Lucas and Hankins attempted a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) to keep Harper from attending meeting
Andy Lucas, Somervell County attorney, operating as the State of Texas, attempted to prevent Harper from attending the a meeting with an Application for a Restraining Order. Ron Hankins, one of the other Somervell County Hospital District members, supplied an affidavit. The judge denied that application. On 3/11/2015 the judge signed the order denying Paul’s anti‐slapp motion to dismiss.Note that Paul could not have put in an appeal regarding the anti‐slapp dismissal until after the judge signed the original order.
Why did Andrew Lucas, with the help of Ron Hankins, want to prevent Paul from attending a meeting? Because Chip Harrison, the president of the Somervell County Hospital District, had put an agenda item on that meeting re: “The administrator/chief executive officer’s employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal; complaints or charges against the administrator/chief executive officer”. Both seemed to want to look into the future via a crystal ball and stop any proceedings of a 7 member board. The administrator, according to
the Hospital District bylaws, is supposed to be evaluated every year by the board and Ray Reynolds had not (and has not as of this writing of January 4, 2018, been evaluated ever. Ray Reynolds also was an at‐will employee.
Following is part of the court reporter’s transcription of the callBestvsHarper-TRO.pdf
On JANUARY I5, 2015, the following proceedings came on to be heard in the above‐entitled and
numbered cause before the Honorable C.C. "KIT" COOKE, Judge presiding, held in Cleburne, Johnson
County, Texas: Proceedings reported by Machine Shorthand.
MR. LUCAS: Okay. That is correct, Judge. I filed this application. It''''s ‐‐ it''''s my belief that the
four members of the Board at a meeting tomorrow night it will take place tomorrow night at 7
o''''clock. It''''s my belief that the CEO and Administrator of Glen Rose Medical Center will be
terminated at that meeting. And I think the facts I''''ve alleged are all contained within the
application and the corresponding affidavit from Ron Hankins. And, essentially, Judge, I want the
Court to consider three things based on this application. One is that, you know, I have ‐‐ personally
have some responsibility in this matter in that I issued a subpoena to a man and as a result of his
testimony, which was made at my demand, he may lose his job. That is the first thing.
The second thing is that Harper''''s testimony in October made it fairly clear that he does not add an
agenda item unless he has ‐‐ unless he knows he has a consensus to take the action. So in this case
Harper has the votes, the four votes; and I think he knows it. And based on my knowledge of this
Board and given the Board''''s history, what is likely to happen tomorrow night is that
the item will be called; there will be no discussion; a motion and a second, and a vote will follow.
And you can clearly infer by such actions that an improper meeting took place prior to the item
being called with the public knowing nothing about it and seeing none of it. So it goes back to my
complaint about open meetings violations. The third thing, Judge, and the last thing and Mr. Dowell
may know better than I because he is a labor lawyer ‐‐ but I I believe that Ray Reynolds could clearly
be identified as a whistle‐blower if this termination takes place. So I think the Court may be doing
these four gentlemen on the Board a favor by preventing this ‐‐ this action from occurring. I think
they can subject themselves to a significant lawsuit if they take this action.
…. that is what I am asking for. I – I think the temporary restraining order is warranted, and I think
it''''s absolutely necessary. So that ‐‐ that''''s all I have, Judge.
……MR. DOWELL: ….
Judge, as you know, to receive a TRO you have got to show three things. You have got to show
that there is an immediate need, that there is a risk of irreparable harm, and that there is a
likelihood that the seeker of the TRO is going to prevail on the merits. And I don''''t think we''''ve got
any of those three, but right now I will focus on the irreparable harm.
There''''s no evidence in the record before the Court to show the possibility of any irreparable
harm. Mr. Harper''''s affidavit falls woefully short in that he even he, himself, admits that he is
doing this upon his information and belief and not upon any facts that he said. In fact, we would
object to the paragraphs – each of the paragraphs that state, "Upon his belief", he is making these
assertions. If any cause of action were to exist, it would be a cause of action that would belong
solely to Mr. Reynolds. And until the Board takes some action, he has no ‐‐ no right, nor any
remedy for any cause of action. There''''s nothing to show that this is being done in retaliation
except for the speculation of one board member; and there''''s certainly nothing in the record that
indicates that any impropriety has existed prior to the public hearing that is going to be held
tomorrow or whatever time and date that it is going to be held.
I believe that the bylaws of the hospital district remain a part of the record in the initial hearing
that we had, Judge; and under the bylaws, it takes either the president or three of the directors to
request a meeting. There is nothing that indicates that this was doings solely by Mr. Harper or
that it was done in any form or fashion of retaliation by him. This was the Board transacting its
business, and I don''''t think it''''s something the Court should intervene in. That''''s really all I''''ve got,
THE COURT: All right. Andy.
MR. LUCAS: In terms of the affidavit, you know, I believe that the board member would ‐‐ would
have more knowledge than any of us about what has gone on with the Board. And I think he''''s
drawing reasonable inferences based on his personal knowledge of the activities of the
Board. And so I think the the affidavit lays out the case very well. You know, if after this ‐‐ after this
occurs tomorrow night, it ‐‐ it''''s too late for – for anything to happen other than Mr. Reynolds being
left with a lawsuit. That''''s what I''''m trying to prevent.
THE COURT: Well, but, you know, my understanding ‐‐ and maybe I just heard it all wrong. I
thought that''''s what this was all about anyway. They – if he got back on the Board, they were going
to try to fire him. I mean, that''''s the indication that I had from the day one we started this. I mean,
you know, it was a 4‐3 vote, and they didn''''t like him. Right?
MR. LUCAS: Judge, that may be ‐‐ that may be true but I think that the timing of this is interesting
in that, you know, Reynolds testifies under oath, under subpoena and then two months ‐‐ you
know, Harper is off the Board for two months. And the first thing he does when he is reinstated is
take this action. what we''''re complaining of. And that''''s
MR. DOWELL: Well ‐‐ excuse me. I didn''''t mean to interrupt you there, Andy. The only action
Mr. Harper has taken is what he was instructed to do under the bylaws, which was to post the
agenda item. There''''s no showing that this was at his instance or at his request.
And, Judge, I go back to the issue of irreparable harm. There''''s certainly no showing of irreparable
harm. In fact, the only time that that is even mentioned is in the last paragraph of Mr. Hankins''''
affidavit where it says, "there will be irreparable harm done" but it never says what that
irreparable harm is or ‐‐ or how it manifests itself. If the actions are improper, then there is a legal
avenue for Mr. Reynolds or whomever to ‐‐ to address any ‐‐ any harm that occurs.
THE COURT: Anything else, Andy?
MR. LUCAS: No, that''''s all we have, Judge.
THE COURT:You are asking me to ‐‐ well, and basically do a prior restraint, which we all know – we
studied right from the first year of law school ‐‐ is the most extreme remedy you can take in any
type thing. You are stopping something from happening before it ever gets there, you know; and
generally we ‐‐ we don''''t do that. And, you know, this to me ‐‐ and maybe I am just reading the
undercurrent, just hearing the testimony, but I saw this was probably coming. I mean, when it was
three to three, you know, they had a stalemate. But when – when Harper ‐‐ I mean, when he went
back on the Board, I anticipated that something like this was probably going to happen; and then it
was going to come down to some type of vote. And I ‐‐ I don''''t disagree with you that he might be a
whistle‐blower, and he might have action; but that''''s something that needs to ‐‐ we need to see if
that''''s what they do.
I take it this was posted properly, and everybody was given notice because everybody is down here
filing petitions. Somebody got notice of it all. Is there any gripe about how the notice was posted?
MR. LUCAS: Your Honor, the only thing I have seen, there ‐‐ I read the newspaper article this
morning. And there was a question as to whether it was posted on the medical center''''s website as ‐
‐ as was required to be done. I know it was posted at the County Clerk''''s Office.
THE COURT: I''''ve got ‐‐ I''''ve got a copy, I mean, that I show it was filed and posted there outside
the District Clerk''''s Office, which
MR. LUCAS: I ‐‐ I think that did occur, Judge. …..
THE COURT: Yeah, I got you. I don''''t – I don''''t see what else I can do. If I had a hearing, what
would you ask me to do? Just stop the meeting?
MR. LUCAS: Just prevent Harper''''s action, the ‐‐ the action he would take, which I would claim would
be in retaliation the action being terminating the CEO.
THE COURT: Well, I think ‐‐ it''''s my opinion that action ought to come after. Let''''s see if he does it
first. I am not going to stop with a prior restraint something that I don''''t know for sure what''''s
going to happen. And we''''ve got seven board members who were elected by the people, and I am
not going to grant the TRO. I am going to let ‐‐ I''''m going to let them have the meeting, and then
we are going to go from there.
Ron Hankins also involved himself in this case and put in an affidavit on why Paul Harper should be restrained from attending the
meeting. 101 He said, in part
During the initial removal hearing held in October of 2014, wherein a Petition had been filed to have Mr. Paul Harper remove? from the Board of Directors of the Somervell
County Hospital District, Mr. Ray Reynolds (the Administrator/CEO of the Glen Rose Medical Center) was subpoenaed by the State to testify about certain facts surrounding
Mr. Harper''''s performance as a Director of the Somervell County Hospital District. The BestvsHarper-TRO.pdftestimony given by Mr. Reynolds did not shed the best light on Mr. Harper''''s actions
while a member of the Board.
During the entire time that the current Board members have been on the Board, there have never been any meetings in which Mr Ray Reynolds was given any goals to achieve or any other instructions on what the Board expected of him. Likewise, there was never any evaluation made by the Board of Mr Reynolds performance of his duties as Admnistrator/CEO.
With the foregoing in mind, it is my belief (and I so allege) that the Agenda posted by Mr Harper, and which appears to be calculated to provide for Mr Ray Reynolds termination, has no basis in fact, and is nothing more than an attempted retaliation by Mr Paul Harper against Mr Reynolds, because of Mr Ray Reynolds having provided (under subpoena) testimony concerning Mr Paul Harper''''s performance as a Director on the Board.
As I mentioned earlier, I question why Ron Hankins felt it necessary to become part of this lawsuit action by submitting an affidavit. But of course, I didn't know until 2019 that Hankins was intimately involved, since he wrote the initial petition for removal, while hiding that fact publicly.
Darrell Best Commandeered the Meetings During Breaks
I did not attend most meetings but instead got my informed citizenry information by watching video or listening to audio or speaking to others who did attend hospital board meetings. Apparently on several different occasions, Darrell Best stood up in front of the assembled attendees and spoke disparagingly about the elected officials. And he did it during breaks in which, for example, the board members went into executive sessions and thus turned off the camera. No political opportunity was apparently too small to try to milk.
At the meeting from January 20, 2015, someone called to tell me that Best had trashed Chip Harrison, the board president by quoting something Harrison had said in an interview with the newspaper. He also used the time to speak against other board members and politick for others. It isn''''t that anyone waiting patiently during a break in proceedings needs to be absolutely quiet or can''''t carry on conversations with their neighbors, it''''s that, by going to front and speaking to all, he was using a public government board meeting for his own purposes. For just one second, imagine that someone whose opinion you did not respect and whose political views you did not share, decided to commandeer the microphone at a meeting where every one was seated during an executive session- might you feel a little resentful that you were being USED by such a person for his own ends?For me, when I attend meetings, I am going to see the people I voted for or are elected in action, not kibbitzers from the audience who believe they have a selfish right to preach to a captive audience who must LEAVE THE ROOM to escape. Boorish! I wondered at the time why the hospital board didn''''t pass a decorum policy for the people in the audience who attend. Stuff like be QUIET during meetings, no cheering, stomping your feet, whistling, clapping or jumping up in front of the room to grab the mike. It''''s really not fair to people who attend who don''''t want the ugly spectacle of being involved watching a partisan politicking adventurer who has no respect not to drag trashing elected officials into what ought to be a neutral situation. If Mr Best actually wanted to run for office, perhaps a spot on the hospital board, why didn''''t he go grab a room for himself on a different occasion, pay for his own electronic equipment and invite people or is he afraid if he doesn''''t have a captive audience, no one might show up? Also, although the board was meeting in an adjacent room off the main room at the Citizens Center, good manners would dictate not working up the crowd into an unruly cheering, clapping mob where those sounds could be disruptive to the deliberative process going on in the other room. Of course, as he had already shown at the meeting, from Jan 22 2015, he had no problem whipping up a crowd on false pretenses. Hard to take someone seriously as a pillar of "Hometown boys" society when he orchestrated and encouraged the type of unprofessional and disrespectful behaviour towards board members, from the crowd in attendance, including his own family.
The microphones are supposed to be turned off while board members are in executive session. Because they neglected to do that at a meeting in March 2015, Darrell Best saw a perfect opportunity to grab the live microphone and trash the elected officials in front of the room. Again. If a circus ever comes to town and needs a barker, it won''''t have far to look to fill the job.If Best truly wanted to use the assembled citizens at a posted public hearing for his own agenda, he should have taken it outside or left the room so that anyone that didn''''t want to hear his baloney wasn''''t a sitting duck that would themselves be forced to leave the room not to hear him. After all, it was a public meeting, not comprised exclusively of partisans of one man''''s ideology. I''''m sure not every single person was there to enjoy and marvel at Best''''s rants. Plus, tht part of the meeting is not recorded, as public comments properly done that EVERYONE IN SOMERVELL COUNTY could know about and enjoy ON THE RECORD. It''''s his own little sideshow.
Let''''s carry this out to a hilarious example. Suppose that EVERY political opportunist that wanted to commandeer the room did it during executive session. Why, they''''d probably have to challenge Best for use of the mike. We could have a WINNER GETS THE MIKE moment and make up signs advertising "Wrestling during executive sessions" and pass the hat! Who does fire eating and snake charming? Is that fortune teller still living in Glen Rose? It could be a very entertaining way to pass the time waiting for those DANG serious elected officials to finish their business.
Continuing with Best’s silly tradition of shamelessly using the people who attend a government meeting as captive listeners to whom he could convey his own political opinions, he did it again in April 2015 Because the executive session required clearing the room, everyone in attendance went outside the citizens center to the parking lot. (The good news about that is that, unlike having to LEAVE the room when he''''s pulled this stunt before, anyone could make sure to walk freely away from him in the parking lot.. I was not at the meeting but was told this by someone who was outside and amused by his behaviour and comments. After patting himself on the back a while, Best told people to vote for "Our Hometown Boys". He did NOT mention Jimmy Thompson, who has lived in Somervell County all his life, but only Ron Hankins and Brett Nabors. What I find hilarious is that Darrell Best is not himself a *hometown boy* but someone who came here a relatively short time ago, but what''''s a little hyperbole and exaggeration among willingly gullible pals?
Ron Hankins voted against Indemnifying Harper
The Somervell County Hospital District was supposed to come up with the $25,000 that insurance wouldn''''t cover for the lawsuit, ie, an indemnification process. Note that Ron Hankins should have recused himself from voting, as Harper did. Why? Because Hankins was actually the one that had created the petition to remove Harper in the first place, even while keeping it quiet that he had done so. Imagine how dishonest it is to be involved with this type of clear conflict of interest while purposely hiding his involvement in the lawsuit while voting to ensure that the lawsuit would not protect elected officials. Do listen to hear what Chip Harrison, who was then board president, said.
What were some other hospital board meetings like? A Zoo.
Impressions of the Somervell County Hospital Board Meeting of May 28 2014
Disclaimer that the following is MY opinion alone and doesn''''t represent anyone else but me.
Saw that the hospital board has put video that they recorded up on Youtube. I didn''''t attend the meeting so am really glad that they are doing this.(Side note that I recorded one video of a previous meeting as a private citizen standing in the foyer; didn''''t process it or post it because I was so disgusted with the boorish behaviour of the audience, but I may make some selected clips to clear up bullchit gossip).
Have heard via the gossip chain that some people who apparently didn''''t attend the previous meeting and didn''''t listen to the audio, think that the meeting the week before was halted because it was illegal. Anyone that was there knows that isn''''t the case, that the meeting was adjourned because Dr Justus Peters threatened a lawsuit because he said the school board meeting room was not in compliance with ADA standards. (Note that he certainly didn''''t bring this up BEFORE the meeting, where a modicum of courtesy might have led him to call ahead to make sure he could be accommodated rather than bringing it up and threatening to sue. Also heard today from someone that works at the hospital that she believed Peters talked about a lawsuit AFTER Chip Harrison spoke to him. Not so.
Previous meeting chop
Yes, Ron Hankins did bring up something about the meeting not being a legal meeting and some things he thought were not legal on the agenda (but that isn''''t why the meeting was adjourned) . But let''''s look at this. The bylaws for the hospital board say that the people who are elected to the board are to be GIVEN a copy of the bylaws and a certain number of months of minutes. Did ANYONE at that first meeting when everyone was sworn in bring that up, INCLUDING Ron Hankins, who presumably would have known, first, that the meeting they voted on might be illegal AND known there were even bylaws to begin with? Nope. In fact, that meeting itself was possibly illegal according to the bylaws. I don''''t recall after watching the video that Ron Hankins raised his hand to tell everyone "HEY THIS IS NOT RIGHT" in that meeting. Look for yourself via the video below. Should people who are supposed to get copies of bylaws be faulted for not even KNOWING they should be given copies because it says IN THE BYLAWS that they should? (You do understand, right, that if you don''''t know something exists
that presumably the departing board should have supplied or arranged, how are you supposed to know what it says?) From the bylaws
2.10 Orientation of Directors. All new members will be furnished with minutes of Board of Directors meetings from the past year, Bylaws of the Board of Directors, Bylaws of the Medical Staff, and the District''''s financial statements from the past twelve (12) months. Upon election to the Board, new members shall meet with the President of the Board, the Administrator and the Chief of Staff to receive an update and briefing on District operations. Board members are requested to attend at least one trustee seminar or workshop each year.
Even then, did Ron Hankins have ANY obligation to, uh, get on the phone and bring this up to board members BEFORE the meeting instead of showboating and looking like he''''s trying to sink the board as a spoiler? Anyone can do a cheap shot parlaying off the ignorance of other people but in my book you don''''t get a right to complain if you do squat to try to rectify the situation FIRST. (Go look at this video starting from about 9:20 in‐do you see Ron Hankins saying anything?)124 Also heard that some people wrongly think that Wayne Rotan said the meeting wasn''''t legal. Hah!
Again, these must be uniformed people who have spent zero time actually checking out what Mr Rotan said. Instead of people whispering bullchit, maybe they should CALL and TALK to the person who was arranging that room and FIND OUT what happened, or go listen to the audio of the meeting. All else is baloney.
And what about the temporary board that couldn''''t WAIT to get out of there and didn''''t even spend one iota of effort to OPEN the envelope with the certified results before voting that the election was valid (thus, incidentally, putting a rest to all the whiners who want to kibbitz about whether the election results were valid or not)? Former Judge Walter Maynard called them out and said that he''''d never been in a situation where the board didn''''t at least OPEN the envelope. (Nor have I, and I"ve been to board meetings of the county where the commissioners sure did do due diligence). The board basically said that they had no idea what they were looking at anyway, why they would want to look like a bunch of do‐nothing ignoramuses I don''''t understand, instead of at least PRETENDING to follow a legal process. And if THEY followed the bylaws and knew that the bylaws were to be given to the new board, etc, then why the fool didn''''t THEY make sure to do it? Pfffffftttttt.
That brings up a second point. Why the FOOL didn''''t the Somervell County Hospital Board vote to start getting an attorney, at least start the process of figuring going out looking, even if it required a board vote after? That was on the agenda Tell you what, if I was on the board and somebody like Dr Peters threatened a lawsuit, the first shot out of the box the very next day would have been to get an attorney that the new board likes (and guess what, a new board has the right to get an attorney they all agree upon and discard previous ones) and I would not have wasted any time doing it. After listening to the board audio, I agree that it should be something the board votes on, but the process to get a new attorney or at least start having *conversations* about it could have started. I could well understand that some on the board might not like the current attorney, Kevin Reed and his associates, but why in the world is there any delay? The people that at least some of us specifically voted for said they were going to do an RFP as soon as possible to find out about getting rid of the debt and leasing the hospital out to a private entity, in the same way that Hood County has made a deal with Lake Granbury. But there isn''''t any way that anyone of those board members should be working on an RFP
without an attorney working with them. Were I more cynical, I might wonder what the fool happened to the people who were so eager and WERE VOTED FOR ON THE BASIS OF GETTING RID OF THE TAX, and ask if they are slow‐rolling the process. There is a deadline, according to Wes Rollins, who came in and did a presentation on the tax, in a few months at which point the tax rate is going to have to be voted on and decided and every single person in THIS county (doesn''''t include the moochers in Hood at Pecan Plantation) will be paying taxes. But there is time NOW if these board members will get off the you‐know‐what and do the job we VOTED THEM IN FOR and get the dang attorney and RFPs for this to possibly be resolved BEFORE tax season. So why aren''''t they? I understand that a lot of people did NOT vote for some of them, but enough people who DID want the tax gone DID vote for them, so I certainly hope they aren''''t thinking about pandering to the people who probably never would have voted for them anyway (and apparently believe by being cowardly ruffians at a meeting they can actively
disrespect lawfully elected board members) .
Somebody apparently brought up Pecan Plantation again AS IF it''''s some kind of public clinic that Somervell County residents can just walk in and use. Guess what. They CAN''''T. Take a step back‐what do you think the purpose of a hospital district is, anyway? Is it for the benefit of SOME OTHER COUNTY THAT PAYS ZIP IN TAXES or is it for the people who pay taxes IN THAT county, to help out people in THAT county, and for those who may be indigent. Not to help out by having a clinic that you can only get to by being approved to get through a gate, is NOT a walk in clinic according to the practice manager, and only because you have an appointment with a specific doctor. According to the practice manager, Dr Bruce Carpenter is not taking any new patients. Dr Justus Peters told me that Carpenter ONLY has patients from Pecan Plantation, was Dr Peters mistaken? Even if Dr Peters takes Somervell County residents, you cannot just to go the clinic unless you are approved to go through the gate first and you have an appointment. Think you could go up there and say "None of your business what my name is" and get through the gate? If you can, then the security for the Golf‐Lovin'''' Pecan Plantation Folks isn''''t worth much, is it? People that already work for the hospital and are probably KNOWN as
such don''''t count, nor anyone that has an appointment or has had a call made to the clinic to okay them coming in‐ I would imagine if someone is known to be affiliated with the hospital or the board that they might just get waved on through and further believe there''''s probably a daily list that has the people who are allowed to come in. And that''''s not even the issue. I don''''t even get why ANYONE thinks it''''s appropriate to spend tax dollars in some other hospital district. If people really want a clinic in another district, then why aren''''t they pushing for what Gary Marks had before? A PRIVATE HOSPITAL run by their own money and not by taxes. I wonder about the ethics of people who think this type of thing is okay.
Finally, and I only watched a bit of the video from this last meeting but when I get time I intend to say more. I heard that apparently the boors that don''''t know how to behave in a Texas Open Meeting were back‐must have arrived in their clown cars because they STILL didn''''t know how to behave, at least for some parts of the meeting. I thought the beginning of what I saw was pretty good. Looks like Chip who runs the meeting was following Roberts Rules of Order and the crowd at that point was orderly. Why, the board apparently arranged for the sheriff''''s department to be there based on the ill‐behaved raucous crowd that showed up the week before. Also appears that they got microphones, speakers and arrangements for Dr Peters so that he could properly hear, which is entirely appropriate. Will probably update this with an audio or video clip after I watch it IF it turns out that these people still had no respect and self‐control; they sure didn''''t last week. That includes Mr Best, who I can clearly hear yelling out from the crowd as I''''m listening, wish he had been escorted out by the deputy. Makes
me especially glad he was not elected as judge, and I highly doubt that the disruptive tactics he''''s pulling in these meetings would fly if it had been HIS meeting‐he also cannot claim ignorance of TOMA since he was on the economic development board‐you know, the one that voted to loan 80 thousand dollars to Land of the Dinosaurs and also decided to give money to the Chamber of Commerce that he also was head of at the time. More on poor Mr Best''''s ill‐fated investments. Even during public comments, this audience thought they were at a game show and decided to clap it up‐no decorum for them, nor respect for others even where they don''''t agree. Would they have booed and hissed at another public commenter that didn''''t share their opinions and would anyone who saw that behaviour have been deterred from speaking out? I"m also not sure why one man was not stopped after 2 minutes while the other 2 public commenters were, should have been consistency and fairness. Also, Michael Honea wanted to make what he called a *personal comment* from the audience and instead
of being told to wait for the public comment section OR AT LEAST STEP UP TO THE MICROPHONE, he just up and said some rambling thing about religion. At the end of what he said, I heard Eugene Brode say "I couldn''''t hear what he said". Right. He shouldn''''t been allowed to speak out of turn and when he did, he should have been treated like everyone else and been made to speak in the microphone.
Overall, I really like how the board discussed items, thought everybody did a pretty great job despite the disrupters. I believe open meetings should be conducted in the public eye, and even where people don''''t agree, the more people talk about it the better. I refer to the elected people, not the rude kibbitzers in the audience.
The Zoo at the Somervell County Hospital District Board Meetings
The following, including video, is from a meeting on September 13, 2014. Chip Harrison, board president, didn’t control the meetings and require both the board and the audience to be professional, to be quiet or leave the room if they couldn’t seem to exercise some self-control. Nothing wrong with heated and spirited conversations at the board level, but this is ridiculous. Audience seemed to think they were in a game show with signs to clap, cheer, whistle, call out, etc if something came up from anyone that they didn’t agree with. At least one of the spouses of a board member also exhibited that poor conduct. Ron Hankins badgered Paul Harper and insinuated that Harper was hiding something or doing something wrong. Ron Hankins also seemed to be egging on the audience, and, in one instance, taking instruction from the audience, and again, even if Hankins choose to act like a game show host rather than a mannerly board member, Mr Harrison did nothing to maintain order and at least a modicum of respect for ALL elected representatives. I highly doubt that they would have acted this way in ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT MEETING and this, again, showed a lack of respect for ALL in attendance. Would it have been okay if the audience had largely been those who actually do believe contracts should be followed and had shouted, whistled, clapped, called out? No. There''''s a presumption at government meetings that government meetings should be orderly, that they are open meetings rather than *public meetings* and that those who cannot control themselves and are disruptive are asked to be quiet or leave the room. Chip Harrison, for some reason I cannot fathom, could not bring himself to actually control the room. You can see all this by watching the video
Allen Sumners got in Paul Harper''''s face after one meeting ended and had to be pulled away by his friend Darrell Best
I can''''t make exactly what was said but this is part of it "Paul, you sure do think ..... Coward." Paul responds with "anything else?" to what looks like Sumners hand clenched into a fist. Even after Best starts to pull him off, Sumners moved in again. I guess Sumners can''''t control himself very well, or maybe he is starting to take advice from Ron Hankins who said at a previous meeting that he’d like to punch people in the mouth
Hankins filed a complaint against a Letter to the Editor writer
After Ron Hankins misguided opinion that an elected official who actually ran on a particular agenda that tried to implement that agenda, should "expect to be sued", I wrote a letter to the editor of the Glen Rose Report criticizing Hankins. The letter is no longer on the Glen Rose Reporter website; here is a snap of it.
A week later, on 6/20/2015, someone else, an Annie McGee, wrote a letter to the editor about the same issue.
When I read Deb Harper''''s letter to the editor in the June 11 issue, I felt guilty because I had exactly the same thoughts when I read the statements made by Ron Hankins at the last hospital district meeting but failed to write a letter to the editor
I voted for Paul Harper based on his stated agenda. Somehow I had thought all these years that responsible voters looked at the agendas of the candidates in order to make an informed choice. Hankins seems to think his is the only correct agenda. I was appalled from the beginning to find that an elected official can be sued for the way they vote on an issue. I was even more appalled to find that the citizens have to pay for the lawyer of the person filing the lawsuit. Now to see that the insurance meant to cover the legal fees of an official who has been sued is not being used, adds insult to injury. It insults the person who was sued and it insults the citizens of the county. It adds to the resolve of citizens to never run for any kind of public office or sit on any public board.
Glen Rose, TX
Of course, Hankins real point seems to not be whether one runs on an agenda, but whether one will stop trying to get an agenda done once elected, based on whether the newbie agrees with Hankin's opinion, and I say OPINION, on how government should be run.
Ron Hankins decided to issue a complaint to the sheriff's department about the second letter writer.
Get the Police Involved for a Letter to the Editor!
On a Thursday afternoon in June 2015, a friend called me up about 4 in the afternoon. She said, "You''''re not going to believe what just happened to me". She said a sheriff''''s car had come up her driveway as she was preparing to go on an errand and a deputy got out and approached. He told her he was investigating a complaint by Ron Hankins about a letter that had been written the previous week to the editor of the Glen Rose Reporter, some kind of false identity thing. (Ron Hankins was Somervell County Attorney for a number of years and is now an elected official on the Somervell County Hospital Board).Further, the deputy had been by the Glen Rose Reporter first and at some point got the real name of the pen name writer and went to her house. My friend had written the letter under a pen name, Annie McGee, with the full permission and knowledge of who she actually was of then editor Colleen Horning. She explained this to the deputy and he asked if he could have a copy of the email between she and Colleen Horning and she supplied it. The letter is not threatening, etc and was not written under Ron Hankins name, ie, the letter writer was NOT impersonating HIM. See if you agree with me that what she wrote was only objectionable to someone who believes himself to be above criticism and highly thin-skinned.
Then she was shaking, sitting there in her car. She couldn't imagine any circumstance in which writing a letter to the editor voicing an opinion should subject her to a police investigation. She had not asked to see the original complaint and I also wondered, what the fool, so when we got off the phone, I drove down to the Somervell County Sheriff's office to put in an open records request for Ron Hankin's complaint. What and WHY had he used the police to bully and harass someone like this? The writer also put in an open records request.
Got back the request the next Wednesday (ANY CITIZEN CAN ASK FOR A PUBLIC RECORD).
This is only the offense summary page and not the complaint itself because for some mind-boggling reason, at that point I was told I couldn't get a copy of the complaint because the investigation is still open. What? WHY? Once the writer supplied the evidence, which is ridiculous that she had to do in the first place, shouldn't this have been IMMEDIATELY closed as a frivolous complaint?? Could it be at all possible that the complaint will be held open for a very long time in order to try to bury it from public view since it's ridiculous? Same thing happened to her, she also asked for her file and was also not given the full complaint.
So, Poor Poor Ron Hankins apparently didn't like it that someone objected and voiced an opinion in the newspaper about what he clearly said at a public government meeting. Don''t forget I had written a letter taking Hankins to task a week or two before that. I have talked to many people who agree with me that what Ron Hankins said at the hospital district board meeting was absurd.
It wasn't good enough that in our country, which I remind is the United States of America with first amendment Freedom of Speech, people can exercise that freedom. One would also think that this would be an issue strictly between the Glen Rose Reporter and the writer. If Colleen, the editor, had no problem, since she KNEW who this was, of allowing the writer to write under a pen name, why did Ron Hankins, the Bully, see it as a matter that required the police? Would he now form an Anti-Freedom of Speech unit to troll the countryside looking for anyone that gets under his skin? Heck, maybe this is an indication he already is. And WHY did the police and Andy Lucas, Somervell County Attorney, agree to investigate this? You''''d think they would see how ridiculous this is and not waste one dang cent on police resources.
The letter was published on a Thursday. The next day, that Friday, I heard from someone that Ron Hankins wife had gone to the reporter offices and had words with Colleen, the editor. Colleen quit that day and I was told she felt humiliated. The funny thing is that Colleen had only recently started as editor and had just that morning been planning some happy forward looking articles. I speculate that Hankins wife didn’t like the letter and told Colleen to tell her who wrote it. Apparently Colleen did not do so, and why should she, without a warrant or some official reason? If there was an issue about someone writing a letter with a pen name, shouldn’t that have been between Colleen’s bosses and her? Also, seems like if poor poor Ron’s feelings had been hurt over being criticized for what he said, why complain about online impersonation? The letter writer wasn’t impersonating Ron, and the letter was printed in the newspaper. For whatever reason , the Hankins chose to go to the police about this, over something a grade schooler knows is one of our freedoms as Americans.
Later on my friend wrote a letter to her friends and members of her church. I didn’t ask, but I wonder if she had any slight concern about her reputation being sullied by a criminal complaint being made about her for writing a letter to the paper.
I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the June 18, 2015 edition of the Reporter. Imagine my surprise when a sheriff’s deputy showed up at my door with a complaint
that had been filed against me by Ron Hankins in regard to that letter. The complaint is of “online impersonation”. I certainly disagree with him on many points but since when is a
disagreement on politics a cause for filing a legal complaint? He is an elected official and a lawyer. Does he do this for every letter writer with whom he disagrees? Are there other people in the community that he has tried to intimidate? The first amendment to the United States constitution prohibits abridging the freedom of speech, and infringing on the freedom of the press. It does not take a lawyer to know that.
The county attorney has closed the case but the file has not been released to me. The reasoning is that it won’t be released because the case was closed. Since I am named in the investigation it seems I should be able to see the file.
P.P.S I just ran across this speech for the 4th that Senator Brian Birdwell, who is our Texas senator in this district, said today re: Katie Lang of Hood County who didn''''t want to uphold the Constitution by issuing marriage licenses for gays. While his topic was actually to support bigot Lang, he had some words regarding freedom of speech that I agree with.
The First Amendment protects not only the citizen’s ability to have an opinion—whether we
agree with it or not—but also the right to speak that opinion. The father of our constitution, James Madison, said "A man has property in his opinions and the free communication of them". We own our opinions, and more importantly, we own the ability to communicate them. This, friends, is the very basis of our right to conscience. It is my right to have faith in Christ and a belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God--just as it is the right of every citizen to agree or disagree with my views. Regardless of my view, it is my sworn duty as an elected representative of the people to protect their right to disagree with their fellow citizens, and indeed to profess that disagreement publicly.
Note that he explicitly says, as a PUBLIC OFFICIAL, that it is the "right of every citizen to agree or disagree with my views". Seems to me a large part of this applies and that Birdwell should go help Ron Hankins understand this.
There''s another question about this as well
Who Decided to treat Ron Hankins clearly frivolous whiny complaint seriously?
So, Ron Hankins widdle feelings were apparently hurt that someone dared to criticize him, as a public figure, for some comments he made at a public meeting for the Somervell County Hospital District. That person, a woman, wrote a letter to the editor about it, under a pen name, and this apparently upset Mr Hankins so much that he decided he needed to go down to *advise* the Somervell County LEC (Law Enforcement Center) "there was a letter to the editor from an Annie McGee stating some wrongdoing on the complainant''s part.". The offense, mindboggingly, was "Online impersonation" even though the letter to the editor was in the printed newspaper and wasn''''t signed, er, by him,. In what way did he believe someone was impersonating him? Was it his magic hat?
The lady who did write the letter, whom I know, and a lot of you do too, told me after the deputy showed up at her door, she wondered if Ron Hankins was going to come to her house once he knew it was she that wrote the letter. Remember, he had no idea who wrote that letter, just that, dang it, someone had exercised their Freedom of Speech rights and he was having NONE of it, he was going to find out who that person was, and get that person charged with a CRIME. What, maybe he would have come knocking at her door so he could chew her out for daring to express an opinion about him? Poor Mr Hankins apparently didn’t have a tough enough skin to be in the public eye if he couldn’t take the heat when a taxpaying citizen didn''''t like his opinion. Will Hankins now wander Somervell County seeking out each person that doesn''''t agree with him so he can find some action to take against those who believe as US Citizens they can write letters to the paper?
Hankins was no longer the county attorney, although this action seems to say that he pined for the Good Old Days, where he had the clout to go after innocent people for thoughts they have in the paper. He was, however, an elected public figure that serves on a board. Perhaps he believed that gave him the authority to go running down to the Sheriff''''s office every time he read or heard something he didn''''t like. One could almost say that this is an intimidation factor‐if YOU know that Ron Hankins was going to go to the sheriff''''s office to *advise* them about a possible crime because YOU wrote a letter to the paper, would that slow you down from criticizing Mr Hankins next time he does something you find objectionable? Maybe. And maybe that''''s the point. Why else spend that kind of effort on a friggin'''' letter to the editor? Mr Hankins also was apparently not well‐read, and didn't realize that people write opinions all over the place about politicians and government officials, and do so freely.
What's astonishing to me is that ANYONE from the Somervell County Attorney’s office or Sheriff's Department treated this seriously AT ALL. This is an abuse of police power and a waste of taxpayer resources to spend even one minute or one dime over a letter in the newspaper. At some point the complaint went back to the county attorney''''s office and was dismissed. OF COURSE it was.
What would be the next outrageous and irresponsible act Ron Hankins did, although it will be hard to top this for sheer nuttiness and audacity? Please don''''t ANYONE stop writing letters to the editor with your opinions simply because Ron Hankins may not like it and try to charge you with a crime.
P.S. Comment from Chris Bryant re: who would have approved even looking into this in the first place.
Chris Bryant According to Sheriff Greg Doyle, all complaints are given to the Andy Lucas,
County attorney and it is by the County Attorney decision to follow up with deciding to
accept or decline a complaint. I''''m not sure if that is how it''''s supposed to work but that is
what was verbalized to me.
Fact of that matter is so that no one has to accept responsibility. The sheriff can point to
the County Attorney and the County Attorney can point to the Sheriff. This way, no one
P.P.S. Both the letter writer and I wanted to get a copy of the file to see what the heck! Because, in the first place, they had opened a case and it was still open, neither she nor I could get a copy. Then, it apparently went back to Andy Lucas, he saw it was nonsense and closed it without charges. Because it was closed without charges being brought, we ALSO couldn't get a copy of the case in that circumstance. What I got back, though, was a letter from the Attorney General explaining this. Look at this. Rather than *online impersonation* as the sheriff's event log showed, this was apparently *computer fraud*. Hun? In what world is it computer fraud for a person to write a letter to the editor which the newspaper publishes? One can only laugh.
I do have a theory that could explain why in the world Ron Hankins went after the anonymous letter writer. The theory also posits that Hankins had a stake in wanting to see Paul removed from office. We now know, as of 2019, that that part is true, as Hankins wrote the original removal petition and sent it to Best. The second, flimsy, charge that Paul had written the blog post about the Somervell County Hospital District slush fund or had instructed me to write it rests on the belief that Paul was somehow not open enough to post under his own name. By the time this action against "Annie McGee" took place, I had written extensively about how outraged I was that my own content on my own blog was being falsely attributed to Paul. If Hankins and Lucas could have proven that, rather than the innocent citizen that actually did write that anonymous letter, it was actually Paul that did so, they might have had an action that would prove their baloney petition charge, ie "Online impersonation". Assuming for a moment I am right, although this can't be proven without putting Hankins under oath and asking him, it must have been a huge letdown for Hankins, Lucas and Best to find out that they were so grossly wrong and that they had abused the power of the state to go after an innocent person whose only "crime" was that the criticized Hankins in a letter to the editor.
My personal opinion is that Hankins went after this letter to the editor writer, who was exercising freedom of speech, because he thought maybe the letter writer had something to do with this case.
Hankins was asked about this in the deposition in 2019.
Ron Hankins was the County Attorney for Somervell County for almost 20 years and then became an elected board member on the Somervell County Hospital District. Back in 2015, Ron Hankins said at an open meeting of the Somervell County Hospital District board that if someone got elected based on an agenda he or she ran on, and got elected, that they should expect to be sued. That seemed to me to be out of line and I wrote a letter to the editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. I wasn't the only one. Unbeknowst to me, a friend of mine also wrote a letter the next week which she did under a pen name with the permission and knowledge of then editor Colleen Horning. Apparently, anyone that criticizes Ron Hankins deserved to have a criminal complaint lodged against them at the Somervell County Sheriff''s Department. (I wrote about it at the time in July 2015 after my friend called me up to tell me that I wouldn't believe what had just happened to her). I've always wondered since then why the fool Ron Hankins wanted to see her potentially charged as a criminal simply for exercising freedom of speech to the paper. He was asked about this incident in May 2019.
Hankins was asked "Why would it be against the law to write an anonymous letter to the editor?" He replied ".. I was thinking it was something in connection with possibly trying to disparage me as being a member of the or my outlooks on the board. I mean, got a right to file a complaint. IF it's not illegal it's going to go to someone who says it's not illegal, okay. I was upset, you understand that".
Basic civics classes should have educated Hankins about the freedom of speech and press that we are guaranteed in the US Constitution.
The Somervell County Hospital District Meeting I Call the *Hate Fest*
from January 22, 2015 where you can read my entire writeup. A few after the fact highlights, with video here.
First, before that meeting, Ron Hankin''s wife hand carried a threat letter to John Parker, one of the board members. He, not to be intimidated, had it on his Red Barn website for quite a long time.
She proceeded to comment on how ''''nasty'''' things were getting. She asked John if "fighting Ray" was worth it?
The meeting on January 22, 2015 was supposed to be for a required evaluation of employee Ray Reynolds. Instead, Darrell Best, among others, sought to turn it into a crowd event in which some people thought the hospital was to be closed.
Ann Best and her mother, Mary Best-that''s Darrell Best hanging out on the wall and laughing when his wife and daughter flip off a board member
Joan Taylor insulting the board
Dr Peters threatening board member with dialogue from "Pulp Fiction"
Alan Sumners passing a jar for money collections.
One man not even from this county, apparently, threatening the board
Darrell Best's daughter, Ann, gave the finger to Harper at Somervell County Hospital District Board Meeting
On January 22, 2015, Somervell County Hospital District held a board meeting to discuss Ray Reynolds, employee's evaluation. Andy Lucas with the affidavit of Ron Hankins, had attempted to keep Harper from attending, but the judge said no. I had gone to the meeting with my video camera and was sitting on the left hand side of the citizens center.It was actually a pretty awful meeting, along with other videos of rude people, and people threatening the board. In this post, however, I want to point out the actions of the Best family, to include Darrell Best, Mary Best, his wife, and daughter Ann Best
Ann Best was working for a local hospital in another county and she was fired after this. Imagine being a mother and coming with your adult child to the dais with your arm around her and supporting her while she flips off the board. And then your husband laughs, on camera. At least for me, these are certainly not people I wish to emulate.