CHAMBERS COUNTY, Texas — A Chambers County commissioner is under fire for comments he posted on a KHOU 11 live stream on Monday.
The Facebook stream was of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo updating the media on the ITC Deer Park fire. During the press conference, Hidalgo spoke in both Spanish and English. After she addressed the media in Spanish, Chambers County Commissioner Mark Tice commented, “She is a joke. English this is not Mexico.”
We found the comment in the thread and went to his Anahuac home to ask him about it. While we were there, a car pulled into the garage, but no one would come out to talk to us. He didn’t answer our emails, either.
Though the commissioner didn’t say anything in person to us, he did post the following on Facebook.
“From my understanding, there were reporters asking questions in Spanish and Judge Hidalgo responded to those questions in Spanish, with no translation given. If that is not the case, then I sincerely apologize. Like many citizens concerned about the ITC fires, I was very emotional about the effect it was having on everyone. I apologize to Judge Hidalgo, the citizens of my County, and most importantly the entire Hispanic community for hastily acting out with transgression on social media. I recognize how my response could have been interpreted in a derogatory manner and for that I am sorry. I immediately regretted my choice of words. I’m not proud of my behavior, that is not the example I wish to lead by. I can only hope, in time, that my actions can be forgiven. Having grown up in Galena Park, Texas— a place that is and has always been a very diverse community—I was raised with the ideology that you do not judge anyone by their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Those values mean everything to me. It breaks my heart that I may have said anything that would lead anyone to believe otherwise. Those who know me well, know how deeply rooted I am within the Hispanic community. My sentiments on this issue were grounded in the passion and love that I have for the City of Houston and the surrounding areas. Again, I am truly sorry for for creating this unnecessary situation. Mark”
Earlier, Commissioner Tice spoke to a Houston Chronicle reporter on the phone, the paper reported. They quoted him explaining his original comments with, “It’s real simple. This is the United States. Speak English.”
Later in the article, Tice is quoted saying,“This has nothing to do with race. If you come to this country, learn the language or get an interpreter.”
The Republican argued if Judge Hidalgo used Spanish for the millions who speak the language in Harris County, she should also use Arabic for the Muslim population, according to the article.
As for calling Judge Hidalgo a “joke,” he said “It’s nothing personal,” the paper reported Tice said. “It’s nothing against her. She’s probably a great lady. The bottom line is I don’t think she’s prepared to do the county’s work.”
Cascades of comments then hit his Facebook page. Some demanded Tice apologize to Judge Hidalgo.
His own judge distanced himself from Tice, too.
“The statements he made are his and are not made on my behalf, or on behalf of the court,” Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia said.
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