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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 continuing jail saga

Reporters endeavor (or should) to remain unbiased when working a news story. And, columns are meant for “opinions.” Well, sadly I have mixed feelings on the jail issue so I fear that even on this venting page I will seem to be somewhat talking out of both sides of my mouth, so to speak.

Let’s see—we have the county geared up for a legal defense against veiled threats by at least one of the citizens who wants the jail expansion process halted and moved elsewhere. And, we have the city officials in Richmond just getting more and more aggravated at what they perceive to be a mightier than thou attitude by county officials.

While I sympathize with the residents who live literally in the shadow of the existing jail tower and I most certainly think Sheriff Milton Wright, the current sheriff, or his predecessor, George Molina, should have been good neighbors and tried to get something done about the filthy mouths of the inmates long before now.

But let’s face it, the citizens of Fort Bend County, including those in Richmond, voted three to one in favor of the jail expansion during the recent bond election. Not once that I can recall did the county make a blatant attempt to hide where the new jail was going to be or the size of the planned tower addition.

So, my question is why all the hoopla after the voters give the nod to the county to go forth with the expansion? Why, if this has been an issue for 13 years, haven’t all these fine people (and I am being serious, not facetious, because they are fine, law abiding, tax paying and generally nice folks) did raise all manner of heck at some point in those 13 years and most certainly BEFORE voters went to the polls to vote on the issue.

In other words, I think this whole issue may be a day late and a dollar short. If there is hope for the county to move forward with the jail expansion, there has to be a “come to Jesus” meeting pretty soon, as one of the Richmond city officials so eloquently put it. The county fathers need to quit using words like “consequences” and “we will fix the problem if you give us a variance to the height ordinance but not if you don’t.”

Right now Richmond has the powerful county kind of stymied, so a real explanation by county officials of what is going on, what is planned and how it is going evolve would be a good idea. I mean, what is wrong with explaining to Richmond that you aren’t holding them hostage with threats but do need their cooperation to get the bonds sold and work started.

What is the matter with Richmond requiring the county to sign an official agreement to the noise abatement on both the existing jail tower as well as the planned jail tower? Richmond officials say the county has been promising for years to look into the noise problem with no action, just promises.

Instead of having a gazillion attorneys fighting over this while the remainder of the county is shelling out hard earned tax dollars to house inmates in other counties and paying thousands a month to rent a house across from the jail for a handful of people, why not just make them put their money where their mouth is and sign on the dotted line. If they fail to do any of the promised noise abatement, then it will be time to call in the legal eagles.

Richmond officials have discounted the fears of a fire threat at the tower, so the only issue that remains is the noise issue and the county says it can be fixed. It should have been fixed years ago, granted, but if the commissioners will agree to this in writing then everyone will win. No, it won’t take away an eyesore for the few residents who live directly behind the jail, but it will eliminate the noise and disruptions that they complain about.

Richmond needs Fort Bend County and vice versa. Getting in a spitting match is not going to work. It is time for everyone to get off their high horse and move forward.

How to buy a county judge

With what seems like an endless conspiracy theory of one kind or another on various blogs, and some pretty strong accusations that this county official and that city official is conspiring against tax payers and taking money under the table from every developer and contractor in the nation, County Judge Bob Hebert said he couldn’t help but be somewhat tickled at the fact that for a meager price you can “buy a county judge”---namely him.

In fact Hebert says that when you purchase the Sugar Land in a Box game that is sweeping the county, you can indeed buy the county judge. He said one of his close relatives who had purchased the game called to chide him.

“I can assure you that is the only place you can buy the county judge,” Hebert said.


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:  March 07, 2007