The next time you read a puff piece about Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s budget prowess, think about this: executives 93, patrol deputies -66. That’s right, at the same time reporters are letting him get away with talk about spending less, they are ignoring the plain fact that he added 93 executive level positions at the same time he cut 66 positions from the patrol bureau. Not to mention the 39 detectives he cut.
But you won’t hear about that if you rely on Houston’s news media. Instead, you’ll find puff pieces that read as if former Houston Chronicle reporter, now Harris County Sheriff’s spokesman Alan Bernstein still had his newspaper password. As well as passwords at the local television stations. Goodness, where’s the beef in reporting today?
Here is a chart taken directly from budget reports posted online at the Harris County Office of Budget Management:
But this is what you find in the media:
KHOU: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says they have nowhere to cut, and they haven’t – yet.
Houston Chronicle: There is simply no way to cut another $40 million from a department that is already down 10 percent from the number of employees it had when a countywide hiring freeze went into effect in September 2009, said sheriff’s spokesman Alan Bernstein.
Sheriff Garcia liked that Chronicle blog so much that he is featuring it on his campaign website. Hmm. Does Bernstein get paid for that one too?
In a separate article in the Chronicle, District Attorney Pat Lykos says:
“Public safety is the number one priority of government. That is why government exists,” District Attorney Pat Lykos said last week. In a statement issued Monday, she said, “Further reductions in force will be devastating, delaying justice and putting the public at risk.”
Oh really? Public safety is number one? Note to DA Lykos – send a memo about that to Sheriff Garcia and ask him how many deputies he could have hired for the salary he’s paying recently chunked out of office Loren Jackson. Two? Two and a half?
The next time you hear a politician tell you that they can’t find anything to cut in their budget, just remember Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s actions.