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HCAD rules for Hoang in homestead dispute

On Christmas Eve, the Chron reported that Council Member-Elect Al Hoang and his wife had claimed homestead exemptions on two separate houses, one in Houston and one in Pearland. Now the Harris County Appraisal District has verified Hoang’s explanation about the exemptions, saying that it was properly carried over from the previous owner.

Hoang had previously refused to answer questions about the homestead exemption. But in an e-mail to the Chronicle on Monday, Hoang said he never sought an exemption for the home on Bugle that he now claims as his residence within District F, which he soon will represent.

Bonnie Hebert, an assistant director at HCAD, confirmed that Hoang’s explanation was correct. State law applies the exemption based on Jan. 1 ownership, Hebert said, and a new owner benefits for the duration of the year even if he or she doesn’t technically qualify.

Hoang will not receive the exemption for 2010, Hebert said.

Fair enough. I still think this should have been reported before the election and not after it, but the Chron just doesn’t put enough resources into lower tier election coverage for that to happen.

The story follows up on the other issues that were raised last week, such as the matter of his voter registration, which was reported as being in District G:

In his e-mail Monday, he said he sent the Harris County voter registrar a form with his new address in May 2008 and went to the office in person to change it after learning his prior address, in Council District G, was still listed as his voting address.

“Maybe it got lost in the mail,” Hoang said.

Well, I can believe that the Tax Assessor’s office screwed it up, as it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

Hoang continued to insist in his e-mail Monday that two elements missing from his campaign finance reports — the dates of donations and occupations of donors who gave more than $500 in a reporting period — are not required for city election candidates. The city attorney’s office confirmed that these elements are required.

Hoang can believe whatever he wants, but I can say from having looked at every single finance report that was submitted for this campaign that no other candidate omitted the date like he did. This ain’t rocket science. He needs to listen to what the City Attorney is telling him.

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