Kathi Bliss couldn’t have been more right in her December 23rd column, “Harmony, Maybe Next Year?” As a bearer of a proverbial sledgehammer, I think she has gotten the gist of the problem.
I will add though that it’s unfair to blame the entire Court. For most of the decisions that Ms. Bliss cites, the Court was split in the votes. Some would say that the split was along party lines. As a non-Democrat, I say the split is along the people’s lines, with Commissioners Madrigal and Roland most often voting as the people request.
Ms. Bliss suggests that everyone bring some new tools. I suggest that Judge Bonn and Commissioners Cyrier and Buchholtz needs only one new tool – hearing aids.
I’ve been at the meetings where the decisions that Ms. Bliss cites were voted on. I rarely heard members of the public speak in favor of the decisions. Of course, since the passing (3 to 2) of the Rules of Decorum (translate that to mean “Judge Bonn Doesn’t Want to Hear Any Dissention” rules) it’s not possible to hear from the public during the meetings.
As a sledgehammer bearer, I would probably tread a little softer if Judge Bonn didn’t treat the voters with disdain and, at times, out right anger. He argues, belittles, and ignores the voice of the public.
If Judge Bonn, Commissioners Cyrier and Buchholtz would listen before acting, take the time to understand the people’s concerns, and have real conversations, there might be less dissention. If fact, they might even persuade the folks to their side.
Too often the decision has been made prior to the Court meeting, with action by the court considered just a bothersome formality. Take for instance the hiring of Ron Heggemeier as County Administrator. He actually received a paycheck for that position before the Court (again 3 to 2) approved his hiring. As Ms. Bliss said, “Cut the lumber, then measure the results.”
Judge Bonn announced that he had a “think tank” of unknown persons to advise him. He also asked that he be allowed to carry out “his” plan for the county. However the public isn’t told what his plan is. He only intends to carry it out. I dare say by force if necessary.
How can the majority of the Court get help from the citizenry to build the county rather than watch it continue to crumble? First rescind the dictatorial Rules of Decorum and, if still deemed necessary, adopt the suggested rules from the Texas Association of Counties with the provision that allows citizens to speak on agenda items.
Second have a fewer “Discussion/Action” items on the agenda and a lot more discussion. I don’t recall any of the decisions being an emergency. Discussions could have been held with detailed information for the public at one meeting. Action can be taken at the next.
Judge Bonn might win more folks over to his plan if he revealed it and if he would listen to other commissioners as they present their case. More hearing from the right side of the table would go a long way to more harmony in the county.
I would be willing to carry a lighter hammer if the Judge and his followers were willing to seriously listen to and consider the voters objections to the plan.
What new tools do you think would bring harmony to the court?