Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
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Letter - Business owner unhappy with worker
Houston County Courier - October 2008
This morning at about 8:30 a.m. I was sweeping the sidewalk at the antique store I co-own on the West side of the public square when I observed a Houston County employee loading signs from a car into a van.
He was parked in a designated disabled space at the foot of the West side courthouse steps in a vehicle with an expired auto registration.
I advised the individual that as a Houston County taxpayer I did not appreciate him handling his personal business at the courthouse while being paid by the county.
The Houston County employee pointed to and tapped his wristwatch numerous times informing me that he did not go to work until 9 a.m.
I believe non-exempt county officials and employees are required to fill out time sheets for hours worked and hour paid.
He then told me to mind my own business. Several county employees observed this incident, which I believe is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Texas penal Code, Texas Election Code and Houston County policy.
At 11:30 a.m. the individual's vehicle was still parked in the same disabled parking space. The city of Crockett police officer who issued parking citations to those vehicles parked in a space more than two hours was writing tickets in front of my store.
As a downtown merchant I thanked him for enforcing the city ordinance and pointed out the green Chevrolet Impala parked in the handicap space across the street at the courthouse for over three hours.
The officer informed me that the vehicle belonged to a county employee, that the county employee had a disability placard and that the county employee could park in the space as long as he liked and that no citation would be issued.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is one of the finest pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress. Its noble purpose and intent was to give all Americans with disabilities equal access to public places and facilities and/or provide a "reasonable accommodation" thereto.
It is a federal law that includes provisions requiring disability tags/placards for persons requiring such assistance.
I count 10 disabled parking spaces around the courthouse square. Of course I have no problem with the truly disabled individuals parking in one of the 10 spaces for reasonable periods of time.
If any one individual uses a designated disabled space as their own personal space all day, every work day, they are denying access to others needing to conduct business at the courthouse and annex, shopping or eating at a restaurant on the square or having a prescription filled/refilled at the pharmacy on the square.
The Americans with Disabilities Act disability parking placards allow "persons requiring such assistance to park for double the posted time in metered or time restricted spaces" only.
Since the city of Crockett has a two-hour time restricted ordinance in posted areas on the courthouse square the maximum time an individual possessing a Texas Disabled Person Placard may legally park is four hours.
Houston County provides parking spaces for some district and county officials and county employees and for "visitors" around the courthouse square and in the county-owned parking lot on the North side of the square.
Applications for disabled person identification placards are available in the office of Texas' county tax assessor/collectors. The form states that applications are to be submitted "to the county tax assessor in the applicant's county of residence."
At the top of the application is the language, "Warning. Penal code section 37.10 provides that falsifying a governmental record is a class A misdemeanor unless the actor's intent is to defraud or harm another in which event it is a second degree felony."
During the last general election I observed and photographed him strategically parking in disabled parking spaces on the corners of the courthouse square with huge double-sided signs in the back of his pickup, all day, every day, Monday through Friday.
Is this "wrong" or am I just overly "excitable?"
Let me know.
Please vote early or vote on election day.
Believe me, your knowledge and experience counts.
John A. Gilmartin