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Bill Bailey

Constable Bailey to step down

This from last week was a surprise.

Harris County’s longest-serving current constable resigned today at commissioners court, upset by the layoffs he said he was forced to make after the county passed its leanest budget in years earlier this month.

Precinct 8 Constable Bill Bailey, 72, who also is an announcer, board member and lifetime vice president for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, surprised much of the room by announcing he would step down from his post effective May 31.

He explained the painful process of laying off 10 employees, then 11, then being told even those cuts didn’t reach his required budget number. So, he said, he had decided to cut a 12th worker.

“I’ve reached the difficult decision that that employee’s going to be me,” Bailey said, his voice faltering at times. “I will cut my position… I will retire from a job that I dearly loved, for 28 and a half years.”

I don’t know anything about Constable Bailey, but it’s clear from the story that he was well-liked. I wish him well in his retirement.

As the Chron story notes, Bailey was not going to run for re-election in 2012 anyway. Commissioners Court will choose a replacement for him – Bailey will recommend that his chief deputy Phil Sandlin be appointed to fill his unexpired term – and that person will then have the advantage of having been in the office for a few months before being on a ballot. Normally at this time I’d tell you what the partisan numbers for 2008 were in Bailey’s precinct, but I seem to have managed to misplace the original Harris County canvass file that I had, so I can’t. Given that County Commissioner precincts, which include the Constable and JP precincts within them, are due to be redrawn, those numbers wouldn’t have served as more than curiosities anyway. But I knew you’d wonder about that, so there you have it.