August 30, 2018 500 AM
Last week’s paper left me dismayed. I was very bothered by the one-sidedness of the stories written about the Commissioners and the OMB Director. First of all, it is no secret that she and our Treasurer have had animosity between them. This is not something that has arisen recently, it has been a long-standing issue between the two of them stemming from long before they faced each other in the two elections where they were opponents. That said, the issue is between them and not the rest of us. Despite the friendship that I do have with the Treasurer, I don’t involve myself in her personal issues. It’s not a secret that the Treasurer and I are very good friends and have been for many years. I have many good friends at the County and that has absolutely no impact on the decisions I make in Court. I take my obligation to represent the people of Presidio County very seriously and I will not allow you or anyone else to say otherwise and defame me. I came into this job knowing that there was a possibility that I would be coming in with more friends than I leave with. That’s the nature of the beast, it comes along with tough decision-making jobs like these, and I’m okay with that. I’m not here to defend the temperament of the County Treasurer, nor that of the OMB Director. Their personalities are none of my concern. We all have contentious moments with each other when tensions run high, we get past them and move on. One thing I do know, is that the Treasurer does not have the power over elected officials nor the employees that she was portrayed to have. We have a group of strongminded individuals who think and speak for themselves.
As for “helping” the Treasurer with her campaign, I did travel with her to Presidio as she campaigned. It was a great opportunity for me to travel with a friend and get to know more of my own constituents in Presidio before my next election. I have traveled with many of my County friends when they invite me. I love the people of Presidio, and I’d do it all again. In fact, the Treasurer and I still travel to Presidio frequently to continue meeting people and letting them know that we represent them as well. My obligation is to the people of Presidio County, not to OMB or the Treasurer. In fact, I commended the OMB Director on how hard she worked on her campaign, as I was impressed with her tenacity and hard work. The OMB Director can attest to that.
I have traveled to Presidio and other places with the Treasurer, the Judge and various other employees and elected officials on multiple occasions and never, not once, has it been to encourage hostility. I resent that anyone would even say that! I have wonderful relationships with most everybody that works for the County. I also don’t believe the “County is lacking in regard to respect for one another.” I always show respect to every single person who works for the County. I greet everyone with a cheerful disposition and try to encourage everyone to get along. I’ve offered my service to every department if they ever need help with even the most menial tasks. That is my nature, and those who know me, know that this is my truth.
You tell the story about the FBI sting that caught a commissioner taking bribes, but you fail to tell the part about when the OMB Director chastised me for calling the “company” and asking questions. She stated that she had been dealing with the “company” directly, and that I too should have gone through her office as she “was the one they were dealing with”. According to her, they didn’t know me from Tom down the street being that I was a new Commissioner. That is a fact. It seemed as though she felt that I should not have been asking them questions. Why is that part of the story never told? And yet, I still never held a grudge or had animosity or even harsh words directed at the OMB Director. I’ve always treated her with respect. She knows that!
When the couple of days of “on-call” time happened around the holidays, it could not have been done in a quorum, as I believe I was the only Commissioner in attendance at the BBQ that you mention. And when it was brought before the court, I didn’t fail to attend that meeting just to let my co-Commissioners “take the fall”. I would never do that to them and I think they know that! I value them. What I do know, is that all time in question was recovered and this was a non-issue.
Re: Our Oases in the Desert:
I spent the first half of my life in Detroit and Houston, and the second half of my life in Presidio, Texas (population 5,000). Although I have never regretted relocating, I must admit that at times it has been challenging. The biggest challenge for me has been my personality. I’m hard to please and have always had high standards and discriminating tastes for the finest in people, places, food, commodities, services, and competencies. I’m not the best at anything, except perhaps for my tenacity at seeking and finding the best.
Big city life made it easy for me to find and appreciate the finer things in life, but the small pool of available resources in remote West Texas has been a challenge indeed. The concept of “settling in” has taken on a new meaning for me.
In my search for quality over the past 25 years, I have discovered some oases in the desert: Don Culbertson, PA, Marfa; Dr. Joshua Pass, OD, Fort Stockton; Dr. Marc Ellman, MD, El Paso; Dr. Richard Hwang, MD, PHD, El Paso; Renee Mick, Marfa.
Recently, on a spooky Friday evening, I began to see black spider webs, and three-dimensional creatures in the vision of my left eye. Something did not look right, so I decided to seek help immediately. Unfortunately, my husband was traveling out of state in our family car and all medical offices had recently closed for the weekend.
I called my PA, Don Culbertson and was able to leave a message after hours. How fortunate to have had the option of leaving a message, because Don was the catalyst for the series of events leading up to my treatment. He immediately texted my optometrist, Dr. Joshua Pass. Dr. Pass texted me back, and the following morning had already contacted my eye surgeon, Dr. Ellman. Dr.
I’d also like to address the tires that were purchased by Road and Bridge. The County had purchased a new set of tires for a truck in this department. The roads traveled by them on a daily basis are treacherous and can very easily cause vehicle and tire damage. Unfortunately, this happened shortly after the new tires had been purchased. A couple of those tires were damaged and had to be bought again to replace the damaged ones. Let’s not pretend that something underhanded happened when Road and Bridge asked for new tires for that same vehicle. It certainly was not the case! They had to be replaced due to the damage.
Your article states that Commissioners illegally made a County Payroll decision. What really happened is that one time during the year when we were operating with only three Commissioners, we were unable to get a quorum. That meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum, and the Judge set up an emergency meeting to try and get payroll authorized. You protested the meeting for not being a “true emergency”, and she decided to cancel. When we called the Treasurer to see if her office was still willing to make payroll, she stated that she would. The Judge was standing right there with me and we both assured the Treasurer that we would stand by her if it came into question, as we knew some of our employees were dependent on their pay checks and were entitled to their pay. We held a meeting soon afterward and post-approved that payroll to meet the legalities. I still stand behind that decision, and hope that the Judge does too.
As for the letter read to the Court by the OMB Director, although she felt that there was some alternative reason for the abolishment of the OMB Department, it really did come down to the budgetary benefit of it and how it didn’t make sense to have three separate financial departments in this County. Not a single Commissioner has anything to gain by “getting rid of” her, as some of you assume. No one was ever “encouraged to resist OMB”.
Although we have not worked through the details of how we will disburse the current duties of the OMB, I have every confidence that we will figure that out. It certainly isn’t impossible, as the OMB is a fairly newly created department in Presidio County. I know that we will not allow ourselves to fail.
When in your article, you speak about the lack of representation of the people, by the people and for the people, you fail to realize that the voices of various constituents were saying that three financial departments were too many. I heard this over and over during and since my campaign. So yes sir, we are in fact representing “the people”. It just so happens that you were on the opposing side of what many other people were saying that they wanted.
When it is said that I reassured the OMB Assistant with a job, truth is, I figured that both she and the Director would still have jobs in the Courthouse at the new fiscal year. The County Judge had already moved the OMB Department into her office, on a weekend, unbeknownst to anyone until that Monday morning. And since the Judge is currently without an Administrative Assistant, I assumed that she would surely choose the OMB Director to fill that position and we could possibly place the OMB Assistant in one of the existing financial departments as support with the additional duties being transferred. I didn’t want her to think that she would be ousted. I never assumed either employee would be without a job. It really was about the reduction of a department as requested by many constituents. That is all! Tough decisions, they either make you the hero, or they make you the villain. I have been on both ends of it. Hopefully the majority of the people I serve, realize that I do my very best to make the right decisions for the right reasons. I believe that I have strong integrity and character and I will not allow it to be smeared. A huge level of appreciation goes out to all those who have reached out to me to reassure me of their trust and belief in me.
I LOVE THIS COUNTY AND I STAND PROUD TO SERVE THEM FOR
AS LONG AS THEY WILL HAVE ME!
Brenda Silva Bentley
Presidio County Commissioner, Pct. 1
Ellman promptly returned my call with a tentative appointment for that afternoon (Saturday) to see a retinal specialist. When he learned that I was without a car, he began to check the train schedule for me, then asked if I needed help with a hotel room. Fortunately, I was offered transport from my best friend, Renee Mick, who had already filled her gas tank and booked a hotel room before our departure (and after arrival insisted on paying for meals). While traveling to El Paso, Dr. Hwang, retinal specialist, called me to inquire about my arrival time so that he could meet me at his office for an examination. Later that afternoon I was diagnosed with a torn retina and the following morning (Sunday) Dr. Hwang repaired the tear.
I am grateful to these professionals for the swift and professional manner in which they acted in order to protect my vision. Over the years these individuals have proved to me that they are at the top of their game. They are well trained and highly competent and their human relation skills are admirable. They were all very kind, caring and compassionate the whole weekend. They patiently answered my questions (which I am never short on) and reassured me when I was fearful (most of the time). The only quality they didn’t possess is what, for me, takes them over the top in excellence; the absence of an ego. It was their humbleness that enabled them to communicate/work together as colleagues in order to provide me with the best medical advice/service possible. It was obvious to me from the start that they respected each other as individuals and professionals; they communicated long distance as a team. In my opinion, they are the gold standard for professionalism.
I recently shared my experience with a friend who lives in Austin. She remarked that the treatment I received would never have happened in Austin. I smiled and nodded as I thought, probably not even in Detroit or Houston.