Thursday, September 23, 2010

Demo Challenger Reacts To Judge Jim Lewis' Mocking Rant

The race for McLennan County Judge is starting to resemble one of those protracted exchanges of historic notes between Sam Houston or Andrew Jackson and their antagonists in classic duels fought outside Nashville.

The challenger bringeth forth the tar baby and he lays it on the Judge's bench.

That is, Dr. Ralph Cooper strolled into the McLennan County Judge's office and dropped off a letter first thing this morning.

He won't let the mocking tone of the Judge's reply to his pointing out faulty arithmetic in calculating true costs of the new Jack Harwell Detention Center slow him down.

It's still costing taxpayers a cool net loss of $30,000 per month to build a new jail and let a private corporation run it, no matter how much attention Ralph Cooper is getting. The numbers did not change over the course of just a few days.

The challenger tried to read a statement about this to the Commissioners' Court on Tuesday morning, but the judge cut him off and told him his time was up.

Then he made a Facebook entry that said Ralph Cooper is just trying to get attention after telling the reporter for the local daily paper that it was a “cheap” way for the Democratic nominee to get his name in the paper.

Here's what Dr. Cooper wrote in reply:

“Had I been able to complete my remarks, you would have heard that I specifically did NOT propose using the new jail as a mental institution. Rather, I asked the Court to appoint a citizens commission to explore alternatives.”

The Judge had written in his Facebook entry, “My opponent seems to want to do anything for attention. Has he thought about the consequences of his proposals? Who's going to pay for the additional nursing staff if we turn the new jail into a mental institution? Who's going to pay for the renovations to bring a building built to house prisoners to a building meant to house mental patients?”

Infra-dig, Dr. Cooper's remarks make some kind of sense to a man who spends his days dealing with the mental infirmities of certain offenders. Often, it seems, society uses its jails as adjunct mental institutions for people who will not stop drinking and driving, whipping up on the old lady's head and writing checks made of rubber.

Aside from an extensive legal practice involving battered women who seek a divorce and custody of their kids, Dr. Cooper is a social psychologist with a doctoral degree in that particular social science.

Judge Jim Lewis is a career politician with 40 years of service under the double dome of the McLennan County Courthouse to his credit. He started off as a deputy sheriff who rose to the rank of jail administrator, then got appointed to the Commissioners' Court and subsequently elected County Judge.

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