Thursday, September 15, 2011
If Perry leaves Austin, will ex-Houston Mayor Bill White step back up ?
By Duane Stuart, Backgate Website
I sat down with Bill White as he ran for Governor against Rick Perry in 2010, below is that Q & A session. Can he be a contender now that Perry has bigger aspirations ?
Texas Gubernatorial candidate and former Houston Mayor Bill White offered TDCJ employees an exclusive Q&A session. White, who is now said to be tied with incumbent Rick Perry in most media polls statewide, was excited to address employee issues in our forum. Below is our Q&A with Bill White;
1. What is your take on solving the Texas budget crunch, and will it
involve TDCJ employees cutbacks or lay offs ?
" I have pledged to work with leaders from both parties to find solutions
for our state's budget. As Governor I will look at the budget in its
totality and start by prioritizing the state's needs. In these tight budget
times, we must focus the efforts on the important functions of the state
budget. Obviously, TDCJ and the role TDCJ employees is a major function of
"My approach to managing a declining budget is to first look for savings
not by laying off employees but by taking advantage of normal attrition to
reassign tasks so that services are not interrupted. I would also
renegotiate major vendor contracts - this was a successful tactic I used as
Mayor of Houston. I would not make across the board budget cuts; I would
ensure priorities are funded first."
2. TDCJ employees have been referred to by current Texas Governor Rick
Perry as “ overpaid babysitters”, what role do you think professional TDCJ
Officers play in the rehabilitation process ?
"Most public employees are hard-working people who want to do their jobs
well and serve the public. I know this first-hand from my experience as
mayor of Houston, where I observed extraordinary dedication among our
employees. Strong management goes hand in hand with high morale and job
performance. Most state employees work for agencies that are led by
appointees of the governor, and it is their responsibility as leaders to
direct the staff in a manner that results in high quality work product and
employee commitment. As governor, I will encourage public sector
management to work effectively with employees to motivate them to do their
best and reward them for doing so."
3. TDCJ employees are 46th in correctional pay out of the 50 states. Yet we
house the second largest prison population in the United States. What steps
can be taken to improve the outlook for correctional Officers.
" I appreciate the value of public employees and believe that the vast
majority work hard on behalf of their fellow Texans. To attract and retain
good employees, those employees must feel they can make state employment a
career. While I was mayor of Houston, I routinely gave predictable pay
increases, as the budget permitted. The City of Houston has a robust civil
service system and working with that system I was able to hold employees
accountable and treat them fairly. While the state does not have a similar
system, I believe in treating employees with respect and fairness in all
aspects of their employment. I believe public support for revenues
required to meet essential needs does depend on maintenance of high
performance standards for all employees."
4. What is your stance on the Texas death penalty ?
" I believe in the death penalty and that by and large the
criminal justice system in Texas is just and credits the dedicated law
enforcement, prosecutors, and juries, who make it such. At the same time, I
believe that any injustice anywhere in the system is unacceptable.
Therefore it’s essential in all cases, and especially when death is a
possible punishment, that there be a careful, complete and accurate
examination of all the facts in a case, paying particular attention to
forensic evidence, to deliberately and swiftly arrive at a just decision."
5. Currently, the Texas Governor appoints all members of the Texas
Board of Criminal Justice. None of the 7-members have any experience in
corrections or even law enforcement. Yet they set standards and make
recommendations involving these issues. Would you support a different method
of selecting these board members if you are elected Governor ?
" I will appoint to boards of commissioners, individuals who are
knowledgeable and fair-minded, who would work for the public interest for
all Texans. That is not being done today."
6. What issues affecting Texans will you tackle first if your elected
" As governor, I will look towards the future- making education a
priority again in Texas, providing new incentives for small business to
hire, working to bring new industries to the state, and investing in job
training so Texans have the work skills needed to succeed for jobs with a
7. What sets you apart from Governor Perry, and the status quo ?
" As governor, I will demand accountability from all government
agencies. Unlike Governor Perry who has been a career politician for more
than 25 years, I have primarily been a businessman who has met a
payroll and made hard decisions as the head of companies across the state.
I will bring real leadership to Austin and I have a track record of
getting people from both parties together to get things done. I
will move Texas forward by improving education, tackling the budget deficit
head on and working for all Texans."
Debra Medina, a Republican Gubernatorial candidate in 2010 has also stated she may seek the office again if Perry leaves Austin. The Backgate also spoke with her last year. We will re-post that interview here in coming days as well. Stay tuned.