February 15, 2007
Eckels says "So long, suckers"

As expected, Robert Eckels is now the former Harris County Judge.

He did not say in his speech when he will resign from the county job he has held for 12 years, or what he will do afterward. He was elected to a fourth term in November.

"Today, the time is right," Eckels said, his eyes welling up as he concluded his prepared text and turned to the subject of greatest interest to the audience. "I had a friend who told me, 'You never become what you want to be while remaining where you are.' Harris County is moving forward, and it's time for me to do the same."'

It's not every day that I agree fully with blogHouston, but this is one of those days. The time was right before last November - in particular, before the January 2 filing deadline. Frankly, I could care less about Robert Eckels' need for personal fulfillment. If he wasn't satisfied with the powerful, visible, and might I add not exactly slave-wage-paying job he told us all he wanted, then he should have been honest about it back when we the people had the chance to pick his successor. His announced departure a month into his term, when he is one of three people who can pick his replacement without any public input, is a slap to every voter in Harris County. For shame.

Eckels said he will remain on the job at least until the Commissioners Court considers the upcoming annual budget next month.

He also will participate in the vote on his successor, who will be picked by Commissioners Court, which comprises the county judge and the four commissioners.

Eckels, a Republican, and the two Republican commissioners form a majority that could name the next county judge even if the court's two Democrats dissent.

The three told the Chronicle last week that Ed Emmett, a transportation consultant and former state representative, was a possible consensus candidate for the post. But today, the judge also mentioned District Clerk Charles Bacarisse as a candidate for the job.

Eckels said he hoped his successor can be chosen on a unanimous Commissioners Court vote.

I suppose if there's one positive to the elevation of Ed Emmett is that at least then we won't have a second countywide office held for the next 23 months by someone who was never elected to it. And I sincerely hope that both Democratic commissioners vote No to whoever gets picked to replace Eckels just so some kind of official disapproval gets registered. It's the least they can do.

UPDATE: Miya reports that former Harris County Democratic Party Chair David Mincberg plans to run for the seat next year.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 15, 2007 to Local politics | TrackBack

This is standard procedure - to resign while in office. It's how the two most recent County Attorneys got their job. I can't recall anyone complaining about those appointments. What's so different about this?

Posted by: Charles Hixon on February 15, 2007 8:32 PM

The difference, Charles, is that he was just re-elected. Surely this move didn't just occur to him. Eckels has misled and defrauded the voters. The honorable thing to have done, had he known he was going to leave quickly if re-elected, would have been not to run again. It's all about this sense of entitlement, of an ability to manipulate the process to one's own advantage.

Posted by: Dennis on February 16, 2007 5:42 AM

Dennis: there is no difference. The same thing happened in Commissioners Court when Fleming bailed out. No one complained about that.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on February 16, 2007 11:28 AM