Where are you going this month?…..This past month I’ve been looking over the travel expenses of Fort Bend County Commissioners, sparked in part by a plan to establish a new department in the county to buy and manage county vehicles. This plan suddenly appeared in a memo circulated throughout the county.
I’m certainly not opposed to a “fleet management” department. I just wonder where it was when the Fort Bend Sheriff’s department was running rampant concerning cars for their “friends” in the department.
In an earlier column I explained how commissioners used to get a $500 monthly car allowance plus gas, oil changes, tires, batteries and other maintenance items, but that amount was rolled into their salary. After that, commissioners were required to turn in mileage and other expenses for reimbursements.
I also discussed amounts that every Fort Bend Commissioner claimed for the past year.
The commissioner who turned in the most expenses for the past year is Pct. 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage. Since 6/3/2011 through 7/30/2012 (actually 13 months), Commissioner Prestage turned in expenses of $10,200.34 for the year.
A closer look at his expenses shows that Commissioner Prestage spent $3179.04 for 12 months of mileage reimbursements. That averages about $264 per month. For some reason I failed to get his September, 2011 mileage in my open records request.
One expense that stands out is the mileage he charges for attending commissioner court meetings or any other meetings in Richmond, the county seat. Commissioner Prestage’s office is located in Missouri City.
However, Commissioner Prestage is certainly not alone. All the commissioners charge mileage in their expense report almost every Tuesday when commissioners court meets. Some sort of hide it by calling it “Jackson” on their mileage request (Patterson), while others just flat out call it “commissioners court.”
I don’t know why that has always rankled me. I guess because I think you could at least attend commissioner court meetings without turning in mileage since you are being paid over $100,000 a year to attend the meetings. Used to be that Commissioner Andy Meyers was the only commissioner to do that. After I pointed it out in a long ago column, all the other commissioners started doing it. Talk about the government teat. Yeah, and three of them are Republicans.
No, the majority of Commissioner Prestage’s expense report is for travel expenses out of the county. He spent $7,021.30 for travel. Most other commissioners spent far less than that, although Commissioner Andy Meyers did spend almost $2,000, but Commissioners Morrison spent less than $1,000 and Commissioner Patterson spent less than $500.
So where did Commissioner Prestage go? He went to Fort Worth, Texas, Portland Oregon, and Washington, D.C. He also traveled to College Station, Decatur, Ga, San Antonio, and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Over the years, I’ve heard complaints from other elected officials that Commissioner Prestage spends taxpayer money going to the National Organization of Black County Officials and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. I’ve always felt that Commissioner Prestage is going to learn as much going to any conference, whether exclusively for certain races or not.
And as far as his travel expenses being more than other commissioners, I feel that our commissioners should have exposure and interaction with commissioners and elected officials from other areas. In fact, I think they should have more and I don’t feel that Commissioner Prestage’s travel expenses are excessive. They are always well documented and his hotel bills do not show any untoward charges (mini-bar or porn).
Maybe if some of our commissioners travelled to conferences more, they would learn how other counties handle their problems. Contrary to what they think, they don’t know everything!
This has nothing to do about anything above…….I am constantly amazed about how elected officials will lie to you in your face even when you tell them you know they are lying.
How many times in the past have I called an elected official and prefaced my remarks with a reminder that I don’t usually ask questions unless I already know the answer. Then I usually also say something like this: “You know, I have always supported you and felt you do the right thing and the following question I am going to ask you is very important to me. If you lie to me, I will never trust anything else you ever, ever say.”
Now if someone said that to you, don’t you think you would think long and hard about the answer you gave me? In the past, I have been looking at the picture of a burned up ambulance and asked if a bottle rocket in the back door caused its demise. I’ve been told by an elected official who should have known better, “What ambulance? What bottle rocket?”
So…..the reason I’m talking about this today is because I think it is a good thing to remind everyone of my little tendency. I don’t ask questions for which I don’t already know the answer. Most of the time I’m just getting another confirmation. And I will never, ever forgive you if you lie to me.
Somebody should kick…..Ann Richards said that George Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth. I think someone should put a silver foot in Mitt Romney’s rear end. And I think former president Jimmy Carter had a grandson who did.
It’s being rumored that the “47%” remarks that Romney made were surreptitiously taped by someone Carter’s grandson tracked down.He supposedly said that snarky remarks about his grandfather by Romney gave him extra motivation. It may have put the final nail in Romney. Talk about retribution.
David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times called “Thurston Howell Romney.” I started laughing before I even read it. Face it, people, the Republicans made a big mistake in nominating him. They might as well write this one off, be prepared to lose gracefully and start working on 2016.