A Better East Texas: Smith County Commissioners - Viewer Comments - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

A Better East Texas: Smith County Commissioners - Viewer Comments

A viewer has an idea that I believe creates the right solution for the proposed raise for Smith County Commissioners. Houston Connally writes:

'The Smith County commissioners might consider following my father's theory. It must have been a good idea, because he was county commissioner in a county in West Texas ( Albany) for 39 consecutive years until he retired in 1995. 

His theory, and practice....

Whenever a salary increase was instituted by himself, and fellow commissioners; he remained at his present salary until his present term was expired; regardless of what the other commissioners did.

 His theory was that he sought the job at his present salary, and he wasn't entitled to the increase until he sought the position at the new salary.   Whenever he successfully won the election for the next term; he would receive the new salary.'

Unfortunately, Mr. Connally, your idea is too simple and it requires creativity....and compromise, all rare commodities in American politics today. You can write me anytime at abettereasttexas@kltv.com.

Brad Streit

VP/General Manager, KLTV

Viewer Comments:

I think it's ridiculous that anyone should be in a position to give or even vote on giving themselves a raise. This is especially true for public servants as they are aware of the pay scale when they are seeking their office. I am completely against this raise and if the parties affected don't like it, they should look for work elsewhere.

~David Frederick


I think it is a slap in the face to the residents of Tyler and Smith County for the people that are elected by the these residents to give them self this kind of raise. There are a lot of seniors on fixed income trying to pay taxes just to take care of the raises that these "servants" have voted for them self. Thank you KLTV for bringing this to light.

~William Pigott


In a time when Smith County's debt is 16 million dollars, and when we continue to spend thousands of dollars every day to transport jail prisoners to and from other counties there is no way Judge Baker and the County Commissioners can justify a pay raise of up to 30 percent, nor do they deserve it at this point in time. When we still have dilapidated facilities such as the Cottonbelt building, the exisiting Court House (what an eyesore), and a hodgepodge of jail facilities, and when we have inadequate staffing in the Sheriff's department as well as the local Counstables and Justice of Peace offices, and when the previous County Judge and Commissioner's Court as well as the present Judge and Court members have as of this date failed to develop a realistic plan for solving the numerous problems mentioned above there is no justification for the pay raise they seem determined to get from we the "Bosses" (taxpayers).  They need to look at the City of Tyler Mayor and Council who !

have far greater departments, and staffing to oversee yet each of them serves without pay. The City uses for the most part the qualified people they have on staff to develop long range plans to solve the problems of today and tomorrow, and they became a model for other cities with the 1/2 cent sales tax and the use of all available State and Federal grants and other resources to pay as they go. Smith County should be no different in approaching the existing problems and in planning for the future. 

 I do however support up to 30 percent pay raises for the unelected county employees as they certainly deserve it. All the elected officials knew what the job paid before they filed to run for office. It is high time the taxpayer was given the right to vote "yea or nay" on raises for our elected officials whether Federal, State, or Smith County.

David Hand

We were SO looking forward to the change in Judges as there had been so much bickering these past few years - - & now, in this short time, Judge Baker has destroyed our confidence before he even gets started!   
He hasn't been there long enuf to earn a raise - - he knew the salary when he ran for the job & he has other income!  So did the other new commissioners. 
AND you don't give or take raises when you're not solidly in the black!  This is absurd - - NO way to run a business, which is what the Smith County is!

My husband & I owned our own business.  We took so little salary for ourselves to keep it "a float" for the 1st few years, we had practically gone thru all our savings by the time it made a profit.   Then, our raises were VERY small.  We both could have worked for anyone else and made more money & had a retirement savings account too.   Month after month, year after year, we paid our salesmen more than we made.   It was necessary to show a profit for the company to keep our lines of credit open & we sacrificed to do so.   However, in the end, it paid off - - God bless us greatly & we sold the company after 17 hard-working-years & are enjoying retirement.  (P.S. - And it wasn't even "for sale"). 

You do what you have to, to operate a Business!   You do what you have to, to operate a County.   We are in need of too many things - - i.e. road repairs & a new court house & jail - - to be taking raises & putting the county in the RED!   Shame on them, except for JoAnn Fleming.   They're acting like they are in the US Congress - - always thinking they'll just get more from the citizens by raising taxes.

Thank you for "looking out" for Tyler and Smith County & keeping us all informed!

Thanks - JS

Dear Mr. Streit:
Thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of our Commissioners and more importantly to the viewers of KLTV. Please let the commisioners know that I for one feel that these raises for them are not necessary and the commissioners as good leaders, should forego these raises and implement only the ones for the county employees. Until we come to an election where no one runs for the office of commissioner, I think we can safely assume that the pay that they are receiving is more than adequate for the work that they do. If they don't think they can make it on the current salary, perhaps they should step down and let someone take their place?


I have been against the raises from the get go and sent a letter to the editor of the Tyler paper a few weeks ago.expressing my concerns.

 1.The commissioners court has not done their job properly regarding the jail.  Therefore, I do not believe that they deserve or merit any type of raise.

2. I do not give a hoot what other commissioner courts make, I don't live there and I do not pay my taxes there. I am concerned only with what Smith County does.

3. Most of the county commissioners have been successful outside Smith County politics.  Why then do they spend more than what the salary pays to get a public service job and then give us no service and hike their own pay?

4. Why are we the taxpayers not allowed to vote to give merit raises or reduce their pay for lack of performance?

Could this be because of their flawed work ethic, elitism, greed, or all of the above?

Royce C. Hayes

I am under the assumption that the salaries of our county commissioners is paid from taxes paid by people like me.

When I consider what my life is like, the high price of gasoline, the constant struggle trying to make ends meet, choosing between gas to go to work, medicines that I need or food, it's hard to me to sympathize with someone who says they want to "bring their salary in line with others", then vote themselves a raise out of the tax dollars I can ill afford to pay.

Perhaps if I could go to my employer and say "i'm going to vote in a raise for myself now you figure out how to pay for it" and get by with it, I might be more sympathetic. But I can't do that.

The commissioners remind me of our state and federal government officials.Apparently the first thing you do when you become a public servant, is forget about the "public".

My president, my congressmen and my senators have allowed my country to deteroriate to what appears to be a point of no return. We spend billions guarding the borders of foreign countries, but our own borders go unwatched and unguarded. We give billions in foreign aid to countries who despise us, but here at home, the middle class has been shoved into poverty, and no one notices or cares.

 Baseball and football players sign deals for millions, and school teachers qualify for welfare.

Billions are spent rebuilding foreign countries while our infrastructure collapses around our ears. We pay our farmers not to grow food, but import poisonous substances from China to feed our children and pets. A gallon of gasoline costs more than a gallon of milk, yet we allow the big oil companies bo buy up and destroy magnificent ideas on alternative fuels and energy sources such as solar powered, or corn fueled cars.

And of course, there are the border patrol guards who were thrown in jail for doing their job because the president of Mexico has some strange kind of blackmail going on with our government.

We think we have a say because we have the right to vote, but once our votes are counted, we are OUT.

Lobbyists (many of them paid by a foreign government) take over and run the country by proxy through their underhanded deals with our government officials.

The presidential election is coming up and who is in the lead? Easy to ascertain. Just check the bank accounts. Whoever has the most money wins. Pure and simple. Our government, our nation is for sale and the highest bidder will win it.

And while the war in Iraq rages, the bridges fall, prices soar, jails overflow with illegal aliens, and homeowners default in droves, what is the world concerned with? Paris in jail, Britney in rehab, Lindsey arrested, facelifts, botox, cell phone plans, T.O., bigger SUV's, the next Super Walmart,  and someone's $400 haircut. 

What can i do? Nothing. Except whine and complain. As I said, we have reached a point of no return, and the country I live in, is in desperate trouble. I have no faith that anyone can pull it out and make it work again. What we have lost is immeasurable, and the consequences will be beyond horrific.

 But it's like another Hurricane Katrina.  All we can do is watch while the forces in power do what they do and we can document and observe the destruction after it is over.

And in the midst of all this, our county commissioners vote themselves a 33% raise? And they are not aware of disgruntled citizens? Do any of them eat out? They might ask the waitress who brings them their steaks.

Do they get their car serviced? They might ask the guy with the grease under his fingernails and the sweat on his face.  Or the checkout girl at the grocery store, or the receptionist at their doctor's office, or the guy who sweeps out their office at the courthouse. ASk them if they would like to have a 33% raise also. And once all these people get their 33%, maybe then the commissioners could have theirs also. After all, they are (technically) public servants.

thank you - Maxine Harris

The current comissioner"s court and judge knew what the salary was coming in. they also should have known what the job entailed. if they were unwilling to work for this amount then they should not have run for office. i can"t see any of them taking a job in the private sector at a salary they couldn"t live with. but then again maybe they would if they knew that once they were hired they could write their own salary. let"s also remember that most of them already have jobs with salaries of their own. thank you mrs. fleming for standing tall and thank you kltv for letting me express my opinion.

Gerald Jessup Bullard,Texas



My questions to Bill McGinnis are," Did he not know how much he would be paid as a commissioner before he ran for the office?  Now that he is my commissioner,  why did he decides  the money not enough?"   Nobody forced him to run for office.  He should have considered  whether he would be satisfied with the pay before he made the choice to run for the position.  His comment about not hearing any complaints was a joke.  I personally  call his office.  It's easy to say something like that when you don't take your calls or call the people back who do complain.   

I am very disappointed with Joel Baker too. If he could not manage his personal budget without voting himself a raise, why should he be in charge of the city budget.  I resent the fact that people in elected office presume that our money is their money.   If Joel is not happy with the pay maybe he needs to go back to being a lawyer.   What have they done to merit such a hefty raise?

To the other commissioner, break down your wage to the hours you are on our clock.  It's my understanding they only have to work two hours a month.  I would like to make their wage for that little bit of time.

I am sure that the majority of people are unhappy with their income.  Everyone would like a little more, but we are not in the position to vote ourselves our own raise.

Thank you for this forum.

Jean Wait



I agree that the county employees should get a raise but the elected officials knew what the salary was before they ran. I don't thing they should get a raise.  I voted for Joel Baker and Bill McGinnis but I will not vote for them again.


Doyle Simmons



I am very much against the pay raise for you and the commissioner's court.


Bonnie Barbarisi




I just wanted to say I voted for Joel Baker and am very disappointed in

his response to this subject.  Perhaps he doesn't think people care

about the pay increase because he doesn't choose to hear them.  We have

had a property tax increase every year since we built our home eight

years ago.  It seems every time the County wants something they just

raise appraisals again.The property owners of Smith County better have deep pockets if this is going to continue.  We are told that the way to make changes is in the voter booth, but it doesn't look like that is working very well.  Maybe

next time they could put "none of the above" as a choice on the ballot. 

I bet Mr. Baker would hear the voters loud and clear then.



Last night the editorial asked a question. How did we feel about the Judge and Commissioners Court voting themselves raises?

It shoud be illegal for an elected government official, of any rank, to give themselves a raise!!!

As an employee, I cannot go to my employer and tell him that I am giving myself a raise. As an elected government official, their employer is the American Voter. They should have to go to their employer and ask for a merrit based raise like I do. 

Under no circumstances should they be able to vote themselves a raise and then come to me and say: "I gave myself a raise. You don't mind do you?" YES I MIND!!!




Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts on Joel Baker.  I am astounded that Mr. Baker felt he deserved a 10, 000.00 raise after 6 months in office.  Our workers need raises, they are struggling to raise families and maintain their homes.  I am looking into what needs to be done to have a recall vote to get Mr. Baker out of office.  I would love to hear from anyone who would like to help.

Shirley Gardner







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