Sunday, May 18, 2014

Judge a Man by His Friends


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In the Texas Republican Primary Run-Off for Lieutenant Governor, voters have been bombarded with ads and mailers. There are so many candidate attacks…. how does anyone know whom to believe?

Well, there is an old Japanese proverb:

When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”

I wish people would have done that when President Obama first ran for President in 2008. Donor ”friends” such as Bill Ayers, Rahm Emmanuel, George Soros, Valerie Jarrett, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright would have given us insight into the man Barack Obama was BEFORE he was elected.

So, it seems very fitting now for Texas to look a little deeper at the “friends” supplying the money for these candidates’ campaigns, to get some insight into who they REALLY are.

Both candidates have held public office. Mailers claim both candidates have had bankruptcies in the past. Both claim to be “conservative.”

But there is a HUGE difference in their donor “friends.”


David Dewhurst


Campaign records show Madeline McClure, Director of TexProtects, donated $6,000 to Dewhurst for this campaign. Not surprising because he appoints her to powerful statewide task forces. 

She gives Dewhurst credit for passing legislation to use our state tax dollars to fund one of her liberal causes, the Nurse Family Partnership. It is a part of Obama’s government pre-k program and universal health care, and another program designed to substitute government for faith and family.

Guess that is why federal records show McClure donated to two federal campaigns in 2012 – Barack Obama and David Dewhurst.


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Click on image to enlarge


Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) records show McClure made donations to other candidates and PACs this election cycle besides Dewhurst – some notable ones are:


  • Wendy Davis
  • ActBlue Texas
  • Annie’s List
  • House Democrat Campaign Committee

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McClure is not unique on the Dewhurst list of “friends” who have donated to Democrats on the federal level.

The chart below shows some examples of current Dewhurst donors along with some samples of their federal Democrat donations. Donations to liberals such as:


  • Barack Obama
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Rahm Emmanuel 
  • Bill White
  • Al Gore
  • Sheila Jackson Lee
  • Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee
  • Texas Democrat Party
  • Dewhurst for Texas

Current Dewhurst Donor
Federal Donations
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dp16 dp15
dp7 dp6
dp8 dp9
dp20 dp19

Even more telling to me are donors like Julius Glickman.
TEC reports show Glickman has made two state campaign donations this cycle:


  • Wendy Davis
  • David Dewhurst

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Records show Glickman has supported other liberals on the federal level such as Bill White and Hillary Clinton.












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 Troubling to me are the Dewhurst donors who also support  Democrat Joaquin Castro for US Rep from San Antonio. He is the twin brother of far left San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. A few are shown in the chart below:



Dewhurst Donation
Castro Donation
jc2 jc1
jc5 jc4
jc9 jc8


Now, contrast Dewhurst’s donor “friends” to Patrick’s...


Dan Patrick


Dan Patrick’s donors are the polar opposites of many Dewhurst donors. For example, TEC records show that James Leininger  donated to Patrick as well as other conservative groups  this election cycle. Groups such as:


  • North Texas Tea Party PAC
  • Tea Party Patriots State PAC
  • Dallas Fort Worth Conservative Voters

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On the federal level,
Leininger has supported numerous Republicans including:


   Fred Thompson   

   Rick  Santorum












 The chart below shows further examples of current Patrick donors along with some other conservatives they support such as:


  • Alan West
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Michelle Bachmann
  • Ted Cruz
  • Ben Steusand
  • Conservative Campaign Committee


Current Patrick Donor
Federal Donations
pat16 pat15
pat13 pat14
pat18 pat17
pat19 pat20

What is fascinating to me about the Patrick donors I found through the TEC, was the number of small ($1,000 or less) grassroots donors. Many donated only to Patrick on the state level and had few, if any, records of donations on the national level. For example, a few persons who donated only to Patrick and have no record of ever having donated to a federal campaign:

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pat22
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And when one of Patrick's grassroots donor “friends” did donate federally, it was usually to a conservative cause. For example, TEC records show Don Montgomery of Azle, Texas donated $1,000 to Patrick …

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… as well as $500 to Safari Club International PAC, a group that promotes hunting world-wide and local causes such as keeping public lands “public.”

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All the data above is a sampling of campaign records available online. It is NOT an “audit” of every donation made in these two campaigns. However, based on the records I reviewed, the Japanese proverb applies perfectly…

When the character of a man is not clear to you,   look at his friends.”


So, I looked at the candidates’ campaign “friends” to help me make the right choice at the ballot box. I  choose the candidate whose “friends” are the most like mine:


David Dewhurst Dan Patrick
Wendy Davis Michelle Bachmann
Barack Obama Allen West
Joaquin Castro Newt Gingrich
Bill White Ted Cruz
Rahm Emmanuel Rick Perry
ActBlue Texas Texas Tea Party Patriots
Hillary Clinton Ben Streusand
Sheila Jackson Lee Rick Santorum
Democrat National Committee Conservative Campaign Committee


Wow…that ended up being a no brainer!


Colleen Vera

Friday, May 9, 2014

CFISD Bond - Some Facts Before You Vote




Tomorrow from 7:00am to 7:00pm, 23 schools in CFISD will be polling places for voters to decide if CFISD administration will get a blank check for $1.2 BILLION of taxpayer money.

CFISD administration argues that they need the funds for district necessities such as school buildings, technology, athletic facilities, food service facilities, buses, etc. - all needed for updates or student growth. They have placed this bond on the ballot as “all or nothing.”

Local conservative groups are arguing there is too much “pork” in this bond. They are asking the voters to vote “No” tomorrow so CFISD can come back to the voters in November with the bond broken up into parts. That way the voters can approve the items they consider necessities such as schools and buses, and leave out items they do not want to fund at this time.

I haven’t met anyone who has a problem with building needed schools, updating air conditioning systems or buying buses to transport our kids. But the complaints I have heard about “pork” do make sense to me, as a retired teacher and as a taxpayer.

Some issues which made me vote “NO" on this bond.

·        Blank Check – The voters are approving the bond amount of $1.2 BILLION – not the items to be purchased. CFISD can change their minds and decide to build a new administration building instead of swimming pools, and all the voters can do for recourse is vote out the school board in the next election. I prefer smaller bond amounts every few years so the district is more likely to use the funds as promised.

·        All or Nothing – I do not see a need for GPS systems on CFISD busses. In 30 years, I never once had a student tardy to school because the bus driver got lost. I also do not see the need to remake the front entrance to CFISD schools with bullet resistant glass. In my experience, the most dangerous location on any campus is the cafeteria, not the front door. And, after being involved in school lockdowns over the years, I know that anything that can keep predators “out” and also be used to keep innocent people “in.” I am much more concerned about my grandchildren being targeted by sick individuals while they are in the fenced school playgrounds than inside their classrooms. I would like to see more security personnel patrolling our schools to protect our students than items that make people just “feel” they are safe.

·        More indoor swimming complexes that seat 1,500 - I would rather see CFISD invest our money in vocational education, especially the “trades.” Not every CFISD student is college bound. The average salary for an electrician is $ 52,910, a plumber $46,660, and median starting annual salary for HVAC technicians is about $40,000. CFISD needs to invest in more career training before we build more athletic facilities.

But even more concerning for me than the bond itself  - is the money behind this bond.

The facts all voters need to know before they vote:

Say Yes For CFISDKids,” the PAC supporting this bond that claims to be “grassroots,” is the one that has sent all those expensive multi-color mailers to our homes. Guess how much of their “grassroots” donations have come from OUTSIDE  CFISD? (PAC reports from 4/10/14 and 5/2/14)

                     $74,090   !!!



Locations of these “grassroots” donors:

·        League City
·        Houston
·        Missouri City
·        Katy
·        Tomball
·        Spring Branch
·        Friendswood
·        Pearland
·        Kingwood
·        Fulshear
·        Spring
·        Aldine
·        Richardson
·        Fort Worth
·        Addison
·        Sugarland
·        Magnolia
·        San Antonio
·        Austin
·        GEORGIA !


They must be using some “Common Core” definition of “grassroots”  because their PAC is certainly NOT local, spontaneous support.

Some other facts I found in the “Say Yes For CFISD Kids” PAC financials:(PAC reports from 4/10/14 and 5/2/14 

   






  • $4,000 came from two current CFISD Trustees, whose campaigns were supported by these donors 



  • $16,500 came from law firms; $10,000 from one of which    makes its money from collections of delinquent taxes 
    


  • $26,935 came from architects 


  • $7,495 came from engineers


  • $6,750 came from technology companies



What a coincidence that these donors represent the industries which will profit from the bond.

Now, compare those statistics to the “Citizens For fair BondElections” PAC – the one asking CFISD to come back in November with the bond broken up into parts:
(PAC reports from 4/8/14 and 5/2/14)

  • The largest donation was $250 and 
  • the entire $1,000 collected came from donors who live inside CFISD

Now that is “grassroots!”

So, before you vote tomorrow, think about the choice you are making:

A “YES” vote gives the CFISD Trustees a blank check for $1.2 BILLION of your money, hoping they spend it wisely, outside the influence of their campaign donors -  or

A “NO” vote asks CFISD to come back in November with the bond broken up into parts for voters to choose which sections to support.


CFISD Election Day Polling Locations: here

Find your Precinct #: here
















Thursday, May 1, 2014

Picks to Fix ESD 9

Early Voting for Emergency Services District 9 is underway.  Eleven candidates are running for three positions. The three with the most votes win. There is no run off.

With eleven candidates, most of whom have no political history, choosing the top three can be a challenge. Because I write about ESD9 – whose own paid consultant termed “dysfunctional” – many have asked whom I am going to vote for.

I am not a brilliant political analyst, nor someone who knows anything about emergency services. I am just a retired teacher turned government watchdog who attends their meetings and files public information requests to research ESD9’s activities.

For what it is worth to anyone else, after I voted AGAINST the CFISD $1.2 Billion Bond, I drove over to ESD 9 and voted for:

Ballot Position               Candidate____
     #1                      Jeremy Martinson
     #4                         Betty Avery
     #7                         Scott DeBoer                                                         

I know some people will say I am nuts. Two of the candidates are people who are not only are unknown in Republican circles, they have never even been politically active.

But I don’t believe that my job as a voter is to place politically active people in government positions. I view it more like a headhunter -  placing the best people in positions to do a job for the people.

So, why did I choose these three?

First, because all three understand that they are running for ESD Commissioner, NOT CFVFD Commissioner.

Second, because….ESD9 is BROKEN….and I think these three are our best bets to fix it.

I will start with Betty Avery because I am her campaign treasurer. I volunteered because I believe the ESD9 board “needs” her skills. Betty likes processes, procedures and details. She is the “Queen of Roberts Rules of Order,” something greatly lacking in ESD9 meetings. I see her using procedure to help keep this board on task. 

She also has an MBA which can prove extremely valuable in re-structuring ESD9 to make it transparent and accountable to the taxpayers.

Betty is very active in the Harris County Republican Party, Chair of the Military Partnership, Precinct Chair, etc. She is dedicated to our community. Betty is willing to put in the time and effort required to be knowledgeable about the issues. 

She abides by the letter of the law and established policies. I see her as the “informed conscious” of the board, keeping it within its prescribed boundaries.

Betty (with a son on active duty in Afghanistan) views our first responders in the same manner she views our military– as persons who deserve our utmost respect. This seems like a given to most of us, but it is also greatly lacking on our current board.

Next, I voted for Jeremy Martinson because he is the consummate professional. He is structured, organized, and prepared….other skills desperately lacking on ESD9. Jeremy is not afraid to make carefully considered decisions and does not let popularity interfere with principle.  It is rare to find courage, integrity and common sense in someone running for office.

Jeremy has proven himself as a firefighter.

He was part of the firefighting team awarded the Unit Medal of Valor by the Houston Fire Department in 2007 for:

 “their courageous efforts to rescue civilians and firefighters under great stress and extremely adverse conditions."

Independent Insurance Agents of Houston named him as their 2009 Firefighter of the Year .

Captain Martinson was honored for his actions on February 11, 2009, when firefighters were dispatched to
a house fire in the 2200 block of Dan Street. Crews arrived on scene to find heavy smoke coming from a
one-story wood frame house and to make matters worse, they were told citizens, possibly children, were trapped inside the home.
 Engine 19’s Captain Jeremy Martinson found an adult victim. As he started to pull her out, the smoke lifted
and he saw two small feet… a child. He told his crew to remove the adult while he carried the young girl
out of the home to waiting EMS crews… Shortly after this save; Engine 27’s crew located a second child and removed them to safety as well. All three victims were viable and transported to Hermann and Texas Children’s Hospital. Due to the training and leadership of these firefighters, three citizens are alive today and where able to meet the firefighters who rescued them several months following this incident."
Shanay Smith is overcome with emotion as she and daughter Katharine, who on Sunday celebrated her fourth birthday, meet fire Capt. Jeremy Martinson. He found the pair lying in the hallway of their burning home. Photo: Sharon Steinmann, Chronicle
Shanay Smith is overcome with emotion as she and daughter Katharine, who on Sunday celebrated her fourth birthday, meet fire Capt. Jeremy Martinson. He found the pair lying in the hallway of their burning home


I believe it would be of great benefit to ESD9 to have someone representing our community of whom we can be proud. Someone who understands the risks first responders take and the sacrifices they make every day for our community. Someone who can set financial limits and guidelines while still exhibiting personal respect to our first responders – again, a skill greatly lacking on our current board.

Plus, Jeremy “gets it.” He understands boundaries - the major issue which has caused so much stress between ESD9 and CFVFD. A quote from him on his CCHC candidate questionnaire:

The most significant issue currently effecting the department is maintaining strict governing guidelines between the ESD and the Contracted Service Provider (CY-Fair VFD) and respecting boundaries between the two services.”

My final vote was for Scott Deboer. Scott has the unique ability to empathize with all the constituents of ESD9. As a business owner himself, he appreciates the taxpayer’s perspective. As a member of the CFVFD he understands their risks and sacrifices. As a previous CFVFD Board member, he appreciates the complexity of governing emergency services. As a husband and father, he knows the importance of protecting lives and property. As his homeowners association president, he has experience in tactful leadership and team dynamics.

When ESD9 has to deal with conflicts of interest between different groups – firefighters, taxpayers, homeowners associations, etc. - it will be truly valuable to have a commissioner who understands all those perspectives.

The ESD9 board is lacking in established policies, procedures and set standards for itself and its contractors. Scott’s business experience and BBA will serve the board well in this area. He also “gets it.” On his CCHC candidate questionnaire he promises to:

“1. Set written standards for contractor performance          review“2. Create disciplined funding allocations for operations and equipment to effectively protect the community

I know these sound so basic, but they are lacking in ESD9. Because there is no written structure, there is constant conflict between ESD9 commissioners as well as ESD9 and CFVFD.

I think Scott is the best suited of all the candidates for this job because of his personality style.  He is friendly and flexible, yet he has the courage to back his convictions, having accepted a suspension rather than be silent about department practices he thought were just plain wrong.

Then there is the issue in ESD9 of effort - something else often lacking in our current commissioners. For example, ESD9 held a board workshop on Sunday, April 13, 2014. One commissioner and a paid consultant were present at the start of the meeting. A second commissioner came 45 minutes late. Two out of five is - pitiful.

Another issue for me is which candidates are really passionate about serving on ESD9?

They all “say” they are. But actions always speak louder than words.

On April 24, just four days before early voting began, ESD9 Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting. There was nothing earth shattering on the agenda, just routine matters. The two incumbents were present.

But only 4 of the 9 remaining candidates cared enough about ESD9 to show up!

Tom Bazan & Betty Avery at ESD9 Meeting April 24
Tom Bazan * Betty Avery 

Jeremy Martinson * Scott DeBoer

Jeremy Martinson & Scott DeBoer at ESD9 Meeting April 24


Where were the other 5? Five people who are asking for our votes?

They had something more important to do?

I think the people deserve ESD9 commissioners who care enough to at least show up!

These four candidates show their passion for the position in their campaigns too.

Betty Avery and Tom Bazan were both politically active in the Harris County Republican Party before they decided to run for ESD9. They will both be politically active after this election is over. They know the system and the key players. 

They have both been not only actively campaigning, but attending ESD9 meetings. They both stepped up to run because they saw the problems in ESD9 and were willing to put forth the effort needed to help fix it.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the 110% effort Scott DeBoer and Jeremy Martinson have put into their campaigns even though neither had any political experience or aspirations. They just entered this race to help fix the mess made by our current ESD. 

They were smart. They admitted they knew nothing about campaigning and asked for help. They studied. They learned about PACs, the laws and requirements.  They teamed up early, raised money together, got their families involved, and doubled their money by running as a team. 

They worked the community, getting signs up, block-walking and speaking to groups. Their campaign had passion and enthusiasm, something so refreshing to see because it is so lacking at ESD9.

And these are all skills ESD Commissioners should possess - teamwork, passion, effort and thrifty use of funds. Their campaign proved to me that they have them.

So…. why not the other candidates?

As I said earlier, voting to me is like being a headhunter - selecting the best people to fill a job needed to be done for the people.

Tom Bazan

Some Republicans have asked how I could not vote for Tom Bazan. He has been one of the most active conservative “community organizers” in the Cypress area. He is a "go getter" and tireless worker. He is in the trenches fighting with us on every cause. He is fearless. He will go anywhere and speak to anyone.

As I told Tom, that is exactly why I didn't vote for him. I think Cypress needs him full force. We need him involved in ALL of our battles - organizing, thinking outside the box, speaking out on all issues, even those that might be controversial.

If we lose Tom to one issue for years, the conservative community has lost. I think his skills are better served elsewhere – not limited to one fight. Tom disagrees with me. He feels he can do both – be a successful ESD9 Commissioner and still give Cypress conservatives 100% effort. I do have confidence that if Tom is elected to ESD9, he will continue to give other issues all the time and energy he can.

David Langenberg

I did see David at the drawing held at ESD9 for positions on the ballot.

He has spoken at candidate events. He is very articulate and knows much about emergency services.

But, David’s answer on his CCHC candidate questionnaire tells me that he will keep ESD9 “dysfunctional.” He does not understand the boundary lines between the ESD and CFVFD. A quote:

The ESD is responsible for placing the most competent people in charge of the fire dept, (Chief, Asst. Chief etc)…”

ESD9 is the elected board who sets the tax rate, oversees fiduciary responsibilities, sets standards and plans for the future. CFVFD is a private non-profit corporation. They are a contract provider for emergency services. ESD9 may approve CFVFD’s selection of a fire chief before they approve payment of salary and benefits, but it is not the ESD's responsibility to “place” people they feel are the “most competent” in leadership positions inside a private non-profit corporation.  

David was reprimanded by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement OfficerStandards and Education  in March of 2012. When asked about the incident at the Cypress Tea Party meeting, he said he erred when reporting his training hours. I respected the fact that he did not make excuses. He took full responsibility for the error.


Robert Lozano

In his CCHC candidate questionnaire, Robert describes himself as a "Conservative Republican” and a  “sitting President of the Police Union.”

He is an excellent public speaker and very skilled at public relations. He serves his union on the local and state levels. He says his “union” is not like other “unions.”

When Robert ran for Constable of Precinct 4 against Ron Hickman in 2012, His campaign finance reports show he received campaign donations from IUOE – International Union of Operating Engineers and HPPU – International Union of Procurement Professionals. How many true “Conservative Republicans” can make that claim?

Most interesting is the fact that he and two other ESD9 candidates, James Blackledge and Patrick J Kiley, had their applications for ESD9 Commissioner notarized by Robert Berleth.

When speaking at a Cypress Tea Party meeting, the current ESD9 President, Mike Larrivee, explained that Berleth had once worked for CFVFD but had been terminated. He later attempted to bring a union into CFVFD. Berleth filed a complaint against CFVFD with the National Labor Relations Board.

The National Labor Relations Board is the Federal entity “which conducts elections that can require employers to engage in collective bargaining with labor unions.”

Just a coincidence?

I say -  if it walks like a union, and quacks like a union, it most likely is a “real” union.

And, the last thing the people of Cy-Fair need is the union in our volunteer fire department. So all three of these candidates are off my list.

Additionally, in March of 2013, Ch 2 News reported that Robert Lozano was removed from duty with pay for complaints concerning "improper conduct." I do not know the outcome of the investigation.

Willa Matthews

I was told by a  board member that Willa attended one ESD9 meeting. She was not present at the ESD9 workshop on April 13, 2014 or the ESD9 meeting on April 24, 2014.  I did see her at ESD9 when the drawing was held for places on the ballot. 

She did not bother to turn in a CCHC candidate questionnaire, so I do not know her position on issues.  When she spoke at the Cypress Tea Party, she stumbled finding an answer to the most basic question – why are you running for this position?  I have been told she has signs up, but I have not seen any.

Kevin Kyle & Mike Larrivee – The Incumbents

Kevin Kyle and Mike Larrivee are the two ESD9 incumbents who chose to run for re-election. We already know what we get with these two, such a “dysfunctional” mess that 9 candidates stepped up to run against them.

Mike has been in office for 14 years. I believe in term limits so that automatically takes him off my list. 

But I must admit, it has been helpful having him run because he has provided the public with the information on Berleth, as well as letting the public know that Kevin Kyle was one of the commissioners pushing to de-fund CFVFD last year, just to get his way. That would have left our community without an emergency service provider – something no competent ESD commissioner would ever risk.

Personally, I attended those meetings and I think both were at fault. But I do admit Kevin Kyle was worse.

Kevin Kyle is beyond words for me. The only positive comments I can make are that he is articulate and wears nice suits.

In my observation, Kyle is the “rotten apple” on the current board. He acts just like our federal government. He uses money to force others to do what he has decided is best for them. When I watch him in meetings he reminds me of Nancy Pelosi.  He is condescending. He treats others as if he is superior to them and the CFVFD as if they are bad children. He is derogatory in his domineer and invents conflict to make himself appear superior.

In my opinion, for the good of our community, he should not be elected to return to this board.

If you have read this far, than you most likely are a person who cares enough to vote in this race. Please study the candidates and make the choices you feel will do the best job to rebuild  ESD9 into a commission that works with CFVFD to protect our community.

You can find all ESD9 election information here: http://www.hcesd9.net/Elections.html


Colleen Vera