The Fort Bend sheriff’s race.......which won’t occur until 2012, will predictably be as crowded as the inside of a beehive. The current chief deputy announced early last year, right after current sheriff Milton Wright begin serving his last term and on the very day that “someone” anonymously gave the sheriff’s department $1000 per officer.
Shortly after that, Pct. 4 Constable Troy Nehls formed an exploratory committee, which will “explore” his running for sheriff also. A quirk in the Texas law says a constable cannot publicly announce for another office or his current position will be considered “vacated” if he has over a year left to serve. So Nehls can’t officially announce his intention to seek the sheriff’s position until January, 2012 with the party primary being March of that year.
So this past week, Pecan Grove resident John Minchew announced he would seek the Republican nomination in 2012. Minchew, a former police officer who currently owns a security and investigation company, is active in the Pecan Grove Municipal Utility District and learned first hand about the tactics of the current sheriff and his chief deputy who have a contract to provide security for Pecan Grove. With a huge budget and a practice of giving everyone a take home car, which they use mostly to commute from home and work, the sheriff’s department has one of the largest budgets in Fort Bend. We, the taxpayers, pay for many of our law enforcement employees to have a car which they use like a personal auto, and many of them don't even live in Fort Bend.
There are currently 167 take home cars in the Fort Bend County sheriff’s department. This does not include the 100 patrol cars, or 13 spare cars, or even the 15 contract deputy cars that subdivisions supposedly buy for extra security. Do you have those numbers? More take home cars than patrol cars.
The sheriff and his assistant have aggressively sought contacts with various subdivisions to provide paid security for neighborhoods who could afford it. The sheriff’s department is often in competition with various constable offices in Fort Bend for these contracts, and it has led to the sheriff’s department and the constable offices to be at loggerheads. The sheriff’s office shows public disdain for the constables and that leads to uncooperative law enforcement.
Since it is over two years until a vote on a new sheriff, most expect the candidate field to grow.
The chief deputy has done everything he can to discredit this newspaper because we’ve constantly printed the truth of his exploits. He is determined to shut it down before the election and has even gone so far as to sue us to try to have a chilling effect on us. Since he is a public figure and his actions are observable, he has used his son to try to force the Star’s silence.
But even if he were successful in silencing the newspaper, he has such a reputation in Fort Bend that it would be very hard for him to overcome all the hard feelings he has generated. He is going to have a lot of people actively campaigning against him, many more than the deputies he will coerce to campaign for him.
Another way to silence.....And over in Sugar Land, Councilman Russell Jones, who writes a self-serving column in another newspaper, is trying to save that newspaper by throwing city business at it.
You remember Councilman Jones. He’s the council person who complained that the city’s web site made it too easy for the news media to write stories about crime in Sugar Land and he wanted it changed. Never mind that the web site and stories served the public by warning them of dangers.
He’s the council person that wanted Sugar Land to join the lawsuit against the Open Meetings law which says that any meeting of a majority of city council members must be posted and open to the public.
Now he’s writing a column for a very small newspaper that promises to deliver to 90% of Sugar Land if it can get the city’s legal notice business from the Star which has delivered to 90% of the city for many years.
This newspaper prints Councilman Jones column every week and if the newspaper goes out of business, Councilman Jones would not have an outlet for his propaganda.
The Star has served the city of Sugar Land for many years. We’ve cajoled and criticized, but we’ve always been fair and informative and called it like it is.
Of the many fan letters we’ve gotten over the years, why don’t you email your Star fan letters to the city council. You can find their individual email addresses on the city’s web site.
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