1. Hoang, after first refusing to speak with the Houston Chronicle about residency issues raised by the public record, and in fact after hanging up the phone on reporter Mike Snyder (an auspicious start in media relations for a rookie officeholder), on Dec. 28 emailed the Chronicle informing it that the homestead exemption claimed on his property at 4403 Bugle in District F was carried over from the previous owner in Harris County Appraisal District records. This was confirmed by HCAD. This bit of late-breaking information eliminated “any concern that Hoang and his wife had wrongly claimed exemptions on separate properties,” as the Chronicle cautiously parsed it in story posted on Dec. 28. But it did not, as we’ll incautiously add, eliminate concern that DISTRICT F WILL AGAIN BE REPRESENTED BY A CARPETBAGGER WHO DIDN’T MEET THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT TO RUN FOR THE OFFICE (either the legal requirement or the non-legal requirement––that is, the real-world one in which decent, honorable people know and generally agree on what words such as “residency” mean). And while it appears to be technically wrong to report, as we did, that Hoang “claimed” the exemption, he didn’t exactly disclaim it, either, and according to what HCAD told the Chronicle he can still benefit from the break on his tax bill due Jan. 31, even though he’s been listed as owning the house for most of last year.
2. This late-breaking information does not eliminate the fact that Hoang’s wife, or his wife-of-record, claims a homestead exemption on a house at 2702 Sunfish Dr. in Pearland in Brazoria County (that’s far out of District F, for the record). The deed on the house was transferred from Hoang to his wife in March 2008, according to Brazoria County Appraisal District records. But his homestead exemption-claiming wife, or maybe it’s just someone with a name identical to hers, is registered to vote at 4403 Bugle in District F (that’s far outside of Pearland, for the record), along with Al Hoang and three other full-size adults (that’s 5 in total). So his wife lives in Pearland––Texas law allows the homestead exemption only on the owner’s “primary place of residence”––but is registered to vote in District F in Houston.
3. One of the five adults listing their voter-registration address as 4403 Bugle is a Duyen K. Trinh. A Duyen Kim Trinh is listed on Hoang’s campaign Web site as having been on Hoang’s campaign staff in some unspecified “voter outreach” capacity. According to Harris County appraisal district records, Hoang took ownership of the residence at 4403 Bugle on March 3 of this year from a Duyen K. Trinh. Of course, residency does not mean “home ownership,” so it’s possible that Hoang was bunking down at 4403 Bugle prior to acquiring the property. Perhaps his wife and the the three young children they appear to have (judging by the photos on his Web site) were also bunking there, along with the three other adults registered there to vote. It’s possible, as the structure encloses about 1,900 square feet and contains 3 bedrooms, according to HCAD, but it’d be a tight fit for all.
4. In his exchange with the Chronicle of Dec. 28 Hoang also “provided a Texas Department of Public Safety document showing the Bugle address was applied to his driver's license in May 2008,” according to the paper, a fact that was confirmed by the DPS. As one astute comment affixed to the Chronicle story noted, this came shortly after Hoang’s candidacy for a Harris County district judgeship in the March 4, 2008 Republican primary (he finished third in a field of three). The following day, Hoang was recorded as deeding the Pearland property to his wife, meaning he was a Brazoria County homeowner when he ran for a Harris County judgeship.
5. While the driver’s license change-of-address suggests that Hoang at least was crossing his legal i’s in preparation for running in District F, he did not cross his t’s, because, as the Chronicle previously reported, Al Hoang was listed at the 2702 Sunfish address in Pearland for 2009 taxing purposes on property he owns in Galveston County. He's also still listed as having a residential phone at 2702 Sunfish, in addition to one at 4403 Bugle.
6. From the available public record, and in lieu of some explanation from Al Hoang (supplied by doing something apparently totally out of character, like speaking by phone or in-person to a reporter or other interested party), one can only conclude that Al Hoang is involved in one of those “alternative lifestyles” that one of his supporters sniggeringly mentioned in a comment left on this blog after the Dec. 12 runoff election. Now we don’t really care what alternative lifestyle Al Hoang may be pursuing––we’re fairly libertarian in these matters and it’s OK by us whichever way he may swing, as long as it’s with a two-legged adult(s) somewhere above the age of consent––but Al Hoang claims to care a great deal about such personal proclivities, as evidenced by this statement on his Web site:
“While some of his opponents might advocate for gays and liberals’ rights, Al is defending Christian and family values.”*Yes, Mr. Family Values Who Claims Not to Live With His Wife, let’s not be concerned with the rights of gay people, especially those of the new mayor and veteran at-large councilwoman you’ll supposedly be working with to secure those infrastructure improvements you’ve promised to District F.
7. We’ll not belabor this point at present, but Hoang, at least as of Dec. 31, had made no move to amend the bad-joke campaign finance reports he filed, which are devoid of dates of even one contribution or expense and or otherwise so messed-up we wouldn’t even begin to try to describe them. We suspect that even an entity with subpoena power, such as the district attorney or the Texas Ethics Commission, would have a hard time getting to the bottom of Al Hoang’s campaign finances, but we do hope someone gives it a shot.
8. Al Hoang as councilman promises great City Hall entertainment for the coming two years. We just wish he wasn’t going to be our councilman (in a democracy, of course, one gets the government one deserves).
*Hoang seems to have had an interesting life, if the bio posted on his campaign Web site is anywhere near the truth (and we certainly wouldn’t take it at face value): After graduating from high school “Al became a Christian religious brother spending his 4 years in fasting, prayers, and meditations,” it says. This explains the “Aloysius”––a fine Irish-Catholic name, redolent of fish sticks on Friday and stiff-necked Jesuits stalking the hallways with yardsticks––and may also explain Al’s rather unyielding Augustinian/Manichaean worldview: “A Vote for Conservative vs. Liberal is a Vote for Right vs. Wrong.” Hoang ‘s site also says that after he graduated from UH he “came back to Vietnam voicing for human rights and freedom. In 1992, the Communist Regime imprisoned him 15 months in solitary confinement for his belief in Democracy. The U.S Department of States intervened and he was released back to the U.S in 1993.” OK, that would also explain the Manichaean worldview (if true).
To be continued (sorry) as developments warrant.