A Jeffersonian In East Texas

January 9, 2008

Smith County Commissioners: People Despise Arrogance

This article was posted on the old blog, and I wanted to bring it along to the new one. A little background might help. Commissioners in Tyler, Smith county Texas have made a couple of proposals for building a new jail in Tyler Texas, the county seat of Smith County Texas. It looks as though it might become an annual event! Both of these proposals were shot down by Smith county voters, the last, by a 70 to 30 margin!

The local newspaper carried the story quoted in this article.

Not only did the commissioners bulldoze forward with a proposal that clearly lacked public support, but they gave themselves a nice pay raise prior to the election! What has become clear to most of the folks I have spoken with on the issue, is that they want their public officials to back off, and start over from scratch. They want commissioners to ask themselves if a new jail is needed at all, instead of assuming that it is.

This is a valid question in a county that incarcerates more than 50% more of it’s citizens than the state average, in a state that incarcerates 44% more than the national average! There are other means at the disposal of the county for dealing with overcrowding. They could:

1. Stop arresting people for ticket-able offenses.

2. Streamline the system to get pre-trial detainees through the system more quickly.

3. Stop incarcerating child support violators. There are other means of handling this already in place. I will give you more on that with more details penned by Judge Carole Clark in an upcoming update.

These 3 things, taken together, would eliminate overcrowding in the current Smith county facility. Why are they not being done?

Anyway, that should get us up to speed. The original article is bellow:

Note To Smith County Commissioners: People Despise Arrogance in Public Officials!

“Smith Voters Send Clear Messages On Jail Proposal” is what the editorial in the Tyler Morning Telegraph said, but the message is apparently not clear enough for the officials still pushing the idea of a new jail in the next election! The editorial lists three causes: Price, location, and pay raises. It also touched on what I think is a more probable cause.

“We also believe that voters resented the choice made by Smith County commissioners to limit public dialogue.

The message voters received from commissioners, in the format of the town meetings, was “We don’t trust you.” The court’s reasoning behind the format – that naysayers would take up too much time – was flimsy and unconvincing.” Flimsy and unconvincing? No, just downright arrogant!

The naysayers had their say at the voting booth. It was a big horse laugh, and a slap in the face of official arrogance! The message sent back to the commissioners from the naysayers was: We don’t trust you, either, and we are willing to go to the polling places to prove it! The naysayers had the final say!

Well folks, it is time to start looking at what the naysayers say! It is about time for some rethinking. What commissioners should be looking at is alternatives to a new jail! Don’t see what you can salvage from previous attempts, go back to square one. Ask the questions: “Are the voters right? Do we really need a new jail, or should we look at slowing down the rate of incarceration before we propose to tax the people to penury?”

Stop assuming that we even need a new jail. Start thinking outside the cell. The automatic assumption that because we have a problem with overcrowding, we need to build a new inmate warehouse, is a logical fallacy. If you owned a warehouse, and couldn’t process the goods fast enough, you would probably look at speeding up the process before you started thinking of building a new warehouse. Let’s do the same here.

Ask for public input. The sort of vague, quasi sincere requests for input in the past will not get any real information from the public. It would also be good to allow an anonymous forum for those who might otherwise be too timid to submit suggestions. There is a lot of distrust which apparently has gone unrecognized by county officials.

The last proposal had almost no public input. This was seen as arrogance by most people, and people despise arrogance in public officials.



  1. If you look up “arrogance” in the dictionary, you will not see a photo of the Smith county Commissioners Court, but you probably should!

    If you search the term “county commissioner arrogance” on Google, you will find Smith County Commissioners mentioned in the number 1 slot! At least at this time.

    I suppose everyone excels at something!

    Comment by just this guy — January 15, 2008 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  2. […] Official Arrogance Search Reveals: Smith County Ranks High Filed under: Uncategorized — ajeffersonian @ 8:16 am Tags: arrogance, official arrogance, Smith county, Smith county official arrogance We got a comment on the article Smith County Commissioners: People Despise Arrogance. […]

    Pingback by Official Arrogance Search Reveals: Smith County Ranks High « A Jeffersonian In East Texas — January 16, 2008 @ 8:17 am | Reply

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