Normally, when an organization like LULAC gets word of a $50,000 gift, members don't ask many questions beyond how soon the check will clear. That's not the case these days at LULAC District VIII.
Community Education Partners is making the large gift -- up to five years of annually giving $5,000 to LULAC's scholarship fund and $5,000 to defray the organization's operating costs.
CEP is the company that runs the Houston school district's "alternative education" facilities, the places where students with discipline problems get sent. To critics, the CEP schools -- with a heavily Hispanic student population -- are poorly run places where academic careers go to die (see "180 Days in the Hole," April 19, 2001).
"They're dropout factories," says LULAC member Robert Kimball. He and others call the donation "hush money" to silence critics.
When these concerns came out at a recent LULAC meeting, says Rosemary Covalt, another critic, some LULAC members said "students who attend CEP were destined to fail anyway."
Rick Dovalina, district director of LULAC, was on vacation and couldn't be reached; deputy director Jose Jimenez didn't return phone calls. Jimenez did respond to the critics by e-mail, asking them to be more specific. ("At this time," he wrote, "we have very serious accusations being broadcasted via e-mail between our membership and I am requesting your support to end the fighting.")
Getting specific is kind of difficult, says Covalt. Her main complaint is that CEP does not provide statistics showing whether its schools are performing as promised.
CEP's Web site says it "effectively addresses classroom disruption, low academic achievement, grade retention and high dropout rates" by a whole slew of stuff, like listening to parents, providing social services, etc., etc. But complaints about lax supervision, mind-numbing coursework and an unwillingness to deal with criticism have hounded the program since HISD first used it in 1997.
Dovalina has promised to discuss the matter with the members when he gets back. We're betting that the "Returning the $50,000" option won't be on the table.
Not Ready for Prime Time
The bar for scandal keeps getting set higher and higher.
Ozen High School in Beaumont made a bold move to dominate a day or two of the cable/talk radio universe with the discovery of a "secret sex club" at the school involving students, alumni and a school employee. The "3K" group featured ninth- and tenth-grade girls servicing upperclassmen.
(The KFDM-TV story on the club said "We're not detailing what '3K' stands for because the title is explicit in nature." Since it stands for "Koochie Kissing Klick," we can only applaud KFDM's standards, unchanged since the Truman administration.)
Kids in a sex club -- the media must have been all over it, right? Sadly, no. "I have had one or two calls," says Beaumont school district spokeswoman Jolene Ortego. "But it's mostly been contained to local media."
We guess that's what a War on Terra and JonBenet Ramsey news will do.
Beaumont-area blogs were active though. We especially like this post, mostly because it's by a person named "You Gon' Need Help Tryna Study My BOUNCE!!!!"
Miss YGNHTSMB writes (in all caps, but we'll spare you): "3K is a group of guys who are pretty nice and cool I guess I could say...So stop talkin what tha fuck yall don't know."
A subtle, nuanced view of the situation. Beaumont police, on the other hand, say they continue to investigate the case.
Still At It
Mark Aguirre, the former gung-ho Houston police captain who was fired for plotting the disastrous Kmart raid (where hundreds of rich white kids got arrested for loitering), is now a private detective and a process server.
Aguirre never really censored anything that popped into his mind, and it's obvious that hasn't changed. His tale of how he got into process-serving:
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"I was sued, like, 67 times," he says. "The last one was the one that gave me the idea. This big old black, fat woman came up to the door, about 300-and-something pounds, in a miniskirt. She said, 'You Mark Aguirre?' I said, 'Yeah, what's left of him. You a process server?' She said no. But she had a prop, a box, like she had to fake me into accepting [the summons]. She reached into it and served me, and I said, 'What, you lied?' and she walked away -- this broad wearing a miniskirt, weighing over 300 pounds, she's got shower shoes on, big monster yellow feet. And I looked at her and said, 'Someone's got to fucking professionalize this.' So it may as well be me."
Plus a fucking change, as Aguirre might say.
People like HPD Chief Harold Hurtt and Astros disaster Brad Lidge have had AlmostMySpace pages how about someone who's having a good year? Years don't come much better than the one Houstonian James Mulva is having. Mulva heads up a small business called ConocoPhillips, and they've just announced they made a profit of $5.2 billion-with-a-B over the three months ending in June. Click here to view James Mulva's AlmostMySpace page.