Bexar County Survives Most Unique Legislative Session
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
June 16, 2011
I have often heard over the years that "no person's life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session". Truer words have never been spoken. Given the difficulty of both legislative redistricting and closing a roughly $25 billion shortfall in the State's budget, this session was especially challenging.
This Session brought us both good and bad. I believe that we did pretty well on some of the small but important legislative items. The fiscal impact on local units of government---counties, cities and school districts primarily, is yet to be fully assessed. When it is in the ensuing weeks, I will share with you what I believe happened to us financially.
Perhaps one of the most difficult issues of redistricting was alleviated strangely enough by the imbalance of power that allows one side to rule and the other to seek redress in the Courts and elsewhere. So until the end, there was no appearance of being "caught-up" in redistricting like we were throughout the session when I served in the 1981. It appeared to me that money drove everything, from day-one!
Any revenue measure or legislation involving taxes, fees even when local communities were willing to take the heat of sponsoring such measures in their respective counties died. Such was the case with the "road and bridge" fee Bexar County sought to provide a meager local supplement to our cash-strapped transportation system. All you have to do to witness the lack of funds for our Texas Highways is look at the manner in which the grass is cut or the debris is cleared from our medians.
In Precinct Four, I have about 50-60 city-like unincorporated subdivisions. That means that our County has to provide environmental compliance for these residents for the same kinds of problems that vex those of us that live in the City. A derelict property owner cannot be allowed to own a run-down property or to allow the property to have a junk vehicle on it, overgrown grass or simply have a dilapidated property go without timely fixing! We sought to accelerate the timeframe for fixing the damage to surrounding properties when undue delay harms them. This bill failed.
A "blue warrant" bill appears headed for approval. This will allow a judge to consider bail for a technical parole violator who proves to the judge his or her worthiness despite their infraction. The idea is to decrease the fleecing of the public for incarceration of those who should pay a price but not make the public suffer in the process. Instilling a worth ethic is enhanced by work not by mere incarceration in every instance. Remember, 81% of everyone in our jail has been there before, often many multiples of times!
To be continued!