Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Winning the Battle, But Failing to Win the War

A little over a year ago, Fred Blanton requested the results of the aborted election from May of 2006. Early and mail in ballots had already started to be collected when NHMCCD decided to illegally cancel the election. Fred requested the results from those early voting sites as well as the mail in ballots collected up to that point. NHMCCD balked, and requested an AG's ruling on whether they were required to release that information. Under Texas Election code, the results of an election are public record. NHMCCD claimed that the election never took place, therefore they were under no obligation to release the results of the election. The AG's office was not amused and ordered them to release the information. They objected to the order and filed suit in Travis County to halt the release of the election results. They hired Andy Taylor to litigate this for them. Both sides offered motions for summary judgment (as is normal). The Judge granted the AG's office's motion for summary judgment.

But here is the kicker that makes this a bit of a hollow victory. The District must release only data that has been tabulated. That means that if the mail-in ballots have not been counted and tabulated, then Fred must pay the District to anonymize the ballots, offer them to Fred or his representative for tabulation, and then reseal them in the original envelope back with the voter's info reattached. So if this is the case, Fred has essentially won the right to pay the district a bunch of money to tabulate the ballots.


Blogger Thunder said...

Did not the same election laws provide a tabulation of the ballots?

Does the public have the right to know?

What became of the $33,000 in PR paid to the same attorney right before the election? Is that suit still in the system?

How much did this frivilous law suit and litigation cost the taxpayers of the District? How many semesters of tuition would this have paid for?

August 28, 2007 8:28 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Figures. I bet they set a $ amount beginning at a grand or better to pull the data together. I think it's enough the AGs office prevailed, and I'd let it go at that. May 2008 election is just around the corner.........

Hmmmmm?!?!? I say we give 'em another run for their money!

August 28, 2007 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the information was to have been made public, they will have to provide it at no charge, as it will be for the public's interest, and not for just one's personal interest. If they protest that, then you know that they wanted to hide it....

The public's right to know will prevail and any costs should be billed back to the employees that are preventing it...

If they can't face the fact that they lost at the ballot box (twice or more); lost at the AG's office, Lost in District Court, and the top dog walked away.... maybe you'd think they might be getting the message. If some of the wasteful hacks that are spending District time watching this blog were doing their jobs, then we could get a tax decrease and a better education system.........

August 28, 2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been placed on a "blacklist" at NHMCCD. Does that mean they're racist?


August 28, 2007 2:38 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

From the deep background info I've gleaned so far, apparently YES, VERY MUCH SO.

Bill Thorne was apparently extremely and overtly racist as were many of his lieutenants. Things may have changed in the Administration since then, but back in the day it was very much a white man's joint. Even jews were frowned upon. there has been in the past been a pattern of hiring practices that tended to focus on white christian employees, apparently Nokie Zizzelman was a abberration.

August 28, 2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Thunder said...


Since the old dog walked off, let's see what the new one will do....

August 28, 2007 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first prime directive to bite the dust was that of a community based administration. Pickleman, himself a graduate of the Rouchite effect, began a long career of hiring fellow Rouche graduates and other administrators who acquired their degrees from unconventional granters of degrees.

Secondly Pickleman and his associates never missed a chance to describe Thorne and the other founders of the college as well meaning, but hopelessly out of date when it came to creating a great college.

Thirdly, the new Chancellor (Pickleman), according to a concerned Bill Thorne, spent the ten million dollar rainy day fund in less than a year and began a tax increase that never stop growing during his tenure. Thus the prime directives disappeared, so-called professional took the reins of the district, and the old college trustees were constantly replaced by newer trustees who, according to recent public records requests, directly or indirectly benefit from Pickleman’s building programs and other excessive expenditures.

Fourthly, at the state level Pickleman adroitly cultivated state legislators and Austin insiders to protect his fiefdom. While on the home front he hired one of the largest most aggressive and expensive law firms in the state to provide himself and his cohorts with legal smoke screens behind which he hide his activities. Over his more than 16-17 years as holding the title Chancellor of the college district he and his supporters on the board funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to outside attorneys and “alleged” experts all of who provided him with legal and political cover for his actions. Just look at the 2 weeks of work from the Austin consultant working from her home that bilked the District for demographic work that failed miserably with the DOJ in 2006....

To demonstrate Pickleman’s determination to maintain the club like atmosphere of “his” board of trustees one has only to look at the election of Richard “Dick” Campbell to the board of trustees in 2004. Campbell, a retired minister, former president of the Houston North Habitat for Homes, and an advocate for senior citizens ran and was elected to the board against one of Pickleman’s incumbents.

In the next session of the Texas Legislature Pickleman and his political pals had a law passed making it more difficult for ordinary and less wealthy candidates from running for the board, requiring NHMCCD to be the only Jr. College district with a $200 filing fee.

When Pickleman wanted a quarter of a billion dollar bond issue to maintain the stream of money for his questionable programs and the good times he was enjoying at tax payer expense he devised an undemocratic and illegal election process. The plan brought the college district to the attention of the United States Department of Justice’s Voting Rights Division not to mention criticism from civil rights groups and college reformers.

The college district’s foundation, officially described as a means of providing scholarships and financial aide to deserving, but poor students apparently became the personal ATM machine for Pickleman and friends. Public record request have found Hundreds of thousands of dollars went to fund his high lifestyle habits. However the extent of how the Chancellor and pals squandered foundation funds and who contributed to the foundation in possible “quid pro-quo” deals have yet to be revealed. The reason is Pickleman and his “crony” board members have spent hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to hide their use or misuse of college foundation funds and/or contributions. What do these college administrators, board members, and foundation contributors have to hide?

Today the college district has a new Chancellor and reformers and tax payers are hopeful that a new broom will sweep clean. Yet, the past can be prologue and the alleged financial, political, and ethical misdeeds of John Pickleman’s tenure must not be forgotten—neither the tax payers nor the students of the college district can afford for his legacy to continue.

Signed a former employee and admirer of the District....

August 29, 2007 8:20 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

That's just sickening!!!! It's enough to gag a damn maggot!

August 29, 2007 8:28 AM  

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