The opinions stated within this post are my own.
Any pertinent comments, even if I don't agree with them will be posted as long as they are not anonymous.
The Big Bend Sentinel today reported on the Commissioners Court meeting from Tuesday in an article titled, "Golf association disbands as county refines course operations."
After covering the developments on the golf course management, other meeting news was featured, including several items mentioned in my notes (3 posts prior to this one on this blog post.)
The first topic was with regard to the re-titling of county vehicles and equipment, grant funded and non-grant funded to the County from the Sheriff's Office. In the past, the Sheriff had all equipment and vehicles purchased or acquired by his department titled to the Sheriff's Office, and not to the County. The State Attorney General has ruled that all County property belongs to the County and is subject to the control of Commissioners Court. The Sheriff has refused to turn over titles for re-assignment to the Treasurer, despite being asked to.
During the meeting, both Commissioners White and Aranda made it clear that they believe this is a necessary step towards compliance with the audit inventory control issues. The Sheriff has said that the auditor is wrong, and that they have a grip on their own inventory. It is possible that they do, but in the past they have, at least, been reticent and even obstinate about sharing any information with Commissioners Court or anyone outside their department tasked with trying to sort through all this for accounting, transparency and audit purposes. Judge Guevara weighed in here as well, agreeing that this is the first step in a comprehensive effort for inventory tracking, control and valuation.
As mentioned in the paper, Sheriff Dominguez was present for this agenda item, which was approved unanimously by Commissioners Court, and he did not comment. Treasurer Frances Garcia now has the duty to collect all titles from the Sheriff's Office for vehicles and equipment for transfer to the County. He has refused to do this already several times, and I presume that if he refuses again, the County will have to take the steps necessary to declare the titles missing and have them re-issued by the tax office. If that happens, the next issue could be keys... Luckily, there won't be any confusion within the Sheriff's Office as to what was decided at Commissioners Court since the paper also reported that "Administrative Assistant Shanna Elmore filmed the discussion with a cell phone."
Later in the meeting an agenda item the Sheriff placed on the agenda asking for the hiring of three new deputies. By that time, representatives from the Sheriff's Office had left the meeting. The item was unanimously tabled by Commissioners Court, as no numbers were presented on potential costs of hiring and also the timing for making a decision to add County employees wasn't right since the overall County proposed budget has not yet been introduced.
The meeting itself was generally productive and peaceful. Several interested citizens who are not usually at the meetings attended and stayed throughout. I thank the individuals who are showing interest; I know it can be excruciatingly boring much of the time.
The most assertive moment in the meeting came right at the beginning with the comments from the County Judge. I was not able to take notes quickly enough to really get down what she had to say, but I think my notes alluded to the direct nature in which she addressed all attendees and her peers at the Commissioners Court table. The paper was able to transcribe her direct comments verbatim and I will reprint them here.
Preface: The paper is quoted as saying "Guevara said she lt she needed to reiterate the rules because she felt they were not followed at the July 28th meeting in Presidio." The rules she is referring to regard public commentary, and the only point of reference for breaking these rules at that meeting is the long speech by Chief Deputy Joel Nunez, covered in the blog post on Commissioners Court 7/28. In my opinion, the line regarding threatening language could also be directed at comments the Sheriff made at this same meeting about Commissioners Court's trust in his department and potential abdication of duties. Once again, these are my opinions.
Referencing state statutes regarding Commissioners Court decorum and Contempt of Court, the judge stated, "It is not the intention of the Presidio County Commissioners Court to provide a public forum for the demeaning of any individual or group. Neither is it the intention of the Commissioners Court to allow a member or members of the public to insult the honesty and the integrity of the Commissioners Court as a body or any member or members of the Commissioners Court individually or collectively, including profane or insulting or threatening language directed towards the Commissioners Court and to any person of the Commissioners Court's presence."
The next meeting will surely focus on the 2015-2016 County budget and the issues of staffing and inventory will have had more time to progress behind the scenes and potentially during the public meeting. This next Commissioners Court meeting is TBA. I will update here. DB