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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 28 years."


 

Kudos......After I complained last week about the Missouri City Police leaving their motors idling while eating lunch, I have to pass on a personal situation that happened to our news editor, Jean Sandlin. Jean’s 10 year old nephew was critically injured in a bicycle-car accident late Friday afternoon and Jean says the Missouri City Police were wonderful, including off duty visit to the family at the hospital. I’ve heard from other reporters that Missouri City has the best police department in Fort Bend County.

Meanwhile, the Sugar Land police killed a dog, and the sheriff’s department unfairly fired a young single mother on a bogus charge.

Collateral Damage.....At the top-rated (kidding) Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, our story about the Sheriff’s refusal to send a convicted woman to prison resulted in some collateral damage last week. A deputy in the jail was accused of giving documents to the media. She denied it and found herself the target of an internal investigation. She was whisked off to Harris County and given a polygraph test. Fort Bend could not administer the test because BOTH of their ever-so-necessary polygraphers are on a leave of absence in the Middle East working for one of those government double 00 spy operations. Got a mental picture of them polygraphing folks in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Anyway, the female deputy was unceremoniously hooked up to the machine and questioned about what else? Talking to that Fort Bend paper, you know, The Star. According to her, she honestly answered the questions. According to the polygraph guy, she didn’t. You see where this is going.... She got fired.

Upon her return to Fort Bend County, she was called into the Sheriff’s office and told she was being terminated for giving government documents to the media. She was also told the District Attorney had already been contacted and agreed to accept charges. And by the way, the document she was accused of releasing was one that we had asked for in an open records request that the sheriff’s department claimed they didn’t have. I imagine any DA charges should be issued for those refusing to release open records.

The fired deputy said she looked the Sheriff right in the eye and told him that he knew this was not true. And we at the Star know it’s not true. The Star knows what records exist and what to ask for because our reporter was a 16-year deputy herself before being fired by Milton Wright his first day in office for having the temerity to run for the same job he did.

The most interesting aspect of this whole mess is this all happened on the same day that Sheriff Wright contacted the local Rosenberg paper to announce that Tarah Hamilton, the convict he refused to send to prison and the root of all this consternation, had decided after a prayer vigil with her family to remove herself from trustee status and go to TDC.

This logic is so fraught with land mines I don’t even know where to begin. ”She” decided to send herself to prison? Do all inmates get a prayerful meeting with loved ones in the administrative offices to determine if they will accept a sentence to TDC? Do all inmates get special dispensation to wear Victoria Secrets undergarment while they are in the Fort Bend County Jail? Are all trustees allowed to roam the halls of the jail chatting with Chief Brady’s girlfriend? Oh, this could go on forever. But most importantly, the underlying problem with this whole issue is...... the Sheriff gets outed for what appears to be special treatment of a large contributor’s 21-year-old daughter, and instead of acknowledging that maybe he made a poor decision that might smack of impropriety, he targets a single mom working as a deputy in the jail and fires her. How does she clear her name so she can work at another agency?

Unbeknownst to them, The Star owes Milton and his minions a debt of gratitude. After this latest termination, the floodgates of information have burst open. Those leaks he and his cronies are trying so hard to plug have turned into a giant sieve. Stay tuned; the line to the Harris County polygraph guys is going to look like a parade.

Let’s polygraph the sheriff....We hear week after week that Fort Bend County’s jail is so overcrowded that the county PAYS to have them housed in other counties and facilities. I guess this is just a big PR campaign designed to financially prove that a new jail is necessary because the Star has discovered that each month the current lockup has many empty beds.

Maybe if the sheriff would send some of those prisoners to TDC instead of keeping their special prisoners as trusties to shine their shoes, the jail would have plenty of room.

This is not to say that an addition to the jail is not needed in the future. But maybe we need first to get a new jail administrator (sheriff) who knows how to run a jail.

Heck, they can’t even get enough employees to staff the current jail, and here the sheriff goes and fires an employee who, he thinks, leaked the information about the special treatment given large campaign contributors.

I personally think those commissioners and county judge should earn those $17,000 a year salary increases (making them now earn over $100,000) and investigate the jail situation. Maybe the prisoner numbers are added up by the same personnel as the person who justifies new take home cars for sheriff employees (and not patrolmen).

So many rants, so little room.....Well, I’ve ranted on so much about the sheriff’s department I don’t have room to talk about Tom DeLay’s championing a “Dancing with the Stars” competitor and asking people to vote for her instead of that “ultra liberal talk show” host Jerry Springer. I’m not making this up. He really sent out a letter talking about his candidate’s “strong support for the Republican party.... and good American values.”

Nor do I have room to thoroughly dissect that Shelley Sukula Gibbs silly poll that shows her way ahead of Nick Lampson. I don’t know in what alternate universe that poll was taken but she’s claiming to beat Nick Lampson by more that DeLay’s last Democratic opponent. I think it would be a mistake to elect someone that divorced from reality.

 

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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   Last Update:  October 04, 2006