May 16, 2008
Way to be on top of it, Ed

KTRK's Ted Oberg advances the ball on the Big Sheriff Is Watching You story.

It's no surprise that when Sheriff Thomas was sued, the county's lawyers wanted to know who was suing. That's pretty standard in any lawsuit. To do that background work, the county attorney has 10 investigators on his staff. You pay those investigators - nearly $721,000 a year in salary alone, but in this case - with the sheriff being sued himself - his office didn't call the county attorney at all.

Instead the surveillance instead was done by the sheriff's investigative support unit - a group of detectives led by Major Juan Jorge.

Jorge is the one according to the sheriff's office who ordered and supervised the surveillance mission and he isn't returning our calls.

If his detectives came up with anything they certainly didn't write it down or even document their trip to the house. We checked.

We have every report or document the investigative support unit created in the last two years - that doesn't concern an ongoing investigation. And there's nothing, not even a single document or email, on the Ibarra surveillance. So whatever they found they never passed it on, leading to the still unanswered question - why were they doing it and what did they find?

My guess? They found nothing, because if they had found anything remotely unsavory, they'd have found a way to publicize it, or to use it in the trial. But they got bupkis, so they did what they could to bury the whole thing. Thankfully, they were as effective at that as they were at digging the dirt.

Your County government at work:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in his first comments on the issue admits he's talked to the Sheriff about the surveillance.

Ted Oberg: Have you asked the sheriff why he did it?
Judge Ed Emmett: No.
Oberg: Have you asked any questions about the surveillance?
Emmett: We had a brief conversation.
Oberg: Have you asked the sheriff any questions about whether he knew it was going on or why?
Emmett: No I did not.
Oberg: What questions have you asked the Sheriff?
Emmett: That's between me and the sheriff.
Oberg: You're also the leader of county government and we'd like to know what you are doing to address this issue?
Emmett: I think what I am doing is very public.

But he's not doing anything on the surveillance issue. It is in his mind a settled legal case and he is leaving it the sheriff to decide if anything needs to be done now or in the future.

Ted Oberg: In this instance, is it right or wrong?
Judge Ed Emmett: In this circumstance, I will not talk about it. It's a settled case.

As Oberg notes, the Ibarras are talking about filing another suit, which would make this case rather unsettled right now. Last month, the question was asked by blogHouston when "some grownup in Harris County government [would] insist to Sheriff Thomas that he's wasted enough of the public's money". Apparently, Judge Emmett is not interested in being that grownup. Note also that Sheriff Thomas isn't speaking about this, so as yet, we have no answers as to why this surveillance, which should have been conducted by the County Attorney's office, was done in this fashion. Any more questions about why it's time for a change in Harris County?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 16, 2008 to Local politics

If Emmett will not talk about settled cases and will not talk about unsettled cases and will not talk about the ethics reforms he promised 3 months ago, what will he talk about?

Posted by: Charles Hixon on May 16, 2008 7:55 PM

I'm curious if Quanel X would be leading the charge demanding that Sir Tommy resign if the Ibarras were, well, "brothers"

Posted by: perplexing on May 16, 2008 11:22 PM

Hi! Just dropping by to say "hi" to Hixon. If there's a comments section, there's a Hixon! How's the water-level in the backyard?

Posted by: Me on May 17, 2008 1:12 AM

Fine, Joe. Thanks for asking. Is your resume up to date? Your boss will be looking for a new job ya know.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on May 18, 2008 12:16 PM

Charles: Assuming that you are presuming that the above comment was from me, you are mistaken. I don't taunt, and I don't do my work anonymously. Hope all is well.

Posted by: Joe Stinebaker on May 19, 2008 12:38 PM