Tuesday, June 12, 2012

PROBLEM SOLVING MADE EASIER WITH KIRKHAM GONE

In August 2008 Liberty County officials failed to navigate the strong opposition former County Judge Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham had gathered to what look like a solution to a long standing problem in Liberty County.

Prior Liberty County Judge Kirkham loved the camera and he loved the politics. While in office, the six foot six inch Tarkington native compared politics to his competing on the basketball court in Tarkington in the 1960’s. The only problem was that as good at Kirkham was at dominating local newspapers with his picture and winning re-election, he was equally bad at holding the cost of local government down and at solving problems. Local Republicans often joked that “Tookie is in most of our family portraits”, but no one joked about the unsolved problems.

County Judge, Kirkham was a no show in dealing with juveniles in his official capacity while county judge. In fact, while he talked a good game about dealing with juveniles, he was instrumental in closing down the only juvenile detention center in Liberty, County. His analogy about basketball never extended into the realm of problem solving. Perhaps being six foot six inches in the 1960’s in Tarkington Texas was such a huge advantage it left very little need for any other effort, the Liberty County juvenile problem is not as easily resolved. There were plenty of excuses Kirkham could have used had the media or taxpayers or parents challenged Kirkham squashing the facility.

But there are plenty of real life damages to youths that Judge Kirkham’s decision to give away his responsibility as the chief juvenile officer of the county has caused. In 2012 there has already been more than enough times a juvenile center in Liberty County was needed. Like the 14 juveniles in the infamous Cleveland gang rape of a juvenile and on other occasions where a juvenile facility in Liberty County could have made a difference, we have nothing. Kirkham made sure we would have no support system for our troubled youth. A troubled juvenile is often left in the classroom when a county claims it has no options. Troubled juveniles left in classrooms often cause problems for other young people that they would have otherwise never had.

So why bring that up now. Well one reason would be to ask public officials to do what Judge Kirkham failed to do. Public officials should explain the facts and circumstances surrounding juvenile detention facilities. There are fewer and fewer options and less and less use of juvenile detention by Liberty County. It is no secret we have the same kind of juvenile problems most counties have. And there is not a bunch of parents volunteering to have their little darling sit next to one of these troubled souls in English class. We need to know the taxpayer responsibility for a local facility, including the benefits from leasing spots to other counties etc.

The problem seemed to miraculously resolve itself after Kirkham left. In August of 2008 Rosalyn Ruffin Barboza proposed using a building in Tarkington for a 14-bed residential treatment facility. Her application for a license from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), formerly Children’s Protective Services was met by the same Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham that had killed the juvenile facility in Liberty.

Barboza had envisioned a juvenile center filled with over a dozen boys ranging from ages 9-17 and three or four adult employees overseeing them. She thought the public would embrace her idea as a solution for both troubled teenagers and those who would benefit by classrooms free of such problems- she was wrong… In just one week in August of 2008, area residents led by Kirkham and others scrambled to get 1,000 signatures on a petition to keep the facility from being licensed and have that petition placed on the Liberty County Commissioners Court agenda. Kirkham again was “competing”, just like in his high school days. And just like in his tenure as Liberty County Judge, Kirkham was not solving problems. His legacy is one of blaming others and leaving the problem solving to someone else. Kirkham can claim his leadership in running Barboza out of Liberty County is because of his newly acquired conservative philosophy, but he spent more money as County judge than any other County judge in Liberty County history. He can claim he was protecting Tarkington from attracting riff raff from all over the state and all that comes with such a facility, but the facility would at times be filled with youth from our own county. The facility was to be a treatment facility to help teenagers.

Chuong Khuat. Khuat, a DFPS licensing agent said, “This is the first time I’ve seen this,” when asked by one of the people who turned out to protest the facility if it was common to see a community so completely opposed to a residential facility.

The opposition came not just from the proposed facility’s immediate neighbors but from the Liberty County political establishment at the time. The list includes a who’s who of former officials including County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, Pct. 2 Commissioner Lee Groce, and of course County Judge Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham- who was already out of office in August 2008.

The media reported one of the things that offended those in attendance the most was the fact that the facility would have been a for-profit enterprise. Barboza informed the crowd that if her license for the facility was approved that state of Texas would pay her $668,000 annually to house the 14 boys there.

Further analysis was not offered. Just like when Kirkham shut down any chance of a juvenile detention center when he was in office, we were all left with an unsolved problem and the assumption that it was just plain too expensive to solve. An assumption that needs to be discussed in detail before someone is harmed so dramatically that the county’s decisions end up on the Houston news and another tragedy visits our community.

Kirkham is gone, what better time to brainstorm and solve problems.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what happens to students who refuse to behave no matter what?

Anonymous said...

They should be expelled. Period.

Anonymous said...

Punishment should be layered. Bad behavior is not all the same. You need a juvenile detention center for the worst of the worst.

Anonymous said...

Can we make money off of open beds? Is that pretty much for sure?

Anonymous said...

I read that the state was going to pay the lady for her work in the fourteen bed facility.

Anonymous said...

When teenagers are sent off to a facility (out of Liberty County), we have to pay for part of their stay.

Anonymous said...

Tookie is a tall empty-headed Democrat who is going around telling people he is a Republican now. Where is his integrity? he loved Ann Richards. Now is he saying he loves Mitt Romney?

Anonymous said...

the juvenile center faced the same mentality (and therefore, fate,) as a host of other unsavory facilities (landfills, nuclear waste sites, water treatment plants, bars, adult sexually oriented businesses, pawn shops, game rooms, tire recycling plants, concrete plants...):

NIMBY (not in my back yard)

Sure, LC could have used the facility, though I doubt that a mere dozen beds would have made much of a dent in the problem.

They just didn't bother to do their homework, before choosing somebody's "back yard."

Anonymous said...

Why does Lloyd Kirkham keep rubbing his dried out old prune in Craig McNair's face?

Anonymous said...

Kirkham should have helped find a place to put the facility. he never has come to the plate and helped teenagers. All talk and no action.

Anonymous said...

Cane them.

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Kirkham is pink slime.

Anonymous said...

You'd think at 6'6" in the early 1960's that Tookie would have been in high demand from every Texas college - not! Even then you had to pass the SAT.

Anonymous said...

I think I remember Llooooooyd went to some small school but couldn't cut the mustard.

Anonymous said...

there's no shortage of LC political has beens, still obsessed with controlling (even after the voters ousted them.) Let's add a few names to the list- Stan Jones, Harry Williams, Bob Steely, Croley, Lewis, Fitz, Groce, Archer

Anonymous said...

How long has your boy, Craig Mcnair been in office now? What has he done about the juvenile problems?

Anonymous said...

anybody saying that Kirkham, or the above group, are gone... hasn't been privy to all the back room dealings.

Anonymous said...

In response to the article on the Juvenile facility to be located in Tarkington. First, this was done behind closed doors without any input from property owers located near the home. This was a community that came together to say NO! Mr. Kirkham and Lee Groce were not the only officials to try and help their neighbors. Rep. John Otto,a representative from Senator Tommy Williams office,Sheriff Greg Arthur,Tarkington School Superintendent, several School Board members and many residents met at the house to see and hear the proposal that would have affected all of us.Many reasons were given not to have a facility in a rural community.This house was only a single family home with four bedrooms.This facility was to be used for Juveniles from Harris County and would have beeen of no benefit for our local juveniles.

Editor said...

With all due respect to the people in that community, Lloyd Kirkham has a unique role in dealing with Liberty County's youth. As county judge he not only sherked his responsibility because he wanted to avoid the work and possible controversy, he made it harder on all of the people that follow him in office. On top of that, Kirkham joining the community to protest this particular home is no prblem, but as the man who has a legacy of irresponsibility in the area of youth, Kirkham should have helped find other options. He could have fixed what he broke. But he didn't.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why Tookie is a big issue, must be something going on I don't know about, but as a citizen of Tarkington I did not want to see that facility here..Just like Hardin did not want the low rent housing project..Not sure why this is an issue on LD...Let me know what I am missing here please .....

Anonymous said...

Here is what I former county judge told the media at the time: “We know the need [for a juvenile treatment facility] is there,” said Kirkham, “but it’s not going to benefit our community. These kids are going to come from all over.” So as a former county judge, Kirkham "knows" the need for the facility but he does absolutely nothing to try and make the most of the interest barboza shows in bringing a facility to the county. Kirkham is an idiot. Instead of listening to all of the signals Barboza sent to accomodate our needs, kirkham helps kill the deal. Barboza would have relocated the facilty. The facility for the same purpose that use to be in the county is next to the jail in Liberty. That was before Kirkham killed it - but, just like he did in this sitaution, he claims we need a facility.

Anonymous said...

NIMBY, barboza

Anonymous said...

Put the juvenile facility in the old Wal-Mart building or sell it. I would prefer selling it because I hear all the copper and AC units have been striped and are now junk. What a money pit the Taxpayers have paid for at the Old Wal-Mart and they have it closed so no one can park there.

Anonymous said...

Liberty county built a juvenile facility right by the new jail. they closed it down many years ago. Not sure why and not sure what they are doing with the place now. i guess it is part of the jail package with the for-profit company running our jail. No county official seems to do anything about the juvenile problem.

Anonymous said...

Kirkham has tons of history lets go back and explore it in detail. Back in the day he owned the Liberty County media and still does own most of it.

Anonymous said...

I say thats a great idea to study the mistakes of Kirkham's past to avoid his mistakes in the future. Kirkham is the reason Liberty County is now in such dire financial straits.

Anonymous said...

What a googled eyed maroon. MORE Tookie stories PLEASE! This is great!

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Kirkham, more Liberty County "pink slime". Turncoat RINO

Anonymous said...

I have lived in liberty county for 50 years and had to sit by and watch democrat Kirkham destroy liberty county finances and spend us into the 21st century. Im glad what he did is finally coming to light, there is a God!

Anonymous said...

I guess we can now expect Box 20 to turn Republican - the only reason Tookie kept winning elections.