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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


The rising price of gas hits county government

OK...I’m going to say it before Bev does. This week, Fort Bend County Commissioners are expected to declare an emergency and spend an additional $320,000 for gas and oil, tires and tubes.

That is $300,000 more than was originally budgeted for the year and obviously it is due to the surge in gas prices. Now that is a large chunk of change and you can bet those who think the county should do away with take home cars will argue that it is time to crack down on this “perk” once and for all.

One county official, who advocates parking the take home cars at the issuing department and putting an end to what is now considered part of the benefits package, says it is doubtful that will ever happen. The take homes have become, for some reason, a sacred cow.

I’ve always kind of supported take home cars because statistically it has been shown that a person who has a take home does maintain the vehicle at a higher level than someone who just drives during working hours and leaves the candy wrapper riddled vehicle for the next poor sucker who inherits it at shifts end. I’ve also felt that law enforcement officers do provide additional services to the citizens if they are driving along and see a crime in progress while tooling to their home in that county issued car.

That was before gas prices made it cost prohibitive to make a trip to the grocery store! Now I’m thinking it may just be time to take a long hard look at who gets a take home car. I still think a detective should have a take home because it reduces the response time to a major crime scene and that is of benefit to a victim. However, does a person working in the jail need a county-issued vehicle to get to and from a job where they are locked behind bars all day—NOT!

It is indeed time to look at the tradition of letting virtually anyone who is anyone in county government drive wherever, on or off duty, at taxpayers expense. One official believes in lieu of a crackdown on the use of take home cars, the county might want to invest in those neat little computerized tracking devices that show exactly where a given car is at a given time. While most officials will argue that the devices are not the least bit cheap and would be too costly to purchase, some feel the devices might pay for themselves when employees and administrators realize their travel locations are monitored and public information.

Happy Anniversary

This has absolutely nothing to do with county government, the threat of hurricanes, a potential bird flu epidemic, the West Nile virus, rabies, politicians or mosquitoes or anything else that threatens the well being of our readers. (Notice I included politicians in the same category as rabies?)

I just wanted to acknowledge that Tuesday (6-6-06—scary, right?) my spouse, Steve, and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. That is quite a milestone.

I had a wonderful aunt who gave me the best advise on marriage I have ever heard. She said marriage was indeed 50-50. However at times “you will give 99 percent and he will give one percent and then the situation reverses and you will take 99 percent while you give only one percent. It is the average that comes out to 50-50.” Boy was she right.

I want to say thank you to Steve for giving 99 percent on my bad days and tolerating me all these years. On the other hand, I expect him to bow to my knees and say thank you for the times I gave the 99 percent. It has averaged out, I am sure, although keeping score kind of takes away from the overall adventure, so I never kept an official log.

We have weathered the storms and enjoyed the triumphs only a long marriage can bring. I have loved him, hated him, tolerated him, ignored him and the cycle has repeated a thousand times over.

The end result, thus far, is that we have three fantastic kids, three really neat grandkids and a lifetime of being together through the 99 percent and the one percent times. Luckily neither of us kept score!

By the way, I am making every attempt to convince my friends and associates that our marriage was arranged and I was only two years of age when I tied the knot. So far, that hasn’t been too believable, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Anyhow, Happy Anniversary Steve—thanks for the memories.


Contact skinnerc1@ev1.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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   Last Update:  September 07, 2006