The bad ole boys of Galveston County
By Lloyd Criss
Special to The Daily News
Published February 2, 2012
On the national scene, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are viscously engaged in a no holds barred battle for the GOP presidential nomination.
In Austin, our governor has returned to the state capitol after an embarrassing ego trip that cost Texas taxpayers $1.1 million for his security costs. But the combined bad behavior of GOP national and state leaders is minuscule when compared to the recent shenanigans of the local GOP elected officials in the Galveston County Courthouse.
First to make the news was our GOP county treasurer who faced criminal charges for providing alcohol to minors at a graduation party. To be followed by charges and criminal conviction of our GOP district clerk for violent acts against his spouse.
In September, four members of the county commissioners court, in a gesture to promote limited government, voted to take a 5 percent pay cut and discontinue their $1,000 per month automobile allowance. This vote was supported by two Democrats and two Republicans. Within one week, the two Republicans joined a third GOP member of the court and voted to take back from the taxpayers their 5 percent pay cut and the $1,000 automobile allowance.
In December, the other GOP county commissioner, the one who did not earlier vote for the pay cut, made the news. A local newspaper story revealed his son had been hired on the county payroll. This was a clear violation of state nepotism law. According to the Texas attorney general’s office, when a public official violates state nepotism law, he must be removed from office.
In January, in another exposé of a county GOP official, a county court at law judge’s ex-wife said he had lied on his application to appear on the 2010 GOP primary ballot. Within one week, this same judge was involved in another incident. This time a visiting judge fined him $7,500 for failure to appear in court in a lawsuit where he was accused of malpractice and fraud.
That’s not all, folks! At least three other local GOP elected officials have either a spouse or a close relative working full time on the county payroll. A closer investigation of at least two of these hires could very well show violations of the state nepotism law.
Before the 2010 general election, the Galveston County Courthouse was dominated by Democratic elected officials. The Republicans referred to the Democrats as the “good ole boys.”
Now the GOP holds a majority. Never before has one group of elected officials demonstrated this degree of arrogance and disrespect for the laws they swore to uphold. Being a “good ole boy” was a badge of honor when being compared to the deeds of this current crop of Galveston County GOP “bad ole boys.”
Lloyd Criss is chair of the Galveston County Democratic Party.