2009 FBISD Tax Hearing (On YouTube)

CLICK HERE FOR THE 2009 FBISD CONTROVERSIAL TAX HEARING (YES THEY ARE RAISING THEM AGAIN--see petition of over 500 district taxpayers asking for board accountability) --In case anyone missed it they raised the property tax rate again (4th time) in 2010 and more than likely will do so again in 2011 facing another projected 15-20 million dollar budget deficit, according to some media reports. ***NEW*** ..Petition TO STOP THE GSTC (Global Science Museum being planned at the district central office--near $30 million dollar project that superintendent Jenney is pushing): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopthegcst/ (see update below on this apparently ending this project after 2 years)

Friday, November 30, 2007

FBN: Investigation Of FBISD Operations Reveals Nothing Criminal, DA Concludes

Investigation Of FBISD Operations Reveals Nothing Criminal, DA Concludes
by Bob Dunn, Nov 30, 2007, 11 38 AM

Nearly two years after receiving material from an investigation into business operations at Fort Bend Independent School District, county District Attorney John Healey’s office has concluded that probe revealed nothing criminal.

“My office feels that there are not provable criminal charges contained in Kelley’s report,” Healey said Thursday.

He referred to Houston attorney Lloyd Kelley, who was hired in September 2005 by the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees along with forensic auditing firm Mir Fox & Rodriguez, to investigate findings in an August 2005 audit report of the district’s risk management department.

“The ruling of no prosecutable events by John Healey, the Fort Bend district attorney, ends my concerns with the Lloyd Kelley report,” FBISD Board President Cynthia Knox said on Friday. “Now all parties can focus on their responsibilities and continue serving FBISD to the best of their abilities, and create the best educational opportunity for all children.”

See these links for the full background and story:

http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3576

http://www.fortbendnow.com/article/507 (earlier investigative report based on the audit)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kidsfirst said...

Isn't it time that the problems associated with our governmental agencies be addressed in the open? I remember one blogger saying she was told by an administrator that it's rarely about the children. It should be all about the children.

FBISDWATCH said...

Some related FBN comments:

1 Muckraker - Nov 30, 01:12 PM
It’s nice that Knox, Healey and Jenny are all satisfied that “no “provable” criminal activity had occurred”

I wonder what the investigating attorney thinks of this as well as the forensic auditors? Yes dis more questions. I would also like to know what, if any, changes have been made to adjust procedures to correct problems that may have been identified in the audit report, or will we just see any issues brought to light quietly swept under the rug, given recent votes on public access by the board?

2 wadefishin - Nov 30, 03:11 PM
I’d say changes were made Baitland and Dupree are gone….
“My office feels that there are not provable criminal charges contained in Kelley’s report,” Healey said Thursday”
are you suggesting we “Niphong” them and falsely arrest them?....
and they say you aren’t a dem…..hahaha

3 theydrewfirstblood - Nov 30, 04:07 PM
Actually muck there was never any substance to this investigation. This was the Rickert New Guard/Mitton attempt at smearing Baitland so they could justify getting rid of her. (Cost us well over $80,000 if I remembr correctly.) The smart thing to do would have been to take her aside and say something like “we want to go in a different direction, can you get on board?” Baitland would have deferred. And the district could have gotten on with finding a new super. But that didn’t fit into Rickert’s self aggrandizing agenda.

The district took steps to correct problems and improve preocedures after EVERY audit, including those made before the new guard came into power. (I’m sure you can request the documentation through and open records request to make you feel better about it.

In my opinion, the jury is still out on the current board and administration.

Anonymous said...

It's getting interesting over on the FBN comment thread with the usual detractors (see):

4 disaffected - Nov 30, 05:39 PM
Finally! Rickert, Magee, Bryant, Caldwell and Mitton have been proven wrong. All the insinuations that there was something criminal afoot at FBISD that justified personnel changes and LOTS of money to lawyers and investigators were wrong. There was nothing there.

The good news is that the general public was not fooled and got rid of Rickert and Bryant (Magee and Caldwell are you paying attention?) at the first available opportunity. The bad news is that good people’s reputations and careers were harmed by their rumormongering and taxpayers were hosed for very large expenditures.

5 Muckraker - Nov 30, 08:15 PM
“I’m sure you can request the documentation through and open records request to make you feel better about it”

This is the only way to get to the bottom of any of this given the obvious political nature of the two sides posting in here.

As always, I doubt the entire effort by this audit should be dismissed. Obviously some problems existed that may still be part of the internal procedures. Just because this DA took nearly 2 years to investigate the audit claims to decide nothing criminal had occurred, doesn’t mean that the systemic problems identified have been addressed.

Given recent BOT votes on public access makes it prudent for the public to stay involved. FOIAing these documents may be the best course of action.

6 disaffected - Nov 30, 11:17 PM
“Just because this DA took nearly 2 years to investigate the audit claims to decide nothing criminal had occurred, doesn’t mean that the systemic problems identified have been addressed.”

Translation: Just because an extended investigation by the district attorney and a forensic audit didn’t turn up anything, I will not give up on my quest to smear my enemies. I will continue to sling mud until it eventually hits someone/something.

Sadly, this is the state of political discourse in Fort Bend and
America today.

7 Fort Bend Inspector (FBI) - Nov 30, 11:19 PM
My money would be on Griffin. If he was the director of R/M and suspected something, I would bet he was correct. Notice the word “Provable”. If someone takes kickbacks from XYZ company, investigating FBISD may not show anything. You would have to get into XYZ’s books to find it. I think the whole county is dirty and they cover for each other. How fortuitous for the report to be released now.

8 Liz Mitton - Dec 1, 12:23 AM
After two years of “investigation” Healey concluded no “provable” criminal activity had occurred. What that sounds like is that they didn’t think they could cobble enough hard evidence together to get a conviction before a jury. It doesn’t mean nothing untoward was going on. But it’s not surprising either. What’s the point of beating a dead horse at this point?

Perhaps now FBISD will release the full Kelley report (the one the public has never seen) for the chronically curious. I filed an FOIA request for it several months ago and the district refused to release it claiming attorney/client priviledge. If there was nothing there, I would think the district could release it now to any interested parties. Mr. Dunn?

Personally, I’m ready to move on and continue to help the new administration make FBISD a better district for our kids. However, historical revisionism needs to be addressed.

Regarding the original audits that were the prelude to the Kelley investigation and this comment from TDFB above: “The district took steps to correct problems and improve preocedures after EVERY audit…”

That simply was not true at the time Dr. Baitland was Superintendent. Very few people (including I suspect some former and current board members) have actually read those audit reports in full. I have. Many were downright frightening. As a group (of about 12 over 18 months) they painted a very clear picture of incredible mismanagement at every level of the organization and literally millions of dollars in wasted tax dollars.

The audits were kept from the public and discussed in closed session — when they were discussed by the board at the time at all. Moreover, the District was not even properly posting the audit notice on the public agenda. So the public had no obvious way of knowing the audits had even been performed.

The district has since had to stop that practice because it was an open meetings violation.

(BTW, the audits used to be availabe in full on line for public perusal. About a year ago, however, then President Smelley had them taken down. Instead there is a list of audits that are available for FOIA requests).

For several of the most seriously flawed audits (IT, Risk Management, Fixed Asset, Payroll) there was ongoing concern by the audit staff and some board members that corrective actions were NOT being made. The same managers that had created the severe problems were left in place to “correct” them. And, many of them were openly hostile to the audit recommendations. Some even wrote in their responses that they would not comply.

Recommended audit status reports (detailing corrective actions that were to have been taken) were often late or not submitted.

Since Dr. Jenney’s arrival, he has had to spend an inordinate amount of time simply putting basic management practices and standards in place across departments. I suspect he and his team are still working on this.

A lot has changed in FBISD in the past few years. Most of it, in my opinion, has been change forward and upward in the right direction. The district now is engaged in better long range planning; has put better business practices in place to manage the business side of the district; and is engaged in improving the academic programs via proven metrics and tested innovations.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Dr. Jenney and his team can do in the next few years now that some of the heavy foundational work is in place.

9 wadefishin - Dec 1, 06:34 AM
muchraker
so you are saying “lets Niphong them”.....you have a lack of respect for authority so this is a way to challenge it….“lets keep digging until we find something to charge someone with”....I say give it a rest and moveon.org

10 disaffected - Dec 1, 08:38 AM
Ms. Mitton,
If memory serves correctly, you repeatedly stated or insinuated that the audits and the Kelly report would lead to indictments of many high ranking FBISD administrators. This was a mainstay on your Save Our Schools blog and “intheknow” also posted similar comments on FBN.

Obviously you were wrong. However, you continue your assertions by stating that just because Healey could not “cobble enough hard evidence together to get a conviction before a jury. It doesn’t mean nothing untoward was going on.”

You urge everyone to “move on” but still accept your unsupported analysis of events. Now you have turned your attention to “reforming” the local GOP and assisting Dean Hrbacek in his quest for congress. Time will tell if the slash and burn politics continue and whether the voters will tolerate it.

11 anonymous - Dec 1, 09:21 AM
Dis,
I find it funny that you talk about “slash and burn” when you are one of the biggest name callers on this board.

12 Liz Mitton - Dec 1, 09:30 AM
Disaffected — I challenge you to find ONE citation where I ever stated or insinuated there would be indictments of many top officials. That is simply not true.

The articles I wrote for Save our Schools quote extensively from independent media reports, the DA’s office and FBISD audits, officials and records. (The support for my analyses, BTW). I reported factual information in the context of what was known at the time as did many other public media outlets including Fort Bend Now. Here is one example: http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:KgTpqgNRBeIJ:save-our-schools.blogspot.com/2006/10/da-continues-possible-criminal-probe.html+%22save+our+schools%22,+Kelley,+report,&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

fbisdwatch said...

More:

13 Muckraker - Dec 1, 09:46 AM
“ I will continue to sling mud until it eventually hits someone/something.”

Dis,

We have no enemies except a process that allows these things to go unchecked. Ignoring them should be the crime.

14 Cheryl Hill - Dec 1, 10:49 AM
I wonder why the district parted ways with Feldman and Rogers? In my very humble opinion and hypothetically, if, indeed, there were any needed corrective actions to be taken, to part ways with Feldman & Rogers very well could have, possibility, been a step in the right direction as well as the parting of ways with Bernadette Gonzalez.

Based upon authentic knowledge, legal advice being provided to the district exempted the district from operating via the Democratic process and made Fort Bend ISD a place where Democracy did not reside. It does not surprise me that events turn out as they did. Speaking, hypothetically, of course, in law language, if a reasonable fact finder could reasonable conclude the Fort Bend ISD was being ill advised and, thus, therefore could not be held accountable and responsible for actions taken that were untoward, if any.

15 CalamityJane - Dec 1, 10:55 AM
I believe you’ll find that Feldman & Rogers was rehired as the district’s outside law firm.

By which one might conclude that the district administration and board members are comfortable with the legal advice said firm provides.

16 anonymous - Dec 1, 11:16 AM
They are all in bed together, what a calamity!

17 Muckraker - Dec 1, 12:26 PM
Calamity & Cheryl,

This is the same law firm that sent a demand letter to a parents watch group in GISD (see http://fbisdwatch.blogspot.com/2007/11/galveston-daily-news-is-reporting.html) threatening a possible SLAPP-suit.

It is decisions like this by our legal vendors that need closer scrutiny. Why would our board return to vendors engaged in activities like these against taxpayers and families? Why would board members at the November session vote for LESS public access? Are we sure the problems in this thread identified in the link provided in the article will be addressed, even by the current administration.

Anonymous said...

more:

18 Cheryl Hill - Dec 1, 11:58 AM
CalamityJane,
Interesting; thanks, I was not aware.
This is, indeed, an oxymoronic detail.

In the urban setting, the parents are poor and uneducated; yet, the demand is high for transparency. In a suburban setting, parents and taxpayers, for the most, are far from poor and, certainly, educated, yet we settle for an autocratic process rather than a democratic process which goes hand in hand with lack of transparency as well as not ever thinking to question an oxymoronic expensive detail.

Ah, well, I guess we are too busy living the good life. Who needs Democracy, anyway???
We’ll eat, drink, and be merry. We wonder why hired employees, although high level ones and voted upon individuals voted into office by the voters act as they do. Why is it that the hired ones and the voted ones look down their noses upon the rest of us in a kingly and queenly manner and hold court without our presence to do whatever they please? If we dare, sneak through the back or side door to ask questions, they shoo us away and tell us to go eat cake, as if to say, “Ya’ll ain’t running nothing, we got this.”

19 Rodrigo Carreon - Dec 1, 01:09 PM
FBISD has been Democratic free, for years past?

20 theydrewfirstblood - Dec 1, 01:53 PM
#8 -“After two years of “investigation” Healey concluded no “provable” criminal activity had occurred. What that sounds like is that they didn’t think they could cobble enough hard evidence together to get a conviction before a jury. It doesn’t mean nothing untoward was going on. “

That’s exactly how most of us felt about the TEA allegations about Rickert and crew.

21 Muckraker - Dec 1, 01:56 PM
Maybe if more had voted for McDougal last year? . . . ;-)

22 Bev Carter - Dec 1, 02:07 PM
During those times of school district turmoil, Liz Mitton and her ilk would operate by turning things in to the District Attorney then issue a press release that the District Attorney was investigating said event.

Liz is too young but she must have studied the tactics of McCarthyism because she operated in the exact same way.

23 Muckraker - Dec 1, 02:40 PM
“Why is it that the hired ones and the voted ones look down their noses upon the rest of us in a kingly and queenly manner and hold court without our presence to do whatever they please? If we dare, sneak through the back or side door to ask questions, they shoo us away and tell us to go eat cake, as if to say, “Ya’ll ain’t running nothing, we got this.”

This is an excellent treatment of the tone some elected officials on the BOT and serving on other councils and commissions give off, at least until right before election time when they come with hat in hand….thanks Cheryl!

24 Liz Mitton - Dec 1, 04:16 PM
Bev — I have asked the District Attorney’s office to investigate two issues in the past — both related to potential open meetings/open records violations by FBISD. I never issued a press release on either occasion.

The issue being discussed in this article was related to the Mirfox/Kelley report that the FBISD board of directors unanimously voted to have done. It was the Board that asked the District Attorney’s office to investigate after receiving the Kelley/Mirfox report.

I’m sure, however, that you will once again use your weekly column in the Fort Bend Star (and likely it’s news pages) to miscontrue and incorrectly report the facts on this — as you have done on so many other issues.

25 Cheryl Hill - Dec 1, 05:19 PM
Muckraker,

So true, at election or re-election time, the “Grand Ones” transform; and, suddenly, they have the common touch and exhibit desirable qualities spoken of in Rudyard Kipling famous “If” poem: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings——nor lose the common touch, ————If all men count with you, but none too much;”——Taken from “If” by Rudyard Kipling

And, so my friend, believing that they represent qualities spoken of in the “If’ poem is how we get snookered, once again.

26 anonymous2 - Dec 1, 05:41 PM
Liz, I agree with you 100%. Bev will twist everything and anything that is printed in her paper. Luckily, Fortbendnow is going to continue .

Anonymous said...

this is quite a show going on between old and new guard board and superintendent supporters

Anonymous said...

Ck this FBStar bias out:

http://www.fortbendstar.com/120507/s_DA%20finds%20nothing%20criminal%20in%20Fort%20Bend%20ISD%20operations.htm

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.