COMMENTARY by BRAD ROLLINS
As predicted here last week, the Democratic Party primary campaign for county judge has started in earnest with Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton’s charge that incumbent County Judge Elizabeth Sumter blew off a June 8 workshop of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation policy board.
The panel was deciding how to allocate $21.9 million in transportation funding from the federal stimulus package. Pointing out that Hays County received more than its fair share of the money, Barton noted in a press release that Sumter not only missed the workshop but arrived an hour late for the board’s regular meeting during which the vote was taken.
In a story today on Newstreamz by my friend Sean Wardwell, Sumter essentially countered that Barton was lying, saying, “On Monday, June 8th I attended the CAMPO board meeting. I was there to hear all of the citizens comments and participate in discussion and vote on every agenda item, including the 29 million dollar stimulus money projects. I was not there to hear the 45SW presentation, which took place before the 6:00pm CAMPO business meeting. Because of my full schedule on Monday, I made sure I received briefings and the written recommendation beforehand, so that I would be fully informed. No vote was taken on the SH45 issue and it is anticipated that it will make the business meeting agenda sometime in September after a workshop.”
But her wordy denial rather reinforces the point I think Barton was trying to make — that Sumter doesn’t do her homework.
For one, the stimulus discussion was part of a meeting that started at 5 p.m., not 6 p.m. which may explain why Sumter was an hour late. In addition, the workshop she missed was not about SH 45 at all but was a deliberation of exactly what Barton said it was: “Discussion of options for distributing the $29.1 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds sub-allocated to CAMPO for the CAMPO region,” is how it was posted on the agenda.
The SH 45 presentation she mentions was part of the regular meeting, the part she missed. (SH 45 connects Interstate 35 just north of Buda to the Texas 130 toll road but that’s on the side of the interstate Sumter doesn’t like. See here and here).
There is a more than a small element of political tit-for-tat in play here. But the overriding point, it almost goes without saying, is that Sumter isn’t doing the job the people hired her to do. Faulting Barton for focusing “solely” on a Buda interstate overpass to the exclusion of other projects in the county, Sumter told Wardwell, ” It was my job to make sure all three roads made the short list for funding, which they did. It was also my job as the CAMPO representative to get them all funded and I almost did.”
Someone should tell her that ‘almost’ doesn’t build roads or commuter rail, doesn’t create jobs or address the county’s dwindling water supply and strained natural resources. “Almost” can’t do the people’s work and neither, apparently, can Sumter.
I haven’t discussed this subject at all with Barton and don’t need to: I know Sumter’s statement not only doesn’t ring true — it isn’t true. She’s in for a long campaign if she doesn’t at least have the decency to come up with plausible explanations for her failures.Email | Print