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We’ll have the Treasurer to kick around awhile longer

Alas.

Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez can breathe easy for at least two more years.

After county leaders made abolishing his office a top priority going into the last legislative session, it’s not even on the county’s platform this time.

A proposed constitutional amendment to shutter the office went nowhere in the 2007 session amid staunch opposition from county treasurers across the state, who argue the $110,000-a-year posts provide crucial, independent oversight of county activities.

Republican Commissioner Steve Radack, the main proponent of abolishing the office last session, said it would be a waste of time to try again since the plan still has little support in Austin.

“I don’t have any burning desire to pursue it,” Radack said. “There’s other things going on that, frankly, I’m more interested in than that.”

I can’t say I blame him. It’s not going anywhere, and the Lege has bigger things on its mind as well. The office as it exists here is a waste of time and money, but we’re stuck with it for now.

Though perhaps a different occupant of that office would make it seem less like flushing money down the drain.

After Treasurer Jack Cato died in office in 2006, County Budget Officer Dick Raycraft told the court that his staff could take on most of those responsibilities, as well.

Sanchez was elected to the post later that year after Republican precinct chairs picked him to replace Cato on the ballot. He fought the effort to shutter the office, saying taxpayers deserved to have an extra pair of eyes watching over county spending. While the auditor and officials in the budget office also serve as watchdogs, they are appointed officials and are not directly accountable to the voters, he said.

Sanchez has been fairly quiet since then, issuing no reports and speaking little in public about the state of Harris County finances.

But he said that does not mean he has not been scrutinizing the county’s spending.

“Let’s say commissioners court has an item on the agenda for, you know, $7 million for some questionable activity,” Sanchez said. “I’m not saying this would ever happen. I’m just saying if something ridiculous like that ever happened, it would be my duty to say, ‘Wait a minute. This doesn’t look right.’ ”

When asked whether he makes the same effort to ensure county contracts do not include suspicious charges, Sanchez said he does not review every contract, but has seen no problems with the ones he has examined.

“I haven’t seen anything that would raise my suspicion about any activity that is questionable, and if that were to happen, I certainly would say something,” he said.

I can’t even parody that. I can confirm Orlando has been quiet as a church mouse – my annual search through the Chronicle archives for mentions of his name came up basically empty yet again. What the man does all day is anybody’s guess. Enjoy it while it lasts, Orlando, because this is the best job you’ll ever have.

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3 Comments

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    Chris Bell should run against him next time.

  2. Chris says:

    We all know Orlando’s gotta get paid!!

  3. Charles Hixon says:

    Although I cannot speak for Sanchez, an efficient administrator is transparent to the process. Being newsworthy is not a qualification for holding and keeping a political office. Mentions, or lack thereof, in the Chronic is hardly a gauge of aptitude.