After a two-day hiatus, the Chron gets back in the endorsement business, as they recommend incumbents Adrian Garcia and Carol Alvarado for City Council Districts H and I, respectively. Garcia's a slamdunk, as Alvarado would have been prior to the diploma controversy. Here's how the Chron dealt with that:
Her opponent recently pointed out that Alvarado had not received the degree she claimed to have from the University of Houston, but this should not be disqualifying. University officials determined that Alvarado had earned the degree and promptly awarded it.
Back to the Chron, there's still the curious omission of City Council District A from their endorsement list, plus of course the remaining ballot propositions and the HISD/HCC trustee races. On that last score, the HISD1 race generated some news today with the following story of another candidate's carelessness.
Houston school board candidate Anne Flores Santiago told state ethics investigators last year that she helped falsify financial records to make it look as if her mother's campaign for the Texas Senate had more supporters than it really did, records show.
Santiago's mother, Yolanda Navarro Flores, agreed to pay a $1,000 civil fine to the Texas Ethics Commission in July 2004 to settle the case, according to the commission's records.
Flores, a Houston Community College System board member, took out a $35,000 loan to finance her losing 2004 Democratic primary election against Mario Gallegos, the commission report says. Santiago and a campaign volunteer, however, reported that the money came from several campaign donors, including $9,000 from young members of Flores' extended family.
The report made it seem Flores had collected nearly $57,000 from donors. A corrected version later filed by Flores put the figure closer to $17,000.
"The daughter states that she filed the report electronically with the commission without telling her mother of what she and the volunteer had done," the report said.
Santiago, 38, and making her first run at elected office, said she had a limited role in the incident.
"I was simply the typist," she said, explaining that the other volunteer "gave me instructions."
"I entered data, and that was the extent," she said.
Santiago said she was unaware at the time that the information on the campaign finance report was wrong.
"I did not know," she said.
Santiago declined to answer further questions about her role in the ethics violation. She and her mother did not respond to e-mails or phone calls seeking the identity of the other campaign worker.
Santiago accused her political opponents — Natasha Kamrani and Richard Cantú — of leaking the Ethics Commission report to the media.
"I can sum it up in two words: dirty politics," Santiago said. "I'm the front-runner in this race and my opponents are getting desperate."
If it's supposed to be sealed (and to be honest, I can't think of a good reason why it should be, not that this matters in Texas), then Santiago has a legitimate beef. But if it is out there where anyone with an Internet connection and/or some spare time can find it, then I say that had there been a greater interest by the press in this year's elections we might have already known about this by now.
She then leveled some accusations of her own. Of Kamrani, she said: "I didn't just register to vote 30 days ago like one of my opponents." Of Cantú, she added: "Nor did I just pay my taxes right before I signed up to run either.
Kamrani said she has voted in previous Houston Independent School District board elections and in the 2004 general election last November. Her voter registration lapsed during changes in residency between 2001 and 2004, she said.
"I just moved into a new house," Kamrani said.
Cantú acknowledged that he and his wife missed the deadline for paying their property taxes, but he said they paid before any lawyers got involved.
"Occasionally we'll pay during the penalty period," he said. "Like most middle-income folks living paycheck-to-paycheck ... (But) I always make sure that our taxes are paid up."
Harris County property tax records show Cantú paid the taxes on his home by the January deadline but waited until June to pay taxes on two other pieces of property. That cost him more than $200 in penalties and interest, but he was never considered delinquent. Cantú began collecting political donations a month later, records show.
Likewise, if Cantu was late but not delinquent, then this too is a relatively minor thing. Color me unimpressed at Santiago's counteraccusations. I can be convinced that she was an unwitting wrongdoer for the TEC thing, but this doesn't enhance my opinion of her.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 27, 2005 to Election 2005 | TrackBack