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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.


 
County Judge raises shackles of citizens

Wow! Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert stepped into it last week when he told a group of about five citizens they had to appoint one speaker to approach commissioners on the issue of the proposed toll road.

Hebert has always maintained that the “public speaking” segment of the weekly commissioner’s court session is a “courtesy” and not a legal obligation. Arcola resident Rodrigo Carreon, who has been silenced by the Judge more than once, claims that a restriction to citizens is a violation of the United States Constitution.

Last week when Hebert extended the normal three minute speaking limitation to five minutes and allowed only one person out of the group to speak on their behalf during the extended session, Hebert managed to make a group of folks very unhappy. Some called him rude, another said arrogant and no one was happy.

Hebert has always maintained that the public speaking segment must be limited to agenda items or items that commissioners have control over and deals with issues in the county. Now it can be argued that the proposed toll road is not within that realm because it will be a state project and the commissioners are steadfastly holding on to the concept that because of this they have absolutely no control—nada—zilch—zero. However, residents say that while the state may have most of the control, county officials say they will have to contribute a teeny percentage to the overall project and this does give the commissioners some control. They have a point.

At any rate, while Hebert may have justifiable reasons for limiting this kind of open discussion on almost county issues, he certainly didn’t make any friends last week in court. People want to have their say; they want to be acknowledged and they feel that in this country they have the right to do so. Anyone standing in their way is a bad guy no matter what the reason.

Maybe Judge Hebert should have considered this before the mandate was invoked. It would have added 15 minutes to the court agenda instead of the five minutes allowed. That extra 10 minutes would have meant a lot to the people who took the time and initiative to voice their feelings and the description of Judge Hebert would have been less colorful then professed last Tuesday.

Sugar Land 101

I read, with interest, that the city of Sugar Land is hosting a “Sugar Land 101” class to acquaint citizens with various aspects of the city. How interesting.

In 1978 when I moved to Sugar Land, it would have been nice if someone had explained to me there was no “downtown” Sugar Land and that the little, bitty strip center on Highway 90-A and the movie theater were considered the “heart” of the city. I would have appreciated knowing that when the whistle on the Sugar Factory blew so many times (and it wasn’t noon) it meant an inmate had escaped from the prison unit and the old-timers knew to bring the laundry in off the line and actually lock the doors. When that whistle blew another round of squeals, it meant that there was a fire and anyone with any sense should not attempt to exit a driveway until all of the several hundred volunteer firefighters had raced to the location in their pickup trucks adorned with bubble lights that clipped or stuck on the vehicle. It was absolutely dangerous to attempt to drive during those events. They should have told me that there were two really important events in the city that no one should consider missing .. St. Theresa’s annual bazaar and the fireman’s annual fundraiser. Those were the issues that new residents faced nearly 30 years ago.

What the city officials probably didn’t envision at that time and place was a need to have a class that explained the working of the city. To be honest, I miss the old Sugar Land.

 

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:  October 17, 2007