There's A Pressing (And Hidden) Deadline For Replacing Paul Bettencourt

Paul Bettencourt threw Harris County politics into a tizzy when he announced, shortly after his successful re-election bid in November, that he didn't want the job after all.

A lucrative private-sector job was available, he said, and he had to take it.

Which meant that the Harris County Commissioners Court has to appoint a replacement. The trouble, County Judge Ed Emmett tells Hair Balls, is that there's a deadline fast approaching that has to be met or the entire office may be thrown into chaos.

County tax-assessors and collectors have to be bonded, and Bettencourt's bond expires December 31. Whoever the court appoints has to be approved in time to get himself or herself bonded before January 1.

"It's a monumental pain," Emmett says.

"The box we're in is we have to get it filled by the 31st," he says. "We have to have someone with a bond, or the tax office shuts down."

There's no vice-assessor-collector with a bond? "No, although we're still researching all that."

The 31st is not that far away, and much of the time between now and then is taken up with holidays.

It's not an insurmountable problem, obviously, but it prevents a more leisurely review of candidates.

"We just need to get someone picked and selected and then they have to hustle and get their bond done," Emmett says.

-- Richard Connelly

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