McLennan County adopts $14.5 Mil Budget, raise taxes
When they instituted the scofflaw program, it was part of a
revenue raising, scofflaw program designed to put offenders
It didn't work out that way.
According to ex-policeman and jailer R. Scott Gates, a Moody
resident who won a Justice of the Peace slot four years ago,
only to see the County Commissioenrs eliminate his precinct,
the $60,000 budgeted to pay cleerical staff in the Tax
Assessor-Collector's office is all for nought.
"They've turned it into a catch and release program," he
said with a wry chuckle.
He defeated the Honorable Raymond Britton, Jail Magistrate,
only to see him appointed by the Court as the McLennan
County Jail Magistrate.
In a statement before the Commissioners Court, Mr. Gates
said, "I hope the court will note that the name of the
magistrate appoionted by this court in lieu of the
magistrate elected by the people appears on the booking card
as being involved in the release of a man charged with a
violent crime. The name of the magistrate removed by the
voters but reinstated by action of hte court also appears as
the authorizing authority."
Mr. Gates was the only member of the public who spoke during
the public budget hearing portion of the meeting. He said
"catch and release" seems to be the norm rather than the
exception since two accused rapists of children have been
released on Personal Recognizance bonds requiring no outlay
of a cash fee within the past few months.
He was referring to the case of Steven Ray Johnson, a black
man of 41 who is charged with slashing and stabbing a
Robinson car lot owner so severely he spent a week in the
hospital, three days of which he was hospitalized in the
intensive care wing with a brain injury and a punctured
"By funding an indigent electronic monitoring fund, the
magistrates can use Article 17.44 of the Texas Code of
Criminal Procedure to increase public safety. In the absence
of that funding provided by this court, it appears their
hands are tied."
Mr. Gates referred to a record of release without monitoring
for DWI offenders who have gone on to cause serious
accidents that took the lives of other motorists.
"If an individual involved in this catch and release program
kills someone more prominent that a Baylor computer
specialist or violently assaults someone more prominent than
a used car salesman from Robinson, I predict the backlash
could be significant. I sincerely hope the court will
In an interview, Mr. Gates pointed out that the scofflaws
who arrive at the Tax Collector's office to buy license tags
for vehicles or renew driver licenses at the DPS are turned
down because of outstanding warrants on unpaid traffic
They are sent to the County Jail where they spend one night,
have breakfast and are released with credit for time served
and given a release that enables them to pay for their
vehicle registration or renew their licenses.
The Legendary could not help laughing out loud to think of
uniformed traffic police and Highway Patrolmen reeling in
offenders while seated in a bass boat during some kind of
catch and release tournament, weighing them and tossing them
back into the waters of the lake while they spit Red Man
tobacco juice over the gunwales of the boat.