in Houston, Texas
Back Story with Texas Watchdog: Investigating Unions
Friday, Sep 23, 2011, 05:48PM CST
By Trent Seibert

We’re starting a new video feature here at Texas Watchdog -- and it’s one we want you to participate in.

We’re going to be showing step-by-step how we find the public records that we use to put together our reports so you can put those same records to use. Look for more of these how-to videos and please send along suggestions of videos you would like to see.

We know lots of our readers have an interest in keeping an eye on their city halls and government officials, and we hope these videos help.

In this debut edition, viewers see how Texas Watchdog found the key records for its report: "Houston's largest teachers union paid nearly $500K in legal fees to union chief's son."

Click on the video below to get the skinny on how unions in your city and state are spending union dues.

More to come soon!


Trent Seibert
Editor, Texas Watchdog

Contact Trent Seibert at 832-316-4994 or or on Twitter at @trentseibert.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.
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Gayle Fallon
Saturday, 09/24/2011 - 06:14PM

It appears that Watchdog is going to become part of the national union bashing effort. Before you start, you need to be aware of steps that we take to make sure union money is accounted for honestly. HFT does no money internally. We use an external bonded CPA and the officers are the second signature on checks signed by the CPA. As is the case with all AFT local unions, there is an independent external audit conducted annually. For the past decade, the HFT has passed it's audits with no deficiencies cited. Those reports are available to members upon request and are presented to the executive council annually upon completion. All budgets, salaries and major contracts are voted on by the 26 members on the executive council prior to implementation.

Trent Seibert
Sunday, 09/25/2011 - 04:18PM

Dear Ms. Fallon, thanks for reading and writing in.

As part of our mission to make government more transparent, Texas Watchdog promotes the use of public records by the people who own them, the public.

This is why in 2008 we made available online for the first time the financial disclosures of every state lawmaker in Texas, why we link to the public records used in our reporting via our popular Scribd page, and why in this video we highlighted the public record --- the LM 2 report on labor unions --- that was used in our story. These records are packed with information of interest to citizens, and in the case of the LM 2, most certainly to the members themselves. We think it's terrific that the Department of Labor makes these reports available online, and we want our readers to know about it.

That is our sole intent in providing this informational video.

Best regards,

Trent Seibert, editor

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