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Endorsement watch: The Chron gets in the game

Today the Chron gets started on endorsements for the 2006 general election. It’s earlier than I expected, which is good, and has an entry I totally did not expect, which is bad. I’m speaking about their head-scratching endorsement of Orlando Sanchez for County Treasurer, about whom they say the following:

Sanchez promises to streamline this office, which is custodian of county money and issues county checks. Over the years the utility of the office has declined, so any savings to the taxpayers would be welcome. If elected, Sanchez, a Republican, says he will shun involvement in political issues that have little bearing on his office, while providing an additional check against improper expenditure of county funds.

A bit more than three months ago, the Chron editorialized as follows:

UNTIL the unexpected death of 70-year-old County Treasurer Jack Cato last month, it appeared that the political career of former Houston City Councilman Orlando Sanchez had finally been interred with an emphatic “rest in peace.” Cato had beaten back Sanchez’s primary challenge to the two-term Republican incumbent in his eighth year in office by a decisive 18-point margin.

The setback followed Sanchez’s two unsuccessful Houston mayoral campaigns that ended in runoff defeats. During an joint appearance before the Chronicle editorial board during the primary campaign, Sanchez criticized Cato’s handling of his office. He said that if he won the $96,000-a-year post he would use it as a platform to express his views on immigration and would travel to Washington if necessary.

The county treasurer supervises 15 employees who process payments authorized by county commissioners; it has nothing to do with immigration policy. During his tenure Cato stuck to its mandated duties and avoided embroiling the office in controversy.


The state of Texas and several other counties have already gone the route of eliminating their treasurer positions. The two Democratic Harris County commissioners, Sylvia Garcia, and El Franco Lee, [along with both Republican commissioners], have indicated they would support such an action.

With Cato’s passing, the time is right to consider whether this appendage of county government is worth the cost. Sanchez has made it clear he would use the office for a political agenda having little or nothing to do with its job description. The Democratic candidate, Richard Garcia, is running on a platform of abolishing it.

In a time when public sentiment demands lower taxes and greater economy of public services, why should taxpayers provide $96,000 a year for an extraneous position to be used only to revive flagging political careers? Harris County commissioners and state lawmakers should give voters the opportunity to answer that question in the near future.

So what changed between June 6 and today, fellas? Why do you now believe him when he says he’ll “shun involvement in political issues that have little bearing on his office”? Why are you happy to settle for “any savings to the taxpayer” when you once called for the office to be abolished? I don’t understand this at all.

Anyway. You can still play the Guess The Chron Endorsement Game, but you’d better enter quickly before they start with the rest of the slate. Whether this particular clunker is a harbinger of things to come or not is unclear, so take your shot and hope for the best.

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  1. Charles Hixon says:

    Garcia could take credit for Sanchez’s flip-flop (well if you are not going to do the job as a County Treasurer, I’m all for abolishing the office) if Garcia also takes the opportunity to “refine” his platform. If Garcia is effective, we could see another Chronic flip-flop before Election Day.

  2. […] as an elected official – it just fits a pattern with Sanchez of all talk and no action. See here for some […]