If Denton County Judge Mary Horn has her way, the Confederate Soldier Memorial on the Square will not be taken down any time soon.
Horn is the presiding officer of Denton County Commissioners Court, the elected governing body for county government. It consists of her and four commissioners, each of whom represents a portion of the county. All of them are Republicans.
A majority rules at weekly meetings of the five-member court. Whoever can muster three votes for an agenda item wins the day.
The problem is that a majority of the court declines to put the Confederate memorial on the official meeting agenda. Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, commissioners court cannot discuss or debate an item that isn't posted on the agenda.
Therefore, when Denton NAACP President Willie Hudspeth addresses the court during a public comment section of the meeting, Horn and the commissioners sit silent and do not respond.
This is counter-productive. We urge the commissioners to put the memorial on the agenda and move toward some final resolution.
It's way past time for each member of commissioners court to go on record about their position on the Confederate memorial: (1) Take it down and put it in storage (2) Leave it on the Square (3) Take it down and reassemble it in a museum as part of an expansive exhibit or (4) Other.
Each side in this debate has a good argument.
Hudspeth believes the statue pays homage to slavery and is offensive to black people whose ancestors suffered in a Confederate system that considered them property to be bought and sold.
Horn says the memorial, which was erected in 1918, has nothing to do with slavery and simply honors Denton County soldiers who died in the Civil War without regard to the politics behind the war.
Politicians are often reluctant to take clear positions on controversial issues.
They need to hear from you to help them make up their minds.
Here is their contact information:
Denton County Judge Mary Horn: Courthouse on the Square, 110 W. Hickory St., second floor, Denton, TX 76201-4168. Phone 940-349-2820, 972-434-8805 or 940-349-2821 (fax). Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioner Hugh Coleman, Precinct 1: 1175 Union Hill Road, Sanger, TX 76266-8501. Phone 940-349-2810, 972-434-8804 or 940-349-2811 (fax). Email: email@example.com.
Commissioner Ron Marchant, Precinct 2: 1029 W. Rosemeade Parkway, Carrollton, TX 75007-6251. Phone 972-434-7140 or 972-434-7141 (fax). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioner Bobbie J. Mitchell, Precinct 3: 400 N. Valley Parkway, Suite 2068, Lewisville, TX 75067-3533. Phone 972-434-4780 or 972-434-4781 (fax). Email: email@example.com.
Commissioner Andy Eades, Precinct 4: 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, Flower Mound, TX 76226. Phone: 972-434-3960. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Confederate memorial debate does not pit black citizens against white citizens. It would be blatantly racist to assume that all blacks favor taking it down and all whites favor leaving it up.
Obviously, neither group marches in lockstep on any political issue.
Charles Barkley, NBA star-turned-broadcaster, reminded us of that reality this week when he gave us his two cents worth on the Confederate statue controversy. He called it wasted energy that would be better spent on improving public education, housing and community/police relations.
"I'm not going to waste my time screaming at a neo-Nazi who's gonna hate me no matter what," Barkley said. "I'm 54 years old. I've never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most black people, to be honest, they ain't thought a day in their life about those stupid statues."
Now we know how Sir Charles feels.
Please let your elected representatives know how you feel.