Best Gadfly Houston 2000 - Dan Hart
Dan Hart is the indefatigable property tax activist who bugs Harris County Tax Appraisal District officials with the persistence of a salt marsh mosquito. Hart, a retired Kinkaid School coach, has embraced the role of tax watchdog as a second career, and has even started up a nonprofit organization, Taxpayers for Equal Appraisal, with its own Web page (www.hcadtea.org) to spread the message. Hart and wife Betty even travel to out-of-state tax appraiser conventions to keep track of the activities of local tax officials. In the last year Hart helped expose a trip at public expense by a former HCAD chairman to a realty convention that had far more to do with the man's private business than his HCAD position. Hart also filed open records requests to get documents revealing that an HCAD secretary routinely used the agency's membership cards at Sam's Club to get her own bargain purchases of wine and snacks. She was forced to repay the discount later. Hart can go a bit over the top, as when he launches into the TEA fight song to the tune of the Marine hymn: "From the kitchens of the home we love, to our family's future we guard, we will fight for fair appraisal in the CADs and in the courts." Well, you get the idea.