Earlier this year the Cleveland area county commissioner, Melvin Hunt, publicly described scandal-ridden former county commissioner Lee Groce and the current Liberty area commissioner Todd Fontenot. He called them “the evil empire”. This comment by Todd Fontenot’s fellow Democrat and his colleague on commissioner’s court added to the unpopularity of their political party and their failure to fulfill promises to turn the economy around could make one wonder if Fontenot will be able to defend his seat on the court.
Even though there has not been a Republican to sit in that commissioner’s seat on the court for over 100 years, Fontenot has a very capable opponent and a slew of problems to overcome before he can claim four more years as a commissioner.
Melvin Hunt’s comments about one of the few elected officials his political party still has in office seems to confirm what Republican activists have said for years. Republicans have pointed to Fontenot and Groce and said they represented their party well by doing the same type things seen by Democratic President Obama in Washington D.C. Fontenot’s years in office, according to Republicans who watch commissioners’ court closely, are dominated by a “tax and spend and borrow and spend more”.
Also in line with his party leadership, Fontenot is constantly using denial and political spin and equivocation as a defense of a career that has dug a deep-deep hole for Liberty County financially. He has refused to admit that through the years when he and his fellow Democrats claim they did not raise taxes, that their refusal to adjust for the effective rate actually hiked taxes on most property owners in the county. He was never required to account for the increase in revenues and the higher tax bills for most of his constituents. Commissioners could have balanced higher appraisals and kept citizens of liberty from paying higher and higher taxes, but they decided to point out the higher appraisals were someone else fault and act like the increase in money they had to spend was some kind of windfall. If that is what Commissioner Hunt is referring to, then he and Fontenot are both guilty.
But the increase in appraisals was never enough for the Democrats. They have constantly borrowed money. Just like the old story about the King who had no clothes on and his people all acted like he was adorned in fine garments, the local Democrats and the local media has spent years ignoring the truth about these leaders. With totally incompetent and severely incapable or self-centered Democrat county judges like Dempsie Henley (infamous for writing personal hot checks all over Texas), Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham (infamous for hiding behind other people when any kind of intelligence was required) and Phil Fitzgerald (known by some as a reject from the used car salesman association), commissioners like Fontenot had an extra responsibility to look out for taxpayers. Fontenot did not – he looked out for himself. Occasionally he would make a vote or a statement to look more conservative at voting time, but his record speaks for itself.
But is Fontenot’s silence and “go-along-to-get-along” attitude what Hunt is talking about or is it something else? Has Fontenot kept his ownership in his Atascocita Air Conditioning Company even though he told voters years ago he would divest himself from it? If he still has that company what kind of wheeling and dealing might he have done over the years using his position as commissioner to gain an unfair advantage?
Who knows? All Republicans know is in less than 60 days voters will be given another chance to get rid of part of this evil empire. The liberal blogger will surely try and publicize every calculated move Fontenot has made to save his own skin or try and make newly elected people look just as guilty, but picking and choosing a few votes doesn’t cover up the assertion Hunt adds from his view of Fontenot in the back rooms of power, to the record that so much reminds us of the public officials we hear about who do not care about accumulating debt that taxpayers will owe as long as they have plenty of our money to play with.
We invite Commissioner Hunt to add to our analysis and explain his comments in more detail. And we invite voters to elect new leadership. And reject politicians who either deny their record or say “The other side does it too.”