By Julie Anderson, Editor
In his inaugural President’s Column, Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon put forth a premise that he would reference throughout his year at the helm: the value of leadership.
Citing motivational speaker Jim Rohn, Harmon offered the following one year ago: “A good leader is to help those who are doing poorly to do well, and to help those who are doing well to even do better.”
In his final column for County Progress, Harmon offered a quote by Peter Drucker: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”
The theme of the 91st Annual County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Conference conducted Oct. 7-10 in Galveston championed Harmon’s focus on leadership: Guiding Your Ship to its Destination.
“In troubled times, you have to have a plan of action,” Harmon declared at the Opening General Session as he introduced the keynote speaker.
Gerard Braud, president of Braud Communications, zeroed in on leadership during crisis, discussing “When ‘It’ Hits the Fan – Navigating the Troubled Waters of Effective Communications in Critical Times.”
“If you want to lead, take time out…to prepare how you’re going to lead during a crisis,” Braud exhorted. “What could go wrong?”
Using Hurricane Katrina as an example, Braud encouraged officials to find “it” for their county. A flood? Wildfires? Hurricane? What disaster/crisis is a realistic possibility?
After determining the “it,” he next suggested the formation of a crisis communication plan, followed by media training.
Along with these key steps, Braud advised County Judges and Commissioners to:
- Communicate quickly.
- Provide honest information.
- Pass the cynic test.
- Control accurate information.
- Spread truth faster than lies and rumor.
“Plan before the crisis,” he reiterated.
Leadership was one of a full slate of topics carefully selected to equip County Judges and Commissioners to best serve their taxpayers. Some 266 attendees were schooled on a range of issues including Working with the Legislature, Transportation Funding, Risk Management, County Purchasing, Terrorism Prevention, and Indigent Healthcare.
Officials were armed with key information, including legislative changes and legal references to help them perform their mandated duties. For example, during a class on County Landfill & Solid Waste Authority, J. Eric Magee of Allison, Bass & Associates, L.L.P., provided a list of specific statutory authority for counties dealing with solid waste issues:
The Solid Waste Disposal Act – Tex. Health & Safety Code, Chapter 361, Subchapter E.
The Comprehensive Municipal Solid Waste Management, Resource Recovery, and Conservation Act – Tex. Health & Safety Code, Chapter 363, Subchapter F.
The County Solid Waste Control Act – Tex. Health & Safety Code, Chapter 364.
In his presentation titled, “How To Stay Out of Jail (as an elected official),” Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore reminded County Judges and Commissioners that the familiar saying, “Better to ask forgiveness rather than permission,” does not apply to elected officials. Moore cited legal references covering a wide range of categories including theft, “borrowing” money, bribery and corrupt influence, coercion of a voter, and abuse of official capacity. For instance, Moore offered the following on honorariums:
Penal Code Sec. 36.07 – ACCEPTANCE OF HONORARIUM
A public servant commits an offense if the public servant solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept an honorarium in consideration for services that the public servant would not have been requested to provide but for the public servant’s official position or duties.
This section does not prohibit a public servant from accepting transportation and lodging expenses in connection with a conference or similar event in which the public servant renders services, such as addressing an audience or engaging in a seminar, to the extent that those services are more than merely perfunctory, or from accepting meals in connection with such an event.
(b‐1) Transportation, lodging, and meals described by Subsection (b) are not political contributions as defined by Title 15, Election Code.
An offense under this section is a Class A Misdemeanor.
The educational program included not only key statutory information, but also provided a forum for sharing best practices and ideas on how to most efficiently implement state mandates and innovative, effective programs. When it comes to indigent health care, Bride Roberts with the Williamson County and Cities Health District shared successful endeavors including Community Paramedicine.
Williamson County has seized the opportunity for Medicaid 1115 Waiver matching funds, allowing EMS staff to do preventive services. Ambulance crews rotate weekly between rural communities to perform blood pressure checks, diabetic testing, weight checks, checking for medication interactions, and monitoring of asthmatic and COPD patients.
Community Paramedicine will improve the quality of care and life for individuals, while decreasing utilization of EMS transports without compromising the integrity of the emergency response system.
Outreach and education services will result in decreased emergency department visits.
For additional information on educational presentations made at the conference, visit: http://www.county.org/member-services/education-and-training/presentations/Pages/default.aspx.
Along with fulfilling their educational requirements, participants took part in an array of social functions, enjoying carnival rides while taking in a beautiful sunset at the Pleasure Pier, reeling in an impressive mess of fish from Galveston Bay, and enjoying light-hearted competition at the domino tables and on the greens at the Bobby Smith Memorial Golf Tournament.
Officials took care of important Association matters at the annual Business Meeting. Before voting on recommendations from various committees, the CJCAT thanked General Counsel Jim Allison for his 30 years of service to the Association, honoring Allison with a special gift, slideshow, and a standing ovation.
The conference concluded with the Installation Banquet, where the Association recognized 27 officials for completion of the Commissioners Court Advanced Curriculum Program, awarded the Nationwide Past President’s Scholarship, and welcomed the 2013-14 slate of officers (see full listings and photos on the following pages).
The 92nd Annual County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Conference will take place in Lubbock County at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2014. For more information, see the County Progress Calendar on page 61.