Letter to the Editor – Commissioners Court

Published 8:15 am Saturday, January 9, 2016

This may be a little old fashioned and I don’t know how many people still reads this but here goes.   I attended the Orange County Commissioners Court meeting today to see how my tax dollars were being spent and say hello to a few friends.   I sat in the audience and I felt pride at the manner in which Orange County sought to recognize the WO Football team for their accomplishments and Kidnapped victims.

Turning to items on the agenda the court passed a regulation to limit the ability for citizens to express themselves in open court and my ears perked up.   What, Orange County limiting the ability for its citizens to openly disagree. I must be hearing things! But looking on the agenda there is no longer a section for question from the public at the end of the meeting.

The Court started discussing ts employees vacation. The County Judge did not like the idea of employees being able to take 6 weeks off at one time. A couple Commissioners indicated that the majority of employees don’t take vacation all at one time and anyway it should be up to the Department Heads to determine when and if an employee takes a vacation and for how long. I would like to commend my Commissioner John Banken for making that very point. My thought was, after all, we elect most of the Department Heads, I think they know better when they need their employees and when they do not.

But Judge Carlton is like a dog with a bone, he just couldn’t let it go. The county judge stated he just didn’t think that an employee with 20 years of service to this county should receive 6-week vacation time.   According to him “that was entirely too much”. Yes, that’s a quote! It became obvious to me, this guy just does not have any appreciation for the tedious jobs that county employees do and how it takes years of training and education to do some of the jobs required by county employees.

I am a former Orange County Employee. I gave only 6 years to this County. I can tell you that’s the kind of attitude that helped me decide to find another place of employment.   The County will spend money hiring and training people to do a job. The employee will look at how they are being treated and how they are under paid, underappreciated and add to that benefits are being cut or eliminated.   They will then go somewhere else to apply their trade. So OUR TAX DOLLARS will have gone to employing and training another human being, who will after several years do the very same thing.   The County will have a rotating door and COUNTY TAXES will go up because of the retraining required or the salaries will have to be increased to recruit skilled individuals.

The County Judge and perhaps some of the Commissioners need to understand, you were elected to run Orange County, but not run it into the ground! Instead of cutting benefits for employees who go out and work, why not cut the Judges Salary or the Commissioners who use it as a second income?   I do not pay taxes so you can play King. I do not pay taxes so you can make the lives of employees who fix county roads, process my paperwork or work in my court system miserable. I EXPECT that you RESPECT them for the work they do and for the years of service they have given to this County. I EXPECT that you respect the elected officials that they can make decisions pertaining to the offices they hold, AFTER ALL, we elected them to that office—NOT YOU.  To those other elected officials for Orange County, thank you for the great job you are doing.

You have your job…. DO IT!    And by the way Judge Carlton, since you want to rule by ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER, it is custom and good governance, most meeting procedure authorities agree that the presiding person should not move motions or items from the chair.

Joann Foster

Orange, Texas