What a mess!…. Rarely does the U.S. Supreme Count do something that so directly affects the citizens of Fort Bend. In fact, I don’t know if they have ever made a specific ruling that affected the citizens of Fort Bend like the ruling they made last Friday that froze the redistricting maps a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio redrew.
Every 10 years after the census, redistricting occurs if necessary and since the Texas population had increased that would allow it four more Congressional seats, it has been ground zero in the redistricting wars.
So the state lines were redrawn and in Fort Bend’s case, it radically changed the lines in District 26, Charlie Howard’s district for the past umpteen years.
Howard had earlier indicated that he would not run again, throwing the election open to all sorts of challengers. He did this after the Texas legislative map effectively gerrymandered Howard’s supposed main opponent, the popular Sugar Land City Councilwoman Jacquie Chaumette, out of his district.
So Chaumette bought a house in the new district and moved, but under the San Antonio judges’ plan, Chaumette lost half her strongest voting area. The plan also caused another candidate, Sonal Bhuchar to supposedly move and former GOP county chairman Rick Miller to say he was not going to run.
Up jumped the devil…….Then the Supreme Court decision to consider the case on January 9 puts everything on hold. Supposedly, the county chairman of both political parties are being told to not sign up any new candidates. The current deadline for signing up is December 15. The decision to hear arguments in January also means that the March primary is in jeopardy. There is even talk about having two primaries–one for those unaffected by the new lines and another later primary for those affected by the new lines.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch…..Rumor has it that a former GOP official is on the hot seat as a result of materials he took when he left his office. Nobody is talking, claiming an on-going investigation. This has happened before when people left office, but the incoming official has never brave enough to follow through with an investigation. We’ll we watching how this plays out.
And now for something entirely different…….I had to go to the county tax assessor’s office in Sugar Land this week to take care of some license plate business. I went after lunch, hoping all those clerks would be back at their desk and working. There are seven stations at the tax office and of the seven, only four were manned the entire time I was there.
One good thing is one had to take a number when entering and when I got there the sign said they were serving number 88. I got number 08 so I figured 20 people were ahead of me.
At first I thought it was going to go fast as one clerk kept calling for people who had simple problems, like just picking up a sticker or just paying their taxes in time to get a 2011 date stamp.
That worked pretty good except for the people who tried to scam their way in early by claiming they had this simple problem. They botched up the system because they then argued with the clerk that they should get this expedited treatment and the clerk wasted minutes arguing with them. I think those scammers should have to go to the back of the line and start all over. Simply take their number away from them and make them get another number.
In the first 15 minutes I waited the clerk that was simply issuing stickers was the only one who changed customers at all. The others (slowly) worked with their original customer the entire 15 minutes.
One clerk who had not had a customer the whole time I was first there, finally called a number. When no one answered, she got up and wandered around then sat down and talked on the telephone. She eventually called for people who simply wanted to pay their taxes for this year. She got one person who wanted to do that.
Then another clerk went on a break and someone took her place. That new person never called a number. She simply sat there because I guess Patsy Schultz, the tax assessor, has issued an edict that four clerks have to be seated at all times.
When I was finally called, my clerk handled my problem quickly and efficiently. I was there for a total of 45 minutes.
This puts me in mind of the drivers license bureau with several major differences.
First, the tax office has benches where you can sit to wait and they have that ubiquitous number system. At the drivers license, you have to stand in line and there is no numbering system.
Both offices has someone working a line that takes care of fast and simple problems, like picking up the correct form or turning in something.
At the drivers license bureau, all stations are occupied 95% of the time. I guess they get up occasionally to get a drink or bathroom break.
Both offices are unfailing polite to their customers.
I guess in the final analysis I’m reminded of what a relative of mine who works in a drivers license bureau observed. She says: “Look, you only go every once in a while. Do you think the taxpayers want to pay staff and equip offices where you never have to wait the very few time you go there?”
My answer to that is a resounding “No!” It doesn’t hurt me to wait a while the few times a decade I visit either office where so much can now be done on-line. I guess my main complaint is the seven stations manned by four clerks in the Tax Assessors’ office. Those empty stations are tantalizing to those of us who are waiting.