Monday, September 18, 2006

To Elect-a-bility - Fred Head

When Fred Head filed to run for public office, he was in his twenties. Some folks said: "That Fred … he's a nice lad. Smart too. Shame that he just isn't electable!"

But Fred Won. He went to Austin and served in the House of Representatives.

When his term was up, he ran for re-election. The Speaker of the House and most of the other members of the house (those pledged to the Speaker) discounted Fred's chance of being re-elected. He was one of only 30 House members who refused to sign a pledge agreeing to vote with the Speaker on all bills. Fred believed the people elect Representatives to REPRESENT THEM, not to please the Speaker. Even though there was little chance that he’d ever be able to get enough other members of the house to agree with him and vote for the good of the people, Fred persisted in SHOWING UP, WATCHING and LISTENING and casting his vote. He debated issues and discussed what was going on with people back home and with the media, stood with only 29 other House members representing the people rather than letting the Speaker determine how the votes were cast.

Districts were redrawn to help his opponent but Fred went out and talked with the people. They listened to him. He won. He became the first person in the history of the House to defeat a seated speaker of the House in Texas. Many folks (especially those in powerful positions and in the media) said Fred "wasn't electable" then too.

This year Fred Head is the Democratic nominee for Comptroller of Public Accounts. He wasn’t hand-picked by powerful folks in Austin. Rich folks promoting their special interests didn’t approach him, agreeing to bankroll him if he’d run. Friends, including some who had served in the House with him and had also refused to sign pledges to the Speaker, approached him. They knew Fred had fought hard to help get some important reforms passed in Texas. In the past few decades several of those important reforms have been repealed, watered down, or just ignored. Some revisions have been enacted which distort their purpose. Fred understands the legislative process. He understands the budgetary process. He is good at keeping his eyes open for things that are contrary to the public’s interest. He’s even taught accounting at Sam Houston State Teachers’ College. Fred ran for Comptroller of Public Accounts and won the Democratic Primary. Those who bankroll the Democratic Party in Texas and some of the media began saying the same thing they’d always said when Fred Head ran for public office. For 14 years he served in the House. He was never defeated. But each time (like now) there was a lot of talking (and writing) about how he “wasn’t electable”.

Recently the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board ignored his qualifications and endorsed his opponent. His opponent has less public service experience. She was a two term legislator before becoming Agriculture Commissioner. Fred Head served in the House for 14 years.
She has failed to correctly project her department’s budget year after year. She’s never served on the House Appropriations Committee. Fred has. She’s never served on the Legislative Budget Board. Fred has.
She has few documented accounting skills. Fred Head taught accounting on the University level.

Fred is dependable. He consistently shows up and does his job. In 14 years in the House he was present every day and never missed a vote. Even when he knew that there would not be a close margin, he still showed up, studied the issues, debated and cast his vote. One session he had an automobile accident. Despite being in a body cast, he came to work, and represented his district. He was present every day the House was in session for 14 years.

As Agriculture Commissioner, his opponent has failed to protect the citizens by insuring that all the gasoline pumps in Texas are calibrated and inspected. Under current law gas pumps only have to be inspected every four years. Earlier this year when Agriculture Commissioner Challenger Hank Gilbert sent a team to survey the inspection stickers, they discovered that over 40% of them had expired inspection sticker. This was while gasoline prices were at record highs. Texans were not only paying too much per gallon, thanks to the failure of Susan Combs to perform the job she was elected to do, Texans had no assurance that they were actually getting a full gallon of gasoline at the pump!

When quizzed by the ranchers, she didn’t realize that Mexico’s ban on importation of U.S. grown beef was not preventing Mexican beef from entering the US market. She was elected by the voters to promote Texas agriculture and livestock. She brags about what a good job she's done. Her boasts appear to be more rhetoric than reality.

Charged with inspecting fruits and vegetables which enter the US from Mexico through the Texas, under her administration, less than 1% has been inspected for deadly pesticides and pests!

The contrast between the two candidates for Comptroller is astounding. We have Fred Head who is very contentious and we have Susan Combs who fails time and time again to exercise the tasks she is charged to perform for the citizens of this state.

Combs and Head are both attorney’s but Fred has more experience in the legislature and in the practice of law.

The Comptroller of Public Accounts needs accounting skills. Fred Head is the only candidate in this race who has taught Accounting on the University level.

She does exceed him in one area of experience. She is a published author. Her book, although not especially well written, is explicated written. Some folks are puzzled about why Fred talks about her book so much. They don’t seem to understand that her authoring this particular genre of book with these specifically explicit sex scenes shows a difference between the current Agriculture Commissioner’s private personae and her public personae. In fact, she has a history of over inflating her resume. The reality frequently deviates from the image she projects. When running for her current office, she stated that she makes the "majority of her income from ranching and agriculture." A closer inspection of her employment history shows that when she sought the job of Agriculture Commissioner, she has been employed as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas, earned money as a published author and as a State Legislator. Since graduation from High School she had gone to Vassar, worked in Advertising in Manhattan, and attended law school. How much ranching do you think she did in Dallas and New York City! Her resume says she “has a cow-calf operation in Brewster County on the same ranch established by her great-grandfather more than a century ago.” We still have some historic family farms in our family. My aunt lives on the land settled by my mother’s great grandfather in 1850 in Harrison County and various there is still some of my Dad’s great grandfather’s Texas Republic Land grant in the family. Anyone whose family lived in Texas before 1935 probably has Texas farmers or ranchers in their family tree. Coming from families with historic ties to agriculture for most of us means that we are better at eating food raised by other people than we are skilled at actually producing it ourselves. It is very doubtful that Mrs. Combs has any more expertise than I do in ranching and farming. She was elected to her current position without any real experience or qualifications to do the job. She used her Manhattan advertising experience to project an image to get a job without having the expertise to back up her claims. She had a patron – George W. Bush, but no real skill. She has failed miserably at her current job so is proposing that the State trust her with the check book.

She sought her current position based on an inflated resume and has perfomed deplorably, by failing to protect the consumers and failing to represent and lead the agriculture and livestock industry of Texas (the second largest economic sector of this state's economy). She has been irresponsible in performance of her current duties. Texans should not trust her to oversee the finances of this state!

Her opponent, Fred Head, is a man who is known for being what he says and doing what he says he’ll do. The closest he comes to a “patron” is the tax payers of Texas. They pay him. He serves them.

There are some folks who don’t like the idea of Fred Head sitting in the Comptroller’s Chair, inspecting things that come through, and being able to spot inconsistencies. They want someone in there who will go along to get along. They know that is not Fred Head. When he smells a rat, he’ll investigate. He’s try to get it straightened out. If that fails, he’ll tell folks about it so that others will know what needs to be fixed and who needs to be made accountable. He will not cover up wrong doing. Fred Head won't look the other way to take an easy way out or to promote anybody's personal interest.

I think calling Fred Head “unelectable” is a catch phrase used by folks who hope he won’t be elected. I’m not sure about their reasons but it is probably that they know Fred will be alert. He won’t be asleep at the wheel. He’ll be looking out for the taxpayers who deserve value for their hard-earned tax dollars. He is passionate about the necessity of Texans getting good education. He’s always fought for decent pay and benefits for teachers, high quality affordable higher education, limited public school class sizes and not subsidizing rich private schools at the expense of public schools. Fred is vehemently opposed to the conversion of public tax-funded highways to toll roads. He believes that eminent domain should NOT be exercised for private enterprise. Texas transportation plans must place the highest priority on meeting the most critical transportation needs of Texans. Texas citizens should not be forced to sacrifice irreplaceable land and pay tolls to drive in Texas so that international corporations can make higher profits. Fred believes that the State must managage its finances responsibly and use the taxpayers' money for highways, education and the good of the people of Texas.

Fred Head may be “unelectable. But if so, he’s the MOST FREQUENTLY CHOSEN "unelectable" person I've even heard ofin Texas Politics. To date he’s run in five primaries and four general elections. He’s won five primaries and four general elections. I hope that he wins in November. Fred Head is exactly who the tax payers, school children, and every Texan needs in the office of Comptroller of Public Affairs. I think he’s the best qualified, most honorable person we’ve had run for that office in my lifetime. The folks on the Dallas Morning News Editorial board disagree with me. There seems to be a fog that enters the room that disengages the brain from the computer keyboard when DMN Editorial board starts trying to make the interviews they hear match the endorsement their owners probably instruct them to make. That is the only reason I can think of to account for their stating that Combs is a better choice than Fred Head for Comptroller.

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