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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.


 
Lampson goes to Washington

Well, it is no surprise that Democrat Nick Lampson will be representing District 22 in Washington D. C. for the next two years. The only surprise that I saw during last week’s election is that his write-in opponent, Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, did as well as she did. I still say Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace could have done better.

Lampson garnered over 50 % of the vote, compared to Sekula-Gibbs nearly 43%. I guess that really isn’t a bad showing for a write-in candidate but considering District 22 has been represented by a Republican for decades, it’s not too good.

Sekula-Gibbs, meanwhile, did win the special election to fill former congressman Tom DeLay’s unexpired CD-22 term, which ends Dec. 31. Lampson did not file to run in the special election. And while televised reports of Sekula-Gibbs win indicated she thinks she can do some good in D.C. during her brief term in office, that is almost comical. Let’s face it, elected officials really don’t put forth a lot of legislation or take a whole lot of action during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. In fact they probably won’t put in a full days work for a two-week period during that time, if that much. So what in the world Sekula-Gibbs thinks she can do for District 22 in that time, especially with all the lame duck Republicans licking their wounds, is beyond me.

Personally, I’m glad it’s over. Tom DeLay, who I have always liked, was disgraced and probably couldn’t win a one man race for city dog-catcher now (rightfully so, considering his stupid actions); Sekula-Gibbs managed to grate on a lot of people’s nerves during her dorky television advertising campaign; Nick Lampson did exactly what he intended to do—win—and now everyone is gearing up for the election in two years. If Lampson can do something really wonderful for District 22, he might have a future, but don’t bet on it. If the Republicans can get their act together and stop bickering and dividing, you can bet your sweet bippy a good Republican candidate will tromp on Lampson and make him a one-term congressman.

However, for all of my seriously Democrat friends, there is light at the end of the tunnel—there are a lot of “ifs” that have to be dealt with before another election.

Is the Fort Bend County jail a good neighbor

A growing number of citizens who live in the shadow of the Fort Bend County jail are getting involved in a campaign to de-noise the facility. The quality of life is being challenged by vocal inmates enjoying recreation time at the jail—and shouting profanities while doing so. Last week Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright says he lives near the jail and while he admittedly can hear noises, he cannot understand the terminology being used by the inmates nor does the sound prove disruptive to his life. Neighbors say Wright lives at least 800 yards from the jail and those impacted are 100 yards or thereabouts from the facility. Guess he knew better than to purchase a home near his workplace!

Well, I met with some of these not so happy neighbors shortly before press time and they are a calm and delightful group of Richmond residents. They aren’t radical and they aren’t asking for miracles to happen—like rumors they want the jail totally moved to a new location. While they admit that would be wonderful, they know it isn’t feasible and are concerned about the county addressing several “quality of life” issues and rightfully so (see story).

The homes impacted have been in the quiet and law abiding neighborhood for anywhere from 30 to 50 years. The residents are long-time Richmond residents; some have roots that run back to the original 300. At any rate, these are not disgruntled folks who bought after the jail was built. They were there first and they simply want some common sense resolution to a problem that is bound to increase once the new jail tower (which will bring inmates even closer to their back yards) is finished.

The thing that really impressed me was the attitude. They support the deputies, who inadvertently add to the noise pollution by testing their sirens at shift change. “They are just getting ready to go out and do their job and protect us—it is annoying (the sirens) but we can live with that.”

They even are understanding about the cooped up inmates needing recreation time. “There are 900 of them in there and we know they have to let off steam.”

What they can’t understand is why the designer of the jail put the recreation area on the very tip-top of the facility with the screened openings. Not only does the noise from basketballs thumping and over zealous inmates cursing carry into the serene neighborhoods where brick homes spread across large lots surrounded by huge trees and foliage that have been growing for generations, but residents say they feel unnerved knowing that there is a possibility inmates can peer into their back yards.

All these fine people are asking for is some input into the design of the new jail tower and for county officials to take their plight seriously and not discount the impact the facility has on their lives. All they are asking for is some resolution to a dilemma they didn’t create in the first place. They are taxpaying, law abiding, supportive of law enforcement, decent individuals who have a right to play some part in the decision-making process that will have an impact on their quality of life for generations to come.

If we can put an astronaut on the moon, surely there is some design that can be implemented that will reduce the problems these people are living with and if that is possible Fort Bend County officials should be a good neighbor and do everything they can do to work with the residents of the area to mitigate the existing damages.

 

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:  November 29, 2006