When trying to make informed election decisions, I look for factual perspectives about candidates and expected such in recent columns by Ray Holbrook (“Don’t vote for Cox in the county judge election,” The Daily News, Jan. 31) and Shawn Phillips (“Told you Lonnie Cox is a bad judge,” The Daily News, Feb. 1). Unfortunately, there were mainly angry opinions and no facts given about the current county judge — except for tax decreases and staff pay increases.
1. Raising compensation within eight years is expectable and not a noteworthy achievement.
2. The tax decreases were merely the elimination of the temporary increase by the previous county administration. It was to cover the then unknown potential increase of cost for raising the earnings levels for county health care eligibility. This measure was taken in response to demands by the state legislature to increase the University of Texas Medical Branch’s revenue, defraying its Ike recovery cost. It was hoped that the increase in health care costs would not rise as much as feared and the tax rate could later be lowered again. It was a good alternative to the more permanent cost of a health district tax entity, as advocated by Commissioner Ken Clark. It would have been in bad faith had Mark Henry not followed through when the reserve proved no longer necessary.
So, what are we left with as accomplishments by Judge Henry? I would like to know! Holbrook and Philips did not recount any — and my attempts to have him tell me himself — went unanswered.
What I “do” know is that under his guidance, the commissioners court agendas are published late and the meetings, dominated by Mark Henry’s overbearing style, have sunk to a dismal unproductive politicized level, as noted also by out-of-county attendees who are used to Judge Ed Emmett’s Harris County leadership.
Maybe Emmett is able to take good care of 14 times more citizens because he gives his executive position a full-time effort. With Henry earning 95 percent of what Emmett makes, for just 7 percent of the population, should we not expect that he, too, gives us full-time service, as did his predecessor and also Holbrook when he was county judge?
Instead, he obligated himself to spend 40 percent of his time as court room judge, having to justify getting a sizable state supplement, without reducing his $167,400 salary accordingly. Did that limitation of effort keep him from doing his job as county emergency manager not nearly as well as Judge Emmett did for his county’s victims of Harvey flooding? We were lucky the state jumped in to cover for Henry, evacuating people and sheltering them.
That pressing county issue: Flooding due to inadequate drainage, mostly due to lack of needed dredging, is sadly not receiving any visible active attention by Henry, leaving it to Commissioner Joe Giusti’s initiative.
Again, if there are real accomplishments by Mark Henry, other than returning the tax rate to the pre-Ike level and giving normal raises, we would like to know.
We need someone who listens and gives his “all” to what we really need, all of us paying county taxes.