I often reflect on how far my education on my responsibilities as a citizen in a republic have come over the course of almost ten years now. Before I began, I like most thought the bulk of my duty was to ‘vote’ and then go about my daily life and all would be well. How wrong I was. As was told to me by wise counselors when I started out, ‘start locally, there is where you can have the most influence and impact on correcting the disastrous course our country is headed down’.
Today was an excellent example of that. The Hood County TEA Party had been actively researching the Hood County Budget for some time as well as pushing to have pay increases for our Sheriff’s Deputies. Over the course of the next few articles I will attempt to explain some of what we have identified in this horrible charade masquerading as a budgeting process. But first I think it would be wise to build the foundation brick by brick to make the case that this process needs some overhaul by the citizens of Hood County and we need a new Commissioners Court to Represent the Public.
The latter point is where I wish to focus this article. The Founders had several great debates over how to establish a government that provides maximum Liberty but still has enough power to function. They spent a considerable amount of time articulating what they thought was a pre-requisite to insuring that the people would have the best candidates hold elected office.
Many often have trouble bringing the Founders into modern times. I admit I used to as well until I really set down and applied modern examples to their language. Let’s take the above quote and apply it to the budget fiasco. Franklin asserts that as the salaries rise on what should be places of honor for the very best citizens to aspire too, the worst sorts of characters begin to seek those offices to line their pockets. How would this apply here? Well what if one Commissioner had a spouse that was also an elected official that would benefit from a pay raise as well? His first thought might be ‘Of course we need a raise!’ because he will benefit twice from one vote. He never once considers recusing himself due to an ethical conflict. This is exactly the case with James Deaver, Commissioner for Precinct 1, whose wife is also the County Treasurer.
Then you continue with the next part ‘mutual abuse of the parties’. I think Commissioner Deaver probably highlights this concern as well. He technically always voted Democrat until one day he wanted to run for office. Then mysteriously when he learned that only Republicans get elected in Hood County, he became a Republican. He abused the Republican party to get a job. He seldom, if ever shows up to support Republican causes, such as the County Convention or State Convention but so far rightly believes that as long as the public is distracted by day to day lives they will never catch on to him.
The later part of that statement may apply more so to the County Judge, Darrell Cockerham, and County Commissioner for Precinct 4, Steve Berry. ‘Tearing to pieces the best of characters.’ When it became public knowledge that Sheriff Deeds was meeting with his constituents to make the case for pay raises, both Judge Cockerham and Commissioner Berry began openly criticizing him, accusing him of misleading the public about the reasons Deputies were leaving, etc.
The next part was also on display today. “These will thrust themselves into your government, and be your rulers.” If you look at how this budget process was run start to finish. There was no real intent or attempt to garner public support for what they did. The original budget hearing for the public did not adhere to an organized schedule. Many elected officials did not even show up. They just submitted rubber stamped budgets from last year. The Commissioners limited time to 15 minutes with no presentations to justify the spending necessary. Then at each workshop no public comments were taken. At each and every attempt by citizens to ask questions of how they arrived at the final product we get vague generalities of well ‘it is the fair thing to do’ or ‘the law requires it’ or just plain silence. Make no mistake they now consider themselves our Rulers and NOT Public Servants.
Source for Data: U.S. Census Bureau / Hood County Budget / Comparative Salary Analysis Website
Franklin’s prophecy has played out and I’ll summarize what it culminated in today. If you look at the median income for Hood County Residents, it is $55, 472.00 per year. That is the wage of an average citizen. Prior to the farce budget presented here the County Commissioners and County Judge already exceeded what an average taxpayer makes by a significant margin. Rather than staying in touch with their average citizen and monitoring employment rates, inflation, competitive salaries, and merit, they are arbitrarily giving themselves raises because it is ‘the fair thing to do.’
They also followed the Democrat Mayor of Chicago’s, Rahm Emanuel, sage advice of ‘Never let a serious crisis go to waste’. What started out as a legitimate concern over whether Hood County was paying a fair compensation to law enforcement related to putting their lives on the line daily, turned into the last part of his quote. ‘It’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before’…i.e. grant yourselves raises above and beyond what you could otherwise justify. I would suspect in this economic environment no private sector worker was awarded a 5% raise just because it was ‘the fair thing to do.’
By public apathy and a lack of transparency on the part of the Commissioners Court, we have allowed this group to silently increase their salaries at a pace far exceeding the citizen they are supposed to represent. It was clear they had no concern for the ‘peon taxpayer’.
I encourage all citizens of Hood County to join me in letting the so called elected ‘representatives’ on the Hood County Commissioners Court know that their actions were unacceptable. Elected official’s salaries should be frozen until they are more in line with the average citizen.
And start now working to educate other citizens that this group of Commissioners Court officials needs to be voted out at the very next opportunity!!!!
Yours in Liberty,