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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

What’d I miss?.....I’ve been out of Fort Bend County for five days, attending my Ballinger High School reunion. I know. We are the reunionist bunch.

My first call when I got back home began with “What did I miss?” and evidentially it was the wall-eyed, hissy fit that Fort Bend Sheriff Milton Wright threw at the grand opening of Precinct. 3 Commission Andy Meyers' new grand office. 

When Sheriff Wright heard that Cinco Ranch (where the new grand office is located) might switch some of its Homeowner Association’s deputy contracts to Precinct 3 Constable Rob Cook from the sheriff’s department, I heard the sheriff threatened to withdraw any sheriff patrol or law enforcement from that neck of the woods.

Here’s what was happening. Cinco Ranch HOA was paying a whole lot of extra money to the sheriff’s department to have deputies assigned to its environs. Now the sheriff’s department is supposed to provide law enforcement to ALL of Fort Bend County, but the sheriff has had a little scam going for some years that if you pay extra and buy a car, then a deputy would be assigned to your subdivision. However, that deputy was still on duty and could be called out of the area to work on some other cases. 

So the sheriff’s department was being paid dues collected by the Homeowners Association to do what it was supposed to do anyway. 

Contrarily, when the constable’s office provides extra protection, it hires extra deputies whose sole duty is to remain in that subdivision and give that subdivision their undivided attention.

You can see where this is going. In a nut shell, the HOAs are subsidizing the sheriff’s department and enabling them to have lots of extra money to buy all those take home cars for all those non-duty sheriff department executives.

This has been going on for years and it explains why the sheriff has been so anxious to get new contracts, with the complicity of the county judge and county commissioners who don’t want to tell the sheriff “No” when he asks for new cars and who don’t want to increase taxes to fund the sheriff’s department. 

Everything rocked along fine when there was plenty of money. But when budgets tightened this year and all those politicians wanted to run on a platform of “no new taxes,” the feather pillow  hit the fan. HOAs were also cash strapped and they didn’t want to have to raise dues either. If they could get a constable 100% of the time instead of a sheriff’s deputy 50-75% of the time for the same amount of money or less, the HOAs naturally started rebidding contracts.

Suddenly, all those constables that the sheriff’s department has disparaged for years and stole contracts from, well, suddenly those constables were asked to “cooperate for the good of the taxpayers and the county (or at least the sheriff’s department). 

Now about the sheriff’s hissy fit. Any elected official that publicly states he/she is not going to perform his/her constitutional duty for whatever reason, should be removed from office. The current sheriff, Milton Wright, checked out almost the day he was sworn into office two years ago. He immediately announced that his chief deputy was going to run for the job and seems to have turned it over to that chief deputy even more than he had already turned it over to him. 

The sheriff and some of his deputies act like a gang of ruffians and have been known to harass and intimidate citizens to get their way. I’ve heard of them following people who don’t vote their way, giving their kids tickets, calling them in the middle of the night--just generally acting like thugs. That is inexcusable. 

And some of the deputies who are going to cry “foul” about this know very well it is going on. You are driving your geese to a poor market if you think you are going to convince us these practices don’t happen.

It only takes about five people to get together and start a movement to remove someone from office. About five people did it to former District Attorney Jack Stern because he dared to release information gleaned from a grand jury about a former sheriff, who lost in a fair election, and his topless dancer honey.

Thank goodness they read the Star.....Less than 24 hours after I printed in my column that sheriff candidate Deputy Craig Brady listed the courthouse address and telephone number on his campaign website as its official address, it was removed. I don’t know why someone would do that in the first place unless he had the website designed by a county employee.  Surely not. Surely he would  not  have someone do that on their county time. Yeah, they never read the Star and it continues to be a waste of good trees. 

And then Judge Brady Elliott also returned $2,500 to Houston home builder Bob Perry after Perry and his wife gave a total of $5,000 to Judge Elliott’s campaign. When I talked to Judge Elliott about the illegal contribution, he said that is not the way he interpreted the law, but did promise to revisit it. I guess he did.

His opponent, Albert Hollan, said that Elliott’s interpretation of the Election Code is contrary to Hollan’s understanding of plain English, an understanding that was confirmed by a phone call to an attorney at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Hollan said that unfortunately, the TEC will not take action without a “sworn complaint”, even though Brady Elliott has filed a sworn report that clearly contains an illegal contribution. 

Hollan said, “If I file a complaint now with the TEC, I will be criticized for doing it so close to the election; however, the illegal contribution was not revealed until the “30-day before election report.”  If I don’t do anything, the judge continues with impunity.”

Oh, I imagine someone will do something.

What I can’t imagine is a judge that is so poorly versed in the law that he would let something like this illegal contribution happen, then he would defend it when challenged. 

Ah, politics and money.

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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