Wednesday, November 9, 2011

End of a political run - 'because of the insurance'

Waco – McLennan County Commissioner Joe Mashek will not go quietly.

The only solution to his problems and the challenges the taxpaying voters of his constituency face is a political solution.

County Judge Jim Lewis has to go. Joe Mashek said it live, on video, in an exclusive interview with The Legendary.

He didn't stutter.

He didn't even mince words.

In his last year in office after 15 years serving the taxpayers of Precinct 3 – years he describes as frustrating because of a tight leash held by County Judge Jim Lewis – his ultimate decision came because of the insurance.

Health insurance.

If you listen carefully, he will tell you in his own words. The bottom line is that when the County took its business elsewhere and opted to become a self-insured consumer of health care services, it saved taxpayers a lot of money. That rankled the insurance broker who used to handle their once costly third party insurance business so much that he recruited a candidate to run against Joe Mashek as a Democrat.

So, Mr. Mashek changed parties. He became a member of the GOP by voting with his feet and walking away from the Party of Jefferson, something that Judge Lewis did several years previously.

Then he changed his mind again.

“I just don't want to go through the campaign,” he said, launching into a free-wheeling interview in which he reveals that he suspects that a $50 million jail financing project was designed to do nothing other than line the pockets of a cartel of investors who bought the revenue bonds issued by the Commissioners' Court, then resold them for a massive profit.

The truth is, he said, there was no need for a new jail. What the Sheriff's Department needed was more deputies to cover the requirement of the Jail Standards Commission for a certain ratio of corrections officers to inmates.

He alleges that Judge Lewis and former County Commissioener Ray Meadows insisted the Jail Commission forced the decision – one in which only they took part as a committee of two.

“It was a lie.”

He plans a busy last year in office. His priorities are bold and straightforward.

First of all, he wants to either cap or freeze the salaries of the county's highest paid officials, such as the County Commissioners, the County Judge, Sheriff, Tax Assess-Collector, District and County Clerks, and pass an across the board raise for the lower-paid hourly employees.

Secondly, he wants to introduce a more streamlined and formalized method of purchasing and approval of professional services contracts by having an appointed County Attorney who works under the District Attorney and serves the Commissioners' Court to study and understand major purchases and contract negotiations – not at the last minute, but in advance, when they can still do something about their options.

The problem of doing business effectively in McLennan County will go away if the Commissioenrs' Court will seize the initiative and accomplish those two goals.

He recalled how putting Budget Director Adam Harry to work helped he and his colleagues to discover close to a million dollars they didn't even know they had. Tobacco money, funds derived from federal settlements over health care issues exacerbated by nicotine addiction, had languished in acconts that paid little interest for far too long.

Once he and his colleagues learned the true facts by removing the tightest of controls over budgetary information from Judge Lewis' office and placing it in the hands of an accountant who serves the entire Court, and not just Judge Lewis, “We haven't had a tax increase since then.”

Listening to Commissioner Joe Mashek is a fascinating object lesson in a side of political science they don't teach in classrooms or write about in books. This is the real nitty gritty, told by a decision maker who is standing at an American crossroads. - The Legendary


  1. Joe Mashek for governor!

  2. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, Mr. Anonymous. But here's to Joe Mashek for carrying two rows and standing up to holler, shout out his objections when things don't seem to be on the square or standing to the plumb. He's one of the few I see in this cotton patch who will do it with alacrity, and with precision. - The Legendary

  3. Thank-you!

  4. I enjoyed this blog at first, but then was put-off after I read your blog on Brian Scott, the insurance guy running for commissioner. Well, from what I gather, sure seems that Scott caught Mashek fabricating a "non-truth" about Scott's reason for entering the race. So Mashek gave us another "lesson in a side of political science they don't teach in classrooms or write about in books" - fabricating non-truths. Just ask Mashek's mechanic employee that is also running for commissioner, he's said that you cannot trust a word that Mashek said. So I wonder how many more non-truths are in Mashek's interview? I trust you are not as enamored with Mashek as before, now that Scott proved him wrong.