Saturday, March 12, 2016

Simpson or Ramos?


That is why the most important race for Harris County Republicans in the May 24th primary runoff will be the office of Harris County Republican Party Chair.

The County Party Chair is an UNPAID position with duties assigned by both the Legislature and the state party.

Some of the main responsibilities include:
  • Oversee county party operations 
  • Oversee county elections 
  • Get out the vote
  • Raise, manage, and report funds
  • Promote and grow the party
In short: Make sure Harris County stays RED !

The two candidates in the runoff for this important position are:

For the Primary, I participated in 20 minute interviews with each candidate for the Conservative Coalition of Harris County. Candidates also completed questionnaires that are still posted online for all voters to read.

But, to get a more complete comparison of these two candidates for the runoff, I sent each the following request through both their campaign websites and facebook pages.



“Can you please give me specifics on your experience as a precinct chair, an election worker, a delegate to SD and/or state conventions, and your history on county and/or state party committees?”

The result?

Rick Ramos did not reply by email or on FB.



In contrast, Paul Simpson replied on FB and emailed me the information below:





After a few days of extra research I put together the following comparison of the two candidates.

#1 Party Operations Experience

Overseeing county party operations is like being the CEO of a corporation. To be successful, you have to know the business inside and out.

A CEO does not do every function, but he must know what is supposed to be done in order to supervise and select the right people for each job.

The chart below compares the party experience of the two candidates who want to be our CEO.

Simpson has served for years on the precinct, county and state levels.

Apparently, Ramos has never even been a precinct chair.


Simpson
Ramos
Precinct Chair
X

HC GOP Officer
X

HC GOP Legal Counsel
X

HC GOP Committee Member
X

HC GOP Committee Chair
X

SD Delegate
X

SD Officer
X

SD Committee Member
X

SD Committee Chair
X

SD Chair
X

State Convention Delegate
X

State Convention Committee Member
X

HC GOP Chair
X


#2 Elections Experience

Some will say it doesn’t matter if Ramos has no experience with the Party. He can learn on the job.

Well, the Party can recover from the temporary chaos and disorganization caused by inexperienced leadership. But there is no “do over” when it comes to elections.

Below is a comparison of the candidates’ election experience from available records:


Simpson
Ramos
Poll Watcher
X

Election Clerk
X

Election Judge
X

Appoint Poll Watchers
X

Appoint Election Judges
X

Appoint Ballot Board
X


The County Chair takes office just 18 weeks before the polls open for early voting in our critical November 2016 Presidential Election.

He will have less than 3 weeks to organize his staff and party committees in order to recruit and submit his list of Republican judges and alternate judges to cover 40+ Early Voting locations and 800+ Election Day polls.

Soon after he will need to submit his list of Republican Ballot Board members.

The whole election process can be chaotic and overwhelming, even for the most experienced people. It is completely irresponsible to turn it over to someone who has apparently never even been an election clerk.

Our County Chair must have the experience to be ready on day one. There is no time for on the job training when it comes to this critical election.

3. Getting out the vote

Since 2002, both candidates have been registered to vote in Harris County.

Simpson has come out to vote 100% of the time.

Ramos has come out to vote only 36% of the time.

 Ramos Voting Record
 Simpson Voting Record










         View full record

Can we really put someone in charge of “getting out the Republican vote” that we can’t even trust to show up to vote himself?


Election
Simpson
Ramos
2014 General
X


Even worse, in the 2014 General Election when Abbott won in Harris County turning control of Early Voting over to the Republicans for the first time in years, Ramos did not even show up to vote!

Either he DID NOT KNOW the political importance of that race, or he DID NOT CARE if the Democrats maintained control of Early Voting in Harris County. Either reason should disqualify him from being in charge of elections for the Republican Party of Harris County in 2016.

In contrast, Simpson not only KNEW the political importance of that election, it was his first election as our County Chair. While Ramos didn’t even show up to vote, Simpson rallied Republican voters to the polls in order to win the Governor’s race in Harris County and gain control of Early Voting for the HCRP.

#4 – Raise, Manage and Report funds

It takes a lot of money to run a political party, especially in the largest county in Texas. Pretty much a constant fundraising effort.

Both candidates have run for office in the past, raised money, and filed campaign financial reports for those races.

Both have filed three campaign financial reports related to this particular race with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Those three current reports show:


Simpson
Ramos
Funds Raised
 216,712
0
In-Kind Contributions
11,885
0
Personal Loans
0
 25,227
 78,767*


227
                       
Simpson has reported both cash and in-kind contributions.

Ramos has reported ZERO. That’s right….ZERO. Not even $1.00 from his campaign treasurer or a family member.

How is Ramos going to raise enough funds to operate the county party if he can’t even raise $1.00 for his own campaign for County Chair?

Ramos’ only reported campaign funds came from two personal loans recorded on the SAME DAYS as his payments made to two separate pay-to-play” slates.

Campaign Expenditure
Ramos
Loan
Ramos
Paid
2/1/16  Terry Lowrey (Link Letter)
15,227
15,000
2/11/16 Texas Conservative Review*
                     *Note: Gary Polland
10,000
10,000
                                                                                                                            
Is that how Ramos will manage the Party’s funds? Keep little cash on hand requiring a rush to borrow money to pay bills?

Sounds more like the federal government than the Republican Party.

But much worse to me is comparing the details of their previous financial reporting.

Both submitted their first report with the TEC on 1/15/2010. I reviewed all the financial reports both candidates have submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission for all of their elections.

I found one instance of the same common error by both candidates – listing items on one form but forgetting to list the total on the report summary page.
But I found additional issues with Ramos’ campaign financial reports:


1. Current website expenses not reported. An online search shows Ramos’ campaign website was purchased by 512 New Media on 12-16-15

SamMaloneShow@yahoo.com was given as the email contact. Ramos did not report this as an expense or an in-kind donation. 

The website is also missing the required “paid for by” disclosure statements. 








2. 2010 judicial election reports:

I have served as a campaign treasurer. I know firsthand how easy it is to make a mistake even after trying to report everything perfectly.

But one common mistake is very different than multiple issues related to lack of attention to detail.

The County Chair is responsible for making sure the party funds and expenses are properly reported on both the state and federal levels. Errors can mean thousands of dollars in fines for the Party.

There is another concern I have after reviewing Ramos’ current campaign financial reports.

Ramos did not report one Republican club or organization fee, meal or donation during this campaign.

A candidate running for County Chair who has not attended or donated to ANY Republican club meeting or event? NOT ONE?

ZERO% club/event support is even worse than his 36% voting record.

#5 – Promote and Grow our Party / Push our Platform

To be an effective leader, you must lead by example. If you “say” one thing, but “do” something else, people turn away.

Family Values

Both candidates “say” they support and promote “family values.” Both “say” they support the entire GOP platform, including marriage between “one man and one woman.”

But what do they “do”?

Simpson has been married to the same woman for 30+ years.

Court records show Ramos’ first marriage was
one man +
one woman +
one mistress.

The grounds for the divorce are identified as "adultery by Ricardo Lazaro Ramos."

Ramos' divorce was final on Jan. 4, 2007.




His second wife, Chelsie Moerbe Ramos, posted
on her high school reunion website that they
were married on Feb. 14, 2007   and...


  ..."we are expecting our first child in the fall of 2007."


Even a comment posted online by a person claiming to have been in Ramos'  court when he served as an associate judge questioned his family values….

“…he has nooo room to judge! he had an affair with some lawyer, got her pregnant, and had the nerve to sit up in his chair and judge me??!...”


Promoter

Simpson’s weakness is Ramos’ strength – public speaking.

Simpson’s speeches are college lecture style – data, timelines, and the like. It usually goes something like, “this is the problem, these are the causes, and this our solution.”

In contrast, Ramos has a colorful childhood story about his nighttime boat trip from Cuba, and he tells it well. When he ads in his “love for America” and “saving us all from ISIS,” his impassioned speech is a great rah-rah moment.

However, there are many good public speakers in Harris County, but few of them are qualified to run HCRP.

The Duties

Going back and reviewing the major duties of the County Chair, and reviewing each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and experience  - the choice for me is a no-brainer.

Paul Simpson is the better choice for County Chair.


My advice for Rick Ramos

I personally think he should withdraw from this race for two reasons:

  1. He knows he is not qualified at this time to serve as County Chair. He needs to start by running for precinct chair, serving as an election judge, and chairing the Engagement Committee. After he has gained the knowledge and experience needed to be the Party Chair of the largest county in Texas, he should then come back and run for the office.
  2. He should put the Party first. He knows what an embarrassment it would be for the spokesman for Republican family values in Harris County to be an adulterer. The Democrats will have a field day and mock us every chance they get.


Action Plan

If you agree, you can contact Rick Ramos and encourage him to withdraw from this race before the 5:00pm deadline on March 16th.

Contact info:

Campaign Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/RamosForCountyChair/

Campaign Website link: http://ramosforcountychair.com/contact/

Office Number as published in the Link Letter:
                                 713-227-7383




Remember: “As goes Harris County…so goes Texas. 
                           As goes Texas…so goes the Nation

So take this election very seriously, and choose wisely.



Colleen Vera
colleen@TexasTrashTalk.com










Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let's Take Back Our Texas Land and Water

Our US Constitution specifies only two reasons for the federal government to own land within the States:

  1. 10 square miles for our Nation's Capital, and
  2. "for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings

Our 10th Amendment leaves the rest to the States or to the People.
 

But today, the federal government owns about 28% of the land in the US ... 640 MILLION ACRES ... and only 14.4 million of those are administered by the Department of Defense for military bases, training ranges, etc. 

Did you know the US Government controls lands and waterways throughout Texas which are NOT military bases?

For example: The U.S. Army, through its Corps of Engineers (USACE,) controls 25 lakes in Texas.

Why?

They claim it's for "flood damage reduction, water supply, outdoor recreation, and environmental stewardship..." They even have a "Hunting Program" at 23 of the lakes. 

In the The US Army Corps of Engineers Hunting Guide 2015-2016 they claim that "hunting activities are one of the many tools that the Corps utilizes in the management of our natural resources."

Is it really the role of the US Army to:

"Maintain or improve fish and wildlife habitats ... Protect rare, threatened and endangered species ..."  or  
"... Educate lake visitors about the importance of environmental stewardship ..."

at NON-MILITARY locations across the United States?


Take a look at this map of some federal lands in Texas and you'll see a list of  federal entities used to control Texas lands and waterways:


  1. US Forest Service
  2. Department of Defense
  3. Bureau of Land Management
  4. Fish and Wildlife Service
  5. National Park Service
  6. Bureau of Indian Affairs
  7. Bureau of Reclamation
  8. NASA
  9. Department of Energy
  10. Department of Transportation....

A close look at a map of federal lands shows how strategically located a variety of federal entities are along our Texas waterways.

That’s right—the federal government controls - and can cut off our access to - some of our important surface water across Texas.

  • National Forests
  • National Preserves
  • National Wildlife Reserves and
  • Lakes controlled by USACE

A search of my county's property appraisal district shows page after page of federally owned properties which are too small to show up on these maps - 29 in my 77084 zip code alone.

Why does the federal government find it necessary to own so many parcels of land in urban Texas areas... 

 


...when Texas is capable of controlling and regulating our own lands and waterways. We don't need the federal government to do it for us. 

It is time for us to take control of our resources back from the federal government.

What can you do?

Take 3 copies of the following resolution with you to your Republican precinct caucus held after the Primary ends on March 1, 2016.


Download as a document: here

Then contact your State Senator and Representative to ask them to sponsor a bill next session to take control of our Texas lands and waterways away from the federal government, and give it back to the People of Texas.


Colleen Vera
colleen@TexasTrashTalk.com





Monday, February 15, 2016

2016 Republican Primary Endorsements for HCDE

There are two Harris County School Trustee races on the 2016 Republican Primary ballot. I have been asked daily, “Who should  I vote for?”

After interviewing all the candidates, I am endorsing Eric Dick and George Moore.



The easiest way for me to summarize it is:

If you believe that our education problems can be solved with federal government programs and layers of education bureaucracy, then you should vote for Marvin Morris and Danell Fields.

But, if you believe that LESS federal government and LESS layers of education bureaucracy will help our education system, then you should vote for Eric Dick and George Moore.

You can find your Harris County sample ballot here: http://www.harrisvotes.com

Early Voting:

Feb. 16-19 (T-F): 8:00-4:30
Feb. 20 (Sat): 7:00-7:00
Feb. 21 (Sun): 1:00-6:00
Feb. 22-26 (M-F): 7:00-7:00

March 1, 2014 - Election Day
Primary Voting 7:00 – 7:00
Precinct Caucus – about 7:30pm

Colleen Vera


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Kay Smith's Record at HCDE

Kay Smith, a former Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) Trustee, is now running in the Republican Primary for the Texas Legislature - HD 130.

I am a citizen watchdog over HCDE so I have been receiving numerous requests for a summary of her HCDE voting record.

I don’t live in HD130 and I have never met her opponent. I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I am a conservative who believes the voters in HD130 deserve the facts so they can decide which candidate best represents their values.

Note: For those who are not familiar with HCDE, you need to understand that Harris County School Trustees are the ONLY school board in the State of Texas elected by political party. They are a leftover entity from a past era in Texas education when counties ran the public schools. Every other county in Texas (except Dallas) closed their county board of education when all students moved into our current Independent School District (ISD) system. HCDE collects about $21 million in property taxes every year, over and above what is collected in ISD taxes. There has been a growing effort by conservatives in the past few years to close HCDE.

The top five points I think conservative voters in HD130 need to know about Kay Smith’s record at HCDE:


#1. Smith’s Votes Changed from Conservative to Liberal

For the first two years on the HCDE Board, the majority of Smith’s votes were conservative. Many times she was the LONE conservative vote. She often argued eloquently in support of the conservative viewpoint in board discussions.

But in 2015 - she began to vote with the liberals on many key issues such as:

Obama’s expansion of Federal Pre-K – Children from Birth to 3 years old 


In 2013, Smith stood alone on the HCDE board AGAINST Obama’s pre-K expansion to include children from birth to 3 when liberals tried to fund the program under the name “Early to Rise.”





And Smith stood alone AGAINST it again in 2014 when liberals tried to fund it under the name “Preschool Preparedness Initiative Program.”

But Smith completely reversed her conservative
stand in 2015 and voted with the liberals FOR Obama’s “birth to 3” pre-k expansion under the name “Early Head Start.”

And even worse, because two new conservatives had joined her on the board in 2015…had she voted “NO” that day, the vote would have been tied 3-3, and the agenda item would NOT have passed.

Watch the discussion and vote below.




During the discussion, Smith seemed swayed by fellow board member Erica Lee Carter (daughter of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee) who told Smith that Gov. Abbott supported the Federal Head Start expansion to include children from birth. After that, Smith went so far as to say, “...I think it is wonderful. Anything we can do for our children..." 

But Gov. Abbott’s pre-k plan is not from birth, it is for 4 year olds. It is not a Federal program, it is State based. And he is critical of Head Start. A quote from Gov. Abbott’s Texas Pre-k Plan reads:
Recommendation: Given the established deficiencies in the Head Start program, develop a strategic plan to encourage parents of eligible four-year-old children to enroll their children in state-based prekindergarten programs, rather than Head Start.”

And, the federal grant application Smith approved was to serve 100 children for a 1 YEAR period at a price of $27,687.05 PER CHILD - an amount the conservative Smith would have sternly challenged 2 years earlier.


Taxpayer funded lobbyists “political consultants”



During her first two years at HCDE, Smith voted AGAINST HCDE hiring lobbyists and/or political consultants to fight against the Legislature working to close HCDE. 


But in 2015, Smith argued against HCDE's need to renew Pat Strong's contract, before surrendering her conservative stand and voting with the liberals FOR renewing Pat Strong’s contract ...for up to 5 years ... at a cost to Harris County taxpayers of $80,000+ per year.

View the full board discussion which convinced Smith to surrender below:




Who is Pat Strong? A super liberal lobbyist “political consultant” who works for Democrat campaigns such as County Attorney Vince Ryan and Mayor Sylvester Turner. An example of her work at HCDE in 2014:

A conference call between the Wendy Davis Campaign and HCDE administrators, board members and “consultants.”



Manipulation of Government Contracting

In 2013, Smith questioned the HCDE administration over its manipulation of government contracting in order to run the statewide Central Operations of the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN.) She was the LONE vote AGAINST continuing the contract. 

 Watch the 2013 board discussion and vote here.



But, by 2015, Smith surrendered her conservative stand and voted with the liberals FOR a two year extension of the same contract, as the two new conservative board members voted AGAINST.





21st Century Community Learning Centers


21st Century Community Learning Centers is a federal grant program issued through the states, designed to substitute school for family and church as the center of children’s lives.

In 2013, Smith was the LONE conservative vote AGAINST funds for HCDE’s 21st Century Learning Centers division called CASE.


But by 2014, Smith caved and voted with the liberals FOR funding CASE - HCDE’s 21st Century Learning Centers division.




Head Start


In 2013, Smith was the LONE conservative vote AGAINST HCDE continuing as a service provider for the Federal Head Start program.


By 2015, Smith was voting with the liberals FOR HCDE to expand their Federal Head Start program.





Note: These are just a few examples of Smith's HCDE voting record. You can read the entire HCDE board meeting minutes here


#2. Smith Stayed Silent

During her first two years at HCDE, Smith often spoke out on issues of concern to conservatives. But there were also many times when she remained silent. For example:

Family Planning Services provided through schools


Smith remained silent when HCDE’s Administration informed the Board that medical services, including “family planning,” would be provided through their ten Head Start schools.






Funneling grant funds to liberal organizations



Smith remained silent when HCDE’s Administration informed the Board of the funds HCDE was providing to organizations which actively push the liberal agenda such as...

Texans Together Education Fund, better known to conservatives as, ACORN.







And a Syrian Refugee service provider with ties to CAIR.








Choice of Attorney

Smith has remained silent about HCDE’s selection of their board attorney, Sarah Weber Langlois, whose claim to fame in her bio is her comment published in the Loyola Law Review in 2005 entitled:
DISMANTLING THE DICTATED MORAL CODE:

MODIFYING LOUISIANA'S IN VITRO FERTILIZATION
STATUTES TO PROTECT PATIENTS' PROCREATIVE LIBERTY

Christmas and Easter not named on HCDE work/holiday calendar

In 2015, Smith did NOT stand with the two new conservatives to support naming holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, on the HCDE work/holiday calendar. 

Instead she refrained from debate and ABSTAINED from the vote.

Watch the video of the discussion and vote here



Below is the HCDE work calendar WITHOUT holidays named and the Humble ISD calendar WITH school holidays named.








#3. Smith a NO SHOW

Smith promised many of us in her campaign for HCDE in 2012 that she would work with the Legislature to shut HCDE down. But while she was a Trustee, the Texas Legislative held three hearings on HCDE. 

Smith was a NO SHOW at ALL THREE.

  1. HB 945 -  Hearing held 4/16/2013
  2. Interim Study - Hearing held 10/16/2014
  3. SB 1216 - Hearing held 4/28/2015






#4. Accepted favors from HCDE’s Administration at taxpayers’ expense. 

In the summer of 2014, Smith started a 501(c)(3) called Hero and Friend.   
(Note: SOS filing under Smith Street Corp)

The Board of Advisors includes:
HCDE Board President, Angie Chesnut
and the wife of HCDE Board Member
Marvin Morris






On 9/9/14, Hero and Friend filed a Conflict of Interest Questionnaire in order to do business with HCDE.






Hero and Friend hosted a program at HCDE’s Conference Center paid for by the taxpayers


On 1/16/15 Hero and Friend hosted a program at the HCDE Conference Center.




HCDE could not produce any records showing any written agreement or payments made by Smith for use of the space.



But HCDE did produce records showing how the taxpayers funded the event:


Security officer paid for 5 hours;
billed to the taxpayers as:

  “after-hours HCDE Board Meeting



Two Custodians, each earning 8.15 overtime hours, paid by the taxpayers; both listing the overtime purpose as:

                           “Kay Smith” 


View all documents here


6.15 overtime hours for Maintenance paid for by the taxpayers; “for Kay S” scratched out as the overtime purpose.

View all documents here.

Technology helpdesk analyst overtime paid for by the taxpayers; no purpose given.

View all documents here.



    Taxpayers paid Smith’s Grant Writing Registration Fees

    Records show HCDE’s Superintendent used his HCDE credit card to pay Kay Smith’s registration fee for a seminar held by the Center for Grants Development on 4/22/15. The topic was how to create a grants acquisition program.

    Records show her registration was billed to the taxpayers under the budget codes for “Superintendents Office – Workshop registration and fees.”

    Had Smith paid as a private citizen the cost would have been $45.00. The Superintendent paid the reduced rate of $25 for Smith’s registration because Smith was listed as an “HCDE Employee.”  View all documents here


    I requested documents showing Smith
    had reimbursed HCDE,
    but HCDE did not have any such documents.




    #5. Resignation

    Smith was elected to a 6 year term on HCDE’s board in 2012 and took office 1/2013.

    She resigned 11/30/15, 3 years before her term expired.

    In her statement to the Board, she states the reason for her resignation is the amount of time her run for the Legislature is taking. Quote:

    “…because there are certain people who have worked very hard to see that I don’t get elected…those detractors, on a daily basis, seem to make some sort of effort through either half-truths, innuendos, or out-and-out-lies…I have been combating all of these…”
    View her entire statement below:


    Questions for the voters of HD 130 :
    1. If Smith abandoned her conservative position to vote with the liberals on key issues at HCDE, will she do the same in the Legislature?
    2. If Smith stayed silent on issues at HCDE, will she stay silent in Austin?
    3. If Smith did not show up for ANY of the three Legislative hearings on HCDE, will she show up to fight for your important issues?
    4. If Smith accepted favors from HCDE administrators at taxpayers’ expense, will she accept favors from lobbyists?
    5. If Smith doesn’t have time to attend one meeting per month at HCDE now because she is campaigning for the Legislature, will she have time to fulfill her duties as a State Rep and campaign for re-election? 
    6. If Smith is so upset by “detractors” in a campaign for the Legislature, will she be able to handle the CONSTANT bombardment of statewide critics of her every vote and her every statement as a Legislator?

    Colleen Vera
    colleen@TexasTrashTalk.com