Aug 21, 2010

On the Village Idiot This Week

CAVEAT: I'm extremely wary of anything that Philip R. Klein posts; even more so after Andrew Brietbart posted a video of Shirley Sherrod out of context. PRK has been posting documents of dubious authenticity, without attribution, and out of context for years.

Out of respect to my readers who are probably as shocked as I at Philip's horrific page layout, the referenced media are posted here in a more conventional manner. There is no such thing as a "low-tech website;" rather the SETPR is operated by an inept editor with no expertise in basic blog publishing.

For purposes of public debate, I'll accept these spurious materials at face value.

This week, Philip R. Klein has focused (term used loosely) on the Jefferson County reduction in workforce on the Southeast Texas Political Review (SETPR): 
We are never really that shocked by anything that goes on in Jefferson County. But this one really took us back a little.
While I'm never really that shocked by any of Philip's aberrant claims, I, too, was taken aback by his postings this week,  where he reached a new low in abject stupidity. 
Judge Walker [2007]
Judge Walker [2010]
Patrick Swain [???]
The Southeast Texas Political Review has been given audio of Judge Ron Walker in September of 2007 regarding his support of the Jefferson County Constables and urging the creation of another deputy position as well as the reasons for creating the position. And frankly the position made sense. But that was then and this is now.


Well again - that was then and this is now. Hello 2010 and we are guessing that things have changed. Really changed. We want our readers TO LISTEN TO THE AUDIO OF JUDGE RON WALKER OF AUGUST 2010 :    LISTEN

If that doesn't shock you - then you need to stop reading this web site and you need to get out of politics. In three short years Walker and Crew have gone from needing the deputies and being worried about their safety to calling the constables bailiffs and or paper chunkers.
Philip misconstrued Judge Walker's purported statement from 2007 who opposed adding any new deputy constables with one exception: Precinct Four.

As clearly enumerated by Judge Walker, the primary reason was that while the workload decreased in the other precincts, Constable James Trahan's workload had increased. Only the secondary reason had to do with law enforcement, since Constable Trahan did not have a municipal police department in his precinct who served as first responders. At the time, Constable's Trahan's staff consisted of only one other deputy.

In the 2010 statement, Judge Walker explained his position on the cuts: the county can only fund those duties specifically set forth in Sec. 86.021 of the Texas Constitution:

(a)  A constable shall execute and return as provided by law each process, warrant, and precept that is directed to the constable and is delivered by a lawful officer. 

(b)  A constable may execute any civil or criminal process throughout the county in which the constable's precinct is located and in other locations as provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law.

(c)  A constable expressly authorized by statute to perform an act or service, including the service of civil or criminal process, citation, notice, warrant, subpoena, or writ, may perform the act or service anywhere in the county in which the constable's precinct is located.

(d)  Regardless of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, all civil process may be served by a constable in the constable's county or in a county contiguous to the constable's county, except that a constable who is a party to or interested in the outcome of a suit may not serve any process related to the suit. 

(e)  The constable shall attend each justice court held in the precinct.
The Texas Constitution corroborates Judge Walker's statement: law enforcement is not a prescribed duty of constables even though the constable and his deputies must be licensed law enforcement officers.

Philip Klein took these two statements out of context and has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the affects of the 2008/2009 recession on Jefferson County.  While the county itself has not cut jobs whatsoever until now, workforce reductions in private industry across the U.S. were projected at 20 million last year.

Jefferson County felt these effects very early when the price of oil fell from a high of $167 a barrel to a low of $37 during February 2009.  Because of this, several major expansions at Total, Motiva, and Valero were canceled or postponed. This resulted in a $12 billion hit to the local economy, so local businesses reduced their existing workforces. These reductions in workforce are still occurring in Southeast Texas.

This is the fundamental problem in the local economy, but Klein has obscured honest debate about these issues with his own personal agenda.
Adding insult to injury - Patrick Swain - the so called chief money criminal of Jefferson County - who is not only on team Walker - but seemingly the district judges have NO CONTROL over as he has employees not even show up to the office to work and they work from home (so they say) while drawing down huge salaries and benefits (like car allowances when they don't drive to work - we guess the cell phone allowances come in handy), seemingly said this :    LISTEN
When compared with what Swain actually said, Klein's comments reveal more about PRK's ignorance of common business practices. I can certainly see how Klein managed six Dairy Queen franchises into bankruptcy during the boom years of the 90s.

Philip has repeatedly claimed that Patrick Swain is a criminal, guilty of fraud. This is defamatory speech and stems from nothing more than Klein's own dislike of Swain that began when Patrick repeatedly pointed out the profligate fiscal policy of Judge Carl Griffith, who now works as a lobbyist

Klein will not admit that during Carl Griffith's , the county was much closer to bankruptcy than it is today. From the 2007 Management and Performance Review funded by some private businesses who supported Judge Griffith:
Jefferson County’s revenue growth has been sluggish in recent years, yet its expenditures rose in all but one year since fiscal 1999. Consequently, the county has experienced repeated budget deficits since fiscal 2000.

To finance these deficits, the county has relied heavily on its fund balances. The General Fund balance fell from $25.4 million in fiscal 1999 to $5.1 million in fiscal 2004, a drop of 80 percent. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends that governments maintain an unreserved fund balance of 15 percent of general fund expenditures or two months of general fund operating expenditures.

In addition, Jefferson County’s Enterprise Fund has been operating in the red. From fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2004, the airport ran a deficit averaging $1.7 million per year, while Ford Park’s deficit ballooned to $3.6 million in fiscal 2004. These deficits are partly financed by transfers from the General Fund, thus increasing its problems. Jefferson County has no comprehensive financial management strategy or longterm financial plan. It budgets and spends funds without analyzing how they further the county’s goals and objectives. MGT found little accountability for spending and a shortsighted focus on current-year finances.
As the village idiot, Philip R. Klein wrote this about Judge Griffith during that period:
Carl R. Griffith Jr. - Oh boy. Here is our man...The leader of all leaders (and we are serious about that). The guy has his ticket written and the media loves him.
While the county grapples with Griffith's boondoggle, Ford Park, Philip Klein continues to divert attention with spurious charges, based on vague an anonymous sources:
Even more shocking - Eddie Arnold as we wrote yesterday may have broke the law.

The Southeast Texas Political Review has learned late this afternoon that the Jefferson County Commissioners, especially elected member Eddie Arnold may have violated the Fair Labor Standards act and that serious consideration is being given to filing a federal lawsuit against the county for the violation (s).
A cursory examination of the Texas Penal Code that Philip posted reveals that like most of his lawsuits, the statute is (intentionally?) misinterpreted by Klein.  

PRK has repeatedly ignored the real issues, as stated in Arnold's document that Klein posted.

Historically, the constable workload has declined. The Examiner verified reductions of as much as 50 to 75 percent. In reading the document posted by Klein, it seems to me that Commissioner Arnold is describing a flexible schedule where deputies stagger their work times serving papers to take advantage of times when people are home. In private business such as the plants, this is called shift work.

Even more telling, Commissioner Arnold asked that Constables limit their staffs to a maximum of three deputies. This is entirely consistent with Judge Walker's guidelines in his 2007 statement. There are currently 21 deputies spread among six constables.

This is yet another example of how Klein took these two statements by Judge Walker out of context. Here are the numbers:
These figures are based on the overall cost of all Constables' departments, less all revenue refunded or collected by them, and with net credits of the Justice of Peace collections over their expenses. 

The cost of constables has now surpassed funding for Ford Park, which will cost 1.8 million this year in operating expenses. When considering operations and debt service as a package, perhaps it's time to cut Jefferson County's losses on Griffith's Boondoggle and look for an exit strategy.

PRK's personal and unprovoked attacks on County Auditor Patrick Swain and Commissioner Eddie Arnold have nothing to do with these issues. Commissioner Arnold cut his own budget by 12 percent, eliminated one position in his office, and promised to take a 5 percent voluntary pay cut over the next year. Riddle me this, Mr. Klein: how much as Swain reduced his operating costs? No comment? 

Klein's personal agenda is showing again this week:
And we have not even HIT the so called "Clinic for Employees" and the true numbers of patients treated and the total budget for the cost per employee to have a $500,000 clinic open? Anyone want to do the math and send it to us. How much is spent to employ a nurse, a nurse practitioner and a secretary for a department that nobody uses? That costs the taxpayers six figures?

Retirement - Another astute county employee - furious over the misinformation from the commissioners tells the Review that all three of the clinic employees have ties to the political machine - thus they are untouchable. One is the daughter of a former US Judge, one is related to a current sitting commissioner and one is the wife of a former county auditor that passed. They have been deemed by many in the county as "The Untouchables" - have all one year before full retirement. Uh....Eddie? Is that why you said let's give it a year?
I've addressed Klein's misstatements concerning the health clinic in detail here in an article entitled, "Fat Man in the Pool."  Philip didn't mention that the nurse practitioner who runs the County's in-house employee health care program is the former mother-in-law of Klein's cutthroat attorney, John Morgan, whose acrimonious divorce is common knowledge. Uh...Philip? Is this why you took Eddie Arnold's statement out of context again?

Reiterating the simple point that Klein refuses to address despite his verbose and loquacious statements, the workload of deputy constables in Jefferson County has decreased, while the costs have continued to increase. In the private sector, those deputies would have been targeted for cost reductions a long time ago.

The real tragedy is this: Griffith's Boondoggle, Ford Park, has become the gift that keeps on giving.  Ford Park can't compete with other venues in Houston, and now has a direct competitor in Jefferson County. Yet Jefferson County residents must continue to fund this tar baby because there is no other realistic alternative. The county can't simply shut it down, nor can they run it profitably.

Thank you, Judge Griffith. I guess you got the final laugh after all.


Anonymous said...

When compared with what Swain actually said, Klein's comments reveal more about PRK's ignorance of common business practices. I can certainly see how Klein managed six Dairy Queen franchises into bankruptcy during the boom years of the 90s.


Anonymous said...

Carl Griffith left this county with the Ford Park burden for future generations to pay and pay.

Anonymous said...

Griffith used Klein as his personal attack machine. Phillip always picks the losing team.

Anonymous said...

Your best article yet, Gus. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

damn right. opie leaves jefferson county in a bind then leaves his devoted wife of twenty plus years for a younger woman. what a butthole.

Anonymous said...

regards kleins rant about clinic
could he be getting freebies from his sidekick cutthroat attorney john slasher morgan

is this the same attorney who fired and sued his attorney in his divorce then crawfished

is this the same attorney whose wife had a restraining order prohibiting him from beating her and the children, calling in the middle of the night to call her profane names and from tampering with their property of funds
as per article

Anonymous said...

Love the new lawsuit links on the side bar. Looks like Klein got more sues than a Chinese phone book.

Anonymous said...

That's funny about John Morgan.

Anonymous said...