Reader Responses, February 23,2014

Published on Saturday, 22 February 2014 23:14 - Written by

Your editorial endorsements in the paper on Sunday left me confused. You said that County Judge Joel Baker had made mistakes but had grown into the job. Then you said that he seems overqualified. You said also that John Furlow seemed overqualified, but that his military style of leadership was not appropriate for the job.

You seem to be thinking about the leadership you may have received in basic training or in the combat arms units in the military. There is more to the military than just those situations. Look at Ft. Bliss out in El Paso. Ft. Bliss is larger than the state of Rhode Island. The post commander is a major general. His job is to provide a place for over 100,000 troops to train and live, plus places for their dependants. He has to administer the budget. Furlow has had that kind of experience plus he is also a Certified Public Accountant. We have seen the efficiency of a CPA in our fine city’s mayor.

He already has presented some ideas that will certainly help with our budgeting and has proposed plans to get us out of our pot holes. I endorse General Furlow

Bob Fowler




After reading state Rep. David Simpson’s Feb. 15 opinion column regarding the pharmacy bill vote and Rep. Matt Schaefer’s role, I am convinced more than ever that Simpson is better suited being a contortionist than a legislator.

Simpson’s explanation of his knowledge about how the legislature works is truly inspiring. He obviously believes mounting a last-ditch campaign to challenge a sitting House Speaker, then withdrawing at the 11th hour, demonstrates an “understanding” of the legislative process. He evidentially feels there is no need to count votes before launching an ill-advised challenge, one resulting in alienation by not only the Speaker, but the vast majority of his fellow Republican colleagues.

One can only assume that Simpson does not believe it is important to a legislator, or his constituents, which committee the speaker appoints him to serve. Nor, apparently, is the respect of the vast majority of his fellow Republicans consequential. Based on the comments as printed, Simpson believes Matt Schaefer deserves re-election for introducing 17 bills — none of which reached the House floor for a vote.

I, for one, find it offensive that people in Austin, Midland — and now Longview, feel the need to “enlighten” the citizens of Smith County about the candidate we should elect as our State Representative.

The choice is clear: Skip Ogle has the support of Smith County and will certainly support our community’s interests, and not the unknown agendas of people in Austin, Midland and Longview.

Michael P. Smith




It is unprecedented for a political newcomer to gain such overwhelming support over an incumbent.

Skip Ogle is a candidate for state representative, District 6. It is amazing the number of individuals and organizations that are backing his campaign.

The dynamics of the race are easy to understand. Skip offers a different approach that is catching on among the people in Smith County. People are connecting to his positive “community first” message.

It is unfortunate, but our district has lost faith in our current representative’s ability to spearhead legislation for our district.

We need Skip’s vast experience he gained while working in government relations to help our district regain its influence in Austin.

Skip has the diplomatic skills to stay true to his East Texas values while moving legislation forward for our community. I’m backing Skip Ogle.

Herb Buie




I support the re-election of state Rep. Matt Schaefer because he cares about our retired educators. He was a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1458 in last year’s legislative session, which provided a much needed cost of living increase for retired teachers. The bill also worked to address the financial soundness of the Teacher Retirement System, which was estimated to have a shortfall of over $20 billion in about 30 years before this successful legislation.

Matt realized that long term sustainability in the retirement fund was important. As a fiscal conservative, Matt’s involvement with this legislation was essential in making other legislators aware of the long term benefits. Thanks to the work of Rep. Schaefer and his colleagues, today’s retirees, as well as current teachers who will one day retire from the profession, can feel more secure about their retirement.

Janet Majors




We would like to share a letter with the community that was sent to all Smith County physicians and their spouses (1,400 letters).

Medicine has long been a key part of the Smith County business community. Historically, we have had a great working relationship with legislators, such as state Sen. Kevin Eltife and others who represented our area.

We write in support of Skip Ogle, candidate for Texas House of Representatives, District 6. We believe Skip is a pro-business, pro-medicine candidate who will best represent our interests and our patients’ interests. Rep. Schaefer is aligned with political forces diametrically opposed to physicians and patients. During his first session, he voted against physicians and patients on every occasion. To our knowledge, he never reached out to local physician leaders on these important votes.

When the Texas Legislature moved to stop the theft of physician contract rates by curtailing the unscrupulous practices of silent PPOs, Mr. Schaefer voted against us. Apparently, he does not feel doctors should negotiate against Big Insurance.

Mr. Schaefer again sided with insurance companies as medicine won passage of a bill to develop a single prior authorization form physician practices could use with any health plan. Mr. Schaefer opposed it and was evidently unconcerned about our high costs for dealing with the many inefficiencies and barriers involved in working with insurance companies.

Mr. Schaefer apparently believes nonphysician providers should be able to deceive or confuse patients in health care facilities. He voted against a bill that will require coding of ID badges to make it clear to patients which personnel are actually physicians.

We encourage you to join us and other business leaders in supporting Skip Ogle.

Michael E.

Russell, MD

Arnold D.

Wharton, MD

Paul Detwiler, MD

David W. Ball, MD

Asa C. Lockhart, MD

Steve Idell, MD

Deborah L.

Plagenhoef, MD

C. Fagg Sanford, MD



You might remember that I wrote the Reagan budget and played a decisive role in launching the Reagan agenda. That wasn’t popular in the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was the right thing for America. My efforts ruffled the feathers of the House establishment. Standing on principle always does. Those who advocate the go along to get along approach are mortgaging our future. That approach doesn’t work with Matt Schaefer and that is why I trust him.

I know Matt. I’ve worked with Matt. He shares my commitment to fiscal responsibility, private property, and limited government. Matt is an outstanding new member of the Texas House of Representatives. And because Matt stood up to stop the spending and to stop the encroachments on our freedom, he’s got opposition. So, I urge you to support Matt and vote for him. I trust Matt with the future of Texas.

Sen. Phil Gramm


Washington, D.C.



This letter is in response to Marcia Daughtrey’s advice on where to find contact information for State Rep. Matt Schaefer. In her letter she stated “From day one, his personal cell phone number has been readily available to anyone seeking it. “As a former Smith County Republican Chairman, I know that a call to our local Republican Party Office or a click on the Party’s website will provide contact information to assist reaching elected officials.”

Many citizens, including seniors without access to or without a working knowledge of a computer would have no way to track down this information.

Although it is unreasonable to expect constituents to “click on the party’s webpage” or “call the local Republican Party Office” to get Rep. Shaefer’s contact information, I tried Ms. Daughtrey’s suggestions and the outcome was as follows:

A call to our local Republican Party Office resulted in an answering machine recording “You have reached the Republican Party Headquarters, please leave a message and someone will return your call. Our office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon until five-thirty.” (Available 16.5 hours a week during elections).

A click on our local Republican Party webpage shows Rep. Schaefer’s website now has been updated with his local telephone number, but does not provide his cell phone number.

A call to Rep. Schaefer’s Austin telephone number requesting his cell phone number does not work either — you will be told (as I was told) that they cannot give out Rep. Schaefer’s cell phone number, but he can take my number and have Rep. Schaefer return my call.

If from day one Rep. Schaefer’s personal cell phone number has been readily available to anyone seeking it — where else do I look?

Skip Ogle has committed to open his local office starting on day one. He understands the importance of being available to the people he represents. I’m voting for Skip, someone who wants to hear his constituents.

Pat Pinkerton–Walker




When an irritating problem needs an organized solution and the commitment to get it solved, you need to hire somebody capable of seeing it through.

Resurfacing of our county roads has been pushed off into the ditch for a very long time with no definite plan, or commitment to get the job done, and we are throwing away what we do spend simply because County Road and Bridge crews can’t get the material to do the job right.

Ignorance is political bliss. The current commissioners court doesn’t acknowledge or seek the extent of the problem. There hasn’t been a detailed inspection of the road system in nearly a decade, something they should call for annually. Such an accounting could show how money is being wasted by letting so many roadways degrade. Despite constant advice from County Road & Bridge management and a torrent of complaints from the public, the commissioners and the county judge have steadily cut road funding despite increasing county revenues in all but one budget since 2007. The end result being not enough bang for the bucks that are spent. The cost of maintaining good roads is significantly less than trying to constantly patch dilapidated ones.

The court needs to commit to a published list of road segments to be resurfaced every year until enough is done that maintenance can be accomplished at a reasonable cost with acceptable results.

Our next county judge needs to be someone who has some experience in managing and motivating people, have some accounting and financial background, and be able to demonstrate to the rest of county government that he means business when it comes to accountability. John Furlow can do just that. Putting something as basic as county road maintenance back in action, ahead of “multi-modal facilities” and other ridiculous concoctions, he can demonstrate that county government serves the people that pay for it, not just those that might profit from it.

Bill Bala, PE

Former Smith County Engineer



I want to sound off on a critical election — that of lieutenant governor — who probably has more influence and power than any other elected official in Texas. One candidate is Dan Patrick. I would ask the average voter out there whose children attend public school to look closely at Mr. Patrick’s voting record. He has consistently voted against public schools from funding issues to the inclusion of private schools in UIL activities. We all know about the $5.4 billion cut public school funding a few years back — which did help balance the state budget but caused chaos in local districts. True enough, about two-thirds has been replenished from the most recent legislative session. But the truth is that most districts are still operating on a budget that is at least one-third less than four years ago. Mr. Patrick led the parade in cutting the state education budget.

Where I really take exception to Mr. Patrick is his continued championing of allowing private, hand-picked high schools to participate in UIL activities — especially sports. One only has to look at Evangel High in Louisiana or Pearl River Academy in Mississippi to see where that goes. In our own state, Prestonwood Academy serves as a shining example — the roster is full of the sons of former college and professional athletes. I was a coach and before that a player many years ago. I love competition — on a level playing field. I suspect Mr. Patrick’s insistence of pitting private school versus public school is vicarious in nature. The private schools get to pick and choose their athletes — public schools get what is in their attendance zone. That is not a level playing field.

Gary Howell




One of the most pressing issues that the state of Texas will face this century is the conservation and development of water resources. It will determine the extent of growth in many parts of the state. East Texas is fortunate to have adequate water supplies which will ensure the potential for growth in our region.

The preservation and protection of East Texas’ water supplies will require decisive, experienced leadership. I believe that Skip Ogle has made it clear that he will stand firmly for East Texas and make sure that these resources are not “negotiated away” to other parts of the state that may have not adequate water resources. This will truly determine the future of Tyler and adjacent communities. I support Skip Ogle in his campaign to put the Tyler community first and urge you to consider joining me by supporting him in the Republican primary.

Beth Whitney, P.E




Our state representative in Tyler continues to put Skip Ogle down because he worked as a lobbyist. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this since our representative is an attorney? There are certainly good and bad individuals in every profession. You cannot judge someone solely on their line of work. We all must feed our families somehow.

What I find curious is most of Matt Schaefer’s donations came from one lobbyist group, Empower Texans PAC, which is backed by one major donor. The spokesman for this group, Michael Quinn Sullivan, was a registered lobbyist through 2010. The Texas Ethics Commission is currently investigating a charge that he is an unregistered lobbyist. Matt does not seem to have a problem with lobbyists, as long as they donate to his campaign.

Skip Ogle is the director of community relations for a large employer in our city. Through this position, he has enriched our community by helping bring much-needed jobs to our community. In the years I have worked with and known Mr. Ogle, that is but one of the many hats he wears.

Skip is a dedicated community servant and holds a degree in architecture as well as a master’s degree in city and regional planning. He operates Skip Ogle Homes, a small residential construction business serving the Tyler area. In addition, Skip manages a family farm near Tyler.

With Skip’s diverse professional and personal background, he has a vast understanding of many different aspects of our community. This will be a great advantage for District 6 and the Texas Legislature. I can say with complete certainty that Skip Ogle has earned my vote.

Marc A. Loredo




I would like to set people straight about Skip Ogle being a lobbyist. Regardless of what you hear, the lobbying profession is an important part of our democratic process. Anyone who petitions their government representative to express an opinion is acting as a lobbyist, or an advocate.

Skip is running for state representative in District 6. Think about it — what better person to represent our district in Austin than an experienced lobbyist who has excellent communication skills?

With 15 years experience working in community and government relations on the state level, Skip understands the legislative process and will be a wonderful asset for Smith County. Since 2005, Skip has worked to bring more than 500 jobs to our community through his current employer. In addition, he has created jobs through his home building business.

Skip has been an invaluable part of our community by giving his time and energy to numerous boards such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, United Way, UT Health Northeast, Tyler Chamber of Commerce, and the Tyler Economic Development Council. Currently, Skip serves on TISD’s new Career & Technical Education Center.

Knowing Skip personally through doing business with him gives me assurance of his capability of serving in this important position. Vote for the best advocate for our community — Skip Ogle.

Jill Ramey