Gas Money Request Questioned - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/24/07 - Nacogdoches

Gas Money Request Questioned

by Donna McCollum

Undoubtedly, gasoline costs have affected your pocket book. They are also causing Nacogdoches County constables to come up short in their fuel budget. But when they go ask for more gas money, the county judge is asking, 'Where have you been going? '  

Nacogdoches County Commissioners hear a lot of line item transfer requests. But no longer do fuel fund transfers pass through without Judge Joe English asking the question,  " If you're asking for more gas money are you using your car for personal reasons? 

The judge became concerned when he discovered that Constable Shane Johnson was using the county vehicle to escort funerals for Laird Funeral Home. In exchange, the constable receives a cash payment at Christmas time. English contends other constables are taking the county keys to security jobs in and out of their precinct. English said,  " There may not be anything illegal about it at all, but personally, I have problems with that. "

The judge asked the district attorney to look into the issue. In return, he received an Attorney General's ruling saying in most cases peace officers, elected or otherwise, can legally work off duty jobs. The judge says that's not his question. English said, " I don't have a problem at all with anyone working a second job. It's just using the county's resources to get there and back. "  English, a registered nurse said he even works an extra job occasionally to keep his license current. " The difference is, I don't use the county vehicle," said English.  

Constable Johnson has had issues over gas money before. This time he didn't want to go on camera, but told us by phone he believes he's within the law. He was granted his gas money earlier this month. Constable David Adams, with a similar request, didn't show up to court. His request has been tabled.   Adams told us later that day he wasn't aware his need to be in court over such a routine request.

Judge English has no authority over constables, except through their budgets.

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