The Ellis County Commissioners’ court will discuss and vote on an agenda item Monday morning to change all Commissioners’ Court meetings to 10 a.m. and abandon evening meetings.
This proposed change will limit public involvement in county business because the majority of residents work during the day and not everyone can take off work with a moments notice. Commissioners’ court agendas for Monday meetings are typically not released until Friday. This does not provide residents enough time to be responsible employees and provide employers adequate notice of time off work.
The agenda item to change all Ellis County Commissioners’ Court meetings was originally proposed by Precinct Four Commissioner Ron Brown one month ago. The item was tabled and now Precinct Two Commissioner Bill Dodson has reintroduced the idea.
It wasn’t too long ago, Nov. 16, 2012 to be exact, that a special commissioners’ court meeting was held to consider and vote on a resolution to request a third District Court for Ellis County. Brown opposed the resolution while the rest of the court was in support of it.
Brown faced a problem. The special meeting was scheduled knowing that Brown already had a vacation scheduled with his granddaughter at least six months prior to the scheduling of the meeting.
Numerous residents, including myself, spent many hours over a three-day period calling our fellow citizens asking them to contact their commissioners and county judge to request the agenda item be tabled until Brown could be present and vote.
Why is this important you may ask. We stood up for Brown so that he could represent his constituents. Brown’s position on the issue wasn’t the concern; it was that one fourth of the county would not have representation at the meeting.
I made over 1,000 telephone calls encouraging residents to voice their support for tabling the issue until Brown could be present. The majority of residents I spoke with indicated they were unable to attend the noon meeting because of work responsibilities. This is the most glaring clue that evening meetings are needed.
Brown’s and Dodson’s proposal to change meeting times shows me their lack of respect for so many people willing to stand up for representation.
Why on Earth would Brown slight us one month ago and propose something that would make it more difficult for the residents of Ellis County to be involved in their local government? Why would Dodson reintroduce this controversial change?
Judge Carol Bush raised security concerns about evening meetings following the murder of a Kaufman County prosecutor. Do members of the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court not realize that the prosecutor was murdered before 9 a.m.? Using the prosecutor’s murder shows no rational justification for ceasing evening meetings.
Dodson raised fiscal concerns. However, it was revealed that Dodson finally admitted to using faulty financial numbers to support his position.
If a fiscal concern was a real issue, why did the commissioners’ court vote last year to spend approximately $6,000 for an employee appreciation dinner? If the fiscal concerns about evening meetings costing the county approximately $3,000 per year was a serious concern, wouldn’t you think they would prioritize important budget items?
There are legitimate expenses that Ellis County taxpayers are willing to fund and evening meetings is one of them. The majority of our commissioners’ court is clueless and lack understanding of the people they represent.
Precinct Three Commissioner Paul Perry appears to be the only sensible commissioner who agrees with residents’ concerns about open and accessible government.
I urge you to call your county commissioner today and attend Monday’s commissioners’ court at 10 a.m. in the historic courthouse in Waxahachie.
Also remember that Commissioner Ron Brown, Commissioner Bill Dodson and Judge Carol Bush are up for reelection in 2014.
Now is the time for conservative residents who support making government open and accessible to the residents of Ellis County to consider running against these three individuals. While certain members of the commissioners’ court are busy attempting to silence constituents, we can work feverishly to silence them when it comes time to visit the ballot box.
I have my dialing finger ready to help any potential candidate.
Dave Vance serves as the Ellis County Precinct 106 Republican Chairman.