“I fail to comprehend why it is taking so long to review this contract”- Commissioner Todd Fontenot said as he patted himself on the back about having offered to help assist and expedite a process he is totally outside the loop on.
It seems Mr. Fontenot places a great deal more value on the speed it takes to work out a deal than the quality and the effect any deal may have for the citizens of Liberty County. Sadly, Mr. Fontenot appears to be far more frustrated about evaluating different options Liberty County has about what to do about the county jail than he has been with all of the lawsuits, escapes, and personnel problems CEC has had since he and a commissioner court made up of all Democrats voted years ago to give them over $3 million a year.
Contrary to Mr. Fontenot’s histrionics in commissioner court the last week, there has been no one particularly interested in any cost/benefit analysis concerning the huge expense taxpayers are burdened with in this area. It is election time and Mr. Fontenot has watched as one of his political buddies after another has been totally rejected by local voters and that seems to have caused an epiphany about what needs to be done. What Mr. Fontenot believes he needs to do right here at election time is to talk like a conservative.
Unfortunately for him, Mr. Fontenot’s past performance and his association and participation in the dwindling and now toothless “good ole boy system” doesn’t appear to have left him with enough credibility to be seen as anything but an enemy to the taxpayers and a pariah in a process like this one. Liberty Dispatch believes officials wanting to avoid booby traps in the information gathering stage of the process of analyzing Liberty County’s best option concerning the jails, would avoid sharing their thoughts with Mr. Fontenot – and avoid sharing with former commissioner court advocates for CEC like those so badly defeated in the last election (Lee Groce and Phil Fitzgerald) and Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham. Their political posturing and influence peddling never has helped on this matter in the past and it is not likely to be helpful now. Their list of priorities do not always have the Liberty County taxpayers at the top of the list.
Several weeks ago Liberty Dispatch’s investigation of who has shown an interest in a sincere evaluation of what is best for the taxpayers of this county concerning the jails revealed that Mr. Fontenot has not asked for any cost benefit/analysis or feasibility study from Liberty County Auditor Harold Seay. And he has asked for no raw data to review independently. That information is readily available to him – and the general public for that matter. Instead, Mr. Fontenot has only spent time criticizing the only real conservative County Judge we have had in the history of Liberty County. He can only squeal he doesn’t like the pace at which County Judge McNair is doing what he and the Democrats should have done before we were in a budget crisis.
Mr. Fontenot, in all his vainglory, has made a point to let everyone at commissioners’ court and the media know that while his colleagues had not read the bids, he had read them the day before and he is ready to hear the result of Judge McNair’s research. But while there may be no one that questions Mr. Fontenot’s eagerness to influence this decision, the fact Mr. Fontenot has for over a decade been easily satisfied with the status quo makes him the last person that should offer public criticism. He seems to think voters will forget that he and his cronies have for years felt this issue required no further study. The timing of Judge McNair’s decisions on this matter has not cost the county a dime. In fact, the way he has handled this has caused the public to pay more attention and could have created a situation which causes Democrat officials and both companies bidding to put their best foot forward. Simply said, in only his second year as County Judge, looks like he has forced Mr. Fontenot to at a minimum talk like a businessman that is looking out for the community, instead of an expert in brinkmanship who sits back and smugly proclaims, “You boys are wasting your time thinking about changing what we have done for years.”
Politicians who rise to speak in public and pontificate and project the appearance of a great problem solver- those politicians need to be mindful that voters in these tough economic times are voting out incumbents who have allowed these types of problems to fester. Taxpayers have also grown increasingly aware that friendships and personal relationships can develop around large multimillion dollar contracts and way too often they are more beneficial for the politicians making the deal than those of us who are paying it.
Mr. Fontenot can put on his suit and tie and clear his throat to object to things like spending $2000 to hire outside counsel all he wants. Like an actor in a play he can play the role of a responsible conservative representative “of the people”, but he has a record and it contradicts even an academy award winning performance that his friends in the local media may try to help perpetuate. Reality tells us he has risen and spoken on many other issues. Those who watch politics and this commissioners’ court have seen his behavior in non-election years. And the speeches and decisions he has made over the years not only reveal his contentment with CEC and lack of interest in reviewing this issue, they also reveal that he could be the politician featured on a poster for the “tax and spend” and “borrow and spend more” mentality that has caused Liberty County’s current budget crisis.
Voters have to go no further back in their memory to check out Mr. Fontenot’s “conservatism and his responsible decision-making” than just a few months ago when in the midst of a budget shortfall, he repeatedly pushed the county to build him an unprecedented second precinct barn. He uses the same tactics when trying to have taxpayers pay for a second location and a second barn. He indignantly proclaims "It will save money"... He conveniently leaves out the warning he was given ten years ago that his re-redistricting ideas would spread his precinct out and cause the problems he now has to solve.
Mr. Fontenot’s inability to resist making decisions that have piled up the consequences of years and years of his reckless borrowing and spending would make any wise negotiator want to minimize the damage he could do. Once again, we applaud Judge McNair and his efforts to get the best deal he can get for this community. If Mr. Fontenot feels like he is out of the loop, perhaps he should prepare to feel how far out of the loop us taxpayers have felt through the years when he and his buddies were unstoppable in their good ole boy “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” games with the county’s assets. Maybe he needs to prepare to go back to finding a non-reserved parking space at the courthouse. Maybe he needs to prepare, for the final swoosh of the broom that cleans out his kind of Gestapo politics in our courthouse.
Fontenot, you are almost a distant memory in Liberty County history, a bad memory.
Again, Liberty Dispatch contributors and Liberty Dispatch's supporters would like to thank Liberty County Judge Craig McNair for his stellar leadership and conservative platform implementation in Liberty County.