There must be something about serving as Texas commissioner of agriculture that brings out the weirdness in some of those who hold the office.
Sid Miller is the guy in the office at the moment. He’s a Republican who seems to look for ways to make himself look silly. He makes goofy pronouncements, goes off on state-paid junkets and then spends public money on matters that should be financed out of his own pocket.
In a strange way he reminds me of another agriculture commissioner. Do you remember Jim Hightower? He served a single term as head of the agriculture department in the late 1980s. Rick Perry got elected to the office in 1990 and he was succeeded by Susan Combs, who then was succeeded by Todd Staples. Those three individuals managed to serve with a degree of decorum and dignity.
Hightower, though, was a jokester. The Democrat was quick with the quip and managed to say things just to get a laugh out of those who heard him say them.
Miller, though, is presenting some unusual problems.
As the Texas Tribune reports, Miller is making a spectacle of himself:
“Miller’s conduct in office has ranged from the cartoonish — revamping inspection stickers for the state’s more than 170,000 fuel pumps to more prominently feature his name — to the potentially criminal — allegedly bankrolling two out-of-state trips with public funds to receive what’s known as a ‘Jesus Shot’ and to compete in a rodeo.”
Miller won the office partly by campaigning as a fiscal conservative. So what does he do? He boosts the pay of top staff jobs.
He seems to look for ways to make headlines, to get his name out there. Remember how he lifted the state ban on deep fryers and soda machines? Why does an elected agriculture do something like that?
I much prefer that these folks simply do their job quietly. There’s no need to create spectacles.
The agriculture commissioner has a big job. The state has a gigantic farm and ranch community — and much of it exists out here on the High Plains.
Can’t this guy just promote the value of Texas’s myriad agricultural produces without being such a buffoon?