Response for
Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel
for voter guide 2/27/2000

Background:
A natural Texan, my life's adventure began in 1944, born the second of four children to Olen Lenion Powell Paty and Greta Cora (Harris) Paty.

Because my father was in the military, we traveled extensively. This contributed to my learning of and appreciation of the diversity of world cultures.

During my adult life I continued to move around until settling on Nacogdoches as my home.

For years, I have worked as a Machinist and Mechanic and in building trades in various places in Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. At present, I work in maintenance and painting for a multi-family dwelling and rental property owner in Nacogdoches.

Qualifications:
     I claim no special qualities that make me more capable than any one else in fulfilling the duties of this office; but, then again, many people go into public office with no special abilities. Instead, they see a need and commit to dealing with it personally.

The office of Nacogdoches Public Weigher to my knowledge was last filled in 1932 and has been vacant since that time. A County Public Weigher is an elected officer given the responsibility of certifying the weight of market commodities such as cotton, wool, cattle etc., and who works under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture.

The extended vacancy of the office in this county is an indication that what few duties a County Public Weigher might still perform have been taken over by other agents, both in the public and private sectors. The office could be considered redundant.

"So why", you might ask,"am I running for it?"

Goals:
The minimum I hope to accomplish during my term, and accomplish early-on, is the official, proper and final abolition of the office of Public Weigher for this county.

Most Important Issue:
More important than abolition of this specific office, though, is to expose to the voters an outrageous (if little-known) state law passed by our legislature about a dozen or so years ago. This is Local Government Code Section §152.052, or as I would prefer to call it, "The Outmoded and Useless Officeholders Job Protection Act of 1987."

What this law does is require that any candidate who has publicly advocated the abolition of a county office must, immediately upon taking office, "voluntarily" submit to the County a binding affidavit relinquishing any pay that might otherwise accrue him for services in that position had he not publicly advocated abolition of the office.

Some have said this is a "good" law, because it's purpose is to hold a candidate's "feet to the fire" and force him keep campaign promises if elected. The problem with this is that some outmoded positions still do have legitimate functions that could not simply be ignored, but would have to be performed until they could be transferred to other offices.

Also, offices created by the legislature can only be abolished by the legislature. Others, created by the Constitution as far back as 1876, can only be abolished by Constitutional amendment.

This takes time, more time than most folks have to work for free.

So we know better, don't we? The law is not designed to make candidates deliver on campaign promises, but to have exactly the opposite effect: to discourage people from running on a platform of doing away with obsolete government offices. Let that idea catch on with the public and it would be to the dismay of folks still sitting in those obsolete offices and still drawing taxpayer's money for sitting there.

We know this is its real purpose because it was used very recently--in this county--for exactly that purpose.

But the worst of it? This law demonstrates how casually our legislators are willing to trample on one of our most important rights under the First Amendment--the right of free speech.

There has been a lot of controversy in recent years about the First Amendment - whether it protects certain kinds or literature or forbids prayer in school or protects political campaigns, for example. But it has always been crystal clear that it was intended to protect our right, without penalty, to advocate and, at times, even agitate for political change -- as long as we do it within the system.

Unfortunately, Local Government Code Section §152.052 is a penalty against the exercise of free speech - a waiting sentence of poverty for anyone who dares speak the unspeakable while running for office. I believe it is unconstitutional.

Response to Questionnaire for the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel for their Voters Guide printed Feb. 27 2000


The text in blue is what has been edited out, the rest was printed.


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