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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.


 

That newspaper thing

Some years ago (and I can’t remember how many) Fort Bend County commissioners decided the county needed an “official newspaper” and the saga began.

Previously, county officials would place official legal notices in whatever newspaper had the most coverage in an area impacted by whatever the issue was in the notice.

Makes sense.

But the official newspaper issue has been a source of dissention and more than a couple of hot discussions on the court every year since the decision was made to name a newspaper to publish all legal notices.

The dilemma? Fort Bend County has no newspaper that covers the broad expanse of the county’s geographical area. So, no matter which newspaper is chosen, it is a sure bet that not all the appropriate readers will even see a legal notice that could have an impact on their lives or businesses.

Perhaps that is the goal. However, Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers always says that anyone really interested in legal notices can just click on the county’s website and look there because the notices are posted for all to read.

And, Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage always argues that not everyone in the county happens to have a computer to check out these sites.

And, Meyers always retorts that anyone can use a computer for free at any of the county’s libraries.

And the beat goes on.

While it is an easy process, or so it seems, to choose engineers and architects; software providers and multi-million dollar vendors for inmate incarceration, it is a complex task to choose the official newspaper.

Yet each year the issue appears, is debated, is criticized and is adopted.

It has been widely suggested that the paper they plan to name is the newest and least read in the county.

And, from what I understand, a whole bunch of county officials are raising serious heck about the plan to use that paper. They say no one reads the thing, so “how can they claim it is a paper of general circulation?”

Good point.

Last week, the expected designation of the official newspaper did not happen.

Oh, the item was on the agenda, but it was pulled by at least one official and was not discussed.

Thus, it is hard not to fall back on the belief that perhaps the official newspaper is an unofficial way to stymie the whole official public information to the voters effort.

A $1,121 picnic table?

Precinct 1 Commissioner Tom Stavinoha was somewhat miffed last week when a routine request for funding of jail furniture came up in court.

A request to allocate and approve a contract for jail furniture and installation in the new, soon to be completed, segment of the Fort Bend County Jail asked for $348,753.

Stavinoha commented on the high price and said he felt $58,800 was a bit too much for installation of the furniture. A plain top table with six attached seats was going to cost the county $1,121 and that seemed pretty high, he noted.

Pretty steep picnic table, right?

Well, Gilbert Jalomo, the county’s Purchasing Agent, explained that furniture in the jail couldn’t just be plunked down. No siree, installation is complex because the furniture has to be permanently imbedded to the floors and walls.

Inmates have a history of using a piece of unsecured furniture as a flying missile. Jalomo didn’t say that, I did.

Maybe the county should go the route of that Arizona sheriff who makes headlines every year for using very inexpensive ways to run his jail.

He puts them in a tent (pink, no less) and has them clothed in pink jumpsuits and pink underwear.

No one would dare make a prison break in pink shorts.

They also eat bologna sandwiches served on a disposable plate or napkin.

You certainly could purchase a lot of bologna and bread for over $300,000.

Now that’s my kind of sheriff!

 

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:  November 19, 2008