Friday, May 2, 2008

Balance or Abuse of Power?

Washington County Judge Jerry Hunton has been a good public servant during his time in office, but he is running the risk of going out on a sour note and being remembered as a power-mongering bully. His childish stunt of threatening to revoke all intergovernmental agreements if he didn't get his way on the interlocal ambulance pact was the first sign. Now he appears to be telling the Quorum Court not to be discussing or considering ordinances or budget resolutions without his prior permission.

Hunton has veto power, but he has no authority to tell our elected Quorum Court, a co-equal branch of county government, that they need his permission to discuss matters and develop public policy. Can you imagine what Speaker Pelosi might have to say if George Bush told Congress not to introduce any bills or consider any programs or appropriations without getting his permissions?

Hunton is throwing a fit about the Quorum Court Energy Committee suggesting the purchase of solar hot water equipment for the detention center. He didn't say it was a bad idea, that it wouldn't save the county money, or that it wasn't a wise step toward sustainability, just they didn't kiss his ... ring.

According to a local newspaper columnist who agrees with Hunton's Unitary Executive Theory, he said, "We need to nip this in the bud," asserting not only that the role of the county judge's office should be respected but also that "this judge" needs convincing about the energy-saving prospects of solar panels or particular light bulbs or any other such proposition.

Judge Hunton also questioned the appropriateness of a committee recommending an appropriation for a contract before he's even been consulted. That's what committees do and why we elect them, Jerry. If you wish to be consulted, then attend the meetings and speak your piece. They meet in the courthouse, in case you've forgotten.

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