Rural East Texans cried and vented frustration today over the lack of relief aid they've received and their belief that federal and Red Cross aid is being unfairly concentrated on urban areas where the suffering is not as great.
Dozens of residents gathered under tight security at First Baptist Church in Deweyville, which sits on the Texas-Louisiana border, to talk with Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives. Many said their homes are uninhabitable and the only power they have comes from generators.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who wore a bulletproof vest under his dress shirt, attended meetings in Jasper, Newton, Deweyville and Buna today with plans to visit Orange, Vidor, Kountze and Woodville on Tuesday.
Brady spokeswoman Sarah Stephens said she couldn't offer specifics about the extra security, but said, "It's certainly not a fashion accessory and something we don't normally do when we're in the district."
As Brady stepped up to the church altar, four Texas Department of Public Safety troopers lined up in front of the lectern, separating the congressman and other federal officials from the rural residents who say their needs have been neglected.
East Texas is where I grew up, and where my parents still call home. In fact, my 79-year-old mother just made it back to her home in Orange County last Friday after evacuating ahead of the hurricane; she still doesn't have electricity after two weeks.
But back to Brady. He was jailed just last Friday night when he returned for his university's homecoming festivities:
U.S. Rep Kevin Brady was arrested and charged with driving under the influence while in South Dakota, according to a published report.
The Texas Republican was pulled over by a state trooper Friday night for a problem with the tail lights of his vehicle, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Authorities were waiting for results of a blood test to determine Brady's blood-alcohol level at the time of the arrest. The legal limit in South Dakota is 0.08. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Brady faces up to $1,000 fine and a year in jail, Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe said. Brady was in East Texas on Monday and could not be reached for comment, spokeswoman Sarah Stephens told the newspaper.
Poor Ms. Stephens is really having to earn her salary, isn't she? At least she didn't have to front for the Congressman regarding the dirty DeLay money he refuses to return:
While U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, did not receive money from TRMPAC, he did receive $10,000 from ARMPAC in 2003.
"I'm certainly not going to return it," Brady said Thursday. "Tom DeLay has been fighting for everything important: less taxes, stronger national security and to protect our families. He has helped us restore sales tax deductions to Texans, and he played a key role in getting federal road dollars."
You really think highly of Mr. DeLay, don't you sir?
"As for me, the Tom DeLay I know is principled and respects the law. I just don't believe he would break the law, and this (the matter of his indictments) is going to give us a chance to see all the facts."
I expect that the good people of Southeast Texas are about ready for a new Congressman. And there's lots of good Democrats over there who should delight in taking on this challenge.
Expect to see announcements about this race here frequently in the coming election season.