Back in December, I noted with extreme disapproval the hiring of a defeated county office holder by the Harris County Sheriff's Department despite a county-wide hiring freeze.
And then about a week ago, I noted the sheriff's lament that there would be no way for him to make the 10% budget cut the Harris County Commissioner's Court is seeking from all county departments -- and suggested he might start with that new hire with the six-figure salary.
Well, I've found somewhere else to cut Sheriff Adrian Garcia's budget -- three more political insiders he hired from another defeated Democrat's staff, despite the hiring freeze.
Sheriff Adrian Garcia recently hired to three former employees of recently defeated Precinct 2 Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.
To Commissioner Jerry Eversole, it smells of a violation of the county's year-and-a-half-old hiring freeze.
"If it's Court policy that we have a hiring freeze, then how can somebody -- anybody -- hire somebody and us not know about it? And if they are, why aren't they being punished?" Eversole asked county budget officer Dick Raycraft.
Raycraft replied that his office had a Court order to grant exceptions to the policy. The Court approved it at a meeting on Dec. 21 -- a meeting Eversole missed because he was being indicted in federal court.
A memo from the county's human resource director to the Court recommended that newly elected officials be exempt from the hiring freeze for the purpose of allowing them "to replace personal staff and other limited changes in connection with the election results."
The problem is, of course, that Adrian Garcia is not a newly elected anything -- he was elected during the Obama-induced hysteria in 2008, rather than this year's GOP sweep of county elections. How, then, does he qualify for these new hires?
Well, apparently Dick Raycraft has been authorizing politically sensitive new hires to protect insiders who worked for defeated Democrats -- and it seems to me that Sheriff Adrian "I can't cut my budget that much" Garcia is using his office (and his budget) to help protect those precious Democrat insiders and their county paychecks.
Seems to me that this matter needs to be dealt with at the next meeting of the Commissioner's Court. These political cronies need to get their walking papers because of they were hired in direct contravention of the hiring freeze. The search for a replacement for Dick Raycraft needs to be implemented as well, since he is serving as the center of an ODESSA-style conduit for Democrats to stay on the payroll when they should be off. An investigation of Sheriff Garcia's role in this scheme needs to be ordered as well.
Is Adrian Garcia corrupt? I'm not ready to make that accusation. But there does seem to be something unsavory about his payroll becoming the home of all these political "refugees" during a hiring freeze -- and while he is claiming he just can't make the expected cuts from his budget.
And lest I be called a shill for Jerry Eversole, please remember that I've long since called for his resignation from office in the wake of that indictment.
I'd like to add a hearty welcome to Alan Bernstein, the official spokesman of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, who commented on the last post about his boss and who has indicated he will be commenting on this one once I've posted it. It's good to see that I'm helping to maintain your job security, Alan!