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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.


Patterson asks right questions

Anyone attending last week’s commissioners court meeting had to wonder where Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright or one of his departmental representatives were when commissioners were asked to approve a request from Wright to change human resources designations of a group of jail employees. So did Precinct 4 Commissioner James Patterson who wanted to know some answers before casting his vote.

“Judge, could we get someone from HR (Human Resources) to explain this before we vote. I was looking for someone from the sheriff’s office and they aren’t here and HR is hiding and I mean literally,” Patterson said.

A representative from HR did get up and try to answer the questions Patterson had, but was somewhat in the dark on several topics. The court ultimately voted on the measure but after the vote Patterson said a lot of HR related requests had started coming in under various departments and he felt the court might tighten up on the rules that exist by making it mandatory that all HR related requests come directly through HR so “we don’t put them in a bind again.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage agreed but had an alternative idea that would probably work. He suggested just “voting down” any request that didn’t come through HR.

J.C. Whitten, the director of administrative services who is also over HR, says Wright requested an evaluation of the jail medical staff. The changes that will now convert the Medical Officer III positions to a newly created title of Jail Paramedic, would have been included in the next fiscal year budget had they gone through HR, Whitten said. Thus, the HR representatives attending the court session were totally unprepared to explain something they had no idea was going to be requested now.

“The sheriff never wants to wait until the next budget. He wants what he wants now and he put this on the agenda. It might serve as a warning signal for the court to make some changes in that area,” Whitten said.

It wasn’t the first time that the commissioners were faced with a request from Wright but had no representatives to talk to about the request. Several times the requested items have been tabled and other times they just vote in favor of it despite making comments about no one being there.

Maybe the rule should be if you ask for it, you’d best show up and defend the request or no vote will be taken. It’s something to think about. Or, maybe Prestage’s idea of just voting it down should become more common place.

At any rate, at least Patterson was concerned enough to ask questions.


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.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:  July 18, 2007