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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.


Wonder if the Chronicle reporter ever worked at the Sheriff’s Office

After taking a browse of the Houston Chronicle’s blog this weekend, I have to wonder aloud if reporter Zen Zheng ever worked at the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. Why, you say?

Well, Zen did a pretty darn good report on the current noise problems stemming from outside concerns that residents, living in the shadows of a popular local nightclub owned by a very, very respected Republican, have complained.

The Sheriff’s top ranking officials have told some of the citizens seeking assistance that their hands are tied in resolving the issue because there is no county noise ordinance.

When the Fort Bend Star carried the first story about this issue, several weeks before the Chronicle, at least one of two people (either Sheriff Milton Wright or his Chief Deputy Craig Brady) told citizens complaining about the situation that this reporter had “an ax to grind” with the Sheriff’s Department because I was a former employee. Being a former employee apparently was the motivation for writing the story.

Oh, come on—what a cop out!

I admit I was the first public relations officer for the SO under Wright’s rule—way back there in 1997. So, there, they told the truth. From that point on, their hypothesis is a mystery.

When I resigned after nearly two years on the job, I felt confident that I had done a pretty good job of representing the county and the SO. I took pride in the job and hell, I could even spell! I left because my better half had taken a position too far to commute. Plain and simple—no problems.

But I must have had issues of which I was unaware. Perhaps it was the going away party the SO had on my last day there. Maybe I wanted more punch or a bigger cake; maybe I was upset that the letters of reference were not “flowery” enough; maybe the farewell gift wasn’t to my liking; or perhaps I was upset that the guest list included only sheriff’s employees, hierarchy and all of the media. Where was the President?

Since I was told my motivations for writing the articles stemmed from this hostility that I didn’t know I had, I surmised that Zen must have been a former employee as well and I simply was unaware of it. Surely the fact that he heard the complaints from citizens that resulted in a news story and blog commentary must have resulted from an adverse employment issue. What other motivation might he have had?

Could it possibly be that the media might just be reporting the facts and asking for public officials to respond? No, that is too simple. There has to be a conspiracy, something else sinister because otherwise the public might think the stories are an accurate, unbiased, account of issues brought to the attention of officials by citizens. That would be perplexing.

Considering this new revelation on my mean-spirited attitude, I am concerned.

Do I have to return the farewell gift? Keeping things in perspective

The controversial Blue Ridge Landfill expansion issue remains controversial, but things need to be kept in perspective. The attorney representing the grass roots organization fighting the landfill’s plan to expand says from now until the summer court hearing, attorneys from both sides will be filing motions sure to punch the buttons of one side or the other. Such is the case with any civil lawsuit and basically that is what the court hearing basically is. The apparent “slant” of one of the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality board members and how that will play in the overall picture seems to be on the minds of all who hope to quash the expansion efforts.

Glenn Shankle, executive director of the TCEQ, filed a motion at the end of November that urges state administrative law judges to shift the burden of proof from the company, Allied Waste, to three local television stations. That is not good, say opposition forces. In fact, some residents believe the TCEQ is actually looking out for the landfill and not the community that they are supposed to protect. Perhaps it is time for the part-time state legislators to take a look at the commission to make sure all is fair and to define which side of the bread is buttered as far as the administration of the TCEQ is concerned.

This new revelation means the TV stations will have to fight a little bit harder to prove their claims but the filing of the motion does not mean the administrative judges overseeing the discovery phase will act on the recommendations of the executive director.

And, that is why each of these “revelations” should be kept in perspective.

There is a lot more to come and I am sure that the road to the courthouse will include a number of twists, turns and detours.


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:  January 09, 2008