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Editorial: the Dallas Morning News
Bill Baumbach for county commissioner, Precinct 2
10:27 AM CDT on Sunday, October 8, 2006
Collin County Commissioner Jerry Hoagland says this on his campaign Web site:
"There is definitely no requirement to provide free medical care to illegal aliens or immigrants." The bold-type emphasis is Mr. Hoagland's. He puts "illegal aliens" or "immigrants" in bold type three more times, a signal of his interest in riding the emotionally charged issue as he campaigns to extend his 26 years in office.
But this anti-immigrant obsession is out of proportion to the reality of county spending. Only a tiny amount of county money could possibly aid illegal immigrants through grants to charitable clinics. Truth is, this is just the latest excuse the 65-year-old Republican gives for stubbornly guarding the county's health care trust fund money instead of spending more of it on the poor.
Recently, a health care task force developed a solid plan to maximize public-private partnerships to help more people below the poverty line. The group reached a broad consensus with widespread support – but, of course, not from Mr. Hoagland.
In our view, the health care issue is a defining one in the election for Precinct 2, which includes east Plano, Wylie, Murphy and Parker. Mr. Hoagland is deaf to the argument that the overall community is better off when everyone is healthy, adults and children alike, regardless of immigration status.
There are other reasons to be troubled by Mr. Hoagland's performance of late. Mr. Hoagland was a longtime supporter of longevity pay for elected officials but abandoned that position as the election year wore on. It was good that he eventually saw the light, but his turnabout came shortly before he and his peers proposed a 17 percent pay raise for themselves that would offset the lost bonuses. He ended up flip-flopping on that position, too, as complaints about self-dealing stirred up the public.
Electing Democrat Bill Baumbach on Nov. 7 would help rejuvenate county government.
Mr. Baumbach's signature issue is the need for openness from public officials. He says commissioners should have discussed their pay raises openly, not in executive session. We couldn't agree more.
Mr. Baumbach, 55, a printing company manager, has other constructive recommendations: public meetings at convenient times and places, and agendas and minutes fully accessible on the Web.
Straight-party Republicans should take note that Mr. Baumbach styles himself a reformer with a fiscally conservative outlook. He cites "bloated overhead" in county government and excessive pay and perks for commissioners, and we're confident he could transition from critic to leader.
On health care, he is a pole apart from Mr. Hoagland and supports the recommendations from the county task force.
Mr. Hoagland asserts that his experience is needed as the county grapples with explosive growth.
We assert that experience can and should be grown anew. Mr. Baumbach is a good place to start.
DMN Suburban Editorial Board
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