Time was………..Several years ago I used to write about how our Fort Bend County Commissioners didn’t like to buy things unless it called for 4-16 wheels under their butts. You know like cars and motor graders.
I particularly wrote about them in relation to county clerk Dianne Wilson trying to make commissioners court understand that she needed to start running her office with computers rather than storing records in shoe boxes.
Since the Technology guy at the time allegedly spent most of the day with the blinds drawn and his door locked (we all swore that he was a federally protected witness) Dianne didn’t get much local help.
So she and other Texas county clerks banded together and persuaded the legislature to let them add money to each paper filed with the clerk, that money to go into each clerk’s own technology fund.
Before long there was some real money in the fund and Dianne started buying computers. In fact, you can thank Dianne Wilson for her foresight 30 years ago that Fort Bend is one of the most technologically advanced counties in Texas.
But anyway, some of the commissioners were absolutely livid! Imagine! A county clerk who had a “slush fund” to buy her own computers. They were so mad they scuttled her election as the state president of the clerk’s association and accused her of campaigning on county time. Yeah, like none of them had ever done that. Or even hired an aide to campaign exclusively for them.
They knew better than complain to me as they would be driving their geese to a poor market. My industry profited greatly from computers and laser printers even if the advancements offered will supposedly be our burial shroud.
But some of the commissioners even groused in commissioners court (Andy Meyers).
And so today……I thought commissioners love affair with wheels under the butt was over even though they never turned Sheriff Wright down when he bought cars for every member of his department who covered up for him. Soon every one had a car.
But evidently commissioners are still hankering to provide wheels as they have now decided to provide every JP a county ride. See, every once in a while a JP has to make a death scene. We have a guy that does it on weekends and when JPs are on the bench during the day but sometimes two people die at the same time.
The JP lobbying so for the county car in order to make death scenes was Judge Jim Richard. I heard he about warted Commissioner James Patterson to death.
Finally Patterson gave in and proposed pool cars for all the JPs. A pool car is a much-used county car that has seen better days as a patrol car or a detective’s car or one used by road and bridge (although I hear road and bridge pretty much wears theirs out). One county watcher said Fort Bend didn’t have any old cars because they got rid of them in two years.
The first rattle out of the box, JP Richard was caught by a county taxpayer loading stuff from his storage facility, the one he and Richard McCarter are squabbling over, into his county car.
Patterson said he had a talk with JP Richard and explained the rules to him. Bosh, Jim Richard might act like a dumb puppy dog, but he is smart as a whip. He’s a good man. Even being treated for cancer, he missed few work days. But like most politicians, he sometimes gets to thinking the taxpayers owe him something besides the paycheck he is already getting.
Let the sheriff be the sheriff……Commissioners now have a sheriff, Troy Nehls, who doesn’t cheat on his wife, doesn’t let his chief deputy run the department with impunity, who shows up for work most days, and who takes cars away from employees who don’t need them. I guess this makes commissioners just dying to buy some more cars.
If I could draw a cartoon, I’d draw one of Sheriff Nehls running cars into the front doors of the courthouse, and commissioners shooing them out the back door.
And speaking of Sheriff Nehls, the bane of his existence is the civil service commission. Based on the rules set in place by the former sheriff as he was leaving office allows employees transferred to a different job assignment the ability to complain to the civil service commission which is led by former Sugar Land police chief Ernie Taylor (remember how smart he was) and advised by County Attorney Roy Cordes (so smart he was a one-term county judge).
Recently the new Sheriff proposed some changes to existing civil service rules to the commission in an effort to pull policy and practice together; thus paving the way for new departmental guidelines and directives. However, when the issue of employment changes was broached, the civil service commission elected to allow a litany of employee grievances to be heard by them so they could render a decision on the Sheriff’s decision. I thought we elected a sheriff to run the county law enforcement department–not a 3-person appointed commission. How in the hell is he supposed to run the sheriff’s department if he is second guessed for each employment decision he makes?
Get out of the way and let that man be sheriff. Let him succeed or fail on his own and if one of you guys wants to be sheriff, pay your fee and run. The next election is three years and seven months away.
B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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