As a longtime resident, your editor is saddened by the decline of the Houston Chronicle. A once proud newspaper has declined so much over recent years with the loss of journalistic talent and a decline in reporter's ethics. The paper today is a shell of its former incarnation (if you don't believe look at a paper from 10 plus years ago). The front section is either mostly copy from other papers or ads. The columnists outside of sports and business are lazy and sloppy with little apparent effort in fact checking and getting both sides and always with an agenda hostile to Republicans and conservatives.
Most recently, slipshod journalism has resulted in two misleading stories, one attacking the District Attorney's office and the other the County Clerk. Is it a coincidence that both are Republican? Not really, when the lead editorial writer is a known hater of conservatives and Republicans.
As a public service, TCR brings up the rest of the story that sadly the Chronicle ignored.
TCR has followed closely the attack on Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos and it seemed to your editor we were only getting a part of the story. As we dug into the matter we found that what the Chronicle and the major media put out was not the real story. Republican leader Clint Moore is working on the facts and not the spin and in a future issue you will get to read the shocking story of the calculated political attacks against our reform conservative DA.
Chronicle Misleads In Attack On County Clerk
A Response by Stan Stanart
The Houston Chronicle has taken it upon itself to become the spokesperson for the Democratic Party. In Ms. Hart's column she makes the following inflammatory and false accusations:
ACCUSATION: Ridicules our emphasis on following the law and ensuring that only qualified voters are allowed to vote.
FACT: It is our duty and sworn oath to uphold Texas law. What would she have us do otherwise?
ACCUSATION: Demigods are updating the Election Law training manual and states that the manual badly misconstrued current election law.
FACT: There were a considerable number of changes to the election law in the last legislative session. The Harris County Election training manual is constantly updated to reflect the current election law and directives from the Secretary of State. We are not perfect, but the Elections Division works very hard to provide the most accurate training possible. If and when errors are found, they are corrected and communicated to our election judges.
ACCUSATION: That Harris County denied registration to a stunning 68,000 people in 2008.
FACT: Once again Chad Dunn, attorney for the Texas Democratic Party provides information that he knows has been demonstrated to be false for years. In fact this is the third time that the Houston Chronicle has chosen to print this falsehood. On Nov 2, 2009 after pressure from the then Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, the Chronicle ran a retraction to the previous two inaccurate uses of the misleading numbers. Does Mr. Dunn and Ms. Hart subscribe to Joseph Goebbels' theory that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it?
ACCUSATION: In attacking one sentence of a 53 page training manual for use by Election Judges and not the general public, she implies that we tell election judges to not ask for Voter Registration Certificates.
FACT: The Election Judges were advised that the manual had an error and they were told of the correction. The PowerPoint presentation correctly instructs the Election Judge to first ask for a Voter Certificate. This was discussed and emphasized at the trainings after the manual error was discovered in the first training session. The training manual on page 26 and page 36 instructs one on how to deal with an incorrect Voter Registration Certificate.
In addition, in every Election Day Judge's Packet there will be a full page voter processing instruction sheet that makes it clear that if the voter has a voter registration certificate that no additional documentation is needed. Ms. Hart was told that the Election Judges were correctly trained, that we are providing this extra level of clarification, but she still chooses to go with Mr. Dunn's distortions and inflames the public by calling it a "Doozy of a typo."
Actually, of the over 1,300 trained, we have only heard from two individuals who made an issue of the typo. At the training these two understood the correction, but kept trying to make a political point out of the mistake.
ACCUSATION: Accuses the County Clerk's Office with playing fast and loose with voter participation.
FACT: This is just plain inflammatory and is just a repeating of Chad Dunn's distortion of the facts. Ms. Hart's article is the one playing fast and loose with the facts in order to make a political tirade. This office does and will continue to ensure that every eligible voter is provided the right to vote.
It is sad that Ms. Hart and the Democratic Party's Attorney Chad Dunn want to bring doubt to the voting process. Our staff along with many dedicated Election Judges from both parties work very hard to ensure that every registered voter is provided the right to vote. Perhaps in the future, Ms. Hart should go to official government records and previous Chronicle corrections for the source of her stories rather than using press releases and source material from the Democratic Party. She sure ignored the information that was shared from the County Clerk's Office. One wonders if she contacted the Republican Party in an attempt to present a fair and balanced story.
As has happened before, I too ask that the Chronicle print a retraction of the inaccuracies in Ms. Hart's column. To ensure that the Chronicle readers who were misled are correctly informed, please print the correction with her column.
TCR Comment: Let's see what the Chronicle does.
Stan Stanart is the Harris County Clerk elected in 2010.
The Real Bully is Big Government
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
A recent column described a major victory for individual freedom – the Supreme Court ruling that parents are responsible for supervising their children and protecting them from hideous computer games. Now, elected officials are taking another age-old situation out of the hands of parents, teachers, and principals by creating a statewide government program that reeks of Big Brother. The current "crisis" is bullying in schools and, unfortunately, some of the best hopes on the Republican side have fallen victim to this craze.
I think it's fair to say that virtually nobody endorses bullying of students, but the real question is whether the situation has become so pervasive that we need to establish completely new mechanisms to confront the issue. A quick Internet search affirms that there are already national organizations that educate people on how to stop bullying.
But for some people, this just isn't good enough, and now state legislatures are stepping in. We've all seen how the process works: A few incidents happen; urged on by an aggrieved constituent, a legislator creates an interest in the issue and proposes a law. Hearings are held in which proponents dig up similarly-suffering souls. Because there's no opposition, no one at the hearing argues against the bill, which then sails through the legislature. The Governor then signs it, never questioning the growth of government or the intervention and assumption of individual rights.
The most recent state to jump on this bandwagon is New Jersey, even though they had already passed relevant legislation in 2002. But that wasn't enough for the anti-bullying lobby, which proposed a new, "comprehensive" law. The bill was properly stalled until a freshman at Rutgers University, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide after his roommate posted photos of a homosexual encounter on the Internet. How a college freshman who kills himself equates to a law controlling behavior of K-12 students was never explained. Garden State Equality Chairman Steven Goldstein, one of the principal backers of the bill, said this: "The Tyler Clementi tragedy was certainly uppermost in legislators' minds in acting as quickly and boldly as they did. New Jersey would have passed some law, but it wouldn’t have happened as quickly and it would have been nowhere as strong as the law that just passed."
The bill requires training for teachers, administrators and other school employees in how to recognize bullying, and mandates that school districts set up a "school safety team" to review complaints. The law also requires schools to appoint anti-bullying specialists and districts to hire an anti-bullying coordinator. Schools and districts must regularly submit reports to the state Department of Education, and districts will be graded by the state on their efforts to confront the problem.
The bill declares that the State cannot calculate the economic impact. Isn't that convenient? The new district obligations will cost millions. New positions will have to be added to handle these duties. Training manuals and DVDs will have to be developed and printed. Will school districts mandate half days off for bullying seminars? And because the analysts didn't identify any economic impact, this becomes an unfunded mandate on every one of the state's school districts. The state government won't go unscathed either, as they'll have to hire a new "Bullying Czar" who will have staff, issue regulations, and appoint a committee to review each district's compliance.
Administrators and teachers are subject to disciplinary action for not reporting and investigating incidents, whether in or outside of school - which means they could now be obligated to monitor Internet activity of students. Since the education personnel have their own careers on the line, they're going to err in the favor of their paycheck and report anything with the faintest odor of bullying. This means that students will often be subject to suspension, expulsion, or even referral to the police on the flimsiest of evidence. Students aren't left out of this mess either, as they'll have to report any incident or be subject to disciplinary action. Because bullying can easily be verbal, the State has now criminalized speech both inside and outside of schools – a First Amendment issue upon which defense lawyers will happily pounce.
This massive expansion of government flew through the New Jersey legislature. The Assembly passed it 73-1 (with 6 abstentions). Of the 33 Republicans, 28 voted for it. In the Senate, it passed 30-0 (with 10 not voting). Half of the Senate's 16 Republicans voted for this measure.
Michael Patrick Carroll was the sole elected official that voted against this expansion of government. Other than the aspects of government invasiveness, Assemblyman Carroll told me the fact that the bullying bill only deals with perceived oppressed groups – gays, blacks, etc. If a white boy is being bullied by other white boys, he is not protected by this bill. He stated a recent incident of that sort exemplified why the bill was just to appease certain special interests.
The worst part is that the Governor signed it. Chris Christie is one of the shining lights of the Republican Party, and had been actively encouraged to run for President despite only two years in office. If someone like Governor Christie can sign this bill into law, then one must wonder what Republicans really stand for. If he thinks that common schoolyard behavior must be legislated and controlled at the state level, what hope do we have to reverse the growth of government control over our lives?
This is a perfect example of how government continues its relentless expansion. And yet people still wonder why groups like the Tea Party, who want to take back their lives and finances, were formed spontaneously by ordinary citizens. We must work to change the attitude of our fellow citizens toward their government. We are creating a country of wimps dependent on government officials to determine our daily behavior. Sad, very sad.
Note: Subsequent to completion of this column, The Wall Street Journal reported that lawsuits of school districts regarding issues of bullying are on the rise. Can we say this is not a shocking development?
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former appointee of President Bush.
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For a fun feature go to www.houstonpbs.org and under Red White and Blue, you can see commentary about the show and its guests by Gary and David each week. The current show as well as past shows are also available on YouTube.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his thirteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last ten years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 6 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his ninth year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.