Frank Leffingwell’s entire campaign for County Judge has centered around nothing more than three primary attacks on his opponent Bill Gravell.
- “Junkets” – This has been disproven time and again. The Williamson County Auditor’s office even stated Leffingwell’s allegation was false.
- “Bill Gravell was opposed to Senate Bill 2”. – Bill Gravell did not testify against Senate Bill 2, only registered in opposition of an early House Bill and later rescinded opposition. In fact Frank Leffingwell not only voted in opposition but seconded the motion for a resolution opposing Senate Bill 2.
- And now, the latest fake news Leffingwell is spinning out on social media and robocalls from his surrogates; “Bill Gravell is opposed to border security”.
We obtained a copy of Gravell’s testimony before the committee when he testified in 2016 and it paints a much different picture than Leffingwell is spinning out.
Chairman Phillips, “Thank You” for the opportunity to speak before this committee and “Thank You”, Committee for your hard work for Texas.
My name is Bill Gravell. I serve as a Justice of the Peace in Williamson County, Texas. I am Chairman of the Judges Legislative Committee for the Justice of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas. Our Association is 2000 members strong and we are the largest association of elected officials in Texas. I serve, as well, on the State Judicial Council with eleven other Judges from across Texas. TJC is the policy-making body for the state judiciary.
Over the last three weeks, I have made efforts to contact and reach out to local judges to talk about the impact of moving our troopers to South Texas. Our remarks are in no way intended to offend DPS or this Committee. It is simply to give you an update on the effects of your decision. Much of the data that I will share is from the OCA June report to the State Judicial Council. The handout in front of you has more detail on the breakdown of statistics that I am referring to in my presentation. From the onset, I would like to share that it is never the goal of the court or judges to raise money for the state or county. It is simply our role to help people comply with the law.
I want to start by posing this question? What price are you willing to pay? Yes, the security of our border is important. But as the Department of Public Safety asks for $200 million, I would like for you to consider this: the decision to move the majority of our troopers to the border and give The DPS an extra $200 million dollars, the real cost to the state is roughly $330 million. Why?
It’s simple: There are nearly 500,000 less tickets written this year compared to two years ago. Dallas County has dropped 28%, Travis 30%, Collin 32%, Williamson 42% and Nueces 50%, just to list a few. That kind of drop in citations is creating a statewide loss of revenue of more than $130,740,400.00 per year. None of us work as public servants to make money for our counties.
But consider what that revenue is used for: Programs that help teens stay in school and programs to help those juveniles who have had a brush with law to the stay on track once they serve their time. That money also goes towards our courts being able to employ Juvenile Case Managers. They are the hard-working people who work with our students to help them overcome their struggles, and achieve their goals so they can be productive citizens in Texas. At the rate we are losing this crucial revenue, our predication is the case manager will be extinct in two years. Our Juvenile case managers manage about 125,000 teenagers in Texas and without them, 100,000 additional teens would be in the system too. The only way counties can only offset this loss is by raising local property taxes or cutting local services.
But the loss in revenue is nothing compared to the dangerous game drivers are now playing, putting other lives on the line. Since the trooper surge at the border, the Justice Court has seen a major decrease in DWI arrest across the state. Misdemeanor DWI (first offense) is down by 15%, felony DWI is down by 20%. Arrests are down too. 23% in Harris County, 31% in Dallas County, 47% in Denton County, 11% in Collin County, to name just a few. At the same time, we have seen an increase in DWI crashes by 9% in Harris, 21% in Collin, 13% in Denton and 26% in Williamson County.
Crashes in Texas have increased 25% over the last fours years, while our population has only increased at a rate of 5%. Simply put, the DWI arrests have decreased and accidents have increased because State Troopers are no longer protecting Texas Highways in our inland counties.
As Justice’s of The Peace, in many counties it is our responsibility to deliver the news to a family that their loved one has died. I ask you to consider: less troopers on the roads create more opportunities for reckless driving. A three part series that ox News Austin reporter Elizabeth Saab looked at this aspect of the problem. I encourage you to watch, it highlights problems with death, and uptick in cartel activities on highways that were once patrolled by troopers and are now the responsibility of police in small towns. Police who are no match for the dangerous cartels using our highways to roam free.
The only area in our entire state that seems to be immune from any of these dangers, is the area along the border.
Quotes from some Texas Judges: From a Brooks County Judge, “It’s difficult for us to do our jobs and run court effectively. For most trials we have to reset cases 5 or 6 times because the troopers are in South Texas.” From a Chambers County official, “I love my troopers. They are assigned to our county; they just no longer work here.” From a Williamson County Judge, “The tickets that now come through my court are 120 MPH, 130 MPH. It’s like the autobahn but we are still in Texas. I know that our Troopers are doing important work but at what cost? How many more people need to die on Texas Highways before we bring troopers back home.” Judge from Willacy County, “The number of Tickets written in our courts have dropped by 39%. The revenue for our County is down and our County Commissioners have just laid off 18 employees, three of those employees were court clerk. Please bring our Troopers back home to protect Willacy County”
In conclusion I want to pose this question to you again: What price are you willing to pay? Our Highways are left unprotected, DWI is left unchecked? Do we what to stop helping 125,000 teenagers that are at the first stop in the criminal justice system? Do we want to see more people die on our roads? Do we want to let drug runners onto our streets? All because we have chosen not to address this important issue? An issue, that at some point will have spun out of control. I believe our border security is of the utmost importance, but before we continue to move all of our assets here, I would encourage you to challenge DPS to come up with a plan to protect ALL Texans, at the state’s point of entry AND inland. Simply put, it’s time to bring our troopers home. Thank you again for this opportunity to speak and I would welcome any questions at this time.
Here is a recent post from Leffingwell on social media.
My opponent’s #1 focus throughout this campaign has been public safety. Yet, he has doubled down on his opposition of securing our border. I’m confused. More importantly, I’m concerned.
It appears the only person “doubling down” is Leffingwell with more “Fake News” and distorting the truth.