Friday, April 03, 2009

At the FBEF Candidates Forum

Rather than rattle off a first impression of the Fort Bend Board of Trustees candidate’s forum yesterday evening, I decided to place the pot on the back burner and turn it on to “low.”

Mainly because I have never, in my short history of school board candidate forum attendance, come away from one of these things so conflicted.

Can we have another box to check on the ballot?

One that says “None of the above?”

First, two of the five candidates did not show up. Nor did they submit answers to the nine questions formulated by the Fort Bend Employee Federation (aka “The Teacher’s Union”). One of these, I did expect. Sonal Bhuchar offered that she had an early flight, or some such thing, on the following morning, thus preventing her from attending the meeting.

Or submitting written answers to the 9 questions.

As president of the BOT, maybe she should have taken this a little more seriously. But given the election results last time she was up for election, where she took the field with 39.8% of the vote, leading her closest competitor (there were 3 of them) by 1147 votes (a full 10% of the total vote) maybe she feels safe as an incumbent, board president, and, as Carlos Cain referred to her (time and time again), as the official seal of approval on the Fort Bend ISD Bend ISD Board of Trustees (that is, he called her a “rubber stamp”).

All of that, and her public indecisiveness on the funding and construction of the proposed Global Science and Technology Center, aka “The Taj Mahal” should help voters decide her case right promptly.

I was a little surprised that Rodrigo Carreon was a no-show. He always shows up to anything. But given the explanation seen here, I can see his point. Less than 24 hours notice to construct positions on these 9 questions is a little bit much to take. Not that he doesn’t have positions on all of these points. From past elections, if I’m not wrong, he has answered some of these questions before. Not that it garnered him a teacher’s union endorsement. It didn’t. My thinking is that given the choice between sitting down at home the night before last and writing his answers down . . . again . . . and maybe having some food and beverages at his buddy’s Texas Hold ‘Em party, maybe he opted for the latter.

But three candidates did show up.

Marilyn Glover came off as a bit of a surprise. Ms. Glover had to sit up straight in order to be seen sitting at the candidates’ table. She characterized herself as “small, but a bulldog.” The other surprise, one that gave me pause, was that Ms. Glover’s husband, who was sitting in the front row at the meeting, piped up and offered his take on a question posed to his wife.

One final surprise is that she didn’t seem to have as good a grasp of the duties of a BOT member as I thought she would. As a Republican precinct chair, we know her politics. And as an HR manager we know her background. And it was she, of the three candidates, who seemed to know what it was behind the Union-generated question referencing to whether she would vote to allow FBISD employees to “meet and confer” with administration on matters of policy and procedures.

This question was “The Union Test.” She failed.

“I have always met with management directly because I felt I was best at explaining and asking questions about my situation.”

Black ball to Glover.

Not to mention the fact that Glover declined to express an opinion on construction of the Science Center, citing a lack of direct knowledge other than “what I have read in the newspaper”. My guess is that this issue by itself will mobilize a few thousand to go to the polls, something that has not escaped the notice of her opponent, Bruce Albright, or Sonal Bhuchar’s opponent, Carlos Cain.

Bringing me to the Dueling Duo, Cain and Albright.

Cain, having no one to fence with, did so anyway, calling his absent opponent a “rubber stamp” on the board. His final comment, the comment of the evening, was a comment on his qualifications as a trustee. “The person I am running against is the most qualified,” declared Cain. Qualified as the board’s “rubber stamp.”

Cain was folksy, tended to lapse into anecdotes, and his quiet demeanor belied his tendency to SPEAK IN ALL CAPS, at least when he writes things down. Albright spoke lots, but when he did, all you had to do was glance down at his answers to the 9 union questions distributed to the members of the audience – he read from that. When asked the more impromptu questions from the floor, you got a better feel for his grasp of the topics. Basically, I guess you could say it was hit or miss. Sometimes dead on, sometimes he missed the point of the questioner.

Cain came off as the scrappy one. In reference to the board’s 90 million dollar “Fund Balance,” Cain responded, “I am the one that actually discovered this ‘Slush Fund’ while facing off with FBISD in during the 2007 Bond Referendum. This fund balance is actually money from the 2003 Bond Referendum that was never used.”

No one bothered to take issue with this. The fact that some of the 2003 bond issue projects have yet to be completed, or paid for, did not come up. It didn’t have to. Clearly, if the voters want to elect a scrappy guy to the Board of Trustees, Cain is their man.

As a candidate, Albright was alright. And of the three on the stage, I lean toward this guy the most as someone I’d like to see on the board. I think, however, that personally speaking, the jury is still out. There is no incumbent on the current board that I would really and truly like to see sent packing. Not like last time or the time before last.

Of the three, I do have one un-recommendation. Give Glover a pass. She opposes union reps at campuses, and won’t even divulge her concerns on the burning issue of the day.

Besides, the last thing we need is another HR manager in high places.

Oh, and Dunn, "vye" is spelled "vie."


Dunn said...

Thank you, sir.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone checked her story on this or if it was like the chronicle implied that she was just avoiding confrontation over the poor performance of the board under her watch.

"One of these, I did expect. Sonal Bhuchar offered that she had an early flight, or some such thing, on the following morning, thus preventing her from attending the meeting."

Anonymous said...

"One that says “None of the above?”

I believe I'm having deja vu all over again with you Half-empty. I believe you've said this a number of times in any number of elections. Too bad the "D" club didn't run someone, you would be having hives with excitement. Stop sitting back on your duff and pontificating, do something like Bruce, Rodrigo and Carlos are doing on their on time-dime-etc...or go cut a backroom deal like the "D" club is famous for and sell the grass-roots out!

Anonymous said...

"Of the three, I do have one un-recommendation. Give Glover a pass. She opposes union reps at campuses, and won’t even divulge her concerns on the burning issue of the day." At least we agree on this. With the lack of oversight on recent senior administrative scandals from the FBISD police chief to the facilities manager (personal use of district/taxpayer resources) and the issues involving the first ever budget deficit for FBISD I think they ALL need to go. The board is in place to provide over-sight, accountability and involve the public, which this one, if you had been watching has done more to silence the community by changing the rules to speak before the BOT and excluding the stake-holders from participation in some of the senior level "community" committees, like zoning.

Is silencing the public suddenly a good thing?

Hal said...

Anon, you are touchy tonight.

Read on. "The jury is still out" comes to mind.

To understand the "D Club" as you call it, you have to understand the quote that is ascribed to President Bill Clinton: "Democrats want to fall in love, Republicans want to fall in line."

And no, Anon. Sitting back on my duff pontificating is what I do. I watch and comment on the drama that plays in front of me. My expectation is that the drama will usually serves someone's hidden agenda, and am accordingly unsurprised when that is what happens.

The fun stuff occurs when I get surprised.

Surprise me.

Hal said...

Bob, Yew are vary welcome. We all make mistakes . . .

Anonymous said...

"The fun stuff occurs when I get surprised.
Surprise me."

The surprise is that these candidates are not controlled by the vendors and are mostly financing their own campaigns. They are drawing support from middle of the roaders, independents, conservatives, moderates across the board. Personally, I consider the "D" club a special interest and have seen how they work first hand in a local municipal race (revenge can be a nasty pill). The surprise would be if it wasn't so predictable.

"Ds" fall in love, while "Rs" fall in line? Who cares which they are, both are as dangerous to our democracy as it gets with each feeding its own elite corporate buddies. How about stepping out of the comfort zone for a change and getting involved. Many of us have been walking homes for weeks now (already almost 2000).

If these independent candidates disappoint then we will find more to replace them until change does come and our local councils, boards and commissions are free and acting independent of the influences of the special interest.

Only then can they act in our best interests. Mr. Morrison would be a good example of a free thinker working in the best interest of those that live here based on his current voting record. He speaks much more like a fiscal conservative than any of the republicans on the court. It's too bad he clings to the party banner so tightly though because independents, cross-over republicans & others helped get him in office over the toll road boys.

Peace half, but get off your duff and help! Don't just take your orders from the "D" club. Get outside the paradigm.

Anonymous said...

Okay, well stated. However, upon reflection regarding past BOT’s action or none action to include the present, Cain’s scrappiness sounds best of all 3 described for my way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the kind words, even though there was not a direct endorcement. I would like to say that you slightly misrepresented my final comment. You made it sound as though the comment was a jab. My actual comment to final question about being the most qualified to the best of my memory was "I'm not. I don't have a masters degree and I'm not a teacher. The one that is the most qualified is unfortunately a rubber stamper. I can assure you, if I get in there, I will shake up their little tea party" I believe those were my words and it was not meant as a jab at Ms Bhucher. She is obviously from an academic standpoint more qualified than myself. I simply can no longer stand by and let this group give a free reign to someone that continues to spend our tax dollars with no regard for the voters, teachers or students. I'd like to have a cup of coffee with you Hal. Perhaps you will find I too would make a fine addition to the Board. And I said all that with no caps. I remain

Respectfully Yours,

Carlos Cain

Anonymous said...

Carlos, you have supporters from areas you don't even know and I suspect the teacher's union will also support you along with those that are concerned about the tax dollars not going to instructional items and support. Most families want a better accounting and not just to take the board or Jennys word for it.

Anonymous said...

The Fort Bend Teachers' Union talks a good game, but, that's about it. Considering the performance/actions of the BOT Member(s) that they formerly endorsed, well, need I say more? The Teachers, who fill the ranks of annual membership, are in good shape as long as they never have to "really" call on them for assistance. The teachers pay annual union dues for security, that manifest itself as a false security if they, the teachers, ever have need to call upon the union to cover their backs.

Anonymous said...

After having listened to Glover, Albright and Cain it became clear to me that Glover was talking out both sides as so many politicians do in hope of fooling the public. Let's hope they weren't fooled.

Anonymous said...

Ck this out:

Anonymous said...

I actually think half-empty is working with GOP precinct chair Glover on this one. Now that's a combination for you.