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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.


 

Are we in competition with Barnum & Bailey, or what?

I really thought I had written the last about the District 22 Congressional race last week when I took what I thought was a final swipe. Well, I was wrong. The only thing I can equate this whole situation to is a three-ring circus. I can’t help but wonder if, for some unknown reason, we have decided to compete with Barnum & Bailey.

What I am referring to is the decision by Texas Governor Rick Perry to call a special election for the seat vacated by former Congressman Tom DeLay. While some think it is the only thing to do because District 22 needs a congressional representative in D.C., others think it is going to seriously confuse voters when they go to the polls in November.

That may be true because Republican voters will be inconvenienced enough by having to write-in or dial-in a candidate and now they will have to vote for a candidate to fill a two month term in office (not, really—everyone knows the Washington D.C. bunch will vacate their offices a long time before the end of the year to take an extended “Christmas vacation”) AND they will still have to write or dial in their chosen candidate. Some political leaders fear that voters, especially those who have not kept abreast of all the political shenanigans, will see the candidate of their choice on the regular, special election, ballot and mark it. Thinking they have voted for the candidate of their choice, they then will disregard the time consuming vote on the write-in section of the regular ballot.

I agree with the Republicans who are concerned with not having someone in Washington D.C. voting on bills of importance that could have a long-reaching effect on the local area; however we have needed someone there for months. I personally think that Democrat Nick Lampson will be able to save most of the $3 million war chest he has reportedly accumulated. By the time the clowns are finished with their act, he will be the ringmaster without too much effort.

Another tree tumbles down

Outgoing Fort Bend County District Clerk Glory Hopkins has done it again—another tree in the forest is down. Last week she apparently sent out a looooong letter to at least one local media outlet saying that Fort Bend County Commissioners did not deserve a raise and lambasting the court members, the district attorney, the county clerk and just about everyone else over their decision to go with a software program they all think will bring the county up to snuff technologically and bring the various court and law enforcement to the point that they can interchange and exchange vital information.

Glory has long been a professional griper and she does it on paper for the entire world to see. Now whether or not the commissioners or any other elected official deserves the raises they are voting for themselves, is really up to the taxpayers to decide. Apparently no one in the community was too upset because no one showed up to last week’s budget hearing to complain.

Glory claimed in the printed letter that court members are “part time” and not accessible. I beg to differ. As a reporter, I am often in need of a comment or explanation at any given time of the day or evening and I have yet to put in a call to any one of the four commissioners or the county judge that wasn’t either answered immediately or returned in a very reasonable length of time. Usually when I call and they are not available it is because they are in a governmental meeting of some sort. Each of these guys not only does the weekly meeting of commissioner’s court, they also meet regularly with city officials, constituents, state and federal officials, not to mention agencies such as the Houston Galveston Area Council, the various local chambers of commerce and representatives from the Fort Bend and Harris County Toll Road Authorities. They have regular meetings with the Fort Bend Economic Development Commission and just a whole lot of other organizations.

I’ve had commissioners and the county judge return calls when they were on vacation, when they were on an airplane headed to a seminar; when they were at the bedside of an ill family member and on and on. So, not accessible, I don’t think so. And, don’t think for one minute that all politicians cater to the media—some go out of their way to avoid us.

And, Glory would like folks to believe that these same fellows do not know what they are doing and have little if any knowledge of what they are voting on. She claims they just kind of hang around waiting for committees to make the decisions. Again, I beg to differ. When I called Precinct 1 Commissioner Tom Stavinoha on the pending light ordinance, he could always tell me in detail what was going on. When I called Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers; Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage or Precinct 4 Commissioner James Patterson, the same applies—they have provided answers to questions on most anything I have asked and in enough detail that it was obvious they knew a whole heck of a lot about the issues. And seldom a week goes by that I don’t call County Judge Bob Hebert to clarify something on the court agenda or to give me details on an item that was voted on in a meeting without court members discussing it. Never, to this day, have I had him respond “Gee, I don’t know.” He is always very much on top of virtually every issue that is brought before the court.

Now, one commissioner might not know the full details of something pertaining to another precinct but ask him about something in his precinct and he will most likely be able to tell you in glorious detail far more than you ever really wanted to know. That is what the constituents want and I assume that is why the commissioner gets elected.

With only a few months left in her term of office, it is a sad shame that Glory has to spend the remaining time venting publicly. And, while she has every right to express her opinion of her fellow elected officials, being tacky and vindictive is such a waste of talent and resources. When you get right down to it—I wouldn’t think it is what the taxpayers of Fort Bend County elected her to do.

 

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:  October 04, 2006