Municipal Utility District No. 12 doesn’t hold bond elections too often, meaning that maybe some people don’t know all the rules about how campaigning for bond referendums worked.
On Wednesday, the district’s president admitted he erred in his efforts to get people to vote for a $17 million proposal by using the district funds to purchase signs in support of the referendum.
District president Bill Alcorn said the signs, which read “Vote For MUD 12 Bonds,” were put out in Bayou Vista and Omega Bay between seven and 10 days ago.
They were taken down after residents of those communities complained about them, and asked about their provenance.
At a district meeting Monday, Alcorn admitted the signs had been purchased with district funds. After the complaints, he checked with the board’s attorney who told him that was not allowed.
Alcorn said he reimbursed the district the $312.50 he spent for the signs, and had edited them to reveal who paid for them. They were back out around the communities Wednesday, he said.
Public entities are prohibited from using public funds to campaign for or against a bond. They’re only supposed to provide information about the election to voters.
Alcorn said the district had done that in three public meeting that lasted a total of nine hours. It was starting to get tiring, he said.
“I think this is way out of hand,” he said.
A tipster called The Daily News to say that a complaint had been filed with the Texas Ethic Commission over the signs. A commission spokesman said that the agency could neither confirm nor deny existence of the complaint.
Early voting starts Monday.
A VIP Mystery
Galvestonians who spotted a caravan of sheriff’s office vehicles and black SUVs traveling to and from the island Tuesday may have been wondering who the VIP was.
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, Calif., and the House Majority Leader, attended a meeting with U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, representatives from the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce and local fishermen.
McCarthy, as a big wig in the House, gets Secret Service protection. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office also provided security at the request of Congress’ security office.
Weber said Wednesday he invited McCarthy down to the island for the meeting. They discussed topics including coastal protection, Galveston’s post-Ike population trends and Weber’s “Go Fish” bill proposing an extension for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper season.
“We were talking about the economy here, we were talking about a number of things,” Weber said. “It’s always a good thing when we get to say ‘This is a great district. Here’s what we do. We’ve got a lot of energy.’”
Weber on recess
Speaking of Galveston County’s U.S. representative, Randy Weber spent the first part of the Congressional recess overseas. Weber, and other members of the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee traveled to the Netherlands to learn about sea gate systems and other port infrastructure. (Local supporters of the Ike Dike have made numerous similar trips over the years).
Weber’s trip also took him to Poland, where the committee visited with foreign heads of states in Warsaw, and to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Weber was back in his district this week, and is heading back to Washington D.C. soon. Congress’ next session begins on Tuesday.
Not on the congressman’s schedule this recess? A public town hall meeting, which have turned into shout-fests for some of his colleagues.
What is this column?
This is a new feature in The Daily News we’re calling Political Buzz. My name’s John Wayne Ferguson, and I’ll be the curator of all the big (and very small) things that I and other Daily News reporters encounter. The plan is for this feature to run weekly on Thursdays.
I’ve been a reporter with The Daily News since 2012, mostly focusing on the Galveston City Council. If you have tips or rumors from anywhere in the county, send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call at 409-683-5226.