October 22, 2005

Lying Democrat Completes Degree -- Over A Decade Late

Carol Alvarado was elected to Houston City Council in 2001. Since Houston elections are officially non-partisan, I won't tag her with a party label -- but I will note she is a former staffer for Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston).

She claimed to have a bachelor's degree in political science, awarded in 1992.

Guess what -- she didn't. In fact, the degree appears to have awarded much more recently. Like since her opponent exposed the fact that she had not graduated -- as of Thursday, October 20, 2005.

Houston City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado on Friday received a college degree she has claimed for years, after clearing up what she called a "technical oversight" that had kept her a step from the sheepskin.

The councilwoman said she believed she had a degree until her November election opponent released University of Houston documents showing she did not graduate.

Late Friday afternoon, however, in response to a Houston Chronicle request under the Texas Open Records Act, the university released "directory information" showing that Carol Ann Alvarado was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

It did not give a date for the degree, and a university spokesman and one of its lawyers said the school was prohibited from providing additional information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

"We are limited by FERPA as to what information we can provide the public, the media, anyone," said UH spokesman Eric Gerber.

Alvarado said she would provide the university a release allowing it to hand out additional information, but that was not possible by close of business Friday.

"I acknowledged earlier today that there had been a technical oversight, and after talking to them this afternoon, it's been resolved," Alvarado said.

In voter's guide information submitted to the Chronicle when she first ran for City Council in 2001, 2003 and this year, Alvarado says she attended UH from 1987 to 1992 and received her degree. Her City Council Web site and campaign literature also list the degree.

Alvarado's District I opponent, lawyer John Parras, said Friday he began looking into Alvarado's educational credentials after an anonymous tipster left a message on his campaign office phone that she had not graduated.

"As a lawyer, I decided to investigate and share the information with my campaign supporters. I personally went to UH to get written verification," said Parras. "I was shocked when I learned that it was true."

The UH verification documents, dated Thursday, say that Alvarado attended the college of social sciences from 1987 through 1992. "The student intends to pursue a degree, however has not yet formally declared a major and degree objective," the document states, adding it reflected Alvarado's academic record as of Thursday.

In other words, Alvarado has falsely claimed to be a college graduate for years.

But I have an additional question. How is it that Alvarado was awarded a degree at this late date? Most colleges and universities require that degrees be earned within a specific timeframe. Students are also required to meet the requirements of the program that existed when they started their academic work (or at some other point during their academic career). Course credits are generally held to be "stale" after a certain point, and no longer count towards graduation. Were rules bent or broken on behalf of a local political figure?

Let's look at the rules as they are written now at UH.

Some of the current rules at UH are as follows:

1. A catalog more than seven years old shall not be used.

So tell me -- was Alvarado's degree awarded under the old catalog or the new catalog? Does she have the appropriate credits to meet the current graduation requirements? Or was she allowed to graduate using the old degree requirements -- in violation of this published policy?

2. The programs of students who interrupt their enrollment at the University of Houston for more than 13 months shall be governed by the catalog in effect at the time of the students' reentrance to the university. For these purposes, enrollment is defined as registration for and successful completion of at least one three-semester-hour course during a semester or summer session. Students forced to withdraw for adequate cause before completion of a course may petition the dean of the college of their major for a waiver of this provision at the time of withdrawal.

It is clear that Alvarado could not have met this requirement in less than 24 hours, as it would have been impossible for her to enroll in and complete a 3-hour semester course in that time. Furthermore, there can be no waiver because she did not make the request when she ceased attending UH in 1992 -- and there would have been no adequate cause for granting one.

It would therefore appear that Alvarado's degree -- obviously awarded on October 21, 2005 -- was awarded fraudulently and in violation of University regulations published in the school's catalog and on its own website. Furthermore, it is likely that the awarding of the degree violates state law, given the fact that UH is a state university and the awarding of degrees by post-secondary institutions (both public and private) are highly regulated by the state of Texas.

It sounds to me like there is a need for an investigation of the falsification of records that underlies the irregular awarding of this fake degree by the University of Houston to Carol Alvarado.

And Houston voters, please take note -- she has been lying to you for years. Don't let her get away with it any longer.

UPDATE: At least two local Democrats have tried to spin this one in a way that minimizes the importance of this case of academic fraud and resume padding. Greg of Greg's Opinion (good name for a blogger and a blog, if I may say) tries to argue that following the rules and completing the degree requirements to graduate was not that important at the time he and Alvarado attended UH, so claiming a degree one did not earn is no big deal. Dos Centavos implies that bringing up the failure of Alvarado to complete all requirements for her degree and then deceiving the public for over a decade is really nothing more than a racist move to discredit the accomplisment of Latinos. I wonder if they would feel the way if this were Tom DeLay's degree that were in question?

UPDATE -- 10/25/05: Alvarado's opponent, John Parras, still wants her resignation, UH Regent Morgan Dunn O'Connor wants the political influence question investigated, but Mayor Bill White still backs her.)

(10/22/05 -- I'm linking this to several "Open Trackback" posts around the web. Welcome to visitors from Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe, MacStansbury, Cafe Oregano, Basil's Blog, Adam's Blog, Mudville Gazette, Publius Rendevous, Obligatory Anecdotes, Indepundit, The Political Teen, TMH's Bacon Bits, Vince Aut Morire, Two Babes and a Brain, Point Five, and My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.)

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Comments on Lying Democrat Completes Degree -- Over A Decade Late

Actually, I'm saying that whenever some idiot lies or makes a mistake on his/her resume, it's bad for the rest of us.

As far as Tom DeLay, I question if he's even human. His eyes are too far apart.

|| Posted by ASM ASM, October 22, 2005 11:00 PM ||

1) Thanks for the correction -- though I don't know that I agree with the position you espouse. Maybe it comes from teaching at a school witha student population approaching 50%, but I long ago learned that there are many more good and decent folks of Latin American ancestry than there are liars and cheats. Alvarado's failure is not a symptom of a deficiency in the character of "her people", but rather of herself. I can no more hold you responsible for her misdeeds than I can hold my Hispanic students responsible for the actions of the hit-and-run driver who damaged my car and sent my wife to the ER during the Rita evacuation. I daresay that my position is the one held by the bulk of people of all ethnicities, races, and religions.

2) Having met Tom DeLay, I suspect you might like him as a neighbor. Speaking as a guy who married a Democrat, I long ago learned that most folks involved in politics, where ever they fit on the political spectrum, are fundamentally good people.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 22, 2005 11:26 PM ||

This sounds like CYA, big time...

Wouldn't you love to see just one politician, one time, say "I goofed. I was in a blue funk, I never graduated, I was ashamed and I was afraid to go back and fix it. Just give me time and I'll close the gap between my rhetoric and my reality."

I'd vote for that person as often as possible (once an election, of course)

|| Posted by dymphna, October 26, 2005 09:37 PM ||
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