Thursday, June 04, 2009

Birds of a Feather: State Rep Wayne Christian

Question: why would anyone voluntarily spend 140 days every two years in Austin getting laws passed for a measly $7200 per year? That, and a per diem for every day they are in session is what they get.

Oh, and maybe some benefits and percs.

Still, that isn’t a lot of money, and with a family of 4, a state representative and his or her family would surely be living below the poverty line and qualify for food stamps and free federal cheese.

So what is the draw?

Well, this week we learned what keeps State Rep. Wayne Christian attracted to the job. Sometimes you get to feather your own nest.

Take a bill that passed on the last day of the 81st Legislature, a bill that had to do with beaches. Wayne Christian inserted an amendment to the bill that would allow owners of destroyed beach houses to rebuild their houses, even though the property the house once stood on is now within the boundaries of a public beach.

Hurricane Ike, you see, moved sand around a lot, and eroded much of the Bolivar Peninsula so that property boundaries overlapped with the public beach zone, as defined by the Open Beaches Act, which defines a public beach as the area extending between the line of mean low tide to the line of vegetation bordering on the Gulf of Mexico.

Later, State Rep Hamilton inserted language that “bracketed” the area of Texas that the bill applied to. Bracketed it to Bolivar Peninsula in general, but to 12 properties specifically.

12 properties which now extended onto the public beach.

And the reason State Rep Christian inserted that amendment and Hamilton narrowly defined?

One of those twelve properties is owned by Wayne Christian.

Yes, that’s right, in a rarely seen event right out in the open, we observe a state representative feathering his own nest by pushing legislation through that will directly benefit himself.

Well, himself and his 11 neighbors.

But wait it gets better. Wayne Christian doesn’t represent the Bolivar Peninsula. He just has (well . . . had) a beach house there.

Christian denies any conflict of interest.

From the Chron:

“This is not an unethical, deceptive method of doing anything,” Christian said. “This is the way it’s been ever since government was invented.”

Well he got the first sentence in his statement wrong and the second one right. Proving that State Rep. Christian has been in Austin so long that his sense of right and wrong, of corruption and honesty, is hopelessly muddled.

The bill has yet to be signed and that takes us to the Texas Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson, who is hopping mad about this.

Again, from the Chron:

“Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has asked Gov. Rick Perry to veto the bill containing the amendment. The bill has not yet crossed the governor’s desk, and he will not make a decision until he sees it, said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger.”

“I don’t think building houses on the beach, with the waters of the Gulf beneath them, is a good idea or good public policy,” Patterson said. “

If the governor signs the bill, Patterson vowed that he would not enforce the amendment. “My option is just to say, ‘Screw you, Wayne Christian,’ because the Legislature didn’t pass this, one guy passed this,” he said.”

“Patterson said the Legislature would have to impeach him if lawmakers wanted the provision enforced.”

So while thousands are out of a job here in Texas, and will not get to benefit from the $555 million in federal unemployment stimulus dollars because of Republican shenanigans in the late legislative session, Wayne Christian found the time and the votes to get himself an exemption on his beach house so he can rebuild it on public land.

Unfortunately if this was a beach in, say, California, this would make national news. But because it is Texas we are talking about here, it’s a yawner of a news item.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see.

Ah, ha, so, the hidden reasons for seeking low paying or no paying political positions are revealed.

I have always wondered about the hidden benefit of local school board members. Breathing heavy for a no pay position; they fight as if life depended on it, getting on or remaining on the BOT.

There must be hidden benefits that are unrevealed and not disclosed to us Looky-Lous who stand on the outside with our faces up against the window pane looking in without a pass to enter.