|Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda|
Current County Judge Pete Sepulveda dumped excrement all over democratic principles, also ignoring the precedent followed by his predecessor, Carlos Cascos, by NOT allowing public comment at the grievance hearing. Sepulveda was backed up by court attorney Frank Martinez, who incorrectly claimed that public comment was not a feature of a grievance hearing.
What made the 10% raise request so shameless is the fact that several JPs are currently supplementing their salary by pocketing many thousands of dollars for performing weddings. According the the chart below, borrowed from Juan Montoya's El Rrun Rrun, ESTIMATES indicate one JP easily DOUBLED her salary by performing weddings. This was the kind of information Sepulveda did not allow the committee to hear.
|JP Jonathan Gracia|
With a straight face JP Jonathan Gracia said: "Forgive me if I sound dramatic, but whenever we get a raise, if it does happen, it will be a big deal to us."
The raise shouldn't be a big deal to JP Linda Salazar, who, based on Montoya's chart, may be have made as much as $181,000, when the money made from weddings is added to her salary.
JP Sally Gonzalez, from Harlingen, did not get unanimous approval for her raise and will have to wait for a final decision from the county commissioners. Gonzalez, a bit of an eccentric, sat behind Nena and I at a similar grievance hearing in 2013. She could be heard singing to herself the Carly Simon song "Anticipation," although at that meeting her raise was denied.
At that same meeting in 2013, presided over by then County Judge Carlos Cascos, no raises were approved, including a request for an additional $25,000 by Sheriff Omar Lucio. Public comment, though, was permitted.
Texas law allows JPs to keep wedding ceremony fees (Fees average $150-$350), averaged out to $200 X number of weddings. If we add that to salary, we get:
WEDDINGS + SALARY, BENEFITS
JP 2-1 Linda Salazar 644 X $200 = $128,400 +$53,000 = $181,400
JP 5-1 Sally Gonzalez 228 X $200 = $45,600 +$53,000 = $98,600
JP 2-2 Jonathan Gracia 137 X $200 = $27,400 +$53,000 = $80.400
JP 4-1 Juan Mendoza Jr. 109 X $200 = $21,800 +$53,000 = $74,800
JP 5-2 Eloy Cano 82 X $200 = $16,400 +$53,000 = $69,400
JP 2-3 Mary Esther Sorola* 75 X $200 = $15,000 +$53,000 = $68,000
JP 1-1 Benny Ochoa 63 X $200 = $12,600 +$53,000 = $65,600
JP 3-1 Guadalupe Ayala 62 X $200 = $12,400 +$53,000 = $65,400
JP 3-2 David Garza 58 X $200 = $11,500 +$53,000 = $64,000
JP 5-3 Mike Trejo 24 X $200 = $4,800 +$53,000 $57,800
*JP Sorola did not file salary grievance
UNCOLLECTED FINES BY JP PRECINCT
JP CASES AMOUNT
JP 1-1 Benny Ochoa 22,596 $5,633,602
JP 2-1 Linda Salazar 22,615 $5,313,064
JP 2-2 Jonathan Gracia 20,904 $5,512,265
JP 2-3 Mary Esther Sorola 5 $1,066
JP 3-1 Guadalupe Ayala 17,578 $4,651,430
JP 3-2 David Garza 10,285 $2,718,286
JP 4-1 Juan Mendoza Jr. 7,922 $3,780,640
JP 5-1 Sally Gonzalez 10,295 $2,718,286
JP 5-2 Eloy Cano 14,077 $3,780,540
JP 5-3 Mike Trejo 11,939 $3,393,216
Total cases and fines: 134,390 $34,757,302*
*These are the totals of uncollected fines outstanding as of July 2015. These totals may very well have increased as of today and be closer to $40 million.