September 16, 2013

Okay, this is going to be a long story but you might want to pay attention because the same thing is happening in your county. I promise you that.

This is about Williamson County, Texas, and the buffoons on their commissioners court. In Texas, county commissioners are the single most corruptible job in government. Each county has 4 of them and they are led by Boss Hogg (at least in my county) called the County Judge. Oddly, the county judge doesn’t have to be a judge.

In my county, the last three of them have been Republicans and high school graduates. Seriously.

They decide how all the tax money is spent, so lots of people want to be their friends. In a loophole designed specifically as pro-corruption, county commissioners do not have to get bids to hire professional services for the county — that’s lawyers, engineers, architects, auditors, hookers … (okay, I made up the hooker part. I’m just guessing on that part.)

Consequently, these “professionals” want to be close friends with county commissioners so they can get enough taxpayer money to air condition hell. Commissioners can accept gifts from these people as long as such gifts are disclosed in their financial statements. These financial statements are open for public view. But there’s a catch. You have to ask for them in writing and they can only be viewed during normal business hours at the county clerk’s office. Copies of them cost $1 a page.

But the real corruption is in the form of campaign donations. They can take unlimited campaign donations from these professionals. And they can spend that money any way they want to. One of my county commissioners bought a pickup truck for his son and called it a “campaign truck.” His son lives in another county and doesn’t even have his dad’s bumper sticker on the truck. Another was spending it on his girlfriend in Austin. Our county judge tried to pay his wife for doing campaign work for him. Another one is buying clothes with it, contending he needs those clothes to go to work in.

And do you think the district attorney would prosecute this caca del toro? Oh please, slap yourself. They set the district attorney’s salary and his operating budget.

I know this story is getting as long as a West Texas well rope, but I’m gonna quit spattering grease in a minute and get to the bacon.

Welcome to Williamson County, Texas, which is just north of Austin and deeply mired in Tea Party politics. I’m going up there to speak to the Sun City Democrats in November so I figure I might was well ride into town with a target on my back so here goes.

Back in June, there was an open constable position in the county so the county commissioners interviewed some people before they voted to fill the job. A man named Robert Lloyd interviewed and was astounded to be asked his position on gay marriage and abortion. Constables don’t have anything to do with that. Constables serve civil papers, not deliver babies or perform marriages.

But it gets even better. Robert Lloyd sued them.

“He said to the commissioners it was tough to answer the question about gay marriage,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants did not approve of this attitude, and even told Mr. Lloyd he needed a better answer to their questions about gay marriage.”

After the interview, commissioners voted unanimously to hire the brother-in-law of the of the person who serves as attorney for the Commissioners Court.

Obviously, you cannot ask questions like that because even the Texas Constitution says you can’t.

I do not know what the correct answer to gay marriage is but I suspect it involves the F word and heavy weaponry.

So, what does Williamson County do? Do they use the above-mentioned “attorney for commissioners court” or even the county attorney, whose duty it is to represent the county?


No, the county attorney, Republican Doyle “Dee” Hobbs, Jr., is apparently not qualified to handle “representing the county.” Republicans are kinda famous for that.

So, the county commissioners go out and hire the powerhouse law firm Bracewell & Giuliana in Houston.

You will thoroughly enjoy what Bracewell and Giuliana are charging the taxpayers of Williamson County to defend raw and vicious hate on commissioners court so they could brother-in-law in the good ole boy they wanted in the first place.

As you read through the contract, anyone who has ever dealt with these things can tell you that it’s not unusual for you to pay the hourly charge of 7 or 8 lawyers in the firm for a meeting on your case, and that hourly charges are the least of the charges. The real money comes from “expenses.” Holy cow, what they charge for a paperclip makes the $175 for a hospital aspirin look like a bargain.

So, finally, I get to what I want to say: Have you ever notice that Republicans won’t give a slice of bread to a starving baby but will pay millions of dollars to a legal firm to defend their right to hate entire groups of people?

That’s what I wanted to say. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.

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