Unfortunately, Kirkham can not simply make a statement like he has about switching political parties to change all of the damage he caused when he was the chief economic officer in the county. Since he no longer holds office (at age 70), we can’t really judge whether his decision making would be Republican-like if he were in office today. But as a Democrat and a county judge, Kirkham’s tax and spend way of doing business has now caught up to Liberty County. As the Reverend Jeremiah Wright said, "the chickens have come home to roost." And now his disrespect for taxpayers’ money is surpassed in the damage that it did only by his willful avoidance of responsibility.
One of the most memorable quotes from the days when Lloyd Kirkham was in charge is when before a political debate during his 1994 election bid he said, “ Make sure there are no questions about the law, those questions are too hard.”
Just like our previous article, Kirkham wanted to avoid anything he thought was difficult – like his responsibility in the juvenile justice system. Some might say Kirkham was a back slapping, backroom wheeler dealer. But he was not even skilled enough to take on that description. He was too wimpy to have the backbone to be tough in negotiation. He used the power of the dominate Democrat party and the spell they had over the media to cover his mistakes. And he made a habit of caving into run away spending and borrowing and used bonds and the appraisal district to raise the needed tax increases to pay for it all.
Some may wonder why Kirkham’s name is coming up now. His name is coming up now because many of the problems we will face as a county in the next few years were clearly caused directly by Kirkham’s actions (or by his inaction).
History reveals that it was County Judge Lloyd Kirkham who led the way to adding another layer of bureaucracy (and that means expense) to the county jails when he pushed for privatization. As poor of a student as Kirkham was, he would likely call privatizing the jail a page out of the Republican play book. In his overly simple and very troubling way of analyzing things, it is likely he would repeat and misapply this axiom: “Government never has done anything as well as the private sector.”
Years ago, a handful of people a great deal brighter than Kirkham should have applied this principle instead of obligating the city of Liberty to a share of the ownership of a coal burning plant. Their mistake gave us years and years of some of the most expensive electrical rates in the state. These self appointed geniuses should have been suspicious that real close to zero counties the size of Liberty owned their own energy producing plant.
But Kirkham has done just the opposite. He should have asked another question:
“In the history of conservatism, has the obligation of administering the responsibilities of the jails been something Republicans argued should have been farmed out?”
But Lloyd “Tookie” Kirkham was a Democrat when this happened. His decision received the traditional blessing of the local media. And he and the commissioner bragged about all of the money paying someone else to manage the jail would save – and, of course, they immediately began shopping for how they could spend “the savings.”
Kirkham has been retired for over six years. But the messes he made are not retired, yet. Republicans warned the public about what Kirkham was doing during those days. But for twelve years the man continued to dig a hole. Now it is time to go to work and climb out of it.
If Kirkham really wants to help the Republican Party now, he should keep the grass mowed at his house, maybe play some horse shoes, and stay out of politics. Kirkham was the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party. We would like Republicans to leave a different legacy. Not one of a controlled media making things sound like they are okay. But a legacy of true progress and success that make this a county our children may want to live in when they are on their own.
|Lloyd Kirkham- Destroyer of Budgets|