We received two op-eds this morning from Galveston County residents and are publishing both.
Ken Clark Is Not Working For You
by Jim Bulgier
After being in office many years, some elected officials forget who they are working for. This is called the incumbency syndrome, where politicians identify more with lobbyist than voters and forget that government exists to serve the people – not vice versa. The following are some examples of how you can tell when an elected official (such as Galveston County Precinct 4 Commissioner, Ken Clark) has been in office too long.
On April 11, 2017 at a meeting of Galveston County Commissioners Court, Ken Clark sided with the lone Democrat seated on the court to defeat a resolution calling for property tax reform (proposed by the Republican leadership in Austin). The battle lines over property tax reform were intensely partisan with Democrats joining big government lobbyist against the Republican proposals. During the last legislative session, fiscal conservatives called for support from local leaders to help Governor Abbott and Republicans push these reforms through the House and Senate in Austin. Locally, Commissioners Giusti and Apffel answered the call and placed a resolution on the agenda supporting tax reform. When the time came to vote, Ken Clark turned his back on the Republican Party and taxpayers when he voted “NO” – siding with Democrats and big government lobbyists.
In a real insult to taxpayers, Clark brought this resolution back to Commissioners Court on the last day of the special legislative session (when it was obviously too late for anyone at the Capitol to even receive it before law makers went home). Was this just Clark’s strange sense of humor or was this a clumsy effort to deceive voters and give a tricky politician an opportunity (if needed) to say he voted against the resolution before he voted for it – like John Kerry did in a famous debate many years ago. (Of course John Kerry lost that election.)
On another occasion, October 23, 2017, in a Commissioners’ Court hearing, Ken Clark cast the deciding vote to reject disaster reappraisal for property owners flooded by the torrent of rain from Hurricane Harvey. This vote came after the county auditor testified the rainy day (reserve) fund had plenty of money to cover all cost for the disaster reappraisal including the anticipated drop in revenue. Also, the Tax Assessor testified that approving disaster reappraisal in Commissioners Court would not impact any of the school districts, cities, or other governmental entities. For another taxing entity to be included in disaster reappraisal it would be necessary for that governing body to request the Chief Appraiser include that taxing unit in the CAD’s reappraisal of properties.
Residents of League City, Friendswood, and Dickinson can be assured that my position on these issues is exactly opposite of Ken Clark’s. I would vote for property tax reform and stand with fiscally conservative Republicans in Austin and I would vote for disaster reappraisal to provide a fair reduction of 2017 appraised values for flood damaged homes and businesses. And if elected, I will never forget who I’m working for.
Sincerely, Jim Bulgier
Galveston County Judge Candidate Forum Last Night
by Don Johnson
At the candidate forum in League City (February 7th) Mark Henry accused me of causing political races in Galveston County to be unusually bitter and personal. This was one of many factually inaccurate statements.
Henry said $10 million in bond funds were given to Harris County to fix Gum Bayou, which was wrong. Gum Bayou is on the eastern side of Dickinson not far from Hwy 146 – certainly not in Harris County. If Henry would have been paying attention to flood control issues in 2016 (when a report was presented that warned failure to improve the flow of Gum and Dickinson Bayous would result in flooding that would adversely impact citizens in surrounding areas), he would have known where this bayou was located.
As for the $10 million given to Harris County, our bond money was used to purchase land south of Beltway 8 where HC Flood Control District is digging detention areas to protect Scarsdale and other neighborhoods near Mud Gully. Henry did not know enough about what was going on with these flood projects to say, ‘the hope was that relieving pressure on Mud Gully may help reduce the height of flood waters in Clear Creek a few inches.’ Another obvious flub.
Henry also tried to explain his vote against disaster reappraisal by saying he alone determined the cost would be more than what the Galveston Central Appraisal District (GCAD) Chief Appraiser had testified. Therefore he was opposing any effort to fairly appraise 2017 property values. The Chief Appraiser said the cost would be $22 per parcel for each storm damaged property (estimated to be 20,000 parcels – not every property in Galveston County as Henry claimed). Further, he said the result of reappraisals would have only resulted in a credit on 2018 tax bills – also untrue. Refund checks would have been issued immediately after the reappraisal process.
Then Henry said he voted for a plan proposed by the Tax Assessor that would only cost a $1 per parcel – again another falsehood. The Tax Assessor said the former Chief Appraiser (Ken Wright) quoted a cost for disaster reappraisal after Ike (2008) would cost somewhere from $1 to $5 per parcel when arguing that Tommy Watson’s $22/parcel fee was inflated. Despite her attempts to clarify his misstatements, he has continued to promote this misrepresentation as factual.
Henry never explained his charges against me and avoided any reference to his cronies Greg Enos (a Democrat supporter and one of Henry’s divorce attorneys) and Shawn Christopher Phillips (aka. Red State PAC) who are the real merchants of smear and personal attacks in this election.
Maybe my support of Judge Cox has been enough to earn this accusation from Henry; but we will likely never know for sure. What I do know is that he has continued to misrepresent the truth and when he doesn’t like the dialogue he attacks and threatens yet another lawsuit or alleges criminal conduct. Maybe that’s why the number of lawsuits in the county has tripled.