Not Fit to Print: A column
by BRAD ROLLINS
Last week, Sumter managed to make the papers for something besides her staggering failures on transportation, conservation and indigent health care when she parlayed the flimsiest of accusations against commissioners Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe and Will Conley into a public call for a district attorney’s investigation. Ingalsbe’s crime was regrading a private drive that leads to the county’s oldest Latino cemetery, a public works project explicitly allowed under the state law that requires property owners to allow public access to historic gravesites. We’ve suggested before that Sumter doesn’t seem to like Latinos too much, especially working-class ones, which is where Conley apparently got into trouble. His offense was repairing less than a quarter-mile of a county road, called Old Bumpy by locals, that provides critical emergency vehicle access to a blue collar subdivision in Wimberley.
It took District Attorney Sherri Tibbe less than three working days to clear both commissioners of wrongdoing in letters (here and here) that one can’t help but notice are addressed to Elizabeth Sumter, not the Hon. Elizabeth Sumter.
Sumter’s latest desperate, deceptive gambit — former Texas Democratic Party chair Charles Soechting calls it a “low-tech swiftboating” — is clearly a political maneuver. Both commissioners in question are up for re-election in less than two months and both of them — right or wrong on any given issue or all of them — want first to serve the people who elected them. On this basis alone, they differ from Sumter. She even had the gall to tell the Austin American-Statesman that, in Conley’s case, she wasn’t publicly supporting his opponent, former Wimberley mayor Steve Klepfer, even though she is listed on his campaign materials as a supporter.
She also told the Statesman she was duty bound to ask for Tibbe’s investigation after “citizens”, who she refused to name, reported these egregious acts. “Once I get a complaint I have to act,” she said. Yet when a citizen complained this week to Sumter about Sumter’s own gathering storm of a scandal, she replied with a brush-off letter, apparently no longer bound to refer every complaint to the district attorney for an investigation.
All of this begs a question: If the road to hell is paved in good intentions, where will Sumter’s trail of intimidation and lies take her? We’re all about to start down that path.
BRAD ROLLINS is The Mercury co-publisher and managing editor. He voted for Sumter and is genuinely sorry for it. Charles O’Dell can send him nasty e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.