Transition trouble at HCSO?

November 11, 2008 4:51:27 AM PST
All signs point to a smooth transition between President George Bush and President-elect Barack Obama. But the same can't be said for the Harris County Sheriff, Tommy Thomas, and the man who defeated him last Tuesday, Adrian Garcia. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

In just a few short weeks, sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia will take over 10,000 inmates in the jail and 4,000 employees. It's a big job and yet the old and the new have not talked transition.

At the Harris County Jail Monday night to visit his girlfriend, Mack Alexander welcomes change.

"The way they handle you, the way they handle the inmates, the way they treat them that needs to change," he said.

Well, that may not happen by January 1, but there will be a new face occupying the sheriff's office. Jail visitor Shae Shannon is rooting for a smooth transition

"I think it's important they share information and ideas," she said.

President-elect for the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association Joanne Musick isn't so optimistic.

"I don't think anything ever goes smoothly in politics," she said.

It's been six days since sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia clobbered incumbent Sheriff Tommy Thomas. Thomas never showed up at his own election night party and now we've learned he never reached out to Garcia until Garcia called him.

That was Friday. According to Sheriff Thomas' office, he returned the call Monday but the two never talked.

Musick isn't surprised there's been no congratulatory phone call.

"You have someone who didn't really want to lose their job right now and I don't think that person has an interest in making sure the new person has it in the best possible light," she said. "I think they want to see them fail."

A sheriff's office spokesperson told us the sheriff intends to make it as smooth a transition as possible. But while the new and old guard met at the White House Monday, there are no meetings scheduled at the sheriff's office. Musick is concerned about gaps, especially for those in jail.

"We need to make sure we still have access to jails, make sure we can visit clients when necessary, make sure their needs are being tended to, so they can assist us in their defense," she said.

Meeting or no meeting, Garica takes over a 10,000 inmate jail and 4,000 employee department in less than two months.

While Sheriff Thomas' office say the call was on Friday, Garcia's people tell us it was Wednesday. Either way, there has been no communication. Garcia says he's spoke with others to help make it a smooth transition.

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