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Officials Indicted
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Officials Indicted

BY R. A. Dyer

AUSTIN--Two sitting and one former member of the State Board of Education face criminal indictments over allegations that they violated the Texas open meetings law, the Travis County attorney confirmed Friday. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, board members David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Joe Bernal, D-San Antonio, and former member Robert Offutt, R-San Antonio, face up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. As members of the state board's finance committee, the trio helped direct investment decisions involving the $17.4 billion Permanent School Fund. The allegations stem from an Aug. 30, 2000, meeting at an Austin restaurant with three of their advisers, who also face misdemeanor charges. County Attorney Ken Oden said his 18-month investigation continues. He said a Travis County grand jury, which indicted the six Thursday, may bring additional indictments. "The grand jury will continue to hear the evidence," he said. "Basically, my goal is to bring more accountability to the management of those billions of dollars of public money that [was] entrusted to that committee." Bradley has alleged that Oden, an elected Democrat, is playing politics with the indictments. Phone calls to the other board members were not returned Friday. "I am disappointed that, after cooperating and waiting for the county attorney, that he is now -- two years later -- pursuing a false misdemeanor charge," Bradley said Friday. "I am confident that when the facts are told again, that I will be cleared of any misdeeds." The three advisers also facing indictments -- Russell Stein, Brian Borowski and Joe Alderete -- could not be reached for comment Friday. Stein was working then as a hired financial consultant to the board. Borowski and former San Antonio City Councilman Alderete acted as informal advisers. According to the indictments, the three advisers and three board members -- then a quorum of the state board's finance committee -- participated in an illegal closed meeting at a downtown Austin restaurant. The indictments parallel earlier allegations in a report by the bipartisan House General Investigating Committee. According to the report, several Texas Education Agency employees witnessed one board member dining with a financial adviser, while the other two board members dined with other advisers at a nearby table. Board members appeared to be reviewing documents related to the hiring of Permanent School Fund money managers, the employees said. The full finance committee reviewed money manager applications later that day, and the full 15-member board eventually awarded contracts based in part on committee recomendations. State Rep. Pete Gallego, chairman of the House investigating committee, said legislation vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry would have created a state board investment advisory committee and mandated other reforms. "This [grand jury action] underscores that there are problems at the State Board of Education with respect to their handling of certain investments, and it underscores that it was a gross error of judgment on [Perry's] part to veto legislation that would have made some changes," said Gallego, D-Alpine. A Perry spokesman said the legislation, Senate Bill 512, had no bearing on the allegations. The spokesman said Perry vetoed the bill because of concerns about separation of power. "The governor believes that state agencies, including the State Board of Education, should abide by the state open meetings law and, he has encouraged the State Board of Education to adopt a strong ethics policy," spokesman Ray Sullivan said. The board's handling of the Permanent School Fund investments, which finance textbook purchases, has come under intense scrutiny by lawmakers, the state auditor's office and others in recent years. Despite questions about their own oversight, Bradley and Offutt have led separate reform efforts that they claim brought more -- not less -- transparency to the board's investment practices. They also raised competing allegations regarding fund oversight by Texas Education Agency employees. Peggy Venable, director of the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, said board critics want to distract attention from the efforts of board members to protect the fund during a state budget crunch. "These efforts are being engineered by several legislators who have been eyeing the $17 billion fund as a potential revenue source to pay for their overspending," Venable said.

08/31/2002
3 Indicted for Closed Meeting
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3 Indicted for Closed Meeting

BY Janet Elliot

AUSTIN - Two current members and one former member of the State Board of Education have been charged with violating the state's open meetings law. The three are accused in indictments handed up Thursday by a Travis County grand jury with conspiring to circumvent the Texas Open Meetings Act and holding a closed meeting two years ago when they met for lunch with three outside advisers at a popular Austin deli. Board members David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Joe Bernal, D-San Antonio, along with former board member Robert Offutt, face fines of up to $ 500 and six months in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charges. Also named in the indictments are Russell Stein of Houston, Brian Borowski of Austin and Joe Alderete of San Antonio. Bradley said Friday that he expects to be exonerated. "I am disappointed that after cooperating and waiting on the county attorney that he is now two years later pursuing a false misdemeanor charge," said Bradley, who owns a real estate and investment business in Beaumont. "I am confident that when the facts are told again that I will be cleared of any misdeed." Bernal told the San Antonio Express-News, "I adamantly deny discussing public business at lunch." Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who represents Bradley, said "there's not a snowball's chance in hell" of any convictions. "These guys were not doing school board business in a closed meeting in a public restaurant," said Hardin. "They were having lunch." Offutt could not be reached for comment. The charges stem from an Aug. 30, 2000, lunch at Katz's Deli in Austin. Bradley, Bernal and Offutt were members of a five-person committee that made recommendations to the full 15-member board on the hiring of managers for the Permanent School Fund. About half of the fund is managed by outside investment advisers and the other half by staff of the Texas Education Agency. Three TEA employees reported the possible violation after arriving at the restaurant and observing the board members and the outside advisers seated at two nearby tables. The employees stated that they saw on both tables documents related to the hiring of external money managers. Later that day, the full finance committee screened applicants for consultant positions to invest a portion of the school fund. Wayne Meissner, an attorney for Stein, had no comment. Stein is a former adviser to the education board, hired to oversee the Permanent School Fund's private money managers. An attorney for Alderete, a publicist and former member of the San Antonio City Council, could not be reached. Austin attorney Bill Allison represents Borowski, a financial consultant who served as an informal adviser to Bradley and Offutt. Allison said the fact that prosecutors have been investigating the meeting for 18 months and waited until the statute of limitations was about to run out to seek indictments indicates their case is weak. "Little-or-no-evidence cases are filed the same way you put a bookmark in a book. Use it or lose it," said Allison. "I've had this case for two years and I don't think there is any violation at all." The education board has been at odds with the Legislature over its management of the school fund and decisions on textbooks. Allison suggested the indictments may be politically motivated, coming before the November election. Bradley faces Democrat Richard Hargrove while Bernal is unopposed for re-election. Travis County Attorney Ken Oden didn't return a call. Assistant County Attorney Jim Connolly said an investigation will continue into allegations of conflicts of interest regarding board investment decisions about the $ 17 billion school fund, which is primarily used to buy textbooks. Connolly said with billions of dollars at stake, all decisions about the school fund must be debated openly. "The purpose of the Open Meetings Act is to safeguard the public's interest in knowing how decisions are made with regard to that money," said Connolly. David Donaldson, an Austin attorney and director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said he can recall no other elected state officials being charged with violating the Open Meetings Act since it was passed in the 1970s. "I hope it sends a message to other state officials that the Open Meetings Act is a real deal," said Donaldson. However, Donaldson said that winning convictions might be difficult if the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund didn't have authority to take independent action. Donaldson said lawyers for the board members could argue that the three did not constitute a quorum of the 15-member full board. Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative group that monitors the content of school textbooks and other issues, criticized the indictments. Peggy Venable, director of the group, said that the education board has been outstanding in managing the school fund. "These efforts are being engineered by several legislators who have been eyeing the $ 17 billion fund as a potential revenue source to pay for their overspending," said Venable.

08/31/2002
Education Officials Indicted
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Education Officials Indicted

BY R. A. Dyer

AUSTIN--Two sitting and one former member of the State Board of Education face criminal indictments over allegations that they violated the Texas open meetings law, the Travis County Attorney confirmed Friday. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, board members David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Joe Bernal, D-San Antonio, and former member Robert Offutt, R-San Antonio, face up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. As members of the state board's finance committee, the trio helped direct investment decisions involving the $17.4 billion Permanent School Fund. The allegations stem from an Aug. 30, 2000, meeting at an Austin eatery with three of their advisers, who also face misdemeanor charges. County Attorney Ken Oden said his 18-month investigation continues. He said a Travis County grand jury, which indicted the six Thursday, may bring additional indictments. "The grand jury will continue to hear the evidence," he said. "Basically, my goal is to bring more accountability to the management of those billions of dollars of public money that [was] entrusted to that committee." Bradley has alleged that Oden, an elected Democrat, is playing politics with the indictments. Phone calls to the other board members were not returned Friday. "I am disappointed that, after cooperating and waiting for the county attorney, that he is now -- two years later -- pursuing a false misdemeanor charge," Bradley said Friday. "I am confident that when the facts are told again, that I will be cleared of any misdeeds." The three advisers also facing indictments -- Russell Stein, Brian Borowski and Joe Alderete -- could not be reached for comment Friday. Stein was working then as a hired financial consultant to the board. Borowski and former San Antonio City Councilman Alderete acted as informal advisers. According to the indictments, the three advisers and three board members -- then a quorum of the state board's finance committee -- participated in an illegal closed meeting at a downtown Austin restaurant. The indictments parallel earlier allegations in a report by the bipartisan House General Investigating Committee. According to the report, several Texas Education Agency employees witnessed one board member dining with a financial adviser, while the other two board members dined with other advisers at a nearby table. Board members appeared to be reviewing documents related to the hiring of Permanent School Fund money managers, the employees said. The full finance committee reviewed money manager applications later that day, and the full 15-member board eventually awarded contracts based in part on committee recommendations. State Rep. Pete Gallego, chairman of the House investigating committee, said legislation vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry would have created a state board investment advisory committee and mandated other reforms. "This [grand jury action] underscores that there are problems at the State Board of Education with respect to their handling of certain investments, and it underscores that it was a gross error of judgment on [Perry's] part to veto legislation that would have made some changes," said Gallego, D-Alpine. A Perry spokesman said the legislation, Senate Bill 512, had no bearing on the allegations. The spokesman said Perry vetoed the bill because of concerns about separation of power. "The governor believes that state agencies, including the State Board of Education, should abide by the state open meetings law and, he has encouraged the State Board of Education to adopt a strong ethics policy," spokesman Ray Sullivan said. The board's handling of the Permanent School Fund investments, which finance textbook purchases, has come under intense scrutiny by lawmakers, the state auditor's office and others in recent years. Despite questions about their own oversight, Bradley and Offutt have led separate reform efforts that they claim brought more -- not less -- transparency to the board's investment practices. They also raised competing allegations regarding fund oversight by Texas Education Agency employees. Peggy Venable, director of the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, said board critics want to distract attention from the efforts of board members to protect the fund during a state budget crunch. "These efforts are being engineered by several legislators who have been eyeing the $17 billion fund as a potential revenue source to pay for their overspending," Venable said.

08/31/2002
Honor Father?
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Honor Father?

BY Cindy George, Anne Blythe

Many people want to honor Clarence Lightner, Raleigh's first and only black mayor, who died last month at the age of 80. But his son, Bruce Lightner, wants to make sure that any tributes are tasteful. Lightner, in his role as administrator of his father's estate, says those who wish to use the former mayor's name must contact the family first and be respectful that only weeks have passed since his death. Earlier this month, Bruce Lightner learned that the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, a group instrumental in getting his father elected, wanted to plan a political banquet in Clarence Lightner's name. In an e-mail message to the dinner's chairwoman, he wrote that "the Lightner family has not granted you permission to honor, pay tribute, bestow posthumous award or otherwise utilize or mention my father's name in any manner whatsoever in conduction with your event." This week, Lightner said the RWCA bucked longstanding "social protocol" by overlooking the family's permission. "We have a high regard for what the organization has represented down through the years," he said. "But for the RWCA to even consider using Mayor Lightner's name for a political fund-raiser without having the presence of mind to first seek input from the family does not represent respectful diligence and planning." On The Spot: Stephen Halkiotis, a candidate for Orange County commissioner, shifted uneasily in his seat last week when a moderator at a League of Women Voters' forum in Chapel Hill tossed out an unexpected question. With North Carolina among the states with the worst obesity problems, the moderator wanted to know what county commissioners could do to battle fat. When it was Halkiotis' turn, he cast his eyes downward, then back up and offered: "One novel thing we could do is eat less." Like the the three other commission candidates at the forum, he, too, spoke about county- and school-sponsored nutrition programs. Then the truth came out. "I have to plead guilty," he said with a red face and a sheepish grin. "I had french fries today. I was in a french-fry mood, and now I feel terrible." These weren't just any french fries, either, he 'fessed up later. He got them over the line in Durham County, at a point halfway between his workplace and his wife's. He did not even "Shop Orange," as commissioners have encouraged residents to do to give the local economy a boost. ### Political Trail - Libertarian Party Candidates will hold a rally from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today at the State Capitol in Raleigh. - North Carolina Citizens For A Sound Economy will sponsor a discussion on the state budget from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center at the corner of Western Boulevard and Gorman Street in Raleigh. - Linda Coleman, a Democrat seeking re-election as Wake County commissioner in District 1, will hold a meet-and-greet event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wingate Inn, 1542 Mechanical Blvd. in Garner.

08/31/2002
Orange Schools Slate Lines Up
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Orange Schools Slate Lines Up

BY Kayce T. Ataiyero

Hillsborough -- One of the first votes to be cast by new members of the Orange County School Board after the Sept. 10 election will be to hire a new superintendent. The six candidates running for the four open seats face a January 2003 deadline -- which coincides with the month they would take office -- set by the current board to select a replacement for Randy Bridges, who resigned in July to head the Rock Hill, S.C., school district. The current board will work with the new members in the selection process, with the final vote being made by the new board. The candidates -- incumbent Brenda Stephens and political newcomers Randy Copeland, Betty Tom Phelps Davidson, Al Hartkopf, Libbie Hough, and Patrick Mulkey -- have two other immediate issues to contend with: the construction of a new middle school and school funding. The school funding issue could prove to be a particularly hot topic as the district explores its financial options on the heels of the defeat earlier this month of a proposal to establish a district tax. Stephens, 49, is seeking her second term. She wants the board to make a decision on an alternative school and work through the system's fiscal crunch. She said she sees her re-election bid as a "sign of stability." "I am excited about the progress that Orange County Schools has made over the years. The overall trends across the district are positive. I hope to use the accomplishments of yesterday to line our path into tomorrow," she said. "My goal has always been to maintain an open, ethical and fair relationship among the members of the school board. In doing so, I can trust the collective strength of our experience to aid in sound decision-making." Copeland, 46, a lineman with Piedmont Electric Management Corp., initially entered the race to campaign against the district tax. When the proposal was voted down, he said he decided to stay in the race because he wants to help children. "I talked to my teenagers at church and heard about their problems with drug and gang activity and violence in the schools, and I felt like it was time for a Christian conservative that wants to make a difference for my grandchildren and other young people," he said. "I am an average citizen, born and raised here. I guess what makes me different is that a lot of times we sit around and complain about problems, and I took it one step further and decided to run for office." Davidson, 43, owns Olive Branch Inn and is an adjunct professor at Elon University. She said she is running as a teacher and staff advocate. "I spent time as a science teacher at Stanford Middle a few years ago, and that experience solidified my goal of supporting those teachers. If we keep our teachers happy, our children will soar," she said. "I think the staff have been neglected. They haven't seen pay raises that in my mind warrant what they deserve. But, it's not always about money. It's also about their morale and restoring dignity to the profession of teaching." Hartkopf, 45, a program manager with Nortel Networks, said his goal is to increase the board's accountability to voters by improving communication with the community. "The current board does not reflect the values of the people of Orange. I've only lived here for three years but I come from a small town in North Carolina and the needs of Orange County resonate with me. 'Children first' goes without saying, but I think the board does not express an accountability to the voters," he said. "I want to use what I know to keep us growing and do it efficiently." Hough, 40, is a public relations and marketing consultant. She said her aim is to be an advocate for the district's schools. "I am passionate about providing an excellent education for every child, no matter their grade, ability, race, or income level. I think my background in social work makes me aware and attuned to a wide variety of needs that you deal with whenever you deal with the public and children and families," she said. "I think my professional life will benefit the board as it looks to better communicate the system's successes and needs externally with parents and internally with staff and faculty." Mulkey, 47, a senior electronics technician at Duke University, said he sees the race as an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the board. "I really think it's become time to inject some new blood into the board of education, fresh faces with new ideas. I think that the things that make me qualified are the number of community activities I have been involved with. I've been able to obtain leadership roles in those organizations through my willingness to be open and to be fair," he said. "I want to make the best possible decision for our students, and I want to create an environment on the board where the public perception is that we are approachable." ### Randy Copeland PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat HOME: 3303 Mount Willing Road, Efland born: April 10,1956 FAMILY: Wife, Deborah, two daughters, one son EDUCATION: Attended Alamance Christian High School OCCUPATION: Lineman, Piedmont Electric Membership Corp. POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Youth athletic coach, soccer, baseball, Citizens for a Sound Economy RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Eastside Baptist Church, Mebane HOBBIES: fishing, yard work POLITICAL HERO: President Reagan LAST BOOK READ: The Bible WHAT MAKES me BEST QUALIFIED: "I guess what makes me different is that a lot of times we sit around and complain about problems, and I took it one step further and decided to run for office. I want to see what is best for our children and also look at the needs of the people who are paying their taxes and funding the system." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "Getting a new superintendent is the biggest thing in front of us now. I will work to get a superintendent like the one we had, a person who works well with the teachers, is very accessible to the public and mindful of the needs of the schools." HOW TO CONTACT: Phone, 563-4389; e-mail, cope@@touchnc.net ### Betty Tom Phelps Davidson PARTY AFFILIATION: Unaffiliated HOME: 7015 N.C. 57 Rougemont born: May 21, 1959 FAMILY: Divorced, two sons EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in science education, Duke University, 1981; bachelor's degree in biology, Old Dominion University, 1987; master's degree in biotechnology, Old Dominion University, 1989 OCCUPATION: Owner, Olive Branch Inn; adjunct biology professor, Elon University POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: none CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Soccer coach, Orange County Parks and Recreation Department; Stanford Middle School PTSA, Orange County Schools Homework Policy Committee; Cameron Park Elementary School Governance Committee RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Presbyterian HOBBIES: farming, soccer POLITICAL HERO: Winston Churchill LAST BOOK READ: A book from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series by Stephen R. Donaldson WHAT MAKES me BEST QUALIFIED: "I believe I have the most unique perspective of all the candidates running because I was born and raised here. I've been a student, teacher and parent in the schools. My experiences as a teacher have made me aware of what is required of our exceptional teachers." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "The most immediate issue is selecting a new superintendent who will move the district forward. Also, I want to find solutions to the fiscal crunch, including scrutinizing all personnel salaries. I will also look at ways to improve job satisfaction for all district staff." HOW TO CONTACT: Phone, 644-1685; e-mail, b.davidson@@rtmx.net ### Al Hartkopf PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican HOME: 2405 Uphill Court, Hillsborough born: June 28, 1957 FAMILY: wife, Kathy, two daughters EDUCATION: attended East Carolina University OCCUPATION: Program manager, Nortel Networks POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: none CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Citizens for a Better Way, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Cornwallis Hills Property Owners Association, Project Management Institute RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Duke Memorial United Methodist Church HOBBIES: woodworking, scuba diving POLITICAL HERO: none listed LAST BOOK READ: A book by Jesse Helms WHAT MAKES me BEST QUALIFIED: "The needs of Orange County resonate with me. I like to think that I am pretty fair-minded, that I listen to someone no matter what their perspective is." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "I want to improve the communication between the [school] board and the community. I want to create a forum and a process for teachers to have open and honest conversations with the board, and work on teacher retention. I want to drive down class size, improve the way the system contracts for building and other services, and have greater accountability for the money the district spends." HOW TO CONTACT: Web site, www.alhartkopf.com Libbie Hough PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat HOME: 5401 Hough Road, Hillsborough born: Sept. 28, 1961 FAMILY: Husband, H.B., two daughters EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in religious studies, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1984; master's degree in social work, UNC-CH, 1988. OCCUPATION: Public relations and marketing consultant POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: none CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Volunteer, Grady Brown Elementary School, PTA cultural arts committee, alternative school funding task force, North Carolina chapter of the Public Relations Society of America RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: United Church of Chapel Hill HOBBIES: gardening, reading, swimming POLITICAL HERO: George Washington, Martin Luther King, Barbara Jordan LAST BOOK READ: "All Over But the Shoutin'," by Rick Bragg WHAT MAKES me BEST QUALIFIED: "I am passionate about providing an excellent education for every child, no matter their ability, race or income level. I think my volunteer activities in our schools and the fact that I have been an advocate for the schools for the last three years proves my commitment." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "One is hiring a new superintendent. I want to work on the third middle school, address the funding disparities between the two school districts, and work to incorporate state and federal mandates into the system. I want to support our faculty and staff by providing a healthy environment in which to learn and work." HOW TO CONTACT: Phone, 967-0469; e-mail, hough4schools@@yahoo.com ### Patrick H. Mulkey HOME: 8702 Stanford Road, Chapel Hill born: Dec. 10, 1954 FAMILY: Wife, Robin; one son, twin daughters EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in recreation and parks administration, N.C. State University, 1980 OCCUPATION: Senior electronics technician, Duke University POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: none CIVIC ACTIVITIES: President, A.L. Stanback Middle School Athletic Booster Club, Grady Brown Elementary School PTA, Carrboro Farmers Market board of directors, Orange County Parks and Recreation Advisory Council RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Cane Creek Baptist Church HOBBIES: Farming, watching sporting events POLITICAL HERO: Abraham Lincoln LAST BOOK READ: "Coach: The Life of Paul 'Bear' Bryant," by Keith Dunnavant WHAT MAKES me BEST QUALIFIED: "I think that the things that make me qualified are the number of community activities I have been involved with that have allowed me to grow in that aspect. I've been able to obtain leadership roles in those organizations through my willingness to be open and to be fair." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "I think that we need to work on the selection of a new superintendent. The funding is another area of great concern to me. Another concern of importance is how the board interacts with public. I want to improve that interaction." HOW TO CONTACT: Phone, 942-3814; e-mail, mulkey@@tunl.duke.edu ### Brenda Wilson Stephens HOME: 5807 Craig Road, Durham born: Oct. 22, 1952 FAMILY: Husband, Gregory; two sons, one daughter EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in sociology, Winston-Salem State University, 1974; master's degree in library information science, N.C. Central University, 1980 OCCUPATION: Director, legal secretary, Hyconeechee Regional Library POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Orange County Board of Education, 1998 to present, chairwoman, 2001-02 CIVIC ACTIVITIES: Orange County Partnership for Young Children, Kiwanis Club of Hillsborough, Orange County READS, N.C. Public Library Director's Association, Status of Women in Librarianship, A.L. Stanback PTO, Orange County School Education Foundation RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Lipscomb Grove Missionary Baptist Church HOBBIES: Baking, family POLITICAL HERO: Former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan LAST BOOK READ: "Open House," by Elizabeth Berg WHAT MAKES ME BEST QUALIFIED: "During my tenure on the board, we have experienced many challenges. We have shouldered unexpected issues. My bid for another term is a clear promise that I will maintain priorities established for our school system. My strength as a member of the board comes from my commitment to the children of Orange County." TOP PRIORITY IF ELECTED: "The first business is to address the selection of the new superintendent. Once a strong candidate for the position has been identified; the board will begin the strategic planning process for siting our third middle school. As always, the strength and safety of our schools and high achievement are always my action items. Equally as important to the success of our children is the recruitment and retention of the country's best and brightest educators."

08/31/2002
Double Duty
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Double Duty

BY Doug Fernandes

Their seasons of Friday night glory have flickered into darkness. Chris Kinnan, Keith DuBose, Todd Huber and Rick McIntire were among the area's best and brightest, a marriage of scholar's intellect with athletic wherewithal. A formidable combination, for it's spawned success where starched shirts and silk ties are the norm for the four former high school stars who are quick to credit football for principles learned and adopted. "There is a finite period of time," said Kinnan, "and you've got to have your eye on the bigger picture. You learn that the lessons of sports prepare you a lot for what you do academically and the way you relate to people. "When the going gets tough, you've been there before, and I draw on these lessons." The son of ex-Manatee Community College basketball coach Harry Kinnan, the nephew of former Manatee High football coach Joe Kinnan, 30-year-old Chris Kinnan works in Washington, D.C., as director of Internet communications for Citizens for a Sound Economy. The organization's mission is to "recruit, educate, train and mobilize hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes and more freedom." Given Kinnan's background, the job makes sense. Following graduation from Manatee High in 1990, one year after playing offensive tackle on the 'Canes' state title team, Kinnan, a National Merit finalist at Manatee, majored in politics and economics at Princeton University. He played two years for the Tigers, getting his degree in 1994. From there, Kinnan matriculated to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Asia's top business school. Within three years, Kinnan earned an international MBA. "It was a terrific educational opportunity," he said. "Being from Bradenton, I wanted to get the international perspective. But it really makes you appreciate the USA." A job on Capitol Hill beckoned, working for Congressman Dan Miller. Three years later, the Sony Corporation hired Kinnan, where he worked in its online privacy department. But when the Internet bubble burst -- "It felt like giving up a sack" -- Kinnan joined his present employer. Rick McIntire, Sarasota High class of 1986, Sailor tight end and middle linebacker, knew the odds of becoming a pro were against him. So he took a surer route -- a Harvard education, a stint on Wall Street, a current job with Duestche Bank in London, trading metals. "When you're a trader, at the end of the day, you either have a profit or a loss," said McIntire, "and that mentality is the same as an athlete. You either win or lose." McIntire has been winning since graduating fourth in his Sailor senior class, the top male student. He signed a letter-of-intent to play at FSU, then scrapped it when Harvard opened its doors. He played football and baseball for the Crimson, earning a degree in American history. McIntire graduated in 1990, but put off the real world to play a year of semi-pro football in Barcelona, Spain. "It was a good transition year for any student coming out of four years of university life," he said. "It was a very young league and they were hungry and thirsty for anybody to speak the language." McIntire, 35, put down his helmet and picked up the Wall Street Journal. In 1992 he moved to New York City to trade energy options on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A year later, he joined Goldman Sachs to trade metals. After three years, he moved to Goldman's London office. He returned to New York for a year and a half, then headed back to London and landed with Duestche. As he spoke, McIntire was preparing to fly to South Africa for three days of meetings with clients. "Most people who go to work for a company, when you play a team sport, it does give a certain grounding for working in that environment," he said. Heading overseas wasn't necessary for Keith DuBose to find his vocational niche. Remaining in Sarasota sufficed, as an attorney for the firm of Matthews, Eastmoore, Hardy, Crauwels and Garcia, which handles commercial litigation, personal injury and medical malpractice. The DuBose name is well-known in Florida athletic circles. His brother, Jimmy, played running back for the Florida Gators, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-78. Keith starred for Booker High both on the field -- as the Tornado quarterback running the veer option and defensive back and in the classroom, graduating second out of 130 seniors in 1989. His 4.29 grade-point average paid off in an $80,000 full-ride scholarship to Duke. DuBose, a history major, played before the visor-obscured eyes of Steve Spurrier. His first year at Duke was Spurrier's last. DuBose played defensive back for the Blue Devils. Not quarterback. "Coach Spurrier wasn't going to run a veer offense," he said. After graduating from Duke, DuBose had a couple of pro workouts. He was even invited to the Eagles' camp. But Duke hit the skids after Spurrier left, "and football just wasn't as fun as it used to be. "At that point, it was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. I had to say, 'Maybe I'm not as good as I think.' It was an adult decision." The decision led him to the Florida law school. DuBose got married in 1997, and the couple is expecting their first child next month. "I learned tremendous lessons from football," he said. "On a team concept, working well with others. We work as a team in a lot of different cases, and (football) helped me adjust to the pressure. Playing football was one of the biggest pressures." Todd Huber wants pressure. Savors it, actually. The kind of pressure from flying an F-18 Hornet at Mach 1.8-plus, nearly double the speed of sound. The kind of pressure that accompanies a dream of flying the space shuttle. From Manta Ray quarterback to American astronaut. For Huber, a 1990 Lemon Bay High graduate, class valedictorian and president, No. 1 in his class, the sky -- or, rather, outer space -- is the limit. "They pick somebody every other year," he said. "I would consider myself in the mix. It's not just fairly-tale land. I'm very serious about it. "The moment for me would probably be looking back at earth. That would be it." Being one of 10 fixed wing pilots at the prestigious Empire Test Pilot School in England would seem to confirm Huber's focus. He attends classes every morning, then flies the rest of the day. Last month he piloted 11 different planes. "As a test pilot," he said, "you should be able to jump into any type of plane." Huber has squeezed a lot of living into 30 years. As a young boy, he often stared up at the sky with his dad. "I remember him pointing up at the moon, saying, 'There's some guy up there,'" he said. "We'd fly to Florida from Michigan and I remember being enthralled by the jets." During the Manta Ray homecoming, Huber had the PA announcer inform the crowd of his intention to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. "We lived on a street in Rotonda called Annapolis Lane," he said. "I was always interested in planes and space." With Sen. Bob Graham as his sponsor, Huber made the academy. He averaged 21 credit hours a semester, both military and academic studies, in addition to playing sprint football, which decrees that the participants weigh no more than 158 pounds 48 hours before the game. At the academy, Huber studied aerospace engineering. He spent a month on the amphibious assault ship USS Guam. He worked for a month on a submarine in Minneapolis. "It was the best food," he said. Huber was graduated in 1994, then went to work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, in the space station program office. From there it was on to Stanford University and an aerospace engineering master's degree -- 45 credit hours -- earned in just nine months. "It was painful," he said. Then, in the summer of 1995, came the fun. Flight school in Pensacola and Meridian, Miss. Two years later, Huber had gotten his wings. He was a full-fledged naval aviator, having logged nearly 750 hours in the F-18. "It is very demanding," he said. "It's extremely rewarding but very, very demanding. I have never gotten out of the jet after a night (flight) without having my leg shaking. It's a combination of adrenaline and fatigue from working so hard." It all could pay off for Huber with the realization of a childhood dream.

08/30/2002
Indictments Target Three From State Board
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Indictments Target Three From State Board

BY Connie Mabin

Two members of the State Board of Education and one former member have been charged with violating the state's open meetings laws after an 18-month grand jury investigation. A Travis County grand jury Thursday indicted board members David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Joe Bernal, D-San Antonio, and former board member Bob Offutt, R-San Antonio, on two misdemeanor charges. The elected board's responsibilities include managing the $17.4 billion Permanent School Fund, which sends money to Texas' public schools. "Because of the huge amount of public money that's involved, it's especially important that members of the State Board of Education who are managing that money comply with both the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Act," Jim Connolly, assistant county attorney, said Friday. The charges stem from a lunch the three had at a deli in August 2000 with three financial advisers. The advisers - Joe Alderete, Russell Stein and Brian Borowski - also were indicted. All six are charged with conspiring to circumvent the Texas Open Meetings Act and holding a closed meeting. The misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and six months in jail. Bradley said he is confident he will be cleared of wrongdoing. "I am disappointed that after cooperating and waiting for the county attorney that he is now, two years later, pursuing a false misdemeanor charge," Bradley said. Telephone calls to the other board members, the advisers and Board Chairwoman Grace Shore were not immediately returned. Bradley said last week he believed the investigation led by Democrat Travis County Attorney Ken Oden's office was politically motivated. Bradley is running against Democrat Richard Hargrove and Libertarian William McNicoll in the general election for the District 7 seat on the board. Bernal is unopposed this year. Offutt lost in the 2000 primary. At the time of the lunch, the three board members were on the board's finance committee and would have constituted a quorum of the committee. Bradley's attorney, Rusty Hardin, told the Austin American-Statesman that the men ate at Katz's Deli and Bar that day but said it was not an illegal meeting. "How can you have a closed meeting in a public restaurant, where other members of the public are present?" Hardin said. "They were not conducting official business at that meeting, or that lunch." Three Texas Education Agency employees saw one board member dining with a financial adviser, and the other two members dining with other advisers at a nearby table, according to a report by the House General Investigating Committee, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that is still looking into the issue. The employees said they saw documents on both tables pertaining to the hiring of money managers and reported seeing members reviewing reports. Later that day, the full finance committee screened applicants for consultant positions to invest a portion of the school fund. The full 15-member board ultimately awarded contracts to manage $3 billion in taxpayer money based in part on the committee's recommendations. The education board, particularly its handling of the school fund, has been under the microscope for several years. Oden's investigation into the matter started in fall 2000. In separate reports, the state auditor and the House committee accused the education board of a lack of financial expertise. Some members were accused of having adversarial relationships with TEA staff and conflicts of interest with money managers. The grand jury will continue to hear testimony regarding allegations of conflicts of interest and improper use of influence regarding investment decisions about the fund. Peggy Venable, director of the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, believes opponents of the board are trying to distract attention from the members' protection of the school fund during a state budget crunch. "These efforts are being engineered by several legislators who have been eyeing the $17 billion fund as a potential revenue source to pay for their overspending," Venable said. Rep. Terry Keel, the Austin Republican who co-chairs the House investigating committee, said, "That statement that there's some theme by lawmakers to steal the money is just a simple falsehood." The committee wants to protect the fund by correcting management problems and has no interest in Thursday's indictments, Keel said.

08/30/2002
A Thank You to Bob Bateman For Schools Service
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A Thank You to Bob Bateman For Schools Service

On Aug. 15, we had the pleasure of attending a dinner given by CSE, Citizens for a Sound Economy, in honor of Bob Bateman and his 20 years as an Orange County School Board member. As we sat, surrounded by family, friends and supporters, we each thought back to 20 years ago when we all began this journey as a family. Over those years we put up signs, handed out cards and, on election days, stood on our feet and thanked voters for their support from dawn to dusk. We celebrated victories and shared disappointments. We've watched him work diligently on other people's campaigns, only to have them turn on him when his support was no longer needed. We've read letters opposing his views and, in recent years, had to watch as a small group of people tried to ruin his name and reputation. But more importantly, we watched him give over 20 years of his life to something he believed in wholeheartedly. No matter how bad things got, he never gave up. He never forgot the commitment he made to the people, and the children, of Orange County. So, as this chapter in our lives comes to a close, we, Bob's children, would like to take the opportunity to say thank you. Thanks to all the people who worked so hard to organize the tribute to our father. Thanks to the voters for giving him the opportunity to make a difference. We'd like to thank those who, through the years, not only supported our father, but supported us with your kind words and encouragement. We'd like to thank our mother, who never chose to be in politics, but has endured it all, just the same. Most importantly, we want to thank our father for being exactly who he is. We learned the importance of hard work, honesty, integrity, loyalty and love, all by example. Life is a dance. Thank you for teaching us the steps. We love you. Mark, Kim and Lori Hillsborough

08/29/2002
Forestry Reform is a Burning Issue
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Press Release

Forestry Reform is a Burning Issue

Although many may remember the summer of 2002 for the spate of corporate scandals and bankruptcies, federal mismanagement also has been responsible for a tragedy on at least as grand a scale. Misguided policies, financial mismanagement, and a bloated bureaucracy resulted in fires destroying almost 6 million acres of forests across the nation. Without significant reforms, next year’s fire season may be just as dangerous. In fact, 190 million acres of public lands are at risk unless federal forestry policies are changed.

08/28/2002
Mailbag: Reader Comments from August 21, 2002
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Press Release

Mailbag: Reader Comments from August 21, 2002

Related Story: The President Leads

08/28/2002

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