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Organizing your community to bring public attention to builders bad deeds and seeking assistance from local, state and federal elected officials has proven to be more effective and much quicker for thousands of families. You do have choices and alternatives.  Janet Ahmad

Star-Telegram: Editorial on Texas Ethics Commission
Sunday, 03 December 2006

Oh, come on, people!
So when former state Rep. Bill Ceverha, who sits on the State Employees Retirement System Board, filed a June 2005 personal finance statement, he identified two "gifts" received from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry as "checks." The fact that each check was made out for $50,000 was not a necessary part of the description, according to the ethics advisory opinion released this week.

Oh, come on, people!

Star-Telegram

This week, the Texas Ethics Commission confirmed what has been thought about the agency in recent years: It's a joke.

Commission members, led by Chairman Cullen R. Looney, can't even pretend that they are performing watchdog and regulatory duties after their recent opinion regarding the disclosure of gifts to state officials.

The state government code requires state officials to file annual personal finance statements. In those, lawmakers, state employees and political appointees to commissions and boards are required to describe any gift valued at more than $250.

So when former state Rep. Bill Ceverha, who sits on the State Employees Retirement System Board, filed a June 2005 personal finance statement, he identified two "gifts" received from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry as "checks." The fact that each check was made out for $50,000 was not a necessary part of the description, according to the ethics advisory opinion released this week.

The commission is hanging this absurd decision on classic linguistic gymnastics. According to the Texas Government Code, a state officer must provide "the identification of a person or other organization from which the individual or the individual's spouse or dependent children received a gift of anything of value in excess of $250 and a description of each gift."

A normal reading of that paragraph would lead one to think that the "description" would include the numbers that follow the dollar sign on a check or money order. But according to the ethics commission's members, the term description is not defined anywhere in the government code.

Additionally, they could find nothing in the 50-plus hours of audio tapes of legislative hearings and floor debates regarding this law that specifies whether the disclosure requirement "should or should not include the value of the gift."

The commission is saying that it is sufficient for an official to identify a monetary gift as "currency," "money order" or "check."

The good news is that at least four bills have been prefiled for the upcoming legislative session to clear up the matter.

The bad news is that the state agency charged with assuring the public's faith and confidence in state government apparently needs a course in remedial English.
http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/opinion/16139741.htm

 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
Economic Armageddon


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