I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but……A recent Attorney General’s Opinion had some relation to an incident in Fort Bend County of a few years ago. At the time, I asked the District Attorney and the County Attorney to ask for an Attorney General’s Opinion, but they didn’t.
Guess they didn’t want to know the answer.
Back on the week that Sheriff Milton Wright started his fourth and final term, two momentous things happened on the same day.
It started at Commissioner Andy Meyers fundraising breakfast, that annual event where Andy puts his hand in the pockets of every county vendor who consequently have their hands in all we taxpayers’ pockets. I don’t know if Andy was coordinating the whole event, as he doesn’t usually turn his breakfast over to another politician. And I don’t know why Andy would have done that unless he owed the sheriff a big one. However, at the fleecing, excuse me, breakfast, Andy said Milton had a big announcement. The big announcement was that this was Milton’s last term and his chief deputy, Craig Brady, would be running for the job. (Unfortunately for them, we voters had other ideas, but that was a whole ‘nother story or in this case, series of stories.)
Later that same day, the other momentous occasion took place as all deputies were called to the sheriff’s department for a required important meeting. At that meeting, deputies and detectives were told an “anonymous donor” had given each enforcement section employee $1,000 for the good job they had been doing.
Honey, those people were smart. They had deposited or cashed their checks before sundown that very same day. They knew that a county employee couldn’t accept money or gifts from anyone, anonymous or no, unless it was blessed by someone higher up than a sheriff with a prissy tin badge.
This newspaper asked both DA John Healey and County Attorney Roy Cordes if the act of “anonymously” gifting employees money like that was legal. We were told they couldn’t find anything that said it wasn’t. My contention is that they didn’t look too hard. Running through a myriad of AG Opinions is the statement: “because only commissioners court had authority to accept gifts….”
So when a recent AG Opinion came down about property acquired by a Crime Victim’s Office in another county and could the county keep the money, the summary said: “ Given the crime victims’ office’s lack of authority to accept gifts and donations and the fact that the county commissioners court is the body authorized to accept gifts, a court could conclude that the property donated to the crime victims’ office here can belong only to XXXXX County.
So, the over $220,000 given to the enforcement section of the sheriff’s department should have been given to the county as the commissioners are the only body who can accept gifts. I believe this is not only local government code but part of the Texas constitution as well. And if the retiring sheriff didn’t know that, then he should have asked.
Of course he wasn’t going to because the $220,000 was part of a larger picture. It was supposed to be returned to Chief Deputy Craig Brady as a campaign contribution to add to the one half million he would spend and claim to eventually collect. Funny thing about that is that some deputies returned the $1,000 plus much more eventually over the next four years, but some of them kept every cent. I think Brady’s defeat is an example of what happens when a plan fails.
I also think if our DA or County Attorney couldn’t have found anything to hang that large contribution on, then since they’ve told us they really tried, then maybe they are just not smart enough, although I have to admit here that: “[whether a person has committed a crime in any particular circumstance is a question of fact that cannot be resolved in an attorney general opinion.”
That lets the DA off the hook. Or does it?
And Roy Cordes is–okay, I’m just going to say it–too namby-pamby to do anything but go along to get along.
Well, I apologize for bringing up all that unpleasantness again but the recent AG Opinion just brought it all up to me.
Tell me you’re still happy…..When League City started to hire a new police chief, they immediately received over 60 applicants. What’s been interesting about that is the number of Fort Bend law enforcement names appearing on the wannabe list: people like former sheriff candidate Kenneth Craig Brady who’s in competition with his own men, Patrol Captain Jim Pokluda and Detective Richard White.
Also vying for the job are Aaron Tyksinski, chief deputy with the Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office and Stuart Denton, captain with the criminal investigations division of the Sugar Land Police Department.
Do you think this grass greener? Have you ever spent a Saturday night in League City?
Notes on Cozumel…..No I didn’t swim with the dolphins although I gave my grandchildren that experience.
But I did drive one of the jeeps to the Bob Marly bar. I was one of the ones old enough to remember how to drive a stick shift!
And one of the most fun times we had was a pirate ship adventure that we took because we had sorta run out of other things to do (kids dove day and night). The pirate ship was fun because we never got more than 100 yards off shore, we never ran out of booze, and the “pirates” who had numerous sword fights would usually break into a line dance after a few half-hearted swipes with the swords. And, surprisingly, the lobster dinner was good.