One stone, two birds


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Six Shooter Junction – In the rambling, two-hour discussion  about what to do about one Justice of the Peace precinct with three judges, the corporate attorney batted cleanup on Tuesday morning.

Mike Dixon does legal work for the McLennan County Commissioners Court. He didn’t guide the redistricting plan that led to the messy situation of having to pay a fully qualified attorney with a years-long track record at her duties running a busy Justice Court.

That was politics.

He is taking care of the business of what to do about having to pay former Judge Kristie DeCluitt the insultingly minimal salary of $8,000 per year because she has a constitutional claim on the funds – and because the voters put her there until the year 2016 long before this tribunal of five chose to redistrict her precinct, then gave the nod to someone else when it came time to pick a loyal Republican to run unopposed in the general election.

Dixon advised they “kill two birds with one stone.”

The painfully obvious elephant in the room no one talks about is simple to behold. It’s that big, gray, smelly thing with peanuts on its breath and the long, long nose, the one over in the corner.

Though times are ridiculously hard and millions of Americans have been roaming the streets and highways homeless now for years under conditions that have driven them crazy with drugs and alcohol, turned them into criminals because they have no place to go and no prospect of finding one, the hounds have succeeded in finding a way to cut their numbers locked up in the county jail from an average of 400 per month back in 2010 to an average of 100 five years later.

How? The Mental Health-Mental Retardation officials of the State of Texas finds them through referrals by jailers and cops, judges and social workers, then arranges for substance abuse treatment, hospitalization, close community supervision – and the like.

Came the question, and it’s a hard one. Commissioner Ben Perry, an ex-cop with a head for figures, put it mildly. “If we decide tomorrow to ramp up…?”

Where will the money come from? Grants? Where? Obviously, anyone with a head for figures knows that millions more will soon come spilling out onto the streets to commit the crime of having nowhere else left to go – soon. Some say it will be sooner than you think.

The social worker answered him readily, saying the money is there, it’s just a matter of Washington cutting it loose. It always has been. One thing is for real, it costs seven times more to incarcerate a mentally ill person than it does a normie.

“It’s a huge issue…” said Tommy Thompson, “because this is not just a McLennan County issue; it’s a huge issue nationwide.” There are plans all over America to get people with nowhere left to go off the streets.

Perry did a rapid calculation and determined that at the rate events are unfolding for homeless people with a hitch in the way they think and react to reality, people with “lost lives,” that’s $2 million a year.

And then Steve Hernandez, the veterans representative, took front and center, said he’s been working on the problem of diverting from the court system veterans who had to react normally in the context of the insanity of war in order to survive – and now are labeled as crazy because they don’t seem quite normal to people who were not there and have no idea what they went through to make it home alive. How, exactly, could they ever be normal? Avanti, saith the Centurion.

Funding has always been the problem. What to do?

Pay Judge Kristie DeCluitt in the neighborhood of $50K per year – which is the approximate salary of a beginner baby lawyer hired by the DA’s office, according to Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna, who chimed in, right on cue.

What will she do? Find the way to legally get people off the streets and out of the jails, no matter if they have problems the rest of we the people find unpleasant to behold. Before the years in law school, she took a Master’s Degree in law and health issues. It’s a personal passion of hers.

She wants a contract. They want her resignation before they will negotiate further. The upshot, they deferred all further action until they get a chance to “visit” with Judge DeCluitt. She did not return a phone call requesting a brief interview to determine her reaction.

Dixon reminded them. They created the problem. Listen to the story:

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