The latest meeting of the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District ended with an argument. Oyster fisherman called Chambers County Judge Tracy Woody a jerk, and he called them squatters who are trespassing in Galveston Bay.

Let’s deal with the squatter charge first. For decades the waters of Galveston Bay have been open to everyone, but the state has leased some bay bottom to private oyster fisherman. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating reefs where the oysters are born and grow. You would think Judge Woody would know those people have leases granted by the State of Texas that they pay a pretty penny for. To call them squatters is an insult to the families who have invested their life savings and make their living providing the oysters we all love to eat. They don’t claim to own the bottom of the bay. So Johnny Halili of Prestige Oysters gave Woody a piece of his mind. Calling him a “jerk.”

Actually the biggest jerks may be the appointed bureaucrats of the Chambers Liberty County Navigation District, who entered into secret negotiations and then gave Woody’s oyster company the sole control of 23,000 acres of Galveston Bay, all of it, for $1.50 cents an acre. The deal violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, and cheated taxpayers. Even if you buy the theory that the Navigation District, not the people of Texas own the bay bottom, the idea they would give it away without a competition to get the most money for the public is gross negligence. Of course, the whole notion of unelected bureaucrats being able to impose taxes is probably jerky too.

Back to the jerk question. Woody spent much of the morning in Anahuac fighting for his oyster business, but wait a second, don’t taxpayers pay him to be a judge?

They do. And they are getting the shaft.

Dolcefino Consulting got the records. In a year and a half, do you know how many days in court Judge Woody spent hearing civil disputes?


As a Justice of the Peace, Woody also reads charges against suspects. We checked that too. In a year and a half, another 24 days. Although it was just a couple of hours at a time.

So Woody has plenty of time to fight to take over Galveston Bay and the natural resources that belong to all of you. He is getting paid by taxpayers.

Apparently that waste of money doesn’t bother the Chambers County Commissioners Court. Apparently giving away 23,000 acres of the bottom of Galveston Bay for a song doesn’t bother the bureaucrats on the Navigation District, who should be elected if the politicians there really cared about taxpayers.

I dare the local Anahuac paper, the Progress, to check the records for themselves. Explain to your readers why this is such a big secret there.

Is Woody a jerk? You be the judge. After all it’s your money.