Editors note: This is an accurate report of the discussion at Wednesday's meeting of the Galveston County Mayors and Councilmembers' Association, however because it includes the opinion of the publishers it is being posted on the Forum page.
GuidryNews.com Publisher Jim Guidry, at Wednesday's meeting of the Galveston County Mayors and Councilmembers' Association, proposed legislation that would designate county judges in Texas as the primary decision makers during emergencies such as Hurricane Ike. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"Things went real well in the County," Guidry said, noting that he and Lynda Guidry spent the first two weeks after Ike in the Galveston County Emergency Operations Center as public information officers, observing first-hand the problems and their resolutions. "Texas City and La Marque, of course, did real well. When you get further into the southern part of the county things didn't go as well. Things were very dysfunctional."
Guidry noted that Galveston officials refused to allow residents to return to check on their property while Jamaica Beach opened for "look and leave" visits; and residents of Tiki Island were kept from entering their village by police officers blocking entry to Galveston at FM 519.
Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters agreed that Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough has provided good leadership, but she cautioned that other counties do not have our experience.
"They don't have what we have in Galveston County," Masters said. "They don't have the kind of judge that we all personally know; and actually calls us during the event (asking) 'How are you doing? I just want you to know I'm here if you need me, just give me a buzz'."
Masters said Judge Yarbrough may not seek reelection and could be replaced by someone less responsive.
"What we have in Galveston County is truly special."
Tiki Island Mayor Charles Everts agreed that the situation during Ike was not acceptable.
"When Galveston goes 'x' number of miles north of its jurisdiction and starts blocking roads, and I pointed it out before it ever happened, we were going to have issues," Everts said. "I was assured that if we have proper identification for our citizens we could come back, well that wasn't the case."
Dickinson City Council Member Kerry Neves, speaking as vice chair of the Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors, had other issues with the management of the City of Galveston.
"We have board representation for Galveston on that board of directors and it has been vacant for months and months and months," Neves said. "I have called and tried to get Galveston involved."
Neves said that he attempted to work with Galveston when the WorkSource Center was about to be closed.
"I called the city manager, I called the mayor and said let me do what I can to help you in any way," Neves said. "I never heard back from the mayor or the city administrator. When I called Jim Yarbrough and left the same message, he called me back in three minutes."
There were no representatives of the City of Galveston at the meeting, which is not unusual. In fact, Masters said that she had recently attempted to schedule a meeting of the organization in Galveston.
"I called Mayor Thomas and the lady, person, that you have to talk to," Masters said. "No one ever called me back."
Representatives of the entities that did attend the meeting each made reports. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
The next meeting of the Galveston County Mayor and Councilmembers' Association will be in Texas City on January 14.