Miles, who succeeded Gilmer attorney Joe Newsom as chairman Aug. 20, criticized the court’s performance while also discussing the rebuilding of the party in the county, which is now Republican-dominated. Some 15 persons attended the meeting at the Disabled American Veterans headquarters off U.S. 271 N.
Charging that funding for county roads has been cut “so much,” Miles said, “We need to get more involved so we will have a say-so how our money is involved in this county.”
Earlier, he said “As long as we don’t get involved, they’re (court members) going to do what they want to do. . . These commissioners don’t know a thing about a budget.”
He said it came to their attention just this year that they have five departments directly under them.
And “they’re going to continue to squeeze those who don’t squeal the loudest,” Miles asserted. “As taxpayers, we need to start speaking up. . . The more they are forced to answer for each dollar, the better our living conditions will be.”
Miles, who regularly attends meetings of the Commissioners Court, repeatedly attacked its handling of county funds.
“Right now, I haven’t even heard the Commissioners Court give a game plan as to what they intend to do” this budget year, he said. “As long as we sit at home, we will never know. . . Get involved with your tax dollars. . . Let’s bring our voice along with our dollars.”
Miles and Gladewater City Councilman Delbert Burlison, a Democrat, both complained about what they consider a lack of help from the county government for Gladewater, which is divided between Gregg and Upshur Counties.
“Tax dollars are coming from parts of Gladewater with nothing being returned to the citizens of Gladewater,” Miles said.
Burlison said that although 30 percent of the Gladewater Fire Department’s calls are in Upshur County, the city only receives $22,000 in county help for firefighting, with those funds coming from the Upshur County Emergency Services District.
When the city has asked the county for more help, Burlison said, the city has been told that the fire department is in Gregg County.
Upshur County’s attitude, he said, is “we can get this for free.”
As for roads, Miles charged that County Engineer Eric Fisher “does not have the authority a road engineer should have.”
Said Rev. Huey Jones, “He really wasn’t needed because the commissioners could have done a better job.”
(County voters have chosen three times in the past decade to opt for the Unit Road System, rather than have commissioners directly maintain roads, as they did for many years.)
Besides discussing the current county government, Miles also raised the possibility of fielding Democratic candidates for county office in 2014.
For decades, winning the Democratic nomination for Upshur County office was tantamount to election, but no Democrats ran for county office this year—the first time that has occurred in modern history. Only three Democrats—County Treasurer Myra Harris, Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace W.V. Ray, and 115th District Judge Lauren Parish (whose district includes Marion County) hold office in the county.
“In Upshur County, look at what we let happen—a Republican-controlled government,” Miles said. “We have no voice in nothing because we could not vote.”
He said he had asked several persons to run. He told those present that if they knew of someone qualified to do so, have that person contact him. Miles said he didn’t want to wait until 2014 to start work on that.
“Get the name out there,” he urged. “We’re going to spend some money on advertising. . . Right now, we’re not even in the ball park.”
Miles also said he wanted to get precinct chairmen for the four county commissioner precincts.
Said Rev. Jones, “Our job is to get out and vote and watch our votes, ’cause there’s a lot of crookedness in the vote process.” Gilmer School Board member Gloria King asserted, “We (Democrats) are still alive and well.”
Ann Glenn said that if the party is going to “draft these young people as Democrats, we need to teach them what we’re all about.”
She also said Upshur Democrats will have a table in front of Newsom’s downtown Gilmer law office at the Yamboree festival in October.
Besides criticizing Republican county officials, Miles also blasted Republican Gov. Rick Perry and the GOP-dominated state government.
“Everything they do in Austin is against females,” Miles alleged, saying Republicans oppose whatever supports childbirth and “the wellness of females.”
He noted Perry’s inability during a Republican Presidential debate to remember one of the three Cabinet departments the governor favored abolishing, and said the governor “talks like an idiot.
“Gov. Rick Perry is really not fit to be a governor,” Miles said, adding he knew of nothing that Perry did for the “working man.”
He said rich people keep the governor in office for their benefit, and that Perry and Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst should go into another profession.
In addition, Miles said, “Gov. Perry cut back on our schoolchildren. . . We keep underfunding the schools at all levels.”
Rev. Jones chimed in, saying Perry “hasn’t done anything for Texas.”
Miles also said he did not think the Republican-supported voter identification legislation would be implemented in time for the November election because it will require federal court approval.
He said putting the bill in effect would “cut out a lot of Democratic votes.”
Said Rev. Jones, “That’s their objective.”
While there was little discussion of the November Presidential election, Miles said Upshur Democrats don’t have Obama signs yet, but they are coming.
He also urged those present to “Look at the news. Read the newspaper. Educate yourself” about government.