When Does It Become Too Much?
The drama of 2017 in Humble was the May 6 school board election. Words were slung, friendships were broken, and much money was spent in the race for these four volunteer positions in an election in which barely 5,000 people voted. Multiple rounds of postcards were mailed and robocalls made (robocalls for a school board election) on behalf of the incumbents. The calls contained messages not only from sitting board members, but from Representative Dan Huberty and Emily Cook of Texas Right to Life. This is all apart from the phone-banking and block-walking efforts of a local Republican group, not for all Republicans running as a number of challengers were, but solely for the incumbents up for re-election. All of this for a volunteer position. The level of vehemence as well as the indignation and anger displayed by those being challenged took many of us supporting the challengers by surprise. Isn’t facing an opponent in an election part of the political process? When a story on our little Humble school board election broke on Breitbart News two days before the election, it became surreal. Many of us were asking, “What is going on here?” There had to be something more to it, something bigger at stake, than simply holding on to an unpaid position.
But this was not all the excitement of 2017; along with the election drama was the controversy surrounding Heath Rushing’s position on the board after his employer, Memorial Hermann, announced that Rushing was moved from his position as CEO of the Northeast branch to CEO of the Katy and Cypress hospitals. This was only a controversy because Rushing refused to give an answer to the numerous people who asked what his plans were for his position on the board of trustees. It seemed obvious to most that he would relocate to be near his new job. As his seat was not up for reelection until 2019, it would have to be filled.
The deafening silence in response to those questions generated more suspicion and distrust. This distrust increased when it was discovered that Rushing listed his Kingwood home for sale and received an offer on Feb. 21, just four days after the Feb. 17 filing deadline for the May 6 election.
My conclusion based on the evidence as well as the actions and attitude of the board was that Rushing deliberately delayed his resignation from the board of trustees to hold his seat out of the May 6 election, which would allow the remaining board members to appoint a person of their choice to that position. This conclusion was met with indignation by various members of the board and their proxies. I was called a board basher, some extreme fringe parent who looked for any opportunity to criticize the board. (For the record, those who know me can tell you I only get extreme when it comes to selling Girl Scout cookies. Our troop motto is “Go Big or Go Home.”)
Regardless, the incumbents won. They decided to appoint the position rather than elect. They appointed Colin Carney at the board meeting on Aug. 8. Life goes on.
After announcing the appointment, individual board members made comments regarding the appointment. They all stressed that they chose this 33-year-old for his outstanding resume and experience which stood out above the rest. I know the education, experience and volunteer efforts of a number of the other candidates who applied and I would disagree; however, I had no expectation that they would appoint anyone who ran against the incumbents in May. Several of them also made a point to say that they did not know Carney; it was said strongly and repeatedly. They assured us that they chose him solely based on his resume.
I actually was hopeful. Carney’s family, particularly his in-laws, gave me a good impression at the meeting, and I was really hoping that all of the uproar regarding Rushing’s seat caused them to choose a non-controversial and neutral person to fill it.
This optimism lasted a day and a half, up until someone sent me a photo of board member Robert Sitton’s Edward Jones office right next door to Carney Tutoring, the business owned by the wife of the appointee.
I have three questions. First, do the board members really expect us to believe that Robert Sitton, a sitting member of the board of trustees for the Humble ISD school district, who has served in various positions in the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, and whose wife is the chair of the Humble ISD Educational Foundation, never met the owners of the tutoring business next door? How credulous do they think voters are? Even without the glaringly obvious evidence, this is a small community. People know the connections and they talk.
Which leads to my second question, why lie? What possible purpose could it serve to make such a flagrant and absurd lie? People who did not support the incumbents wanted that seat up for election. Any appointment is not going to change our opinion, whether there is a connection between the board members or not … So why lie? Those who supported the incumbents do not seem to care whether the seat was appointed, and I am sure they would not care the appointee is a friend, so again, why lie?
My last question is for those who not only continue to support the actions of the board, but vilify those who do not. My question to you is, When does it become too much? What does it take before their actions go beyond the pale and you quit carrying water for them?
A copy of yesterday’s Trib was just now delivered by a gentleman since my original one was wet. Thank you again for the great customer service, which is almost a rarity these days.
On the road again
Approximately three weeks ago, a tremendous number of large dump trucks began traversing the center of Kingwood. Concerned about the size and speeds, I spent the morning following them. The findings are as follows: Between 200 and 500 heavy trucks (10 yards or bigger) cross the center of Kingwood every day. They access the neighborhood via Ford Road in Porter. They violate the 15-ton weight limit for Ford Road. They usually drive faster than the posted speed limit. On several occasions, breakdowns have halted or crippled traffic. They add a significant increase to an already congested traffic problem. Because of their weight, size and speed, they dramatically increase the danger of driving on West Lake Houston. All of these trucks are hauling sand/dirt from the mining site on the San Jacinto River west of Porter. I know this is dangerous and believe it to be illegal in several ways. I would like to see if anything can be done to stop this now.
Richard T. Britton
Love the new website
You have done an excellent job on your website. Removing the login was a good move since it did not work right anyway. Adding in previous issues of The Tribune, eTribune, and eCalendar was a much needed resource. You are to be commended for making that happen. The site has been arranged in a wonderful fashion and is very easy to navigate. If I were in the business of awarding businesses for websites that were most improved, you would get first prize. Congratulations on a job well done.
CIP funding increases
It has been a busy summer at City Hall. I am proud to say that after working diligently with Mayor Sylvester Turner, District E was allocated $140 million for capital improvement plan (CIP) projects over the next five years. Turner has acknowledged the inequitable funding of council districts “outside Loop 610,” and will continue to work toward a more equitable distribution. As many of you know, this has been my battle over the past four years of CIP allocations. This year, our District E CIP allocation increased from three to seven percent, which shows our efforts to improve equity amongst funding for projects across the city is being heard. I look forward to furthering these efforts during next year’s CIP process. Save the date for the upcoming Kingwood Town Hall meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Kingwood Community Center. In Kingwood, we will have the opportunity to welcome Turner. We will also hear from Stephen Costello, City of Houston chief resiliency officer, regarding an upcoming drainage improvement project in Forest Cove. Stan Sarman, the chair of the TIRZ 10 board, will be able to provide information on a variety of projects, including the Northpark Drive Mobility Improvement Project and the status of area intersection improvements. We look forward to hearing these updates and addressing community questions, comments and concerns. If you have never been before, it is the perfect opportunity to engage with your community and have your questions answered. We hope you will join us. Please feel free to invite a neighbor, friend or colleague. Everyone is welcome to attend. Report cards are rare in the summer, but I am glad to report on the progress we are making on several initiatives designed to enhance the quality of life in Houston neighborhoods.
Dave Martin, councilmember
Tribune gets FOAL’s thanks
Thank you so much for helping to publicize the upcoming Friends of the Atascocita Library (FOAL) book sale with a quarter page ad in the Tribune. The book sale proceeds support the library with needs not met by the county. The summer reading program is one example of the programs we fund. FOAL is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to support the Atascocita Branch of the Harris County Public Library through fundraising and volunteers. For 31 years, from conception to reality and with continuing efforts, FOAL has worked to fund the local library branch. With a major annual financial contribution and lots of enthusiastic volunteers, FOAL makes services, performances and materials available which would otherwise not exist. Thank you again for your commitment to our organization. We have put a thank you to The Tribune on our electronic sign at the library which FOAL purchased for $24,000 two years ago. It is great to have the sign as another tool to let the community know of wonderful people like you and how important The Tribune is to the community. Thank you again for all you do.
Lu Ann Schmidt
We are very sensitive about any misconception regarding what we do at Humble Charity Events. There was a significant error in your article in this week’s paper. As a founder and director of Humble Charity Events, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, I can assure you we are not a for-profit business. None of our directors are paid in any manner. Our primary focus is providing educational opportunities for nonprofits. We focus on assisting them to more efficiently run the business aspects of their organization. We do our work in partnership with other organizations and corporations. In fact, to better clarify our role and our mission, we are announcing a name change to Humble Charity Foundation. Since 2006, we have donated nearly $500,000 to local charities.
The rest of the story
Many employment applications require the applicant to provide references. For the following two reasons, I oppose that policy: First, Einstein was offered no job upon his college graduation in 1900 because he used as a reference one of his college professors (Weber), who “intrigued against” Einstein. Employers who consulted Weber failed to hire a scientific genius and a superb human being. They should have thought for themselves instead of letting Weber think for them. Second, every story has two sides. A reference provides only one side of the story (his side). If that side is negative, then seldom, if ever, is the applicant given a chance to tell his side of the story. Such a procedure is equivalent to a jury convicting one who is accused of a crime after hearing only the prosecution’s case. A fair trial requires the jury to reserve judgment until hearing the prosecution’s case and the defendant’s side of the story. Consequently, employers should stop requesting references. Think for yourself instead of letting someone else (the reference) think for you.