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Carol Alvarado: All that glitters is still not gold

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Texas State Senate District 6 Race: Councilwoman, Alvarado was not new to official distractions, especially when she lied about her college degree.

Council Member Carol Alvarado used to be a charming young chic any suitor would not pass by. The kind that looked younger as she got old; pretty in her sleep or even when she frowned. This was Carol - a sweet sixteen in the days.

She loved her hometown; Houston and understood ‘District I’ like a better half - An area she was elected to represent in 2001. In January 2004, Mayor Bill White appointed Alvarado to serve as Mayor Pro Tem, a more or less ceremonial position that elevated her social status, and brushed up her ego in Houston political arena. But that didn’t last too long, as some disturbing events impaired any given opportunity.

Alvarado’s office was soon ruffled by some money scandal that made headlines. Four of her staff members had allegedly made up memos and awarded about $130,000 worth of bonuses to themselves. Mayor Bill White rightly admitted somebody would have spotted the scam and referred the matter to the office of inspector general of Police for a swift investigation. Alvarado had claimed responsibility with some remorse saying that “I want to apologize for any disruptions this investigation may have caused and how we conduct business of council. She also expressed that "I have been astonished and disappointed how easy it was for someone to forge my initials and steal both taxpayers' dollars and my personal reputation.”

Alvarado however assumed her apology was not enough, so she hired a public relations firm, and an attorney to handle her business. Consequently, a memo to her constituency in District I hit mail boxes, dressing up a one-sided story of this scandal, and painting Alvarado as an innocent boss preyed upon by some unscrupulous employees.

Alvarado was actually schooled by these desperate publicists on what to say and when. She would always apologize and accept responsibility, then promise “such event would never happen again.” A smart ‘forgive and forget’ way to walk away from indiscretion and move on. Alvarado did just that, and survived that turbulence. Nonetheless, a more objective analysis of the situation unraveled at the time, the disparaging slackness of an organizational structure under Alvarado’s command.

Alvarado apparently out of laziness had transferred her office responsibilities to trusted employees and admitted these blunders, saying, that “my mistake was putting a lot of trust in an individual or two that I thought would have brought some irregularities to my attention.” Unfortunately they did not! Another disappointment about Alvarado’s troubled office was that this councilwoman could not account for how her staff requested and got a $66,000 increase in budget. It was really troubling when tax payers had to rely on investigators or the Attorney General to get information about Alvarado’s official activities: an indication of the councilwoman’s supervisory shortfalls.

Critics then had every reason to ask for Alvarado’s head. Records showed the embattled councilwoman was not new to contemptible world of controversies, and official distractions. When Alvarado first ran for City Council in 2001, she claimed she attended University of Houston from 1987 to 1992 when she received her degree. But school’s verification documents at that time stated otherwise and showed requirements for a degree were not properly met. Alvarado who was slapped with calls for resignation again went into an image-saving campaign, claiming that she called the university and learnt that she had completed her course work, but hadn't fulfilled a written proficiency exam.

According to Alvarado, "I was never notified by university officials that I needed this." Though the councilwoman went back to school to complete her left over course, critics believed that public trust was betrayed. As if this was not enough, Alvarado’s brush with extremely distractive occasions continued. She was engaged in a dishonorable official brawl of words with a councilmember colleague. Sekula-Gibbs said Councilmember Alvarado called her a derogatory name. Alvarado admitted there were words exchanged but denied using any derogatory term.

With all these disturbing lapses in supervisory competencies, Alvarado is back again on the campaign trail, battling Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat and former Harris County commissioner for State Senator, District 6, to replace State Senator Mario Gallegos Jr., (D-Houston). Mr. Gallegos, the first Hispanic senator to represent Harris County, died Oct. 16 of complications associated with a 2007 liver transplant.

In an initial election held on January 26, Alvarado had 41.62 percent of the votes to Garcia's 45.37 percent, but neither captured a majority in an eight-candidate field. As Alvarado and Garcia head for a run-off election, voters have a critical choice to make. A choice beyond fund-raising capabilities and political endorsements as prioritized by the main stream media.

Realistically, Garcia and Alvarado are Democrats to the core, charismatic by ideals, and share similar transformational values as new generation constitutionalists. However, disparities in supervisory aptitude, and leadership demeanor matters. At this time, when Texas is susceptible to a current countrywide ideological wind of change from Red to Blue, there is every need, at this time, to seek candidates with executive demeanor; contenders with matured attitude – the courage of Bill Clinton, and fearlessness of Obama. Most definitely, this candidate is not Carol Alvarado.

Election Day: Saturday, March 2, 2013

Early Voting: Wednesday, February 20 to Tuesday, February 26

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