Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sam and his Yes-Man Commission Vote Themselves a Raise While Cutting Benefits to County Employees


Kudos to Reeves County Commissioner Saul Herrera for voting against a commissioner pay raise at the same time the Commissioners Court cut county insurance benefits to its employees to pay for it. Commissioner Herrera, representing Balmorhea, was the only commissioner to balk against County Judge Sam Contreras and his Yes-Man Commission despite their reported threats and intimidation. Even the County Attorney stated publicly in an interview to the local rag that the whole affair stinks of poor political judgment and a lack of ethics on the part of these elected county officials.

Many citizens have recently remarked on the politics of family cliques still at work in Pecos despite changes in the membership of the commission at the last election. As the British rock group, The Who, sang, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." No one has been heard to remark favorably concerning the Court's machinations.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about the change in insurance provider, even under such questionable ethical circumstances, short of a civil lawsuit. In Texas, recall elections of local, county and state officials are almost impossible to accomplish, despite federal constitutional guarantees. Powerlessness is no virtue in this situation; it is a curse.

Nevertheless, frustrated employees at the Reeves County Detention Center Complex are currently demanding a recall election. The Texas Office of Secretary of State has been contacted for advice on how to proceed. We are getting reports that most employees are enraged because County Judge Contreras apparently engineered the insurance change "on the down-low," avoiding any meaningful discussion of alternatives -- all the while insuring his own raise in salary as well as those of his Yes-Men. Something smells fishy at the Reeves County Courthouse and even the Pecos Enterprise can smell this one.

At this hour, the editors of TAMFR have little information regarding the actual group insurance policy the Commission has approved -- only that it replaces Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and offers cheaper rates for the County. If employee fears regarding the new policy are confirmed, families with dependent children stand to lose the most.

There are unconfirmed rumors and accusations of kick-backs offered by the new provider in order to secure the deal but these appear to be suspicions springing from a ground of rage and anger as well as Reeves County's own dubious political history. Something certainly is stinky about a County Commission that will cut employee benefits at the same time it votes itself a raise. In-your-face arrogance, no? Or are they really this politically stupid?

We will keep you posted, but it sure looks to us like someone is getting the bird; that is, someone incomparably more innocent than a recently "transferred" deputy warden who had the apparently well deserved reputation of having such an irascible disposition that it was brought to the attention of the Reeves County Sheriff on one too many occasions. Family is so important out here; and if you're not related, you're not defended.

--willy

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