Setting The Record Straight

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

In my 22 years as your state legislature representative I've seen a lot of dirty politics. Generally, the best option is to tum the other cheek. However, there are times when the rhetoric is so blatantly false that response based on 100% fact must be issued. That is the case with the malicious and dishonest accusations regarding County Judge, Carol Bush’s salary increase.

In July 2016, Ellis County Commissioners voted unanimously to institute Section 152.014 of the Texas Local Government Code; the law which establishes a neutral committee from a pool of grand jury members to review salary concerns. The names of the participants were placed on individual pieces of paper and placed in a concealed container by Cindy Polley, the County Clerk. Nine names were drawn randomly to be on the Salary Grievance Committee. It was done in open Court. To state otherwise is a falsehood.

The Salary Grievance Committee met on September 9, 2016. The meeting was duly posted and open to the public. I personally attended the meeting and testified concerning why I believed Judge Bush should be given a raise.  I felt then, as I do now, that her responsibilities were possibly the most challenging, time-consuming and demanding of anyone in government in Ellis County. And yet at the time, our County Court at Law judges, the District Court judges and the District Attorney were making $40,000 to $50,000+ more in salary than Carol Bush. The inequity was the sole purpose of the salary review.

During the session, the salary compensation of other key legal and government executive positions in Ellis County was reviewed. Of those presented, Judge Bush was paid less than 30 of the governmental judges and managers in our county. As an example, in 2016 the City Manager of Waxahachie was paid $190,550 and managed a budget of $33,474,100.  At that time, Judge Bush was paid a salary of $94,835 and managed a budget of $61,840,688.

After the presentation, Judge Bush voluntarily left the room to allow the committee to discuss the presentations and make a decision regarding a salary increase.... or none at all. After the committee unanimously decided upon a new salary of

$165,000, Judge Bush was called back into the room. The committee spokesperson explained they unanimously set the salary to compensate for Judge Bush's experience, legal expertise and comprehensive responsibilities, time and efforts. The votes were recorded with each committee member's signature.

Facts don't lie, even though detractors do. The County Commissioners clearly set the protocol and legality of a committee to review salary concerns under Section 152.014 of the Texas Local Government Code. The selection process for the committee was exclusively under the control of the County Clerk. Judge Bush never asked for a specific dollar figure and never suggested that her salary be increased by the amount awarded. She simply requested that her current salary be increased to be more in line with other judges and city government managers in Ellis County. The nine-member committee mutually determined the amount of the increase and all nine members agreed on the same amount.

Those are the facts, and I challenge anyone to show proof otherwise. They can't, but they will continue to spread lies because they cannot mount a campaign against Judge Bush based on how they could do a better job at running Ellis County. And that is the true irony of the situation. It is because Judge Bush does such an outstanding job, the salary increase was justifiable.... unanimously.

James R. Pitts


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