- Why did you vote no on the Stripes gas station?
- Did you really say that?!
- How much do you get paid as a Council Member?
- Why Does It Cost You $125/Mo To Communicate?
- It's not your job to take a stand on the Second Amendment in City Council!
- Do you believe this [2nd Amendment] resolution will hold up in the court of law? And do you believe it will actually face a lawsuit moving forward?
- Hey! Why are you so critical of the Republican party? Don't you know Reagan's 11th Commandment?
- Explain your experience working for the Presidential campaign of Congressman Duncan Hunter, please.
- I see you used to be a military blogger. Tell me more about your blogging days.
- I think your agenda when it comes to women and civil rights is all screwed up.
- So she's a Tea Party and Constitutionalist, but what does she do for a living?
- Do you know what United Nations Agenda 21/International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Shariah Law, Monsanto's GMO's are?
- What is your position on the FairTax?
- What foreign countries have you lived in?
- What has been your greatest challenge, and what did you learn from it?
- How old were you when you joined the Army and how long did you serve?
- Have you changed your last name?
I could not believe you voted against a business opportunity because of what the business looks like. New employment opportunities should have been your first concern for League City. What does your business establishment look like? I hope it is not urban or institutional looking. Maybe businesses in Nassau Bay don't have such scrutiny. This makes me believe you are anti-business and think competition is not a good thing for people who live and work in League City. I suggest this should be reconsidered with more reasonable and rational thinking. - Pat M.
Ms. M, thank you for your email because I appreciate your feedback. I really struggled with this decision because I AM very pro-business and am widely known for being so. While some of my concern about Stripes was indeed about their appearance, I was more taken aback by their uncooperative attitude and newly evident corporate shortcomings and those were actually the deciding factors for me.
Our most vocal and consistent complaints at City Hall are about the look and feel of Main Street/518. We have recently put a lot of time and effort into approaching businesses along that corridor to incentivize them to improve their appearance. The proposed Stripes location is right at the main gateway of our city; since we are committed to improving League City based on very vocal feedback from citizens just like you, they received special scrutiny.
Please try and understand my commitment to listen to our citizens and represent the concerns of those who live here and pay taxes here. They are my highest priority and businesses who want to join our community are a second priority. Businesses are important, to be sure, but the citizens are my boss. I do hope you will try and understand the conundrum, and look at it from all sides.
I voted for Stripes the first time because I wanted to help them succeed. Their first location is a bit of a disappointment but we ALL were willing to put in extra effort to help them improve and rise to meet expectations. Unfortunately, they did not provide designs to Council until right before our vote. This group has been inexplicably recalcitrant, but we really wanted to give them a second chance to demonstrate their willingness to work with us and invest in League City.
Council asked for very little in return for our approval of a Special Use Permit, and that was that they show us nicer facades they've *already used* in other communities. No cost to them, no problem, right? We gave them two extra weeks, and they gave every indication they would comply. Instead, they ignored our staff's outreach to work with them during that time frame and then showed up at the last minute with their attorney who tried to manhandle us.
I was fully prepared to vote in their favor until I observed that behavior and lack of cooperation. There was simply no need for it and at this point I can only assume it is indicative of a greater problem in their corporate culture.
Now please understand, they are still fully welcome to become a little more flexible and work WITH us, not against us. We would certainly welcome that. And if not, then League City will not lack for gas stations in that vicinity, with 3 already within that 1 block radius and the Shell gas station on the corner scheduled for upgrade and relaunch. We are in very good shape for now.
I thank you again for your opinion.
"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." Noah Webster, American Lexicographer
The preamble of the Second Amendment refers to “a well-regulated militia.” The right of the people to form citizen militias was unquestioned by the Founders.
1. The Federalist Papers, No. 28: Alexander Hamilton expressed that when a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense — to fight the government.[Halbrook, p. 67]
2. The Federalist Papers, No. 29: Alexander Hamilton explained that an armed citizenry was the best and only real defense against a standing army becoming large and oppressive. [Halbrook, p. 67]
3. The Federalist Papers, No. 46: James Madison contended that ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms. [Halbrook, p. 67]
4. There was no National Guard, and the Founders opposed anything but a very small national military. The phrase “well-regulated” means well-trained and disciplined — not “regulated” as we understand that term in the modern sense of bureaucratic regulation. [This meaning still can be found in the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. 1989, Vol 13, p. 524, and Vol 20. p. 138.]
5. The Federalists promised that state governments and citizen militias would exist to make sure the federal military never became large or oppressive.
"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …" - Richard Henry Lee
writing in Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, Letter XVIII, May, 1788.
"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full posession of them." -Zachariah Johnson, Elliot's Debates, vol. 3 "The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution."
"… the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms" -Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, Pg. 2, Col. 2, Article on the Bill of Rights
"And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; …" - Samuel Adams, quoted in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789, "Propositions submitted to the Convention of this State"
"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!" -Adolph Hitler, Chancellor, Germany, 1933
In the comment section of a recent story on Galveston Daily News, a community leader in League City mistakenly claimed I get paid around $800 a month: "I know she is getting PAID by the TAXPAYERS of League City evey month around 800 dollars."
In the interest of accuracy, I will answer this claim. In actuality, I am paid $600/month as a City Council Member. After taxes, each two week check contains a net payment of $234.
I am grateful for it, since I realize that many Council Members across Texas do not get a stipend at all. It helps to cover some of my gas to get to all the events and meetings I attend in my official capacity. But it's true...like my counterparts on the Council, it actually costs us money to serve, and I'm glad to do it. Plus, I put all of my own time and money into any extra causes or projects or travel I undertake to represent the ideas, concerns, and will of the People beyond the city limits. I have never complained, because that is why I ran for office - to serve. It is my intention to cheerfully prove to the critics who begrudge the stipend that with me, they will ALWAYS get much more than they bargained for. :)
The following questions were in the comment section of an article about my newsletter in the Galveston Daily News (which ironically enough, you cannot read without a subscription!):
Kevin Lang: "Heidi, how is it that it costs $125/month to keep the lines of communication open? The city provides you with an email account and telephone number for you to communicate with your constituents, doesn't it? Now, if this is for your political communications, why would you need to be in active campaign mode now, when you have more than three years left in your term? Anyway, I would think you could stay in touch for less than $125/month."
Margurite: "So is the message here in order to get a politician to inform you and keep in touch you have to pay them?????? WTF????"
My website is hosted by NationBuilder and costs $75/month. My newsletter lists and mailings are hosted by MailChimp and cost $50/mo. The email lists are my own private contact lists and contain my friends, family, and supporters around League City and across the nation.
I bear these extra costs myself to keep my website and newsletter separate from the City so that the City is not liable for what I say or write, nor am I restricted from addressing larger issues. Also, there is no place on the League City website for a Council Member's blog or email blast or text blast - they are not set up for an "activist" Council Member. I do all of those things on my own to keep the lines of communication more wide open than ever.
It is true that my newsletter and website both contain donation links in case anyone of like-mind feels led to help me cover these extra costs associated with my activism. It is NOT true that I require payment of any kind, nor do I target or demand anything from the taxpayers of League City, as was implied in the other comments on the GDN non-story.
As I mentioned previously, my email lists are all my own private contacts and supporters. They can help me with the ongoing expenses or not, as they so choose. As it so happens, they have chosen NOT to. :/ I've raised $0 from my newsletter link. Everyone who knows me knows that I am the worst fund-raiser EVAH! The proof is in the pudding! I am a frugal Tea Partier and loathe asking anyone for anything. So I really don't even want a donation link on there, but I've learned that people like to have an opportunity to help, if and when they want, and then over and above that, they need to know what the money will be used for. So I'll leave the donation link on there, just in case. :) Ya never know when someone will want to kick in a little to support my efforts, and yet it won't matter if they never do - I'll just keep doing what I'm doing because I really believe in the causes I undertake.
I am writing to voice my extreme concern regarding the recent vote on gun laws. I do not think that our council has any business dealing with such issues and I vehemently disagree with the vote. Furthermore considering your business as a firearms dealer it is a conflict of interest for you to be involved in such proposals. Last this puts our city in violation of federal law which clearly preempts local law. Please refrain from inserting your right wing politics into city council business. It is NOT your job.
League City resident
I appreciate your extreme concern - it shows you are engaged and I am all for that!
Let me address each of your concerns:
There is no conflict of interest for me. Yes, I am now a part-time firearms dealer (I closed my offices in Nassau Bay after the election so that I could serve the people of League City, though that is irrelevant), and as such I am very well versed on the laws concerning this topic. My Resolution in support of the Second Amendment of the Constitution is just as valid as my upcoming resolution in affirmation of our Bill of Rights or in support of the 4th Amendment. The Constitution is upheld at every turn by people from all walks of life and my business does not disqualify me from doing so. Should you apply that standard to everyone, then business owners who are elected to office could not make policy on economics, and lawyers could not make policy on laws, and doctors could not write policy on healthcare, and teachers or professors on education, and insurance agents could not be involved in policy on TWIA. That obviously, does not hold true anywhere because such a standard would prohibit the majority of any elected representatives from weighing in on any issues they are expert in.
You have misunderstood the basic premise of the Resolution. Have you had a chance to read it? The Resolution does not violate ANY federal law, in fact, it urges the federal government to adhere to the Constitution. Should the federal government choose to pass laws on the rest of us (that they will assuredly exempt themselves from, by the way) that are in contravention of the Constitution, then they are breaking the law, not us.
When have cities NOT weighed in on high level national or state issues? Were you equally outraged when city councils everywhere regularly flouted federal law for issues that are favored by the Left, such as sanctuary cities, marijuana use, same-sex marriage and so forth? Surely those cities were grappling with issues very important to them - important enough for them to take a stand. Well, the Second Amendment is even more important to League City - we do have the highest number of CHLs per capita in the state of Texas, and it's likely one of the reasons why our city is so safe. Therefore, we are duty bound to address any potential threat to our Constitutional right to bear arms. Whether we want to deal with this issue locally or not, we already are.
It's not my job? Then why do City Council Members have to swear an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" if they are never expected to do so?! Why bother? I swore that oath when I was in the military - twice - and am bound by it today. I swore a similar oath again when I took this office. Do you think my commitment should be any less today than it was when I was a young military officer? No way! Elected representation is a trust, even though our modern-day politicians have made a mockery of it. But this is not a joke to me, and I won't lower myself to anyone's lowest notions concerning representation. We live in a representative republic and anyone who swears such an oath and then shirks it as "above his pay grade" betrays our republic and that is shameful. I would never do such a thing, and you should not expect such.
We Council Members are the closest representatives our people have - they can reach out and touch us just as you have here today. And shame on us if we don't respond with alacrity. That is why I carried forward that Resolution. The Second Amendment is under attack and it's on everyone's minds. This is an issue that affects our everyday lives - our schools, our neighborhoods, our police force, and our entire city. To NOT address it would be cowardly and evasive. And to NOT address it means our League City police officers would have to make the choice by themselves (and I already know how they would choose, since I ASKED them first) under duress to not enforce unConstitutional acts. Without this Resolution, they'd stand alone and unprotected. Now, we stand with them, and we are all stronger for it. Our community is stronger for it. Don't think they don't know how important this is!
Please read my writing here as to why I filed this Resolution locally. It will give you a better understanding. You will see that this is a vitally important issue to our entire system of government. And every representative everywhere better take a stand - because they swore to do so!
I hope you follow the four links I've provided in this email (above) - there's much more info for you there. I've addressed your concerns, though probably not to your liking, as I think it's quite clear that we disagree. But that's OK! You are not diminished, nor I, by our disagreement.
I assure you that I will continue to stand in the strength of my convictions and my commitment to a representative and Constitutional form of government, and that I'm doing my very best to represent the weighty concerns of the majority of League City residents. I won't shrink from my duty.
Do you believe this [2nd Amendment] resolution will hold up in the court of law? And do you believe it will actually face a lawsuit moving forward?
Hello Casey, thank you for your follow-on questions. I am not an attorney, but yes, indeed, I do staunchly believe this will hold up in court. We have the Constitution on our side and this is, after all, a resolution in total support of the Bill of Rights.
I've heard some less informed people cite the supposed supremacy of federal law. They could not be more wrong. The Constitution itself is meant to be constrictive and restrictive, severely limiting the power and scope of the central government. Also, it does not grant us our individual rights, it guarantees them. After all, our rights are inalienable to us, we are born with them.
As for the supremacy clause, it only applies to legislation that is in pursuance of the Constitution; it does not apply to any legislation that is in contravention of the Constitution. Therefore any act taken by the federal government to abridge our Second Amendment rights (or any others) is considered null and void, and is not the law of the land. And we, as American citizens, are not obligated to comply. In fact, it is our civic duty to rein in an out-of-control government. And it starts with saying no to unlawful acts. And frankly, that should've been done long long ago.
There are dozens of cases of precedent in support and affirmation of our action (please go to my blog and look at Unconstitutional Acts - Defined for a sampling). If our federal government attempts to sue our town to crush lawful and necessary dissent, it will prove their utter lawlessness and oppression. And then all Americans everywhere will see the threat of tyranny for what it is.
However I don't think it will come to that. Our position is rock solid and in complete pursuance of constitutional law. Any lawsuit against us would be for harassment purposes only. Yet, I am completely prepared if it comes to that. That's because I don't ever underestimate the malice and tenacity of activists determined to destroy the Constitutional foundation of our country.
This criticism came at me after my debut speech at the Clear Lake Tea Party rally (with Herman Cain) on October 25th, 2011. Some people were angry that I had dared to criticize and they voiced their anger loudly and publicly (thereby doing to me what they harangued me for doing to others and utterly failing to see the irony therein). Suffice it to say that Republican Party is not due the tolerance and protection of a religion (which seems to be the myopic viewpoint of many inside the Party itself) - it's a mechanism wherein I, as a Conservative activist, try to affect policy outcomes. It's nothing more, and nothing less than an apparatus, and one which needs much improvement. I see it as my patriotic duty to restore Constitutional values to the Republican Party, and until it returns to its foundational values, I will constructively criticize as iron sharpens iron. So here's my answer to why I am a Republican who criticizes my own Party.
Back in 2008, I knew that the candidates (McCain & Romney) left in the Presidential primary race would never galvanize the conservative base. What was eye-opening for me throughout my campaign experience for the Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign was the degenerative state of the Republican Party apparatus. It was in an advanced stage of decay and I was glad to be fiercely independent.
I had been a life-long Republican, even from my pre-voting childhood days, but left the GOP in disgust back in 2005, due in part to the egregious fiscal irresponsibility of Republicans across the board, but mostly because of the abdication of our border security. I was outraged at President Bush's failure to secure our borders in a time of war - a monumental breach of national security - and his administration's public pandering to illegal immigration advocates. I was certainly not alone; for wide-ranging reasons, hundreds of thousands of disaffected conservatives declared themselves independent, correctly recognizing that their values were completely unrepresented by politicians from either side of the aisle. The Republicans, although they had long held a dwindling Congressional majority, operated in and negotiated from a position of weakness. A dearth of fundamentally sound conservative candidates doomed the Republican Party to impotency in the face of aggressive communism and fascism disguised as liberalism.
During the early election season of 2007, I volunteered for the Duncan Hunter Presidential campaign. I built a grassroots coalition in the Houston area, raised funds, did public speaking on his behalf and became a leader in his Texas race. As you may already know, Duncan Hunter was wildly successful in Texas, sweeping the Straw Poll in August 2007 by a 2-1 margin over the closest Republican challenger, Fred Thompson. I then became aware that Congressman Hunter was being barred by the SC GOP from participating in the pre-primary debate. Emboldened by Hunter's momentum in Texas, I made use of my title as his South Texas Grassroots Director and generally made a nuisance of myself on the east coast in an attempt to get Fox News and the SC GOP to recognize his right to be included. It was my last stand on Duncan Hunter's behalf. Unfortunately, he was not allowed in the debate and later, in early 2008, he withdrew from the race - followed within a couple of days by Fred Thompson.
After 9/11, I hustled myself down to the local Army recruiting HQ to see if I could re-up my Individual Ready Reserve, which had just expired. To my disappointment, there was not an urgent war-time need for personnel officers (which was probably a good thing for my family, because I was a young mother with small children at home). So I searched for every other avenue I could to get involved in support of the War on Terror. Over the next few years, my efforts coalesced around writing. What started out as passionate dissertations on the war, politics, and the state of our nation, turned into full-time freelance writing and online publishing. I got involved in researching events on the ground in Iraq, and publicly defending those in uniform from capricious and debilitating attacks by anti-military journalists and politicians. That was how I came to be involved in a high-profile court martial of a Marine Corps officer accused of premeditated murder in a combat zone (Ilario Pantano, today running for Congress in NC). I was outraged, I was angry, and I had a tool to do something about it.
I was one-half of a writing team - both of us female vets - that had established a highly- trafficked Top Ten Military Blog. We used our website as a forum for publishing not just our own opinions, but also facts and investigations into the realities of the war. Our research, in part, helped prove the case on behalf of the Marine officer, and propelled us into other military-based projects. We published a highly-acclaimed series about an ill-fated and highly controversial mission in Vietnam, and that resulted in new, trusted relationships with politically active veterans and established us as pro-military advocates.
For me, this segued into volunteer work on behalf of displaced veterans from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It also was the impetus behind becoming a co-founder of the non-profit organization the Gathering of Eagles, and organizer of large-scale counter- demonstrations in Washington D.C. To this day, I sit on the Board of Directors for GOE and am one of four original founders.
In 2007, I took my son and two nephews to Washington D.C. for the first GOE gathering to teach them life lessons about our honored veterans, and conversely about the hate-filled "peace protestors", and our reasons for taking a stand against them. We also visited many memorials, most affectingly, Arlington National Cemetery. It was a powerful and unforgettable lesson of the very real price of patriotism and the conservative values that have made our nation great.
Another passion of mine found its way into my ceaseless scribblings: border security. I became known for my coverage of illegal immigration issues, sometimes breaking exclusives, and was cited by Michelle Malkin, HotAir, Rush Limbaugh, local radio stations and newspapers, and politicians - though not always with attribution. That turned out to be one of the pitfalls of laboring in relative obscurity: public personalities had no qualms about trusting my work, but many times conveniently failed to properly attribute it. Nonetheless, I established a reputation in the areas of national security, border issues, the war on terror, and interestingly enough, the theory of nuclear proliferation among terror groups.
We had created several websites to deal with a multitude of issues and they were getting hacked on a regular basis. It was a constant battle to keep the sites running, and each set-back cost us archival records and peace of mind. By then, I was regularly receiving harassing emails but thought nothing of it until a specific threat was identified by authorities before my visit with the boys to Washington D.C. Soon thereafter, a cloaked cyber-search on our websites trawling for information on my then-12 year old son (whose name I always protected online) brought me up short. My husband and I decided that for the security of our family, my online activism had to end.
This comment came from the Galveston Daily News article published here. From Margurite:
"Visit [her] website and read the stories. Quite impressive. I'm no tea partier by any means nor do I support the republican agenda towards women but she is impressive none the same. She won't get my vote as long as she feels the goings on of the republican agenda is a good thing. I'm just more inclusive than the party is right now. I think I heard her speak or talked to her when Herman Cain was here - I know I have run across her somewhere and she is impressive but for me she just has her agenda all screwed up when it comes to civil rights."
HI Margurite! Thanks so much for your comments and for reading more about me! I would love to hear your thoughts on women and civil rights. I assure you that I have NEVER been driven by a Republican Party agenda, but I do have my own well-thought out Conservative convictions and opinions. I stand on the strength of my own convictions - and NO ONE ELSE'S. So, let's talk without the "R" between us and see where we stand.
I wholeheartedly believe in the strength, grace, and dignity of womanhood and would never do anything to diminish that NOR debase it to lesser instincts. I've been fortunate to have strong female role models all my life in my grandmothers - the iron matriarchs of both sides of my family - my own beautiful and principled mother, my feisty, fearless, and fiercely loyal younger sister, and my frighteningly intelligent and independent teenage daughter. My amazingly disciplined corporate executive mother-in-law has added to my adult life a measure of professionalism and business acumen that I had not previously acquired. To have women like this in my life gives me the strength (and grace) to stand against the demeaning and debased caricatures of women so prevalent in the media and academia today. I know what it takes to be a strong woman in a man's world - and I've thrived there - both in the military and in my business. I offer no spin, nor accept any.
So, I bet we'll have a wonderful meeting of the minds. Let's talk. You can email me through my website, or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or feel free to call and pin me down on the issues that are important to you: 855-HEIDI-12. I really look forward to hearing from you.
This question was asked in the comments section of the Galveston Daily News.
J. Shaffer - unfortunately, there's not much info here [on the GDN Campaign Note], but I am always available to answer any of your questions. Please email me at email@example.com. To directly answer your question, I am a small business owner - I've been an entrepreneur (and Mom!) ever since getting out of the Army. Today, I own a private firearms dealership in Nassau Bay.
More about me is available on my website under MEET HEIDI - see Bio & Resume.
And then ask away! There's a ton of info on this website - which is very interactive by the way, to encourage questions and feedback. I am putting everything out there, because it's what I have always wanted to see from candidates. Now that I AM one, I'm living up to my own expectations.
Do you know what United Nations Agenda 21/International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Shariah Law, Monsanto's GMO's are?
Heidi, I'm not in your district but I have a very important question for you. Do you know what United Nations Agenda 21/International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Shariah Law, Monsanto's GMO's are? If not please contact me and I will help you get informed, these are very serious issues that are facing our State and Nation NOW, TODAY.
I am very well informed about Agenda 21, and engaged locally on the topic. In fact, I am about to publish a position paper on it at the beginning of next week.
As for shari'a law, I am also very well versed in that - enough to present a lecture on it to our local chapters of ACT For America. Here is a link to my lecture entitled "Weaponized Islam."
When it comes to GMOs, I know very little - just enough to know what they are. I have stocked my family with Heritage seeds, as a precaution against agricultural food supplies which do not reproduce seeds. But there my knowledge ends, except for what I can quickly scan on a Google search about Monsanto and GMOs. I would be grateful for any info you'd like to send to me.
I have been a huge supporter of the FairTax since 2005. I used to be a full-time blogger and would faithfully disseminate the FairTax Blogburst every week. And then in 2011, I was instrumental in bringing a spokesman for the FairTax to present the plan to our members of the Clear Lake Tea Party.
I am actually in discussions with other patriot activists right now to find ways to adapt the FairTax to state use, in order to ABOLISH the property tax. I want to know every last bit about it that I can. I am eager to draft and present legislation for this - we are due a major overhaul of our tax system here in Texas. I believe our legislators and our citizens have been lulled by the propaganda that Texas is so much better off without an income tax, that they have been duped into tolerating a property tax that is clearly UNconstitutional! As I noted in my position paper on the property tax, I belive the fairest and most promising solution is a consumption tax. The FairTax is by far the most intelligent, fair, vetted, economically sound, and Constitutional solution. I am ready to act NOW.
What foreign countries have you lived in?
I lived in Israel in 1974, months after the Yom Kippur war. My father taught English in the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. We lived about two miles outside the city in a village called Bethany (also known by the Arabic name of al-Eizariya). Interesting trivia about Bethany: it was the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. I was a small child and remember only snapshots of daily life, such as goats coming down the hillside, my puppy named Fancy (a birthay gift from a local doctor), Arab women sitting on stools in a kitchen peeling vegetables, the noisy buses belching smoke, riding through the streets of Jerusalem perched atop the shoulders of a very tall, wildly red-headed Israeli named Shmuel, and watching from our flat rooftop as Israeli solders marched through the streets below. Certain smells evoke the deepest, fondest memories, such as warm falafel - I can still see in my mind's eye the vendor's cart on a narrow street in Jerusalem - and cucumbers.
I served my tour of active duty in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1992-1993. While stationed in Germany, my first date with Andy was to Paris, and our big New Year's trip was to Italy, where we roamed Assisi, Firenza, Pisa, and Rome. My favorite sites in Italy were the catacombs under the city, and most definitely the Fransiscan monastery in Assisi, where the monks are jolly and playful and not at all stern or glum! In fact, our guide through the monastery was a hilarious monk from New York named Joe, complete with an unmistakable New Yorker accent!
My husband and I sold or gave away everything we had to move to Mexico in 1999-2000. This move was in the aftermath of a family tragedy that prompted us to move out of our grief to help others in desperate need. We lived in a remote village called Bacalar on the Yucatan Peninsula, near the borders of Belize and Guatamala. Our construction project was for a medical clinic and orphanage on a large tract of ejido land - raw jungle - outside of Bacalar. My husband, an engineer, managed the local construction crews, while I administrated the logistics of flying in American workers who donated their time on missions trips. We worked closely with the Mexican state government of Quintana Roo to provide services for women and children, many abandoned by men who had left for work in the United States and never returned. It was hard manual labor, and often times dangerous, but fulfilling in a way that only serving God's purpose can be - even when digging septic pits or hacking through the jungle to clear roads! Our further adventures in Mexico were harrowing and exciting and a whole 'nother story!
To know of my greatest failure, I would need to tell you a very long story of seven years of devastion in my life: emotional, physical, psychological, and financial. This is not merely a passing mention of a "failure", and I can hardly treat it as such, so bear with me as I write for you my experiences.
After a few years of personal tragedy and hardship and a harrowing year in the mission field, I found focus and purpose in entrepreneurship, and established a luxury retail business. A few months later, 9/11 happened. Sadly, I lost a close friend in the Pentagon that day - that hit very close to home. In addition, my internal alarms were jangling - this was a new threat unlike any our nation had faced before. My IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) obligation was about to expire that year, so on 9/12 I marched down to the local recruiting office to present myself for re-activation of my commission. Even with two young children at home, I was fully ready, willing, and able to get "back in boots" at the first call-up.
While I waited for a call, I attempted to shore up my faltering businesses. Business-wise, 9/11 was disastrous. A dismal Christmas shopping season in 2001 had left us in the red for the next year.
In 2002, due to a new job opportunity for my husband, my family made plans to relocate from our home in Nederland, Texas, to San Antonio. I was faced with a choice concerning my struggling retail business: either let it fade away and close up shop when we moved, or boldly risk everything to expand at a time when the economy was reeling from the terror attack and threat of impending war. I chose the risk.
The same week we opened the doors to our new flagship location, the war in Iraq started. Commerce came to a stand-still. The new retail development we were located in crashed. I worked in the quiet solitude of my beautiful new store by day, and slept on the couch by night, blearily digesting the minute-by-minute news coverage of the air and ground offensive in Iraq. I chided myself for being upset about my doomed business, while my military colleagues and friends were on the ground in the middle of a war.
With sales at a standstill, I developed a plan to liquidate my inventory, put my home on the market to help pay off the business loan Andy and I had co-signed, and pay off the remaining debt over a few years. My bankers agreed...or so I thought, until the day I was sued for the total amount of the loan. Andy and I had no debt other than our house and business, had never missed a payment, and had excellent credit so we tried to renogotiate a very aggressive payment plan, wherein the bank was guaranteed to get all its money. The legal department refused all negotiations, so I counter-sued for breach of contract. I could not fathom why they wouldn't want me to pay off my loan, instead drying up all my funds in a legal battle! The bank's legal team slammed my attorney with long drawn out legalities until my retainer was used up and I had to let him go. Still, I knew I was being ruthlessly railroaded, so I dug in and fought back by myself. Yes, I chose to represent myself in court. (You know what they say about someone who represents themselves in court: they have a fool for an attorney!) However, I felt fairly confident in standing alone because I knew I could prove my case in court. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to make that case, because the court hearing was rescheduled without my knowledge and I missed court by an hour.
With an automatic judgment against me, I was wiped out. I had no funds to fight any longer, or to hire someone to fight for me. The ensuing bankruptcy was devastating, but out of those trials came a renewed sense of discipline and austerity.
True to form, to bring something positive out of the ashes, my husband and I vowed to get out of debt, no matter the hardship, and we applied extreme fiscal discpline to do so in seven short years. It was hard, it was painful, and it was embarrassing at times. I've experienced the prickly awfulness of having to leave grocery carts behind in the store or turn down kids activities so that we could stick to our strict financial plan - there was no room for frivolities or back-sliding.
Today, we are completely debt-free, without even a mortgage hanging over our heads. Today, we know TRUE financial freedom, and have advised other small business owners about the dangers inherent in entrusting their livelihoods to bankers and lenders. I understand what families and business owners are going through in these tough times and I like to know that I can help - I am living proof that there IS hope!
I believe that a person is the result of their life experiences - good or bad - and it's how they come through them that counts. I believe that the discipline learned over seven lean years has stood me in good stead to know the hardships involved in strictly controlling spending; and the financial freedom available on the other side of the money pit of debt. I hate debt, and I deplore that families, businesses, and governments can hardly function without debt. I know the measures we have to take are hard and austere, but best of all, I know it can be done!
Texas' budget crisis is similar to what my business and family went through and I understand that tough choices have to be made because we have to face the consequences of our actions. I'll take my hard-won knowledge and experience to Austin to fight for a true balanced budget because I understand that once you go through the hard times, you come out way ahead financially.
How old were you when you joined the Army and how long did you serve?
I joined the U.S. Army in December 1987 when I was 17 years old, and served until the end of 1993. My freshman year, I joined the U.S. Army as a simultaneous enlistee in the Army Reserves and a cadet in the Army ROTC program. I went through boot camp at Fort Dix in '88, and was nominated as (but did not win) Company Honor Graduate for my military leadership of Army recruits ranging in age from 20 to 30. I was 17. Later, in ROTC training, I won the title of Platoon Honor Graduate during ROTC Advanced Camp at Fort Lewis.
I graduated summa cum laude from Marquette in '91 with a bachelor's degree in International Affairs, a minor in Military Science, and an active-duty commission as a second lieutenant in the Army. I was 20 years old.
As an Army officer, I attended OBC (Officer Basic Course) at Ft. Ben Harrison and again won the title of Honor Graduate of my class. I then attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, as both a personal challenge to myself - to conquer my fear of heights; and a professional challenge - to add the hard-charging badge of "Airborne!" to my otherwise sedate admin job in the Adjutant General Corps.
Like anything else I did, I managed to attract opposition. I was the sole remaining female officer candidate in that cycle, and it was publicly announced by the Black Hats that they would rid the post of its last female "alpha", to make some point about women in combat training. They tried and they failed. I was nominated as an Honor Graduate of Airborne School, but did not win. However, I had earned "blood wings" and the respect of the ornery Black Hats. I absolutely thrived in military life.
I was stationed in Germany, where I served the majority of my active duty obligation. Bill Clinton was elected in '92 and there were immediate and drastic cuts across the military. Demoralized and shrinking rapidly, the Army underwent several huge shifts in both its mission and traditions. I took the opportunity to choose a new path and separated from the service in '93 to get married (to another Army officer) and start a family.
Thre is a great deal of information available to review about my military experience. I carry with me to every public appearance a folder of photographs, evaluations, and paperwork concerning my military background, not the least of which is my DD214. All of this info is available for anyone to review in person.
I heard you changed your last name, is that true? And if so, why?
I, like many women, kept my maiden name for quite awhile after I married. In 2002, my husband legally reverted the spelling of his surname from Tease to his family's traditional spelling of Thiess. I then legally took the family name in 2002.
The reason my husband decided to revert to the traditional spelling of his family surname is because he disliked the derogatory remarks and innuendo his sister encountered due to her last name being Tease. (It was also the main reason I did not take his surname until after the spelling was changed.) My husband and I have a beautiful daughter and it was a family decision to change the spelling of our name from Tease to Thiess to prevent her from experiencing similar teasing and bullying. This exact reason is cited in the document requesting a name change in Bexar County Court in 2002.
What we didn't foresee is that, to this day, no one pronounces or spells our last name correctly! Just for the record, it is pronounced TEECE (silent H, long E)...as in EXPERTISE. ;)