San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 15th, 2009
Brad Rollins’ Blog: Sumter steps in it, again

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.

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5 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ Blog: Sumter steps in it, again

  1. Catty, catty, catty. Which is to say, politics as usual. Let’s just throw mud, let’s just bore in on perceived lapses of form. That’s a lot easier than focusing on the issues that will determine what sort of future this civilization has, isn’t it? Of course, when you’re grinding an ax — as Mr. Rollins consistently has in regard to Ms. Sumter — you grab anything that comes by, I guess. And I guess it didn’t occur to Mr. Rollins to wonder if, had Mr. Barton been actively supporting a unified county agenda rather than scheming to “score points” again Ms. Sumter, might the “almost” have turned out to be a fait accompli. But no, politics as usual. And we proceed merrily on along the road to hell, paved by the narrow, short-sighted political ambitions of politicians and pundits alike.

  2. Judge Sumpter has been negligent and derelict in the County’s business since being elected, in my opinion. She should do the right thing and resign so we can get a true worker in office.

  3. Catty would be to criticize lipstick–instead, during the workshop Commission Barton was pressured to prioritize among two projects the Commissioners’ Court ranked equally. Had the Judge been at the workshop, she would have had been able to recommend projects as a sitting member of CAMPO. Instead, she didn’t show up for the workshop, was late to the meeting and then didn’t say a word while she was there. COME ON already…if she wants to be County Judge–then at least act like one!

  4. David, the short-sighted political ambitions are on the part of a County Judge who arrives late and yet tries to take credit nonetheless. A unified county agenda would have been promoted by having all of our representatives at the meeting. Sadly, they were not.

  5. Brad why not just use the words “I endorse Jeff Barton for county judge” and get it over with?

    I’m not a Sumter fan but Jeff Barton? Seriously? That guy is one of the sorriest gladhanders I’ve ever seen. He’s got all the sincerity of a cheap used car salesman and I think the farthest west he’s been in the county is the west side of the courthouse square.

    ANYONE but those two grandstanders…please!

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