We get it. We’re alive in a time when citizens have regrettably been trained to expect less and less from their elected officials. But even if we’re grading on the Trump curve, we all must agree that the bare minimum anyone being paid over $100,000 a year as an elected official must do is to simply show up for work.
On Tuesday, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court chose not to do so. By not showing up, they may have economically hampered Harris County for years to come. Jack Cagle and Steve Radack decided to bail on their responsibility to voters in protest of an attempt from the Democrats on the court, Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, to pass a badly needed tax increase to fund essential services.
We aren’t talking about ambitious wish list items here. We’re talking about badly needed fixes on everything from flood mitigation to how our county responds to dangerous chemical fires. These are literally life-saving measures we’re talking about, but Radack and Cagle chose to take a page from Trump and DC Republicans, obfuscating the real issue by peddling deeply dishonest facts and figures.
And their decision to ditch their day jobs like petulant children who didn’t study for an econ exam will hurt the county and its residents. This was the last chance Harris County had to pass any type of revenue increase before the implementation of SB 2, a Republican-backed piece of legislation that caps the revenue increases cities and counties need to keep pace with growth. Democrats on the Court were forced to publicly back a tax increase that was rushed into passing without enough time to fully present it to their constituents.
Most politicians would have been happy to kick the can and do nothing rather than risk alienating voters they’ll need in the future, but Hidalgo, Garcia, and Ellis (who have been warning of the oncoming impact of this bill since before it was even passed in the legislature) all made the moral choice. They showed up for work, they communicated the seriousness of the situation and the necessity to act swiftly, not with partisan bravado but with simple math. They did so out in the open and in plain view of their constituents.
Harris County and Texas deserve better than elected officials who think they can pick and choose when to come work, especially when those elected officials net six-figure salaries. If Judge Hidalgo and the Democrats on Commissioner’s Court have the courage to do what’s right for our County, the least Radack and Cagle could do is show up and present their side of the argument. Lacking the courage to do that, and knowing that math just wasn’t on their side, they chose instead to run and hide.
Photo: Sean Pavone/ Getty Images