To the Editor,
The stench of government overreach and government interference permeated the walls of the historic Ellis County Courthouse and blanketed Ellis County Monday afternoon.
Once again government overreach, transparency and totalitarianism have become an issue of the commissioners’ court.
Residents across the county have approached Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry about reintroducing one evening commissioners’ court meeting per month.
Commissioner Perry, in an effort to represent the residents of his precinct as they elected him to do, submitted an agenda item for “discussion and possible action regarding commissioners’ court meeting date and times.”
However, County Judge Carol Bush, under her own admission, took it upon herself to delete a portion of Commissioner Perry’s agenda item and make his proposal a discussion item only.
She admitted to changing Commissioner Perry’s agenda item and made it very clear that she did so intentionally. Judge Bush offered no apology.
Instead, she defended her action by explaining she wanted to change it simply because she disagreed with the item.
The problem is that Judge Bush has no legal authority to do so. In fact, former Attorney General Jim Mattox issued an opinion in 1983 that stated the county judge has no authority to control the contents of the agenda or limit items to be considered by the commissioners’ court.
Additionally, AG Opinion JM-63 stated, “Each member of the court, of course, must be permitted to place on this agenda any item of his choosing.”
Judge Bush’s action was an egregious violation of the trust voters should have in the office of county judge and was a direct violation of the AG’s opinion.
More importantly, county commissioners represent residents and this is one more example of residents being removed from the government process and having their voices silenced.
However, this time it is being done by interfering with a commissioner’s ability to perform the job he was elected to do.
Our county government is a representative form of government, not a dictatorship led by the county judge.
I applaud Commissioner Perry’s integrity and willingness to stand up for the residents of Ellis County. We need more elected officials with Commissioner Perry’s character.
It will take a united effort by the residents of Ellis County, but together we can rid Ellis County of the stench of government overreach, open the doors to more transparency, make county government more accessible to the public and return the county government back into the hands of residents.
Ellis County Commissioner Precinct 4