To the editor:
Living in a small town has its bright sides. Often, however, there are darker sides, such as small town politics. As important as they are, the majority of voters pay little attention to the ugliness or the results. A recent meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court displayed the obvious and flagrant political scam of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” In this case, Liz Sumter worked very hard to anoint her friend, Anna Boling, to the vacant Hays County Court judicial seat.
The vacancy was created by the recent death of the late Howard Warner, whose impact upon the legal community and community at large cannot be reduced to words. Judge Warner carried himself with honesty, integrity, compassion, and an even temperament, which made him a fine Judge and an even finer person. By statute, the vacancy in the Hays County Court at Law is to be filled by appointment by the Hays County Commissioner’s Court. Judge Warner made his replacement desires known before his death.
Against those wishes, Sumter placed the item on the agenda as “review and possible action” to mask her true intentions, “to appoint my friend to a pay increase.” As the agenda item jumped up she made it known that Anna Boling is her choice for the position, despite her record as an attorney. Sumter and Boling tried to sneak this item to a vote, knowing that many potential candidates, with actual qualifications, had not even submitted applications.
These other candidates did not want to appear opportunistic, and instead chose to mourn and reflect with the rest of us. It was the duty of the Commissioner’s Court to establish the criteria and time frame to fill the vacancy. Thus, out of deference to a friend and recently deceased Judge and without the go ahead by the Commissioners Court, many people had yet to submit a resume for consideration.
Being a great attorney is not a prerequisite for being a great judge, although experience may be essential. Has Anna Boling seen the inside of a courtroom in recent memory? Does handling uncontested divorce cases give the appropriate experience necessary to become a competent judge? We hope for judges of honesty, integrity and honor. But when a person says one thing and does the opposite, it creates conflicting conclusion. Such is the situation Boling has created by saying she would not pursue the appointment but, at the same time, lobbying commissioners and encouraging others to misrepresent her experience as diverse and qualified.
Boling’s misleading tactics have her supporters attempting to influence the Commissioners by saying she is the only Democrat interested in the appointment. The reality is that she wants to run as an incumbent in the next election, only possible through this appointment.
Sumter’s bias and agenda has become quite obvious with her contradictory stories. She has said to have interviewed two applicants and is ready to appoint her friend. Other Commissioners said all applicants should be given the opportunity to submit applications for review. Sumter was quick to rebut, saying she did not think it appropriate to interview judicial candidates. So, which is it? You can’t have it both ways. That tactic is very transparent and, in my opinion, very unethical.
As the push to rush this appointment through before qualified applicants could had an opportunity there is another twist. Sumter was also pressing to reward her friend with a huge pay increase before Boling’s recent bankruptcy filing became public. Note, In her bankruptcy petition filed June 25, Boling listed among her myriad of debts, tax delinquencies to the IRS of over $35,000 for the tax years of 2007 and 2008.
There is a bright side. The other Commissioners saw through the agenda and wanted no part. They fought Sumter to establish guidelines and an application process for those not involved with the fix. The other commissioner recognized the importance of making this process public in order to seek out qualified individuals, instead of rewarding Boling for her desperate attempts.
The actions of Sumter and Boling are both unprofessional and offensive. Both have fallen short of the performance we expect from our elected officials. Boling should get her professional and personal life in order and earn the reputation and proficiency needed for the position she is seeking. Voters should not be the ones to clean up a mess created by opportunistic motivations. But if that’s what it takes, this should be an interesting election year.
Robert “Bump” Vance