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Last week, Somervell County Commissioners Court went into executive session and then came out and the majority voted to fire Dwayne Johnson. Commissioner Richard Talavera made the motion, Jeff Harris seconded. When it came time to vote Danny Chambers voted with those two and Tammy Ray and Wade Busch voted against. No secret that I have had reservations about Dwayne Johnson for a long time, including when he was Precinct 2 commissioner. I was surprised that after he lost his commissioner election to Talavera that he was then hired in some position of authority over the Somervell County Expo Center in Glen Rose. Some items previously I found concerning. 1. He paid no rendering tax on his personal property 2. He showed disrespect for the Texas Open Meetings Act and used a commissioner meeting as an opportunity to brag on himself 3. Shifty about the process to build out the Rooster Bar and Grill at Squaw Valley Golf Course 4. Voted to okay Hidden Valley Ranch Subdivision without much pushback on potential problems (until later when the commissioners held another meeting about this due to community ire) 5. Part of voting to approve a Somervell County assistance district -sloppy and possible illegality of election 6. Somervell County now in the booze business 7. Sloppiness in following the law re: the 2022 budget All that I knew. What I did not know is that there were two criminal investigations into him this last year. 2023_06_05_13_43_23.pdfIn the first one, from February 2023, Johnson was accused of Theft of Property >=$750<$2500. The complainant said she had evidence of mishandled funds within the county. Notice that the Show Barn was apparently built without any plans. Wade Busch didn't know of any and Danny Chambers said "county maintenance workers built the show barn so there most likely were not any permanent building plans (which would of course, IF they existed, would presumably show where the lighting would go instead of a fly by night seat of the pants install A few comments on this. Ooopsie, Johnson said he did not realize he had been overpaid by over $1400 (Really inspires confidence that Johnson was being a good steward and careful with taxpayer money, doesn't it -/s) Also, more generally, how is it that there are elected people that are just running out to do things without any kind of plan, using their buddies for a service (and maybe getting a kickback, who knows?) and aren't trying to be fair with competing services in the county. The commissioners decided, because the case was punted to Hill County DA which refused to look at the case, to just make Johnson pay back the money. As a side note on checks and balances, going to pull out again the fact that we have a felon who is the head of payroll. If this somehow missed through at least 3 levels of checks and balances, what confidence is there that a person doing payroll can't also escape notice should that person decide to commit theft. Also, because the commissioners kept it quiet, no one really knew about this double overpayment of funds. So, this first investigation was kept quiet. I don't know if this was discussed in an executive session after April 24th, but probably on the 5/8/2023 regular session. On to the second one and this one is very recent. EXPO 2301104.pdf EXPO 2301104 (2).pdf Somebody named MaKayla D'nell decided to go post about selling pallets, that Somervell County owns, on Facebook, taking cash. This isn't like you or me or a private business selling pallets, heck, I've gotten pallets for various projects. No, these are government property and not there to be taken for some unaccounted cash. Somebody must have tipped off the Sheriff who asked Trey Brown, the County Attorney to begin a live investigation, which then included Investigator Green. This was in June 2023. The investigator gave $250 cash (marked bills) to some guy named "Randy" with exchange of pallets. This last part of this was the reason why this case was not charged, because there was a difference between the money in the drawer and the money the investigator had given Makayla, since it went through a third person. That brings us to the 7th of November when the commissioners went into a special session and then came out and voted-Note who voted for and against. How many times did Johnson apparently lie?
As a citizen who is trying to keep up on what is going on, but covid and other factors getting in the way, I wondered about what the fool the Somervell County Special Assistance District is, when it was passed, what it is for, etc. Did some research the last couple of weeks. First, this special assistance district brings in additional taxes through extra sales taxes levied through businesses and the money is put into a separate county bank account. The sales tax cannot exceed the # set by the State of Texas comptroller, and it is not a tax like property taxes but on anyone who buys anything from a county business. The supposition is that tourist businesses such as Fossil Rim would provide additional revenue, but because it's sales, also means that if I, as a citizen, go to a county business and buy something, I am not exempted from paying the additional tax. The legal code for this is at Chapter 387 County Assistance District. This Somervell County Assistance District was placed on the ballot, approved on November 2, 2021 and results certified by Somervell County Commissioners Court, which members include Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Harris, Tammy Ray, and Wade Busch. Levying an additional tax required that this be on the ballot for Somervell County residents to vote on. Because the City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax that goes to the maximum and, although the City is contained within Somervell County, city residents could not vote on this because the tax would not affect them in any way. SAMPLE BALLOTS PCT 1, 2, 3, 3 GISD, 4.pdf The problem, as you see on the sample ballot at left, is that both Texas State props as well as the Somervell County Assistance District were both on the same ballott, so that if a city resident who of course lives in the county went to vote, there was nothing to indicate they could NOT vote on the Assistance District. VOTRING HISTORY FOR NOV 2, 2021 GENERAL ELECTION.pdf Notice on the list of people who voted in this election that there is no way to know how they voted, County vs City. But... City of Glen Rose residents did... which made the passing of this special assistance district illegal.. Also, not good is that Somervell County apparently made no effort to speak with and coordinate efforts with the City of Glen Rose, which left the city administrator *disappointed* when he found out about what Somervell County had done, and that, because city residents should not vote on any ballot item that does not affect them, it was essentially voting to lay a burden on other people that they would not experience. Gee, that's what the colonists went to war against in early America, taxation without representation. Adding to this, notifying the City of Glen Rose that Somervell County was considering a special assistance district wasn't simply a nice, polite idea but was part of the law regarding formation of same. Actually was merely a polite idea to notify the City of Glen Rose, since the proposed territory would be no part of the city territory. Really a shame, even so, that in the second smallest county in Texas, no one could be bothered to let the City know what was planned. As above, Michael Leamon said the City had heard nothing from the County, so I did an open records request to the City asking for a copy of the certified letter-they had no records responsive to this request. When Brian Watts, who was formerly the Somervell County auditor, saw what was going on, he wrote a letter, as a taxpayer, to County Judge Danny Chambers on Nov 22, 2021 Letter to Somervell County 11.22.2021.pdf So, that was on November 22, 2021 that Watts sent this latter to County Judge Danny Chambers. For reference, here is the agenda for July 12, 2021 #5 of commissioners court. on the resolution for a special election on creation of county assistance district. From Open Records, in image format -see screenshots of emails farther down below-bolding is mine. . This is from July 12, 2021 Commissioners Court meeting where the commissioners voted to commissioners voted on an order for a special election. Note that the order CLEARLY SAYS that this does not include the city. Dwayne Johnson made the motion for this, seconded by Tammy Ray The election was scheduled for November 2 2021. On November 11, Watts wrote Chambers about the issue. The Comptroller's office was aware there were problems with the election and yet Aubrey Mashburn of the Comptroller's office told Chambers to go ahead and then if there was a complaint filed, do something. On 12/16, Watts tells Chambers he is filing an official criminal complaint with SOS. On Jan 12, he writes Heger the Comptroller and mentions that the Commissioners actually sent a letter to city residents telling them to come vote in this election. It's not clear to me in looking at all of this whether the Comptroller's office did anything about what is clearly an illegal election. Or maybe, as Mr Leamon told me, there is a deadline under which if you want to complain about an election, you must do so. What is disturbing about this from my point of view is that Danny Chambers knew, every commissioner voted to say that the election was ONLY for the unincorporated parts of the county, and yet apparently sent out a letter to City residents telling them to come vote. Did they not understand what this means? And once it was known for sure that city residents voted on the assistance election, Chambers should have done the right thing and have REDONE THE ELECTION to make sure it was proper and legal. He did not because his haste, apparently to get this pushed through clouded his judgement. Since Dwayne Johnson was the one who made the motion, was he also the one that wanted the district? it is disheartening as well that, in the name of doing their job, the Comptrollers office completely glossed over the fact that this was illegal and instead hung their hat on whether someone would complain; So, the law is only to be obeyed as long as someone complains WHEN IT IS NOT FOLLOWED? But even then, as in this case, they came up with reasons to ignore valid issues. As a side note, notice again that we as county taxpayers not only paid Andy Lucas (now deceased) as county attorney['s salary but also a more expensive legal firm. From the hallway in City of Glen Rose, downtown, that shows the boundaries of the City of Glen Rose versus outside the city to the county Further, with regard to the city. The City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax within its limits and should the city decide they would like to annex land, they would not be able to extend that sales tax collection to what is now taken by an assistance district. A little disgusting that the county did not apparently make any attempt to talk to the city administrator about what they were doing so that the city would be informed. Seems that, at least so far as I can tell, the restitution for this illegal election is to plan to vote out people who do not care about following the law. Also, according to one of the commissioners I spoke with yesterday, the money would only be used for things such as police, fire, roads, etc. BUT Have to wonder if this would include maintenance of the expo, amphitheater and golf course. AND would this be an open ticket for the Somervell County Tourism/Promotions, EDC office that Kelly Harris is in charge of? Since the businesses that Somervell County runs now, which include liquor sales, are funded from the Enterprise account, and, further that this is supposed to be self-sustaining without taking money from other accounts, one hopes that the Assistance District account would not actually be earmarked FOR those businesses and tourism, etc instead of for what, at least in my opinion, is more important, roads, law enforcement, fires, etc. Why does this matter in this election? For one reason, and I think readers know I am not a fan of Dwayne Johnson, when anyone running for election wants to run around and brag how well the golf course is doing, when the Enterprise account was set up long before his term in office, and when there might even be the slightest possibility that actually these entities might not be self-sustaining (ie monies coming in versus monies going out ONLY from the expo, golf course, etc ) but with the backup AD account, it needs to be examined and challenged.