Kleberg County Commissioner's Court Meeting Gets Heated - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Kleberg County Commissioner's Court Meeting Gets Heated

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KINGSVILLE (Kiii News) -

Things have been heating up in Kleberg County, all because of a pay raise the sheriff wanted but never received.

Even though county commissioners did not end up giving Kleberg County Sheriff Ed Mata a $14,000 raise, the fact that they even considered it opened up a can of worms that seems to be spiraling out of control.

Officials at Friday's commissioner's court meeting in Kingsville questioned each others motives, and tempers flared. Especially when the county's Tax Assessor-Collector Melissa De La Garza took the podium.

De La Garza is the wife of former Kleberg County Judge Pete De La Garza, and that connection was raised by some on the court.

"We just want an explanation. You're giving a $1,000 raise, you're taking away the 2-1, then our insurance," De La Garza said.

"Your husband did exactly the same thing when he was here," said Romeo Lomas, Kleberg County Precinct 4 Commissioner. "Exactly the same. And then we gave you $1,000. He didn't give you anything."

"I am not here for my husband. My husband's my husband."

"Okay. You made your comments, thank you very much. Have a seat," current County Judge Juan Escobar said.

"Okay, that's fine, but I just want you to know that I'm not here for my husband."

"Have a seat ma'am, thank you."

Escobar slammed his gavel and told the wife of the previous county judge to take a seat.

De La Garza is one of the elected officials that filed a grievance with the county, asking for more money after the court considered giving Sheriff Ed Mata $14,000 more a year. She said the way the commissioner's court went about that process was not transparent.

Judge Escobar said that process was transparent and open to the public, and that De La Garza is being political.

"One of the things that I'm concerned about is that I understand that the tax assessor-collector, who happens to be the wife of the former judge -- who is running for reelection, from what I understand -- made a statement to the effect that we were trying to cover up our budget, and that we were not transparent," Escobar said. "And that is not true."

"I just want to make it very clear that I am here to do my job, as I have told the judge many times," De La Garza said. "And I don't care who's sitting in that county judge's seat. Whether it's Romeo Lomas, Roy Cantu, Commissioner Schultz, David Rosse, Melissa Munoz or Juan Escobar, I'm going to do my job as a tax assessor-collector; and if I feel that I need to go before the grievance committee, it's for one reason -- because we want to make sure that we're heard."

Thursday night at a grievance committee meeting, De La Garza and other elected officials withdrew their grievances after originally making them in light of the fact that Sheriff Ed Mata was not getting his raise after all. She said she was trying to make a point by originally filing the grievance.

3News has tried reaching out to Sheriff Ed Mata, but he has not returned our calls. He did not file a grievance, even though he was the one who originally was asking for the raise that led to other elected officials filing their grievances.