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:


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

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

    Culberson - The Next Generation

    Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    A perfect example is the voters of CD7 sending Culberson to Washington over and over and then complaining when he votes FOR the Omnibus spending bill.

    We may be able to stop this insanity because two candidates are running against Culberson in the Mar. 1, 2016 Republican Primary.

    Let’s look at our choices:

    1. As expected, John Culberson, a career politician, is running again.
    • He has spent the last 29 years in politics; 15 of them in Congress
    • He keeps making us promises that he has a way to use his seat on the Appropriations Committee to stop funding for Obama’s liberal agenda. But year after year no funding is ever stopped.
    • His ranking by Freedom Works in 2015 was 70.
    • His 2014 fiscal rating by the American Conservative Union has gone down 36 points since 2010. It was the lowest of all Texas Republican US Representatives in 2014.

    2. Maria Espinoza , a local conservative grassroots activist, is running against him. 

    Most of us in CD7 know her from her efforts fighting illegal immigration. She has been outspoken on many issues so there is plenty of information about her for all to research with simple Google searches. Her website includes her platform as well as contact info.

    3. The final GOP candidate is James Lloyd who is so unknown that even Politics1 and US Elections have no information on him or even links to his campaign site.

    That really concerned me so I spent my weekend researching online to see what I could find out about him. Because the last thing CD 7 needs is an Obama – a good looking, smooth talking guy who shows up out of the blue, well funded with establishment dollars, promising the moon, then delivering the opposite.

    Lloyd’s website makes some claims that sound really great. But the closer I looked and the more I dug, the more questions I have.

    #1- Where does he live?

    He is 31 years old. He is not active military. Yet his voter  registration is at his parents’ million dollar home in River Oaks.

     Does he still live with Mommy and Daddy?

    Or does he live at the apartment on Kipling listed on his Statement of Candidacy filed with the Federal Elections Commission? 

    If he lives on Kipling, why isn’t he registered to vote there? And why did a single female voter register at that apartment just 13 weeks ago?

    #2 – Republican leadership for 15 years?

    Lloyd makes the claims that he:

    He was born in the summer of 1984. He wasn’t old enough to vote until the end of June 2002.

    So the first GOP state convention he could have attended as an elected delegate was in 2004 – 12 years ago.

    If his career in conservative leadership began at the age of 16, and he has been an activist in the Republican Party for 15 years, why can’t I find anything anywhere on the internet to confirm his involvement as a Republican leader?

    #3 – Why is there no information about him on the internet?

    Lloyd’s website claims that he is a “GRASSROOTS CONSERVATIVE LEADER.”

    Yet, there is nothing on the internet to confirm this.

    Try this simple test yourself – do a basic internet search of each candidate “+ republican.” 

    You will find much to read from multiple sources– both pro and con – to prove both Culberson and Espinoza have been involved.

    But Google Lloyd … and you will find nothing to confirm his “grassroots conservative leader” claim.

    Heck, I don’t claim to have been a grassroots conservative leader for the past 15 years, but when I Googled myself, just like Culberson and Espinoza,  multiple sources – both pro and con – prove I have been involved in the grassroots for the past few years.

    And why doesn’t Lloyd have any details on his website?

    Both Culberson and Espinoza list where they stand on issues such as illegal immigration and Obamacare.

    Records show Lloyd's campaign website was purchased on Dec. 6, by Harris Media, giving his parents’ address. 

    In almost a month, why has Lloyd not been able to post his platform or list any endorsements on his website?

    His website includes only these four pages:

    #4 – Maverick PAC

    On LinkedIn, Lloyd lists himself as the Houston Co-Chair of Maverick PAC.

    Source Watch describes Maverick PAC as a political action committee “comprised of… "next-generation" Republicans fronted by George P Bush. They target young Republicans under the age of 45.”

    The Board reads like a Who’s Who of Bush Dynasty connections:

    And then there is Murray Van Eman – the PAC Treasurer - a San Antonio attorney. I didn’t find any connection to a Bush. 

    Bizapedia lists him and his male partner as the registering agent and director of the SanAntonio Gay Flag Football League. Aggie Network hosts the announcements of the adoption of their two sons.

    What a coincidence that both Lloyd and his dad (Russell) were also Bush appointees.

    And another coincidence: Harris Media LLC, the same firm whose email is registered with Lloyd’s campaign website, is a firm which TEC records show is also used by both George P Bush’s campaign and the Maverick PAC.

    News reports show  Maverick PAC’s largest ($900,000) donor also gave “nearly $1 million during the 2012 election cycle to American Crossroads, which is affiliated with Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's former top political adviser.”

    What a small world!!!

    The Source Watch report on the candidates supported by Maverick PAC reads:
    The group itself lists old-school heavy hitters and old-guard-friendly candidates on their 2012 list

    Records also show Maverick PAC Texas hired Story Partners LLC in Washington DC for public relations and advertising. Both top executives of Story Partners LLC,  Gloria Story Dittus and Debra Cabral, donated to Hillary’s campaign in 2015.

    So much for conservative support.

    #5- Has Lloyd been primed for political office?

    Lloyd’s resume reads like that of a guy who has been primed for  political office.

    Many of his “opportunities” are only available to those with the right connections.

    A summer internship with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball certainly doesn’t come along every day. 

    I am sure that it had nothing to do with the fact that a Bush owns a team.

    On his website Lloyd claims to be a  “National Security Expert.”

    Look closely at his resume:

    •     2 months
    •     4 months
    •     1 year
    •     Fellow
    •     Intern
    •     Clerk
    •     Summer Associate
    •     Writer
    •     Deputy Associate Director

    All of these are great experiences for anyone interested in law and/or politics. 

    But does this resume really qualify anyone as a “National Security EXPERT?”

    Is it another coincidence that Lloyd changed law firms this year?

    To the firm of Sidley Austin. Some facts on the firm:
    • the firm where Barack Hussein met his future wife, Michelle
    • a firm that made $3 million in 2011 alone lobbying Washington DC
    • a firm which has landed $12 million in federal contracts since 2009
    • the chart below from Muckety shows current and former attorneys at the firm who received presidential appointments

    Now Lloyd’s resume doesn't just read like that of a guy who has been primed for  political reads like another lifelong politician who just needs to win his first election.

    A quote from Lloyd’s own campaign announcement:
     “If we keep electing the same people, 
        nothing is going to change.”


    Electing the next generation of hand-picked establishment politicians IS  electing the same people.”

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.                                                              Albert Einstein

    Colleen Vera