Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Convolution of Facts, Coincidences, and Why Neeta Sane Needs to Defeat Jeff Council

Awhile back I was reading through the Fort Bend County (Texas) Treasurer website and discovered that the Fort Bend County Treasurer is also the Treasurer of several other entitites including what is called the Fort Bend Flood Control Water Supply Corporation. Don't bother Googling it, they don't have a website that I could discover.

Now where did I read about this entity before?

Then I remembered. It was a few weeks back when Neeta Sane was having a fundraiser in Stafford hosted by Mayor Leonard Scarcella. I mentioned at the time that Neeta’s opponent, Jeff Council has no real Fort Bend County claim to fame other than the fact that he was Vice President of the Fort Bend Flood Control Water Supply Corporation.

So Jeff Council is running for an office that is also an office in this corporation. If elected, Council will be Vice President and Treasurer for the Fort Bend Flood Control Water Supply Corporation.

How incestuous.

All I can find out about the Fort Bend Flood Control Water Supply Corporation is that it is a non-profit corporation that was established pursuant to article 1434a, V.T.C.S. That article makes it possible for non-profit corporations to form for the purpose of providing water or sewer services, or for providing flood control and drainage.

I also found out that the Texas Antiquities Committee, back in 1995, was inquiring at the AG’s office whether the corporation was a “political subdivision and whether its development actions are subject to the Texas Antiquities Code”. Why? Well it turns out that if they are a political subdivision, then the antiquities found under their land are the property of the State of Texas. And while the opinion written by AAG Susan Garrison at first looks like they are indeed a political subdivision:

“By expressly including nonprofit water supply corporations in the definitions of “political subdivision,” the legislature enabled them to participate in particular water development programs.”
However, under The Natural Resources Code, a political subdivision seems to be defined as:

“a local governmental entity created and operating under the laws of this state, including a city, county, school district, or special district created under Article III, Section 52(b)(l) or (2), or Article XVI,Section 59, of the Texas Constitution.”
This, according to the AAG, means that the Fort Bend Flood Control Water Supply Corporation is not a political subdivision.

Search me. I thought the legislature was supposed to be the ruling authority here.

So why were they so interested in this? Well I think it has to do with a study done in 1988 that was published in this paper that is archived in The Center for American History.

Archeological and Geomorphological Investigations of the Big Creek Rechannelization and Canal Construction Project, Fort Bend County, Texas by Saul Aronow. David L. Carlson and H. Blaine Ensor, Principal Investigators. TAC Permit 622. Archeological Surveys No. 5. Archeological Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University, 1988.
Were there antiquities in the path of the Big Creek project? Doesn’t matter now. Because of the AAG’s decision, whatever they dug up was not the property of the State of Texas.

Oh, and by the way, the 1995 legislature voted the Texas Antiquities Committee out of existence the very year they filed the inquiry with the AG’s office. All of that stuff now is taken care of at the Texas Historical Commission.

Coincidence?

So what is the point of all this?

Well recall in the Neeta Sane fundraiser article I mentioned that the Big Creek flood control project – one that has been ongoing for the past 18 years, at the cost of some $12 million, was recently completed. The Chron carried an article on August 18th detailing how the project was the brainchild of Stanley Kucherka, former county engineer, who saw that by widening and deepening Big Creek, they would prevent the flooding that prevailed in the Pleak/Needville area every time they got torrential rains. Kucherka said this to the Herald-Coaster in their article on the project completion
”A lot of the land along Big Creek at that time was flooding, and the project we did was for agriculture.”

Well that seems like a pretty darn good idea. Saving our arable land from flooding, crop loss and the like. That's a project worth doing. Kucherka is to be commended.

And times change.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony that took place out at the erosion control outfall site, Judge Hebert credited this long-term project to be a help to developers who might be attracted to the area. In the Chron article (it’s in the archives now) Judge Hebert was quoted this way:

“County Judge Bob Hebert said the bypass and expansion are expected to attract development along the creek because of improved drainage. ‘We are doing this ahead of time. We know development is on the horizon. This project will minimize our detention requirement for developers. It reduces the risk of flooding and will lower the cost of homes for homebuyers.’”

And by the way, the project also reduces the cost of building these homes for home builders. Taxpayer money, well spent in order to open vast agricultural acreage, unbuildable up to now, instead of developers spending their money to do the same thing. Reduces the price that they will sell the homes for.

A Win-Win deal. Except for Fort Bend County taxpayers. They’re out $12 million.

4 comments:

muse said...

Who owns that land? Someone's going to get big bucks selling to the developers. Just curious if there's more cronyism involved.

Hal said...

Well muse, you and anyone else can find out who owns what land here.

All you do is put in last names of people you think might benefit from sales of agricultural land to developers. For the Pleak/Needville area I put in a name I know, starts with an S, ends with an A. A Czech-sounding name.

Sorry, got to go. I need a shower.

Mark said...

Wow. That's some massively impressive blogging. I had seen that photo before - It was an obvious symbol of the problems with having Hebert's good buddy watch county finances. But the real backstory is even worse than I could've imagined.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

Thanks for the research on this and connecting all the dots. It supports what many of us have felt about the EDC boys and their control of our county politics.

This is appreciated and I will pass it on too!