WARNING: The following is more extreme hyper-local, finely graded whatsis of limited reader interest. More to come.
We continue our ongoing exploration of the public record regrading our new city councilman from Houston’s District F, Aloysius Dayhung Hoang. As regular readers of longish attention spans will recall, Hoang had––and perhaps still has––only the sketchiest residential connection to the district he now represents, and the campaign finance reports he filed with the city during his campaign made, as we put it in a turn of phrase so felicitous we’ll pompuously repeat it here, a “mockery of the notion of ‘disclosure’ and hardly conform[ed] to the spirit of the law, much less the letter.”* Even before taking office Hoang made news, and not the good kind, when it was discovered his biography posted on the city of Houston Web site web contained this declaration of belief:
To the record:
"While some of his opponents might advocate for gays and liberals rights, Al is defending Christian and family values."As we noted back on Jan. 2, that is the same somewhat non-sequiturious declaration of belief that Hoang kept posted for several months on his campaign Web site––which, like the above-referenced biography, is ALL GONE, DISAPPEARED, VAMOOSED from the Web. (The city Web sites says Hoang’s page there is “under construction.”) This statement struck as especially hypocritical coming from Hoang, since the public record suggests that he himself practices what one of his minions derisively called an “alternative lifestyle” and not the “traditional family values” he purports to “defend.” In what appears to be the typical Al Hoang blame-someone-else reaction, the councilman’s mouthpiece told Channel 11
the biography was unauthorized and no one in Hoang's office gave the city's Webmaster permission to publish it. [Mouthpiece] said he didn't know where the text came from but an archived copy of Hoang's campaign Web site showed the same language in a biography published there...Gay activists rightly took offense to this show of bigotry on a taxpayer-supported Web site, and some of Our Town’s liberal blogger types of course threw up their hands in mock chagrin. For our part, we think it’s always good for the public to have an idea of where elected officials are actually coming from, although Hoang’s miscue betrays his total lack of political skills and suggests that he, as we heard one of our uncles once say of a neighbor, is dumber than a telephone poll. (Hoang or any of his minions are as always welcome to rebut this or any other assertion made here.) It also suggests that Al Hoang is having difficulty transitioning from being a Big Man in the local Vietnamese community, where the internecine politics seem to still revolve around who hates Ho Chin Minh more, to representing a very diverse and very urban-suburban district.
To the record:
On Jan. 12, one moth after his election, Hoang posted what appears to be an updated campaign finance report covering his entire campaign. As we reported earlier, the previous four 1.) did not include a single date for a single expense or contribution, as required by law, and 2) did not confine themselves to expenses and contributions in the specific reporting periods preceding the filings , as required by law, and 3.) did not include the occupations of donors of more than $500 in a single reporting period, as required by law, and 4.) were a general mucked-up mess that, as we noted a few weeks back––stop us if you’ve heard this one before–– “made a mockery of the notion of ‘disclosure’ and hardly conform[ed] to the spirit of the law, much less the letter.”**
When these violations came to the attention of the Houston Chronicle, Hoang, a lawyer and graduate of UH and the TSU law school, maintained to the newspaper on two occasions that there was nothing at all wrong with his reports (the telephone-pole factor at work). But Hoang's latest report, which dates back to the earliest contributions he claims on Oct. 1 and continues through Jan. 7, includes dates of the contributions as well as the occupations of donors who gave more than $500. Thus far, AL HOANG HAS NOT WRITTEN, CALLED, EMAILED OR POSTED A COMMENT HERE TO THANK US FOR BRINGING THESE MATTERS TO HIS ATTENTION. (Actually, the only thank-you we need is acknowledgment of a job well done.)
We are happy to report that our own quick-check shows the line-item campaign expenses Hoang listed actually approximately add up to the $106,000 in total that he reported (this being a volunteer operation, we don't have time to do the contributions side of the ledger). We are saddened to report, however, that many problems persist with Al Hoang’s ideas of "disclosure,” including:
A.) Many, many contributions––too many to count––with no address or even a zip code for I.D. purposesB.) A $200 contribution from the mysteriously one-named “Son” of Sugar Land, on 10-20-09 (full names are required by law).C.) A $4,400 contribution from equally one-named “Pete” of Fort Bend Mechanical, which according to its web site does heavy-duty electrical service and repair work. (Hmmm....)D.) “Exchanges of value”––we know of no other term to use here––with local businesses, mostly Vietnamese-language media, that Hoang listed as both contributions and expenditures. (Can they legally be both?) For instance, there was an old favorite of ours from his previous reports, a $9,910 something-or-other from the Ocean Place restaurant on Bellaire, which as both donation and expense was accompanied by the notation “5K in food, contributed by owner, remainder collected in cash at the event for the rest of the food/event” That’s clear as mud. (Under the Texas Election Code, it is, by the way, illegal to accept more than $100 in cash from any single donor, on the off-chance that restriction might apply here.) Similar contributions/expenses were reported from Ma Khanh-Little Saigon Radio and Saigon Houston 900 AM for $5,000 each, among others.E.) A listing of a payment to Thai Spice restaurant on Dec. 14 of no dollar amount (that is, none listed).
You can accuse us of nitpicking here, but these laws exist for a reason, a good reason, and failure to follow them reveals both incompetence and contempt for the public.
As we previously noted, almost all of Hoang's donors were fellow Vietnamese-Americans (we could find but two names that weren't Vietnamese among his 100 or so pages of contributors), which suggests that Hoang's victory wasn't exactly the triumph of diversity that some of Our Town's Leading Diversicrats might be inclined to view it as (it was the opposite, obviously). And Hoang, at least as of mid-month, hadn't much broadened his funding base. So far, the late-train spigot for Hoang looks to be about as frozen as our water pipes were recently, result of a Hoang-like ommission when we forgot to wrap 'em or leave the water running and fell alseep on the couch. Hoang did report three early-January contributions from the usual non-Vietnamese suspects: $5,000 from the Houston Police Officer’s [sic] Union PAC, $1,000 from the Continental Airlines Fund, and another $1,000 from James Dannebaum, the engineer and UT regent who famously, or infamously, helped bankroll the anti-gay mailer from Hotze the Herb Doctor's organization targeting Annise Parker (Hoang was one of two Hotze-backed candidates who won election).
We’re glad the new mayor isn’t the vindictive sort. :)
*We understand that it's OK, even encouraged, to quote yourself in the grove of academia, but in the outside world it's just lame, right?