Sunday, August 13, 2006

For Fort Bend County District Clerk, Veronica Torres is the Clear Choice

You know, most people don’t really and truly care about such down ballot races like District Clerk, and that’s just the truth. Mainly it’s because they are unaware of just what the office does. I have had to explain to potential voters on my block walking tours just how important that office is. As it turns out, it is a pivotal job in county government.

The District Clerk, in Fort Bend County, Texas, is the records keeper for the county court system. Currently the District Clerk has 40 full time and 6 part-time employees, and has a budget of over $1.7 million. Among other things, the District Clerk’s office files and assigns “causes of action” in civil, criminal, and family matters, including divorces, name changes, serious personal injury, child support and custody, delinquent taxes, product liability, contracts, real estate, felony indictments, revocations, bond forfeitures, and expunctions. The District Clerk maintains all court records, and handles all funds paid to the courts.

And I hear the pay sucks.

So who would ever want a job like that? Well, like every other kind of county job, it comes down to two different types: people who really care about the job, and people with an agenda that has nothing to do with doing the job well.

Glory Hopkins, the Republican District Clerk, is of the first type. She has served the county and her party for 20 years. Of late, she has been working to edit out personal information that is available in documents that can be accessed by anyone on-line. No one told her to do that.

She is also not running for re-election this year. Not because she doesn’t want to. And that is a sad sordid tale reminiscent of the machinations of a former congressman in Texas CD-22.

Glory Hopkins became a thorn in the side of quite a few people. Among other things, she actively fought against buying an integrated computer system that would serve the county’s entire justice system. She often ran afoul of other Republican elected officials. She wasn’t a team player. Paraphrasing Dubya, if Glory was not with them, she was with the terrorists (or Democrats, whichever fits).

Enter from stage right, Annie Rebecca Elliott.

What? A Republican stepping up to challenge an incumbent Republican with name recognition? An easy re-elect? Yep.

What a waste of time and money. You know the voters aren’t going to be voting out an experienced person in favor of a Court Coordinator working for the County Clerk?

Unless . . .

Unless you find a way to keep Glory Hopkins off the ballot. Well, Eric Thode, former Fort Bend County Republican Party Chair, apparently had a look at Tom DeLay’s playbook. He sent an email to Glory giving her the address to which she could submit her filing papers, and gosh darn it all, put the wrong zip code in the address. So when Glory used the address Thode sent to her, sent her filing papers (due January 2nd at 6 PM) using that address, and picked up the certified mail receipt which showed a postmark of Dec. 27, it was all copacetic. After the close of the business day on January 2nd, Thode called Glory’s daughter and told her that he had not received the filing. She later found out that her registered mailing to Thode was deemed undeliverable on December 29th.

So even though the filing was hand delivered to the Republican Party Secretary on January 3rd, Thode, regretfully, could not accept it. You snooze, you lose. Glory’s name would not be put on the ballot. Thode must have been relieved, though, that at least there would be one Republican candidate for the office on the ballot.

Glory filed a writ to to the 14th Court of Appeals get her name on the ballot. Of the process FortBendNow posted this:” Hopkins, her campaign officials and Thode all say they believe a good-faith effort was made to get the application to Thode by deadline.”

But faith doesn’t cut it. The court turned down Glory twice, and then the State Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Case closed, Glory’s out.

You know, when Eric Thode was heard to say that it was a big mistake for Tina Benkiser’s lawyers to have the Tom DeLay Eligibility case moved from state to federal courts, could he have had Glory’s try at justice in mind?

Enter from stage left: Veronica Torres.

On January 4th, Veronica Torres, a Democrat who also works in the County Clerk’s office, announced her candidacy for the office of District Clerk. Commenting on the premature end of Glory Hopkins public service, Veronica said:
”After 20 years of serving her County and her Party, her party has turned their back on Glory Hopkins. I am sad for Glory and our Democratic process. This whole episode demonstrates the confusion, disarray and division in the other party.”
“I wish Glory well and salute her for her many years of public service.”
Veronica, in working in the County Clerk’s office, was well-aware of the issues in regard to the aforementioned new software being bought by the county, and Glory’s error in not supporting it. You can read it all on her campaign website, but let’s just say that Veronica knows the job and is the kind of person that is committed to doing it right. I have even heard, through muse, who gets to hear it all, that Glory Hopkins is of the opinion that Veronica is the more qualified candidate.

A great wrong has been done to Glory Hopkins and, as Veronica says, to the Democratic process. We will never know for certain whether Thode sent the wrong address to Glory intentionally or not. That is between Eric Thode and Jesus. Krisna knows I have done similar things with that handy tool, "cut and paste". However, I am ever the skeptic, and cannot separate, in my mind, these shenanigans from those of Our Tom.

Anyway, why am I writing about all of this ancient history today? Yesterday I went down to the Fort Bend Democrats Headquarters in Rosenberg and had some of the best barbecue that I have ever had. It was a fundraising event for Veronica Torres’ campaign. Of barbecue, an old friend of mine used to say “Good is lots, more is better”. This certainly qualified. I will be feeding on this $6.00 purchase for a couple more days. muse was there (yes, I have learned my lesson) and took the picture with the muse camera that I have reposted here. The barbecue and beverage went down well. I was thinking about it all day while I was walking blocks in Lake Olympia, with Tom (Pat couldn’t make it).

Life is good when you are a Fort Bend Democrat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hal - you are certainly enjoying the good life. Good friends, good thinking, and a lot of good food - that's the grassroots system of Texas politics.

And thanks for the in-depth coverage of this race. Veronica is the epitome of the American dream. She has worked hard and played by the rules.