Geez, Louise. I mean, when you cover politics you pretty much expect to shake your head once in a while. But there’s headshaking and then there is HEADSHAKING. What I witnessed at the Harris County Department of Education board meeting today definitely falls in the HEADSHAKING category.
Shortly after the prayer and pledges, citizen watchdog Colleen Vera walked to the microphone and, among a couple of other things, asked the board why it had hired convicted felon Jerry Eversole as a lobbyist. Holy get my attention, Batman! Was she mistaken? And not only convicted felon Jerry Eversole, but the board also hired former state rep Rob Eissler and lobbyist Stan Schlueter. Not one, not two, but THREE lobbyists, including convicted felon Jerry Eversole.
Later in the meeting, HCDE Supt. John Sawyer acknowledged that he hired the lobbyists without board approval because he has check writing authority up to a certain amount and the amount he hired them for was under that limit. And yes, he knew that Jerry Eversole was a convicted felon but hey, he also knew a woman that had been arrested in her teens for being topless and he didn’t think that should prevent her from getting a job now that she was a woman.
I don’t even know where to go with this one. As you know, conservatives have tried to close HCDE for some time and this year, Rep. Debbie Riddle has filed legislation to do just that. As I’ve stated before, I’m not so sure that I agree with closing HCDE, and certainly Rep. Riddle’s bill should not be passed as is. But I think I’ll save that for another day because today I’m just shaking my head.
What in the heck possessed Supt. Sawyer to hire convicted felon Jerry Eversole? I asked him that on the way down for his smoke break. His answer? “We’re in trouble, so I asked some Republicans what I should do. They suggested hiring convicted felon Jerry Eversole because he still has friends on Commissioners Court and can get this closing down thing stopped.”
Just exactly how dysfunctional is the Harris County Republican Party and the Harris County Commissioners Court? Apparently, dysfunctional enough to recommend hiring convicted felon Jerry Eversole and dysfunctional enough to listen to him.
So I talked to several people that are considered part of the HCRP hierarchy and left messages for others. Of the ones I did talked to, there was about a fifty/fifty mix of headshaking like me but others thought it was a great idea. Most all think that convicted felon Jerry Eversole does have some sway over Commissioners Radack, Lee, and Morman but aren’t sure about Cagle and no way on Emmett. One person suggested that even Cagle might be on board because he kept convicted felon Jerry Eversole’s chief of staff, Joanye Henderson.
I should blame this on the new board because I’m a good Republican and Democrats now control the board. Well, at least they did until today – Trustee Jim Henley resigned, leaving the board with three R’s and three D’s. But Supt. Sawyer did this on his own, so I’ll give them a break for now. It was interesting that the only trustee that seemed to care about hiring convicted felon Jerry Eversole was new board member Kay Smith.
In case you are wondering, the amounts paid to the three lobbyists thus far are:
- 100582 12/21/2012 85759 WILLIAM ROBERT EISSLER 4,000.00
- 100811 01/16/2013 85746 GERALD RAY EVERSOLE 5,191.81
- 101212 01/30/2013 85770 STAN D SCHLUETER 6,125.00
- 101201 01/30/2013 85759 WILLIAM ROBERT EISSLER 5,625.00
That adds up to $20,941.81. That is about a thousand bucks more than it costs to send a child to one of the HCDE schools.
Child: Mommy, why can’t I go to school today?
Mommy: Because the school paid a convicted felon to lobby to keep the school open.
Child: But Mommy, why do they need to keep the school open if I can’t go?
Mommy: That’s just politics. You’ll understand it better when you grow up.
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