Endorsement watch: Council Districts H and I

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.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this whole thing was no big deal. The fact that all it took for Alvarado to become official was to fill out some paperwork means to me that she was a graduate all along. Had she been short of credit hours, then I’d agree that she lied. If you could prove that she knew about this deficiency beforehand, it would still be a lie, but a relatively small one. As it actually is, I think the most she can be accused of is carelessness or maybe indifference to detail, and neither of those qualifies as a mortal sin in this context. Barring any subsequent revelations, I call this one a closed matter.

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.

I have to say, I never find the Ken Lay defense strategy to be appealing. It’s also mighty convenient to be able to blame the screwup on an unnamed and unavailable-for-comment campaign volunteer. Maybe Santiago was “just the typist” as she claims, which would make her sin more venal than mortal, but it’s still embarrassing.

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.”

I find the TEC website to be almost unusably bad, so I’ll just ask: Is this sort of report public information? If it is, then one could claim that any enterprising reporter could have found it and written about it unbidden by another. Can one truly “leak” data that’s in the public domain?

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.

Not being registered to vote is an unflattering thing for any aspiring candidate. When or if Kamrani voted between 2001 and 2004 should be verifiable – the Vo and Heflin attorneys certainly knew who to interview earlier this year for that race’s election contest – as should the date that her registration lapsed and how long it took to get fixed. Without that information, this strikes me as a pretty weak charge.

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.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
This entry was posted in Election 2005. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Endorsement watch: Council Districts H and I

  1. Dumbest scandal ever

    There’s been a little bit of a fuss here in Houston about the fact that City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado claimed to have graduated from UH when she had not.

    That fact alone makes it sound significa…

  2. cacafuego says:

    The only part of the Alvarado story that sort of doesn’t right true for me is that when I graduated I wanted that diploma so bad I could taste it. How you could not make absolutely sure that you got it is beyond me.

  3. Manuel says:

    What is it about Santiago that you don’t like? That she may have made a mistake. I take it you have never made a mistake in your life. It must feel great to be perfect. Us humans have been known to error? I have noticed that you have supported and endorsed many politicians who have committed much graver mistakes. We could begin with Chris Bell and the expensive gifts he took and continue with Scott Hochberg’s support of proposition 2. Or we could go to your favorite Heights HISD candidate who in three contributions to political candidates listed her occupation as superintendent of the YES Academy. The Chronicle reports that she is an attorney. Doesn’t it bother you that she lied (didn’t tell the truth) to the chronicle or to the people she contributed money to? I could go on with other mistakes that she has committed but I know that I am wasting my time. The truth is that too many liberals like you hold Latinos too much higher standards then you hold people like your self. Think about it. Every thing I write can be verified via the internet. I guess you know how to do research.

  4. Every thing I write can be verified via the internet. I guess you know how to do research.

    Indeed I do.

    A record vote was requested.

    The vote of the house was taken on the adoption of HJR 6 and the vote was announced yeas 102, nays 29.

    A verification of the vote was requested and was granted.

    The roll of those voting yea was again called and the verified vote resulted, as follows (Record 396): 101 Yeas, 29 Nays, 8 Present, not voting.

    Yeas — Mr. Speaker(C); Allen, R.; Anderson; Baxter; Berman; Blake; Bohac; Bonnen; Branch; Brown, B.; Brown, F.; Callegari; Campbell; Casteel; Chisum; Cook, B.; Cook, R.; Corte; Crabb; Crownover; Davis, J.; Dawson; Delisi; Denny; Driver; Edwards; Eissler; Elkins; Escobar; Farabee; Flynn; Frost; Gattis; Geren; Gonzalez Toureilles; Goodman; Goolsby; Griggs; Grusendorf; Guillen; Haggerty; Hamilton; Hamric; Hardcastle; Harper-Brown; Hartnett; Hegar; Hilderbran; Hill; Homer; Hope; Hopson; Howard; Hughes; Hunter; Hupp; Isett; Jackson; Jones, D.; Keel; Keffer, B.; Keffer, J.; King, P.; King, T.; Kolkhorst; Krusee; Kuempel; Laney; Laubenberg; Madden; McCall; McReynolds; Merritt; Miller; Morrison; Mowery; Olivo; Orr; Otto; Paxton; Phillips; Pickett; Quintanilla; Raymond; Reyna; Riddle; Ritter; Rose; Seaman; Smith, T.; Smith, W.; Solomons; Straus; Swinford; Talton; Taylor; Truitt; Van Arsdale; West; Woolley; Zedler.

    Monday, April 25, 2005 HOUSE JOURNAL — 55th Day 2205

    Nays — Allen, A.; Alonzo; Anchia; Bailey; Burnam; Coleman; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dukes; Dunnam; Dutton; Farrar; Gallego; Herrero; Hochberg; Hodge; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Moreno, J.; Moreno, P.; Naishtat; Noriega, M.; Puente; Rodriguez; Strama; Thompson; Veasey; Villarreal; Vo.

    Would you care to share some of the research you’ve done to verify the other accusations you’ve made?

  5. Marie says:

    I’ll tell you. She’s UNQUALIFIED. So she was “only the typist….” She and her mother are clearly involved in each others’ campaigns. How else would Santiago have gotten all that money from HCCS contractors for her campiagn?? And I am a Latina AND a liberal AND damn proud of it. Liberals of Latino origin do very well in our area of town, in case you didn’t know. Look it up. On the internet.

  6. Joe says:

    You guys can verify this on the internet. How can Kamrani say she will have an unbiased opinion in awarding money to charter schools when she used to collect a Salary from Her Own Charter School. She lists herself as Superintendent of Yes College Prep during a campaign contribution in 2003. I guess that is something she forgot to mention.

    Apparently, Mr. Cantu shows favoritism to his supporters as well.

  7. Natasha Kamrani says:

    To clear up some confusion here…my husband and I–together–made a contribution to John Kerry’s campaign in 2003. We both entered our information for the purpose of reporting our contribution to the campaign. Our names, addresses, job titles. The person who entered our information for reporting purposes entered my name with my husband’s job title “Superintendent, YES College Preparatory Schools.” I have never worked for my husband’s schools, I have never drawn a salary from my husband’s schools and I most assuredly have never been superintendent of any schools including my husband’s. My husband received an open record’s request, requesting that he provide information regarding any title I had ever held with his school and any compensation I had ever received. He is required by law to comply with the request and he, gladly, did so proving that I have never been associate with his school in any way other than being his wife. Anyone who still has questions may make a similar request of YES College Preparatory Schools. Again, just a goof…and I guess we all know that everything you see posted on the internet ought be researched before we draw definitive conclusions.
    Natasha Kamrani

  8. Manuel says:

    Your list of nays from the internet was different from the nays I found. Someone in the internet is not telling the truth.

    Kamrani’s statement “the person who entered the information” sounds just what Anne Flores Santiago said there were errors made in reporting. I believe that Ms. Kamrani is stating the truth just like I believe that Ms. Santiago is telling the truth.

    The proud Latina needs to go back and read the Chronicle. Can not even read an article and properly interpret it, but yet has the gall to call people unqualified. The people who have donated money were HISD contractors. Which candidate does not accept money from the devil himself. Even the filthy rich a al Bill White and Bob Lanier accept money from all walks of life. It takes money to run campaigns and candidates accept it, hopefully without compromising their souls.

Comments are closed.