the past few months about running as state representative, even if District 26 current Representative Charlie Howard refuses to retire and she has to run against him. Of course, Jacquie isn’t the only one lining up to run against Charlie, but she is the strongest what with her name identification and all the kudos and honors she has collected over the years. Being a sitting city council member doesn’t hurt either.
So imagine her surprise when she woke up (last) Friday morning immediately after the redistricting map from the state redistricting committee came out and discovered that her small subdivision of Avalon had been gerrymandered out of Charlie Howard’s District 26 into the new District 85, grouped with parts of Richmond, Rosenberg, Wharton and parts of Jackson County. It’s one small suburban subdivision containing about 600 residents that have nothing in common with Wharton and Jackson counties.
To be able to make the numbers work, Charlie’s district will represent half of Richmond, which if commonality is the goal, hardly makes any sense.
Obviously, Charlie had heard the rumors about Jacquie and obviously Charlie was afraid that he might finally lose the seat he has held for 17 years.
When Charlie first ran, he campaigned on the premise and promised that he would serve no more than two terms. Four years later, he said he was misunderstood and that it was really three terms. After that, he gave up all pretense of honoring his word and said he would retire when someone capable ran against him.
I called Charlie and asked him why he was so afraid of Chaumette that he had to punish her entire subdivision. He expressed surprise and claimed he didn’t even realize that was where she lived (although several people have reported that Charlie was bragging about his actions in gerrymandering her out of District 26). Also, I later found out that was a bald face lie as Charlie has been to Jacquie’s house as least twice before.
As far as someone capable running against Charlie, I wouldn’t think that would be hard. Charlie has made Texas Monthly’s 10 Worst Legislators a total of three times in his 8 terms, surely a record. I don’t know of any other legislators who have made the list that many times.
Charlie reminded me that a couple of years ago we were in the same July 4 parade and we agreed to bury the hatchet. I don’t think Charlie realizes that wasn’t forever. He has voted since then and this latest trick of his is unconscionable and then to lie about it….
Charlie claims that Jacquie came up to him at the Lincoln Dinner in February and hugged his neck and told him what a good job he was doing and said she would never run against him.
I know that in February Jacquie was thinking about running against him, so I asked her if she did this which she promptly denied. I can’t imagine her lying about it, but neither can I imagine Charlie would either. Oh, wait at minute. Two, three terms? Who do I believe? And his claim that he didn’t know she lived in Avalon. Really? Really?
Charlie said that it would be hard for someone new to be appointed to all the important committees that he is appointed to because they wouldn’t have the seniority. He cited the energy committee as one of his plum assignments. Yes, I’m sure the energy committee is a plum assignment because think of all that lobbyist money you would collect from the energy companies.
So I looked up Charlie’s record on the state web site. He is on three committees, but he is so generally reviled in Austin that he is not even a chair or vice-chair on any of the committees after all these years. So much for influence.
The energy committee was a bone he was thrown to keep him happy with money and keep him out of trouble. The one time he was a committee chair, he almost single-handily shut down the house over the local calendar committee. That’s the committee that schedules special days for community leaders all over the state. It’s a none-starter.
Charlie has $432,591.35 in his campaign fund as of the January, 2011 reporting date. Yet he does not have an 800 number listed on his state page so that his constituents can call him in Austin for free.
I guess my main complaint against Charlie was his soliciting money as a retainer from Fort Bend developers to represent them in Austin. That was my first brush with Charlie’s two-faced morality and I kicked myself for supporting him. Charlie doesn’t seem to realize that he is supposed to be representing all of us in Austin without a special “retainer.”
Charlie needs to man up and run against whoever wants to run against him. I can’t believe he would let a little girl scare him enough to look like a fool.
There’s no cachet in cancer….I’ve been telling everyone who calls me wanting me to do something: “I guess you don’t know, but I’m not doing things like that. I have cancer.” To which they reply: “So do I!” Hell, everybody has cancer nowadays.
One local wag heard I went to M.D. Anderson for a second opinion (I’ve always said if you live anywhere near Houston and have cancer, you’re crazy if you don’t go to M.D. Anderson, at least for a consult. I took my own advice.). Anyway, this former friend said he heard the second opinion was that I had prostate cancer!
Okay, maybe I do have some big cojones, but prostate? Really? Really?
Additional redistricting comments…..These comments were from Avalon residents. “The only way to District 85 north of the Brazos River is thru District 26 unless you take a boat.”
One Avalon resident opinioned that Richmond should be placed in District 85 with people that can represent their interests. They said it would be easy to swap the number of people from Richmond with allow the Avalon residents to stay with their area. “Perhaps there are people in Richmond who are as perplexed as we are about this action.”
Another comment: “If commonality is a basis for redistricting, whoever drew up this plan either has an ulterior motive or is just plain stupid and/or ignorant. This does not pass the smell test.”
Goodbye to Carol….Carol Niemann, who has worked in the graphics department at the Fort Bend Star off and on since three months after we first started, has finally retired this week. She and her husband plan to travel to visit their three far-flung daughters and their grandchildren. I think she is serious this time. We will miss her terribly. Thanks for all the years Carol. We will all miss you.