Purposes of Katy Citizen Watchdogs:
The founders of the Katy Citizen Watchdog$ were Chris Cottrell and Kevin Tatum, two fathers who had children in the Katy ISD schools. Chris initially became interested in school affairs because he butted heads with the superintendent over the use of the new Leonard Merrell Arena. Chris wanted to use the facility for the annual Morton Ranch High School band banquet, and Merrell wanted to charge an outlandish amount for its use!
Often it takes an event like that to awaken parents to other abuses of power and property that transpire in our Katy schools.
Chris and his friend Kevin Tatum decided to organize and turned to the Americans for Prosperity state organization for help. The person from AFP who came to speak to the Katy school board initially to announce our group was Peggy Venable.
A. D. Muller heard about the organization from Ms. Venable, and he joined. He called Fred Hink and me to see if we were interested, and we were.
Originally the interest of the group was in regard to tax issues. My interest, as everyone knows, is in academics, but tax issues are pertinent to my issue, so I felt I could contribute.
Jon Lange was also an original member, and he served by maintaining the KCW web site www.katycitizens.org Although the web site has since been shut down, sometimes if the stars are in the right position one can access it by going to: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.katycitizens.org using the “Wayback Machine.” One should be able to reach the two and a half years’ worth of postings.
In addition to the original two founders and the leadership committee of four, Tom Law joined when he ran for and was elected to the KISD school board. Since the school board silenced Tom for the most part, he was not allowed to function as he should have been. Also the Watchdog$ solicited membership and maintained an email list of members who were notified regularly of school district activities.
The main purpose of all of us was to vote in school elections on the side of conservatism in spending practices, and to monitor the spending of the school district. Early on, we attended board meetings and wrote up minutes that were posted. What we saw through observation was extreme profligacy on the part of school administrators, and in the spring, two of our leaders, Fred Hink and Tom Law ran for the school board. Also at that time, the district decided to initiate a bond referendum. The organization supported those two candidates and opposed the bond.
Our chief accomplishments were keeping the public informed and raising significant interest in school district issues, focusing attention on certain of the activities of the school district, being instrumental in getting a Superintendent to “retire,” electing a conservative school board member, Tom Law, who was a Watchdog, defeating the $265 million dollar bond referendum in the Spring of 2006 (and almost beating the bigger bond that they came back with of $275,000,000 in November–they won by two percentage points), securing a TEC fine of $500 for Joe Adams for his not being able to fill out his Texas Ethics Commission forms correctly (even when we told him how they were wrong and suggested that he fix them), securing a TEC fine of $1,000 for Ann Hodge for not waiting the proper amount of time to start spending all her PAC vendor donor’s funds (and we told her that she had erred and gave HER a chance to fix it, and she told us to get lost!), and being the FIRST TRUE KATY TEA PARTY–we were a group that stood up for honest American values and the ideals of our Founding Fathers without being goofy.
The Katy Citizen Watchdog$’ reputation and widespread influence afforded Chris Cottrell the opportunity to speak at various events in the Katy and Houston areas as well as in other Texas cities and Colorado about the activities of our group. Our web site inspired other groups throughout the state to form similar Watchdog groups, but Katy’s was the most organized and effective Watchdog group in the state at that time.
Watchdog Fred Hink, while losing his race for the school board in 2006, garnered more votes than any other candidate who lost. (He lost to the incumbent Robert Shaw 3,415 to 2,891.) We had lots of help from other interested individuals who also opposed the bond, and together we achieved our goal of defeating the first bond of 2006.
The next year, we endorsed Cynthia Blackman who ran against Joe Adams, but she lost in a close race. In 2008 we endorsed three more conservative candidates running for the Board, Cynthia Blackman, Kameron Searle, and Chris Sanders. They all ran a very good race as a slate, but cheap shots from the incumbent slate of liberals (Chris Crockett, Eric Duhon, and Judy Snyder) and use of the old “They’re going to close Wolfe Elementary” ploy, did in our candidates.
What a difference four board members with common sense would have made in this school district!
Because of my interest in academics, I maintained a portion of the KCW web site for articles associated with school matters. Those may also be accessed at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.katycitizens.org and by clicking on “Mary’s Corner.” (Some of the articles have been updated and placed on this web site.)
From time to time any and all of us had something opinionated to say on a variety of subjects, and those comments were collected in the commentary section of the web site.
The web site maintained all of its postings in an Archive.
Because the leadership members no longer have children in the district, the group, while still being concerned with overspending by the school district, has moved on to other ventures. Some have moved out of the District. They wanted no part of it.
Americans for Prosperity is a national conservative anti-tax group that is funded by the Koch family. It supports state Americans for Prosperity organizations with funding. In turn those state organizations offer advisory help to local watchdog organizations. At no time have they ever in the past or present funded the local organizations and especially, the Katy Citizen Watchdog$!!!! While our detractors would like to think that some magnanimous benefactor somewhere was pulling our strings and paying us handsomely, such did not happen.
In fact, I would say that we gave AFP more support than they gave our local watchdog group.
All funding for the PAC that was organized when we opposed the bond, came out of our own pockets–that’s as opposed to the PAC that supported the bond whose contributors included mostly those who stood to benefit from the bond’s passage. And all the bond publicity by the school district was paid for with our tax dollars.