On Wednesday, June 17th, Montgomery County announced that it had established Friday, June 19th, Juneteenth, as a paid holiday for county staff.
We wondered what the vote was to establish the holiday. County Commissioner Joe Gale had recently come under fire after releasing a statement that many felt disparaged Black Lives Matter. Did he vote to make Juneteenth a holiday?
If you aren’t familiar with Juneteenth, it recognizes the day that the troops from the United States Army reached Texas and announced the end of slavery in what had been the Confederacy. This took place more than two years after Abraham Lincoln had made the Emancipation Proclamation.
To determine how the holiday was established in Montgomery County, we started looking at the dates, meeting agendas and video, and quickly realized a vote by the county commissioners was never taken. In a video from the meeting of county commissioners on June 17th, County Commissioner Ken Lawrence speaks about the new county holiday having been announced the day prior. The establishment of the holiday did not appear on the agenda of any prior meetings.
If a vote wasn’t taken, how did the holiday come to be?
We asked the county commissioners and received this reply from the county’s communications office:
Administrative decisions, such as the establishment of holidays, are not required to be voted on by the Commissioners. These decisions are instead made by the Chief Operating Officer and senior staff in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Commissioners.oosh, Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “The events of the past few weeks.
A non-elected person and one elected person can put their heads together and establish a paid holiday without input from the two other county commissioners.
As we mentioned, we had emailed all of the county commissioners about how the holiday was established. County Commissioners Dr. Val Arkoosh and Lawrence did not personally respond back. Gale did. He wrote:
On Tuesday 6/16, I was on two conference calls with the Democrat Commissioners and County Senior Staff and there was no discussion about granting a paid holiday. The decision was made without my knowledge or consultation. I also was not informed that an email was being sent to the county employees. It is disheartening that the majority commissioners continue to make unilateral decisions regarding county employees and the use of taxpayer dollars without the input of the minority commissioner.
At a time when so much partisanship surrounds America’s history and heritage, it is heartening to see people from various backgrounds and upbringings come together in continued support of June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States.
A core tenet of my Catholic Christian faith and my Republican Party affiliation is the eternal truth that slavery is evil.
The announcement of the holiday did not include a quote from Gale. It did include quotes from Arkoosh and Lawrence.
Let us know what you think in the comments.