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About Me

  1. 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[1766].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?
  2. Somervell County has had at least three instances, that I know of, where an employee working for a public governmental entity, either embezzled money from the entity or worked with money while convicted of a felony. One, back in 2015, was Melanie Reese, former City Secretary of Glen Rose who plea bargained theft of government funds. A second was Janice Nickell who embezzled from Glen Rose Medical Center in 2013. And then there was Liz Morgan, who embezzled church money and spent at least part of it to take her child on a $20,000 Florida vacation. She worked for Glen Rose Medical Center in charge of patient records and HIPAA privacy officer, presumably taking off an hour or so every week to attend her probation officer hearing. Very recently a friend of mine told me that there is a felon working in payroll at Somervell County Courthouse, where Danny Chambers is judge. Although Treasurer is an elected position, payroll is not, and the felony this person plead guilty to was Theft of Property $20k>$100k. A couple of people did a background check on this person and found that the offense she was arrested for was a felony classification, offense code 23990010, with probation begin date of 20130617, sentence CommunitySupervisionCountySomervell. I have a few questions. When was she hired to work in payroll, ie, dealing with money, for Somervell County? Did anyone flag her activity when she was hired? Have heard that the former treasurer, Susie Graves, hired her, apparently without the benefit of doing a background check on her first. What are this payroll person's probation terms? If her probation terms were 10 years, then was she on probation for this felony when she was hired? Second, she was not hired for a Human Resourced job initially. When did that happen and why? Who is the person that oversees what she does? Is it the treasurer (Valerie Williams) ? The auditor (Nikky Weeden) ? Surely she's not a person, with a felony record, in a department with no oversight. Mentioning that I will be updating this post after the open records request I have done asking for her criminal record, including probation disposition. My personal opinion remains the same as it has been with the 3 previous incidents where someone stole money and had a job that dealt with money. Are there not plenty of other job either now or in the future that a person can apply for when one is a felon other than dealing with money and sensitive data? I think so. And apparently, at this moment, Danny Chambers and the commissioners know that this woman was convicted of being a felon. Why is she still there? Is there absolutely no one in the area who knows how to do payroll and is not a felon for the job? The taxpaying public deserves to have confidence that the people in charge of their money in ANY position do not have a theft felony and confidence that others in charge will not close their eyes and ignore that background. And it's not only money but other personal information dealing with payrolls. Even if one argues that this felon's work is being overseen by the auditor, Nikki Weeden, is that really the way that business should be conducted, having to scrupulously being on guard against theft from someone who is already convicted of same? (Maybe you would do this with family members, but this is dealing with public taxpayer money) Mentioning also that this is a Right To Work state, which is a deceptive misnomer for being able to fire someone at any time for any reason. From the Somervell County Personnel Policies Below is the audio of the County Commissioners coming out of executive session and voting on a new HR department. Apparently the person doing payroll also was given the job of human resources, without any salary bump. The new position for HR apparently cuts out the current payroll employee who "wears many hats". She was clearly not happy, even though she was NOT getting a salary change but is apparently being paid the same without having the duty of being *the* HR person, and carried on about it (listen below and you can hear). Why does someone care this much about a position for which she was not even being paid? Anyone know what this woman is referring to? Were there payroll problems already under her watch? What were those problems and how were they resolved? I'd also like to know why this week, her job of HR was cut off. What happened? Did the court finally realize this was a colossally bad idea or did something happen that made it imperative? Chambers makes the comment that back in 2019, the departments were changed. Some more timeline. Compare the 2023 budget and the 2022 budget First, I can find no entry for HR or Human Resources. Maybe sharper eyes can locate that but if this means, as the audio above shows, that they basically just tacked on that duty to the payroll person but now plan to create an HR department, that would explain why it's not there (and again, according to the audio, the commissioners were not paying the felon any extra money for this position). The Treasury job in 2022's budget showed 2022 010-405-101 TREASURER SALARY $56,055.00 $56,055.00 56,055.00 44,374.50 79.16 56,054.64 56,054.76 2022 010-405-103 TREASURER CHIEF DEPUTY $46,471.00 $46,471.00 38,700.28 13,096.86 33.84 53,907.90 43,752.06 2022 010-405-104 TREASURER PERSONNEL $42,500.00 $42,500.00 54,110.24 55,881.07 103.27 34,005.90 0 but in 2023, the Treasury Salary is $59,000 but the Chief Deputy, Personnel and Part time are 0 compare auditor 2022 010-404-101 AUDITOR SALARY $75,480.00 $75,480.00 75,480.00 59,755.00 79.17 75,480.00 75,480.00 2022 010-404-103 AUDITOR ASSISTANTS SALARIES $81,844.00 $81,844.00 81,683.49 50,604.88 61.95 79,324.40 72,791.52 for 2023 budget Auditor Salary is $79,254,00 with assistant auditor 89,118.75 Cannot find a payroll administrator in 2022 Payroll in 2023 Payroll Administrative $55,650.00 with Payroll Clerk 0 So the way this looks is that the Treasurer had additional staff cut for 2023, auditor still has salary and assistants both years and Payroll administrator was added for 2023. HR as a budget account does not appear in either 2022 or 2023.
  3. I haven't followed local government for at least a year. And I'm not likely to go back to video recording meetings at Somervell County Commissioners Court, although I think somebody should (maybe I'll change my mind). Covid pretty much broke me of that; I didn't want, at the height of covid, to go into a courtroom full of people who could spread covid in the room. The State of Texas under Republican *leadership* also showed me that safety and health were not only not high priorities for the people in charge, but they would actively spread lies and penalize people from caring about their health. I also was a little burned out after seeing what utter irresponsible people some of those who were elected officials were. But lately when I do care about something, it is a major pain to go hunt up agenda items and follow what actually happened (witness my questions regarding the water wells in the Hidden Valley Ranch subdivision going in on CR 2008 near Hwy 144 south. So I am going to post the agendas including the agenda items to make them searchable on the internet. Doing this for ME and will put tags for agenda and somervell County Commissioners Court.
  4. I had a question the other day about when and under what circumstances, someone who wants to subdivide acreage 10 acres of less needs to get approval from the county commissioners court. First, with the help of Michelle Reynolds, was directed to where on the Somervell County website under County Clerk, the Rules and Regulations for Subdivisions are: Acreage of 10 acres or less require an approval plat with Somervell County, with some exceptions. A number of plats in the Hidden Valley subdivision which is off CR 2008 near Hwy 144 South have been sold. Here's where I posted about that in 2002. Was told by a Somervell County commissioner that the Hidden Valley subdivision is required, when the homeowners take this on, to drill wells to the lower Trinity level. I called up the Prairie Conservation District to ask about that, and got some good information. Basically, govt entities can get a GAC, although they are not required to, and the conservation district assesses the water situation caused by, for example, subdivisions having wells dug for each individual property (alternatively, the subdivision might decide to do one large water repository that all share, but in either case, it would definitely potentially impact, depending on what the water source is, other existing properties). Somervell County did that and came back to say that it would be a requirement that the subdivision drill in the lower Trinity and not the Paluxy. Here are the agenda items in question. Goint to update this with audio when I get a chance. 14 Mar 2022 - March 22 2022 April 22, 2022
  5. Had heard there was a huge subdivision with smaller lots going in off 144 and CR 2008. It was first discussed in a December 2021 County Commissioner meeting and then approved in February 2022. I called up my commissioner Dwayne Johnson to ask some questions, like how many houses (ie, how many people to expect will live there), will there be a road from the subdivision that goes directly to 144 or will everyone be trying to get onto 144 from 2008 (or going the other way past Fossil Rim to 67), would there be a stoplight put in if the traffic was bad, or would CR 2008 be expanded to 4 lanes?) The plat is below, as well as what appears to be terms of an HOA, with a board. Mr Johnson also told me that the county would look into asking people on the road to sell part of their land if the road becomes crowded, there is no road that goes directly from the subdivision to 144, and it would be up to Texas State Highways to put in a light (of course, this would no doubt be after a lengthy survey to determine if it is needed, anyone else remember how long it took to get a stoplight on 67 by 144, despite some bad automobile accidents? As a side note, apparently none of the houses there will be able to have the Water District provide the pipes but instead will be using the lower part of the Trinity River for wells. Incidentally, and shoutout to Michelle Reynolds, Somervell County Clerk, who alerted me to a link to Online Real Estate and other public records which can be accessed via link rather than having to come in and sit down in the Clerk's office in the back at a computer to view. Look on her page for Online Real Records - Public Access. The papers below show who owns the property, and terms of the HOA, as well as the plats showing the lots. Audio of Dec 13 2021 meeting where this is discussed First, here is a picture from Google Earth of where this is .
  6. I happened to be looking out about half an hour ago to the east and the yard looked like it was orange. A cloud overhead looked sort of orange and I couldn't figure out why. Got a call a bit ago from a friend of mine who told me there is a wildfire off 67 near Stewarts. I asked more precisely whether that was before or after, going west, the road that goes to Fossil Rim, and she said it was after towards Stephenville. Incidentally, I greatly appreciate the concern of reaching out to make sure I knew about the fire. One thing for sure. When I listen to the scanner, it is clear we have a great fire department. The department sets up a command center, and send people around to various locations when a fire is spotted or reported on. On the pic below, you can see not only the main fire which was around 51, but another one that started off to the left. Pictures taken south of Hwy 67 and the wind was blowing from the south to north so the fire was blowing north From Texas A&M Forestry Service on Twitter You could not even see the sun through the smoke in the sky. Like an oven outside, but, surprisingly, seems that not having the sun beating down on the yard and having a *cover* helped the plants Listening to the scanner They are around FM 205 and 1009 5:52 pm North side of 51, lost 2 structures, evacuating people Brush truck on CR 1008 6:55 pm 51 and CR 1005 - 7:44 pm Aerial planes dropping water every 20 minutes, fire at 4500 block of CR 1008 7:47 pm Tuesday, July 18 - Seems there are still fire around 205. 1004 hay bales on fire (8:47 am) Texas A&M Forest Service shows this as called Chalk Mountain and 10% contained as of 11:59 am Update from around 8:00 am Wednesday July 20 10:26 am from where I can see it looks a whole lot better. Still appears to have hotspots on 205. A bit ago SomcoFire said on the scanner that air drops about to be made (presumably Forest Service). Also getting in some more dozers. Hico FD helping near Cottonwood Baptist Church (51) Thursday July 21 2022 Update for July 27 2022 07/27/2022 Chalk Mountain Fire Morning Update Chalk Mountain Fire Wildfire News – 55 min. ago Chalk Mountain Fire Update July 27, 2022 10:00 a.m. Chalk Mountain Fire Stats: Size: 6,746 Acres Containment: 40% Location: 4.6 miles SW of Glen Rose, TX Start Date: July 18, 2022 Cause: Under Investigation Resources Assigned Total personnel: 309 Engines: 22 Dozers: 10 Handcrews: 5 The Southern Area Blue, Type-I Incident Management Team assumed command of the Chalk Mountain Fire at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Current Status: Firefighters continued making progress on the Chalk Mountain Fire yesterday as the total containment increased to 40 percent yesterday while the acreage remained the same. The primary area of emphasis is the northern perimeter near the intersection of FM 205 and the northwestern edge of the fire. Visible smoke was observed in this area throughout the day as hotspots interspersed with unburned fuel are causing flareups. Aerial resources spent the day cooling this area, allowing ground crews the chance to work these hotspots. The fire continues to smolder and creep through this area. Throughout the remainder of the fire, crews spent the day gridding for and extinguishing hotspots on the interior of the fire and focused much of this gridding in and around homes. The eastern and western edges of the fire are being monitored for remaining hotspots, and fire officials are pleased with the progress in these areas. Fire conditions across the region remain at a critical level. Soil moisture remains completely depleted to a depth of at least eight inches. This means the moisture normally present in the ground is not available to slow the spread of fires. This lack of moisture is facilitating the smoldering and the burning of roots across the Chalk Mountain Fire. Fire Weather: Hot and dry conditions will persist throughout the week. An upperlevel ridge remains in place across much of Texas that is holding this heat in place. Temperatures will climb to as high as 104 degrees today with south winds expected at 8-12 mph gusting to 20 mph. Relative humidity will drop to nearly 20 percent. The current rain free streak at DFW is at 54 days (5th driest ever) with no rain expected.        Evacuations and Closures: There are no current evacuations or closures impacting the Chalk Mountain Fire. Contact the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office for the most current information on evacuations and closures: Phone: 254-897-2242 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Somervellsheriff Safety and Notifications: Personal responsibility and prevention of the next ignition is of utmost importance in preventing the next wildfire. Refrain from parking vehicles on dry grass and make sure all power equipment is in good working condition. Do your part to help our firefighters. Wildfires are a NO DRONE ZONE. If you fly, we can’t. Flying a drone near a wildfire can shut down all air operations. Fire Information: Fire Information Line: 817-381-5914 Email: 2022.chalkmountain@firenet.gov Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lssimt Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8255/
  7. Everyone who lives in Somervell County knows that the heat this summer has been extraordinary. There have been excessive heat warnings for a lot of days that tell people to stay inside. I concur but there are still things that have to be done outside if, as I do, you have agriculture or have to feed cattle, etc. I have a section of the yard where I have been attempting for the last year to create a privacy buffer between me and the neighbor. One way I decided to do it is by planting Texas Sage near the fence line. Texas Sage is supposed to grow up to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide, and does well in heat and drought conditions. Hah, BUT I feel that even Texas Sage has found itself challenged by the unrelenting sun and heat every day. So I got an idea to get some shade cloth to put along the fence that would, at least in the morning since the sun comes from the east then, give some shade to the plants. It is not a permanent solution, and will probably take it down over the winter, but if it could give a leg up to those plants, all the better. (Also got a whole lot of free mulch from the dump). Several days ago I was out after about 6:30 at night when it was (pretend with me) cooler, and was attaching the cloth. In order to do this, I had to be crouching down part of the time to secure the cloth through a grommet to the bottom of the wire fence with some ties. I came up and there were two Somervell County cops on the other side of the fence. One asked me if I had been on that side of the fence on that (the neighbor's property). Maybe it was the heat, but this annoyed me a little and I said, emphatically, "No. I am on MY side of MY property". Then one of them asked if I had seen anybody over on that side. Now, when the neighbors had come home up their driveway, I thought I had heard a little bit of chatter but wasn't really paying attention. Occurred to me when the cops asked that maybe they saw me putting up the shade cloth and mistakenly thought I was on their side. Then the cop asked if I had seen a man in a white t-shirt. I hadn't actually seen anyone but apparently when the neighbors got home, they saw a guy standing in between their house and an area on the other side of my fence which they use to drive 4 wheelers. When they saw him, he ran off into the woods towards MY yard. At that point the cops had not seen him themselves but they did after a bit and the guy ran again into the woods. I had gone into the house by then, we have cameras all over it, and, of course, being Texans, guns, so I figured if he had actually come here, I would be able to see him and possibly identify him. They never found him, that I know of, but here's what I wonder. That day there was another one of those heat advisories and no one in their right mind would be out running around anybody's neighborhood on their own, without a vehicle. There was no car or visible means to show how the heck that guy ended up next door so I doubt he was out looking to rob people. How would he even do a getaway and why would he purposely be trying to rob a house at a time when most people either would be home or coming home AND THEN HAVE NO WAY TO LEAVE except on foot. For that reason, I think he knew someone in the house and maybe wasn't supposed to be there and ran out when he heard the adults coming home. But who knows? I will say as a coda to this that the shade cloth seems to be helping those plants.
  8. Pretty clear to me after watching the video that anyone who cosigns the beliefs below does not believe in the concept of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, since they want their branch of christian sect to take over the world. Gives some new meaning to evangelism, with added pressure to build more churches and pressure everybody to join. Is the seven mountains mandate biblical? Ridiculously, one &nbsp;of the proponents of Seven Mountains Dominionism linked his theory to QAnon. Takes all kinds of kooks in the world and luckily, despite Stonewater's weird obsession to run everything, if they haven't already changed course from this bizarre concept, we still live in the United States with a constitution that is in charge. Looks like this cult is all about power, amazingly, and one has to laugh about this, the 7 Mountainers somehow believe that former president Trump was god's shepherd. Also explains why Ted Cruz might be such a horrible person. All about the power while ignoring moral and ethical principles. Ugh
  9. Frivolous lawsuit of State of Texas ex rel Darrell Best v Paul Harper OVER: Somervell County and Darrell Best PAID Somervell County County Commissioners (Glen Rose, Texas) voted 5/0 on August 31, 2020 to pay Harper $165,000 in settlement. Darrell Best has separate settlement agreement to pay Harper $45,000. Why? Darrell Best, local Glen Rose resident, with Ronald D Hankins (former Somervell County Attorney and current Somervell County Hospital District board member) writing the legal petition behind the scenes, attempted to remove duly elected official Paul Harper from the Somervell County Hospital District board via a civil removal petition. Note Hankins expression when he is caught red-handed. Darrell Best could have done nothing, however, were it not for Andy Lucas, Somervell County Attorney, taking on the petition for all purposes as the State of Texas. (A citizen can petition to remove an elected official but the State of Texas must decide, at its discretion, to bring it forward) Andrew Lucas failed to remove Harper at the District Court level, Harper took the defensive action of an anti-slapp motion (Texas Citizens Participation Act -TCPA) and won at the 10th court of appeals. Rather than that ending the suit, Andy Lucas chose to pursue appealing the 10th court of appeals decision all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. Note who paid for the attorney bills for Andy Lucas as the representative of the State of Texas - Somervell County taxpayers did, via Somervell County Commissioners Court The judgment of the Texas Supreme Court went against the State of Texas. Coming back down to District Court level, the money judgment was against the State of Texas and Darrell Best. Somervell County, or rather Somervell County taxpayers had been paying the attorney bills for Andrew Lucas who was acting as the State of Texas, and the Texas AG's office told Somervell County they were responsible to pay the judgment since what Andy Lucas did as the State of Texas was discretionary and the State of Texas AG''s office was not involved. Some 6 years later, Somervell County has now paid $165,000 to settle and Darrell Best has a settlement agreement to pay $45,000. Here, from the August 31,2020 meeting of Somervell County Commissioners Court are the commissioners voting to take money from the contingency fund for their part in settlement aug302020paul.m4a Some additional video Why did Ron Hankins keep the fact he wrote the petition a secret? Because "I was on the board". That, in turn, would have led to him having to recuse himself in any votes that dealt with the case; Ron Hankins sicc''d the police on a letter to the editor writer. Humorously, he took umbrage to the letter signatory being anonymous even though he hid his involvement with the petition '
  10. From time to time, Somervell County Salon has published a list of the salaries of both Somervell County and Glen Rose Medical Center. Both, of course, are public entities so we get to know what our tax money is going for and to what jobs. The following information is from an open records request to Somervell County. Please keep in mind as you read that these numbers might not represent the full compensation for a given person. I have in process another open records request for the full amounts, which can include other sources of revenue, pensions, government money, etc, and will update this post OR put in a new one if too long after I receive.
  11. Towards the end of this last year (2021) two things happened. First, Turn and Burn's concession contract was not renewed, and second, Somervell County applied for, first, a private club license with TABC and then Mixed Beverage. The ostensible reason for Somervell County to kick out a private contractor who by Dwayne Johnson's indirect admission below, was making money for the county through concessions, was to help the golf course and other businesses be self-sustaining by running everything out of the Enterprise Fund of the County. And apparently one major way for the County to do this was by getting their own liquor license for the Expo, while continuing to use the Squaw Valley Club license for the golf club. I am not religious, but I find it a little humorous that a county that is so imbued with The Promise, Methodist Church Camp, Riverbend, conferences for religious organizations, etc, decided to go for liquor. Pretty much everyone knows that, for example, Mary Simpson with Turn and Burn had the private club license for the expo, and was cut out of her contract by Somervell County not renewing it late last year (2021), at which time Somervell County applied for a liquor license so they can be in the booze business. Have to wonder how much of the break-even success of the Expo, etc, assuming that is true, is due to selling booze. Certainly there is no requirement that Somervell County use a private contractor rather than just running a business themselves She told me she is in process of doing an open records request for all her receipts and profits of the last year(s) in order to show that, in her view, she was doing a great job for the county. But the county wanted to be in the alcohol business directly. The process seems to be that Veronica Welch orders the booze for the restaurants at the Expo and Rooster Bar & Grill at the golf club. What account do the monies come from and who reconciles them? Are the receipts being examined to be sure there are no charge backs? Since the new restaurant at the golf course allows cash and not strictly checks and credit cards, seems like citizens who care about how the money is flowing should pay close attention. Shades of going back to the origins of Somervell County as the Moonshine Capital of Texas, except this time it is government openly selling booze in order to build up their coffers while running businesses. I plan to do an open records request in the near future to find out the breakdown of how much booze is being sold versus other food items. If I was a business owner, I would also like a level playing field running a business so that I was not competing with government businesses run by taxpayers. If I, for example, were a business owner that wanted to run a restaurant across the street from the golf course, would I appreciate, first, the competition, and second, the fact that my competition was an entity that paid no property tax and thus had a finger on the scale of equitableness? Here is Dwayne Johnson talking about this when he came by our house. recently while trolling for votes in the runoff. That is not me on the video but my hub Rough Transcript On that Pecan Plantation example, in case there are people in Somervell County who do not know. Pecan Plantation, being in Hood County, is NOT in our Somervell County Hospital District but rather in Hood County' s hospital district, for which residents of Hood County PAY NO TAX. And, because it is a gated community, Somervell County residents cannot simply go in, as they would into a public clinic, and use the clinic facilities. Essentially, we are paying taxes for our own hospital district AND paying additional monies for a clinic in a different hospital district when the property requires upgrades. Ray Reynolds on this in 2016. If we are saying that Somervell County MUST run businesses and that liquor apparently is a major piece of it, along with the possibility that taxpayers paid for the restaurant building as an offset to profits, then something has definitely gone wrong, in my view, with the idea of government being something that does fire, police and roads and leaves private enterprise to those citizens who want to make their own living from it.
  12. Thought this was interesting. Allen West presented this to the Somervell County Commissioners Court at the regular meeting on Feb 14 2022. The report shows the racial makeup of all traffic stops, how many where from, say city streets,, or the highway, etc, was there a search, what type of stop was it, etc. Read for yourself, just going to put one stat here from the top of the report Street address or approximate location of the stop City Street 430 US Highway 570 County Road 94 State Highway 217 Private property or other 18
  13. 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 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 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. And why, since he is admitting HE is the one that wrote the petition for removal, didn't he file the petition himself. 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 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. 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. Note the charge ONLINE IMPERSONATION. So, someone writing a letter under a pen name, NOT RON HANKINS NAME, is not impersonating him, right? It''s also in the printed paper, so it''''s not online either. But even if you consider that GR Reporter puts its news online, that''''s still surely not a crime. I had been told by one of the Somervell County Sheriff''''s Department law enforcement officers that the way complaints are taken seriously and investigated are when Andy Lucas, county attorney, gives his okay. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
  14. Not that every road in Somervell County can't be challenging, but this particular county road is VERY much so
  15. Oakdale Park was originally owned, as a private park, by Whimp and Pete May. I was asked by Karen Richardson to come record an interview Mary Saltarelli was doing with them in 2011. This is the video. The City of Glen Rose, in 2009, bought Oakdale Park from them. As seen in the link above, the City, in 2019 had a town hall meeting to discuss potential sale of Oakdale Park. The election in Nov 2019 had Glen Rose city voters allowing the sale of Oakdale Park and it is again in private hands.
  16. One sleepy, hot day in August 2014, a friend of mine called me to ask why Darrell Best was suing my husband. Both my friend and I had known Darrell Best for years. My friend is one that conscientiously reads public filings included in a monthly newsletter and saw this before Paul had even been served. I couldn''''t imagine for what reason a suit was filed. Paul was a public figure because he had been elected to serve on the Somervell County Hospital District board as of May 2014. I knew there were some that were not happy with his having been elected, due to his views regarding bringing in a 3rd party hospital to run the district, to step spending taxpayer money outside the district in another defined hospital district territory, and changing hospital administration. (Paul would not have been elected, however, if there weren''''t a LOT of people who agreed with him; he got more votes than Ron Hankins). But surely there would have to be something substantial in that lawsuit! The citation for personal service was issued on August 29, 2014, with county attorney Andrew Lucas listed as the attorney representing Best (I was surprised to see taxpayer paid Lucas acting apparently as a personal attorney for Best). Paul arranged to pick up the lawsuit from the sheriff department on Sept 4, 2014, I was with him and we drove to the post office. While in the parking lot, he and I started reading the lawsuit, which was a civil Petition for Removal from Office, filed by George Darrell Best, filed on August 27, 2014. There were 2 charges in the petition by Darrell Best, one regarding a statement Harper made in a meeting in August 2014 in which he said he would vote for zero tax, and the other a complaint about a blog post I, not Paul, had done. I laughed, actually, when I saw that they were complaining about my blog post, so absurd to be blaming Paul for what I wrote, and especially since I believed (and still do) that Best knew better. What is a Petition for Removal from Office (Texas) From Houston Chronicle - May 19 2009 "Citizens can remove local elected officials from office" Background on the Somervell County Hospital District Doesn’t EVERYONE love a taxing Hospital District? To understand the charged feelings about a hospital district, you have to understand some background about the local hospital itself and how it came about that a hospital district as a new taxing entity came about, was voted on and created. I honestly have never thought about hospitals one way or the other, except to approve of public hospitals funded by tax money. This presumes that there is a public service board whose interest is with those they represent and have open and accessible meetings and records to hold themselves accountable to the public. In Somervell County, there was a well‐known and beloved doctor named Marks who had started a hospital years ago when the county was much smaller. At some point in time, with perhaps other backs and forths, Glen Rose Medical Center was run as a private non‐profit by Dr Marks’s son Gary Marks. At the same time, in an adjoining county, Hood County, the elected government officials made a contract with a 3rd party for profit hospital, Lake Granbury Medical Center, to run services for Hood County Hospital District, a created governmental entity. The taxpayers of Hood County paid no taxes at all for the hospital district, and in return, Lake Granbury Medical Center supplied some services to the needy. Somervell County did not have a hospital district, but instead the Somervell County Commissioners Court leased the land, buildings and equipment to Glen Rose Medical Foundation for $1.00 a year. What did catch my attention was when Somervell County Commissioners Court voted to take on 14.4 million dollars worth of certificates of obligation (plus interest), to give to Glen Rose Medical Foundation. Walter Maynard was county judge at the time and Mike Ford, who later became judge, was a commissioner. Because a government entity can’t simply give money to a private entity, a public hearing, called a TEFRA (Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982) had to be held. What this mean was that notice of a public hearing had to be published in the newspaper at least 14 days before the hearing date without approval before the hearing. This would give interested citizens a chance to speak up at the public hearing. I heard about this 6 months after the hearing by an interested and somewhat unhappy person. I vaguely remember seeing the TEFRA hearing listed in the newspaper but it didn’t stand out then. Here’s what happened in July 2009 . Somervell County Commissioners Court had decided to issue 14.4 mill of certificates of obligation bonds via Southwest Security to private hospital Glen Rose Medical Center. To do this, they were first going to have to have a public hearing, per IRS regulations, in case there were any taxpaying citizens who didn’t want to give this money to GRMF. But what appeared to have happened was that Gary Marks did the work on getting the COs (certificates of obligation) prepared and then brought them to the commissioners court for approval, as per the Southwest Securities man on audio. Southwest Securities was also having discussions with Mike Ford about this. Southwest Securities badly wanted the commissioners to approve starting the process so that they could be finished by the meeting in April 2008, before even the TEFRA hearing. In fact, they had already printed up some documents. Judge Maynard, to his credit, expressed some valid reservations to this rush job. One was that the court might decide AFTER THE NOTIFICATION OF THE PUBLIC PERIOD not to issue the COs. Plus there was a public hearing involved where reservations about county money going to a private entity could be expressed. At the local level, citizens could have gotten up a petition to require that a vote on this money take place, but it would have had to be done during the original notice to the public period. (As another side note, I saw recently that Friendswood has, in their city charter, a requirement that any proposed allocation of funds through COs MUST be taken to the public for a vote). My point is that even if this was not a public hearing period, nonetheless, any decision regarding moving forward with the CO should NOT have been made UNTIL the notice period was up. And there was also a federal hearing process for TEFRA. Although apparently the commissioners could have asked for the person doing the hearing to be one of them, for some reason the hearing officer was a guy FROM Southwest Securities. Regardless, even though this was an IRS requirement, nonetheless, the commissioners should have waited until at least after that hearing to make a determination, in my view, BECAUSE the point of the TEFRA hearing is for the public to decide IF it''''s appropriate to give funds to a private, non‐governmental entity. Because these are TAXATIVE bonds. Maynard then says that he didn''''t intend for that meeting to be one in which a decision was made for final action. "I thought if you had a public hearing you still had a chance to make your decision after the public hearing". It is at that point that Southwest Securities applies some pressure, implying that if Somervell County doesn''''t do the bonds after they''''ve (SS) gone to so much work, the people who would buy them may not be interested anymore. In fact, SS had already printed up a resolution which was handed out to the commissioners (except Lloyd Wirt, who was not there) which SAID that on the date April 14 they would issue the CO. Where did the money come from that secured the CO? From, first, the sewage plant, and secondly, from OUR TAXES. You remember, if you got your tax bill in the last month or two, how your property taxes tripled? Well, guess what. The CO was secured by the county''''s ad valorum tax. SS points out that any time you have personal property involved under county statutes you can''''t just pledge the tax, you have to have a pledge AND REVENUES. SS goes on to say that these are secured and payable FROM TAXES and that Somervell County can SET A TAX RATE to provide for that service. And in fact, that''''s what Somervell County did about 6 months later, they RAISED the tax rate to COVER the budget that included the CO. And apparently this is not a rollback tax, because it''''s segregated. Maynard asks what would happen if 5 years from now we''''re converted to a hospital district, about WHO would assume the debt? Again, guess what, it’s US. The entity GRMF, the private 5013c foundation would not be responsible for the debt but it would fall on the taxpayer''''s shoulders entirely. (Not to mention the separate and included tax rate of the hospital district‐you remember how there was that indigent tax which was NOT going to be returned back to the taxpayer) . I also wonder when I hear that from Judge Maynard about *5 years from now* about the hospital district. Was the disingenuous or had they really not decided yet to go for the hospital district election? (Which failed, by the way, the first time, but reared its ugly head again early the next year). Judge Maynard, as I understand it, doesn''''t vote but might possibly be the tie breaker if a vote goes that way, not sure. At any rate, despite all the reservations he had about going forward with this at that time, WHO made the motion, despite no notice to the public yet or the TEFRA hearing, to go ahead with the motion? Mike Ford. I''''ve already said here before that there appears to be a clear conflict of interest in Mike Ford voting on the COS since he was also at the very time the executive director of the Roger E Marks Foundation and continued to be on the board. Apparently, only one person, Jerry Lee, showed up to that hearing and the certificates of obligation taken on my Somervell County but given to GRMF was approved after. Why did Somervell County Commissioners Court want to loan 14.4 million to GRMF? GRMC asked Chet Edwards to get them a $700,000 earmark for fixing up the hospital as well as the clinic in Pecan Plantation. Sometime in about 2006, the Somervell County Commissioners Court apparently voted to kick in the other half of 700,000. Problem was that Edwards was ultimately only able to get half the money . Congress decided to do a cutback on earmarks by a certain percentage and the amount of money that was going to go to Glen Rose Medical Center was cut back to less than half. Meanwhile the commissioner\''''s court apparently had paid out the money to GRMC predicated on the earmark being *secured*. Somervell County voted to get a bond to give county taxpayer money to private GRMC, $14.4 million. Now, this was supposed to be paid back by Glen Rose Medical Foundation. Mike Ford, then commissioner, said that the court had never loaned money to the Glen Rose Medical Foundation. He apparently either didn’t understand what he was voting for or was being disingenuous. In fact, there was a schedule of payments that were due to kick in about September of the next year. Remember how, in the commissioners court meeting about the Cos, Walter Maynard brought up a hospital district? This begs the question about whether GRMF ever intended to pay back the monies owed to taxpayers through the 14.4 million dollar (plus interest) COs. Note that the first payment started in fiscal year 2010 and that lease payment was $750,000.00, with final payment in 2048 of $264,625.00. What’s telling is that some months before the payments were due to be made, Gary Marks started a dog and pony show trying to public sell why the hospital should become part of a hospital district. A hospital district would be a separate taxing entity and also have, among other things, the power of eminent domain. From a practical standpoint, that meant that not only would taxpayers continue to pay taxes to the county but have additional taxes paid for the district. Caveat that theoretically, the taxes paid by the county for indigent care, etc would be taken over by the district. At the same time, the hospital created and pushed a video intended to sway public opinion to passing a hospital district. Surprisingly, Marks had put an initial 75 cent valuation on the Glen Rose Hospital District petition; Jerry Lee, who worked for Luminant, showed up to the hearing and challenged such a high number; he was the only person to show up at that hearing. The petition was then revised to cap 10 cents. Gary Marks efforts to sell a taxing hospital district were not successful, despite scheduling the vote for Valentine’s Day. The initiative failed about 2 to one against. This mean that GRMF was going to have to start paying back that money. But before that could happen, Somervell County in August, 2009 took over Glen Rose Medical Center and created a non‐elected “hospital authority” board to run it. Remember that Somervell County actually owned the land and buildings and were leasing out the premises to GRMF for a buck a year. Apparently GRMF not paying back their lease requirements was something the commissioners court had considered. An important point here is that Marks had been asked during his PR hospital district tour if the county would allow the hospital to go under and he said no, so Somervell County was not going to see the hospital fail. During the transition phase when Somervell County took over the hospital through an appointed hospital authority board, run under the auspices of elected Somervell County Commissioners Court, one of the transitional authorities told the commissioners court that taxpayers could pay out additional money beyond doctors salaries in Glen Rose Healthcare Inc From video Remember this was said when you read my diatribe about the Somervell County Hospital District operating a slush fund. The management agreement specified that the doctors would submit a report with documentation and it was essentially optional to give them the extra money. Putting this another way, why would any responsible governmental unit not want to have detailed record not only on what was asked for that went beyond contractual salaries but also documentation showing that the money was actually used for the purpose requested? At one point Somervell County Commissioners Court looked into the same arrangement that Hood County had for a hospital district, ie, having a 3rd party hospital contract with a district to provide services while charging residents no tax. Without getting into the weeds of the actions taken around this, Mike Ford wanted a taxing hospital district and worked hard to thwart entities like Lake Granbury Medical Center from discussing this with the commissioners. Having failed to pass a hospital district before, the apparent plan behind the scenes was to arrange for another district election. This time, the election was to be held on Mother’s Day. Quite a bit of propaganda untrue noise went out during the run‐up to the election, including fearmongering that the hospital would be closed if they didn’t vote for a district, despite the commissioners (and, remember, Gary Marks himself) saying that closure of GRMC was not an option. The second election for a hospital district passed very narrowly (by, apparently, 2 votes). A few people told me they just hadn’t gotten up out of the house to vote that day and wondered if it would have failed if they had. Yes. It would have, proving that every single vote counts. In the original election, there were no people running on the ballot, but the names were included on the petition, thus they were not duly elected as individuals to be on the hospital district board. That election would come later. Paul at this point looked into what might happen, legally, to dissolve the hospital district. I was not involved at that point as I had other interests, but he looked up the legal information about districts from Health and Safety code law and saw that a petition with a certain number of valid signatures to call for another election to dissolve the district was a perfectly valid possible remedy. Note that a petition by itself cannot dissolve a district, it called for an election. He and some others worked hard to gather signatures, at some point I also decided to assist, and they did it. However, when he turned in the petition, at least some people had the county, and not their city listed, and their signature was thus disqualified. Paul was of the opinion that the board was wrong in this, that they could also have opted to hold an election without a petition, but fighting in court was not an option. He decided, rather, to run for office as a hospital district board member. Then Somervell County Hospital District secretary Angie Robertson, while drawing names for place on the ballot, looked around the room and said “I can take bribes”. I suppose she thought that was a good joke. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15110 Paul won. In fact, he got more votes than Ron Hankins. Paul and Eugene Brode tied on the number of votes (the vote was majority, ie, the first 7 top vote getters were the electees. Because, depending on where you fell in the list, your term might be one year or two, the question was raised about whether either Paul or Eugene should flip a coin and the loser had one year That was voted down and instead, a vote was approved to request a Texas Attorney General opinion. About six months later the opinion came in and they agreed with Paul that both he and Eugene should both have 2 year terms. Ron Hankins was quite surprised and went into a long rant about how the AG opinion was a *non‐opinion*. 68 Didn’t matter because Hankins couldn’t force Paul and Eugene to flip a coin, and after all, it was a legal opinion for both to have 2 years, even if Ron didn’t like it What Kind of place is Somervell County, Texas? Small county southwest of Fort Worth. Somervell County is known as a tourist destination. Fossil Rim Wildlife Park, Dinosaur Valley State Park, as well as camping and fishing near the Paluxy River are a few of the activities visitors can enjoy. Somervell County also has an Expo Center that features events such as rodeos. I myself wanted to move here because it seemed, geographically, like the start of hill country. Socially, a very large part of the county residents are related to each other, as families have stayed in the area and intermarried with other local families for generations. The county was poor until Comanche Peak Nuclear Power plant began to be built there in the mid‐1970’s. This brought in a lot of money for schools, roads, and other projects such as public parks. When I originally purchased land in Somervell County, my sole consideration was whether I liked the property itself, would the zoning support animals and birds, how much acreage, and what type of view was it? I didn’t give one thought about what the fact that this was a small county, the second smallest county in Texas, with only a few towns. A very large percentage of residents in Somervell County have lived here their entire life, have ancestors that came to the county in the 1800’s, and are kin to other people through intermarriages. One of my newest friends in the county when I moved there told me that one had to be careful to say anything negative about anyone else, because the chances were high that the person being spoken with was kin to the person being complained about. My life for the most part has been living in suburbs, places that sprung up as housing developments, with people from all over the country and, in some cases, from all over the world. Because most of the people I knew were all newcomers, too, the ways for us to achieve power or ascendancy over others was not due to how long we had lived in a location or whether we had relatives that lived in the same town. As a contrast, in Somervell County, the power resides, for the most part, with those who have lived here the longest and can lay claim to ancestral stories. There is an expectation that if you move to Somervell County, you are embracing the culture. But what if you don’t? This is the kind of county that has plenty of confederate flags flying in people’s yards as well as for sale by the local gas station, juxtaposed with lots of religious camps and holier than thou religiosity. Some years back almost all of Somervell County voted Democratic party, but this changed dramatically when Barack Obama was voted in as president. I am loathe to say that racism may have been a major factor but I know in at least a few cases it definitely was. The county swung to the Republican party and voted for Trump in the last election (2010). I believe it wasn’t necessarily that everyone liked Trump but they were, dang it, going to vote Republican. A local minister, who at various times was also an elected official at the City of Glen Rose and was mayor at the time, told the Inn on the River owners that he would see that a change of their property to a rehab facility would not occur, and that the city administrator would perhaps “create a zoning issue after all”. 69 At the hospital level, Ray Reynolds, CEO, was loathe to remove a woman who had been convicted of a third degree felony for embezzling over $50,000 from a church over time. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15803She had used some of the money to send her daughter to Disney World. Her daughter had also taken a picture from her mother’s office of a man who had passed away who was in a body bag; the daughter posted it to Instagram with the caption “I see dead people, lol”. The woman was in charge, amazingly enough, of HPPA security, and also of patient records. Paul tried at one point to get her removed from her position but could not get a vote. 70 It wasn’t until the next year, in February 2016, that she was finally suspended due to a DWI. The local hospital, Glen Rose Medical Center, also was called out by a local doctor regarding safety issues, which led to a lawsuit against Somervell County Hospital District. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15711 What is a Good Ole Boys Club? In local government, Good Ole Boys are ones who work the system. Have already mentioned about Darrell Best telling a GREDC board member to hide documents from me. At one point I wanted to know regarding the Land of the Dinosaurs, which was a play in which the City of Glen Rose gave $80,000 to a company without drawing up a contract, in which because it was at that point considered an investment, the play was to make money for the city (not to mention its investors, which included Darrell Best). I did an open records request asking for a report from the LOD people showing their financials, and got back nothing. Why? Because the GREDC and City had never asked for any type of status report from LOD. Therefore, because no paper (or online) documents existed, there were no records to get. I considered that a sneaky way to be unaccountable. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15462 Another time I did an open records request for certain emails from Andy Lucas and was told that he had deleted the emails. My question for myself was why an elected official wouldn''''t keep emails to be respondent to the Public Information Act. For that matter, why wouldn''''t an attorney keep relevant emails? Just let the board do its work and you shut up One of the most interesting actions that took place at a public meeting was one in October, 2016. A local, well known resident went to a meeting and made some comments that apparently Ron Hankins didn’t like. He told her “What you’re doing, Donna, you’re second guessing Ray and all the rest of us about what we’re doing, Monday morning quarterbacking it, and I know exactly what’s going on and everybody else knows what’s going on. He was also very rude, as was one of the employees to this woman https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=17224 Boy, talk about someone who truly doesn’t understand the principle of public service, including transparency as well as the ability of citizens to, as he terms it *second guess* what the people they elected that are spending tax money are doing. It simply is not that once someone is elected, they no longer have to answer to the public nor hear what the public has to say, even if Ron Hankins would like to prevent it or make fun of the attendee who wanted to do that. You can see on the video link that he actually bends over and whispers to a fellow board member in front of her, which she rightly called him out for. On a different occasion, Hankins griped about people being able to do open records requests to find out what is going on. This is what the Texas Public Information Act says Harper''''s Platform When Running for the Board Harper had run for, and won, election to the Somervell County Hospital District board for the 2014-2016 term. He had run on a specific list of items he hoped to accomplish including 1. Reduce the property tax. The hospital should be able to run within its means, not on the back of the taxpayers. Taxing the citizens is not the route we should be taking, we should be following Hood County''''s lead and enter into an agreement with a 3rd party. Hood County has a hospital district but charges no hospital district tax. 2. Hand over operations in Hood County. Pecan Plantation in Hood County is a private exclusive gated community yet we are funding their healthcare facilities while Somervell County residents are not allowed to even see the building, let alone use the facilities. We are a non-profit who should not be trying to compete with a for-profit corporation that operates in four states (CHS). 3. Close the 501a. We need to employ doctors directly who are accountable to the District. The 501a has been tried and it has not worked out and continues to lose funds by almost every single doctor''''s practice, this is not benefiing the District but only the doctors. 4. Bring in hospital administration experts - the people running the hospital now got there by who they know, not by what they know. It''''s time for some experts in hospital administration to be brought in to run things the way they are supposed to be run. 5. Shrink hospital operations. Our tax dollars are shrinking and we need to shrink our operations to match. We need to move to an emergency room only model that we can afford instead of trying to provide everything and not being able to afford it. Harper''''s Opinion regarding tax rates set with no budget From the Petition While reading the following, consider whether you would want a tax enacted without specific, legal information about what that tax would cover. And, amazingly, whether a tax rate should be set before the budget is discussed? What was the context of Harper''''s comment about a zero tax? Glen Rose Medical Center CEO, Ray Reynolds, had prepared a 3 page document to present to the Somervell County Hospital District board on August 21, 2014 for a meeting to discuss setting the tax rate. The "Prepared" budget didn''''t meet the legal requirements of Health and Safety Code Chapter 286. The budget had been three pages each with 3 variations originally. One wonders how a tax rate could be set without providing detailed data to the board first,. In fact, the Texas Comptroller''''s site indicated that "Most Taxing Units adopt a tax rate rate after adopting their budgets". Makes sense and yet the Somervell County Hospital District decided the preliminary tax rate and 2 public hearings were held on that tax rate before even one budget meeting. At least one board member, Ron Hankins, was fine with doing that. Harper was not. Harper didn''''t make a motion to set the tax rate to zero, rather, conversationally, he said he would vote for zero because "we don''''t have a budget". Chip Harrison at that point was presiding officer of the elected board of trustees. John Parker was another board member. Consider that if there was a rush to get that tax rate set, the board could easily have required meetings and hearings on the budget before the drop dead data. Here''''s Harper talking about the budget on 7/31/2014 And from September 2014 Here is Section 286.124 on the Annual Budget and what is legally required. On September 23, 2014, Ray Reynolds fixed the budget to comply with the law. The new one, after the initial meeting in which Harper called i out, which was only 3 pages, was now a thick binder. Ray Reynolds even commented that Harper''''s point was "well taken". The local newspaper, the Glen Rose Reporter, wrote up the meeting on August 28, 2014. Brent Addleman''''s writup said "The debate even featured a motion of zero cents by Board Secretary Paul Harper, citing the board ''''does not have a real budget'''' and the numbers were made up. Harper made a stand on his belief the board did not have a concrete budget and therefore could not set a proposed tax rate, drawing the ire of Reynolds and Board Member Ron Hankins. "I don''''t think it''''s necessary to set a tax rate without an actual budget", Harper said, "I still think we should have an actual budget before we set the tax rate. We have different budgets with different tax rates" The Reporter''''s Brent Addleman has misquoted Harper and later issued a correction in the Glen Rose Reporter issue of September 11, 2014. Darrell Best had filed his petition for removal from office by then and it appeared that he had based issue one of his removal petition on the information in the newspaper, which was wrong From the Reporter After the fact, the minutes from the August 21, 2014 meeting were voted on and approved 7/0 , which included the following Motion by Ron Hankins on proposed tax rate of 12 cents, 2nd by Karen Burroughs: Motion failed 3-4 Motion by John Parker on proposed tax rate of 11.55 cents, died from lack of 2nd. Motion by Ron Hankins on proposed tax rate of 11.95 cents, 2nd by Brett Nabors. Motion carried 6-1. The minutes clearly showed, which all members voted to approve, that there was no motion made by Harper.Somervell County Hospital District boar ... ‐21‐14.pdf It''''s of interest to note that long after the fact, on May 14, 2015, Ron Hankins, board member, insisted that Harper had made a motion as part of Hankins personal justification to explain why Harper deserved to be sued. Hankins must forgotten he voted to approve the minutes. To Hankins it didn''''t matter, apparently, whether what he said was truthful and accurate. George Darrell Best, by listing the comment by Harper as the first charge, showed that he didn''''t believe in an elected official''''s freedom of speech. Discussion at a board meeting, even if one doesn''''t agree, certainly doesn''''t warrant removal from office. As an example of the sheer hypocrisy of Ron Hankins, here he is in September 24, 2019 saying he would like to set the tax rate to zero. So okay for him to say something conversationally but he was dad blasted to get Harper off the board. Hypocrite! The Blog Post Darrell Best’s second complaint regarding why Paul should be removed from office was to take umbrage at a blog post in which an action the district board took was criticized. That post was one I wrote entitled "SHAME ON YOU, Chip Harrison, You LIKE Glen Rose Medical Center Operating an Illegal Slush Fund?" When Paul picked up the petition and I saw this nonsense below, I laughed. I, Paul’s wife, have a blog, Somervell County Salon. I’ve had it for over 12 years and have regularly posted during that time under my screenname “salon”. Others who have also posted, including Darrell Best, post under other names. To have a charge against my husband be that he actually wrote a post on my blog under my name OR that he somehow directed me to do it, as if I was a puppet, was so outrageous as to be entertaining. And yet, there was Darrell Best’s complaint There are a number of things factually wrong in that complaint. What is most offensive is, first, the idea that I who wrote the blog post was acting as his *agent* and second, that even if he had written the post, which he did not, he wasn’t entitled to a public opinion.Maybe there are some women who agree with being subservient, silent, invisible compared to their male counterpart but that certainly is not me. What did I write on my blog post that was so upsetting to Best? I had long been writing about the practice of Glen Rose Medical Center taking taxpayer money to supply to doctors employed by GRMC through a 501a, money beyond what the doctors could expect via contract, as well as writing about the lack of transparency about how that money was spent. This money was variously called “OSA”, “shortfall” or “settleup money”. According to an agreement made in 2009 when Somervell County took over running Glen Rose Medical Center, which had been private up till then, this meant that doctors in the 501a had to ask for money above what they were entitled to in their employment contract and then had to follow up with a report showing that they spent the money as they requested. I had occasionally done open records request asking how much money the county paid to the hospital during the time pre‐district when Somervell County was running the then public hospital. CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, Gary Marks, had done two separate pushes to have a hospital district created. The first was done when GRMC was still a privately run entity. The second was after GRMC was taken over by Somervell County and made public due to difficulties in functioning financially. At the time of the second push for a hospital district, GRMC put out a promotional video using hospital premises, doctors and other staff to push for the creation of a hospital district, which would enact a new tax for the county. Due to a question I had about whether the OSA funds could possibly be comingled and unaccounted for public relations purposes, http://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp?v ... k&id=14913 I decided to ask in 2013 for the actual written documents showing the doctor’s requests as well as their reports afterward proving how they spent the money. Again, this money is optional, and beyond what a doctor is paid contractually. When I asked via an open records request, I discovered that Glen Rose Medical Center’s CFO (at the time Michael Honea) was not following that procedure, instead simply adding money to the 501a account At that point, I sent in a complaint to the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department asking them to investigate http://salon.glenrose.net/images/hh/com ... 02013r.pdf I believed and continue to, that simply adding money to an account without corroborating requests and documentation is the very definition of a slush fund. Andrew Lucas was the elected county attorney at that time. The 501a contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, and a new one needed to be voted on. Because of Schedule C, in which the procedure of how to give optional additional money to the doctors was included, I was following the actions of the elected board with interest. In the meeting held on August 21, 2014, Chip Harrison, the board president, along with some others, voted not to follow the 501a contract that required this level of accountability. Paul told me about the meeting when he got home and I was outraged. It was more than irresponsible for the board to vote against following this contract. I updated that blog post several times over the next week, to include video of the exchange, and, later than that, how absurd it was that I, as a woman, was being slighted re the actual writing of the blog post by Best’s 2nd petition charge. I also knew Darrell Best so it was surprising, and insulting, to me that he would accuse Paul of writing a post that was actually mine on a blog that belongs to me. Andy Lucas, Somervell County Attorney, also knew that I had not simply written about the 501a contract but had sent a written complaint to the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department. Just how much did I write about what I considered a slush fund? Quite a bit, going back years! Lucas had replied to my complaint via email to me , after I prodded him after receiving no reply, by telling me that the remedy was to file a civil lawsuit. Andy Lucas also knew that I had more than a strong interest in the 501a contracts and that the complaint sent to the sheriff''''s department came from me, not Paul. Therefore, I believed Lucas had no reason not to ta least responsibly investigate this charge of Best''''s, first of who wrote the post, but Lucas apparently did not bother. As a side note, I also complained about Somervell County taxpayer money going to Pecan Plantation, a private gated community in Hood County, which has its own hospital district, and for which residents of Hood County pay zero taxes. I figured at the very least Lucas could ask the attorney general for an opinion about whether it was legal to spend tax money for one county in another county''''s hospital district territory, particularly when the clinic is not for a public purpose nor freely open to the public. This became even more critical after Somervell County created its own hospital district. The clinic at Pecan Plantation/Hood County was and is not a public clinic for the needy open to all, but one must have permission to go through the gate (with a guard) and Reynolds has said on the record that the clinic is for Pecan Plantation residents. This gives the appearance that operating a clinic in another county that has its own hospital district is for cash cow purposes, and, I believe, highly illegal. I also for some years video recorded some City of Glen Rose government meetings, in which Andy Lucas was the city attorney at the time, and posted the video not only on the blog but on Youtube. I know from the recordings that he saw me and was aware that I was recording him. At the Somervell County Hospital District board meeting of August 21, 2014, same one where the aforesaid proposed tax rate was discussed, the board president, Chip Harrison, voted to table a discussion about the 501a agreement. Harper had, on the agenda He came back from the meeting that night, I asked him what had happened at the meeting and he told me that Chip Harrison had voted to table the discussion. Ron Hankins had made the motion to table this until the Sept 11 meeting, seconded by Brett Nabors. Moation carried 6:1. When I heard Harrison, the dang board president, had voted to table talking about unaccountable money, I hit the roof. I went to my computer and wrote a blog post entitled "Shame on you, Chip Harrison, you LIKE the Glen Rose Medical Center Operating an Illegal Slush Fund?". About an hour later, I also wrote a letter to the editor of the Glen Rose Reporter because I was so ticked off. As a woman, I vote too , I had voted for Chip Harrison and I expected him to be responsible. Keeping in mind that I had already complained about this to the sheriff’s department, it ought to be clear that I gave a hoot about what went on at the hospital board meeting. . I also wrote a letter to the editor on October 17, 2014, sent to Brent Addleman of the Glen Rose Reporter through email, because I was still so astounded and offended over what these silly men were doing. My letter to the editor was published. Darrell Best is not originally from Somervell County, Texas, had moved here after us from an upscale area west of Dallas. Best had most recently run fo the office of Somervell County judge (he lost to Danny Chambers). Since then he began to regularly attend Somervell County Hospital District board meetings. I wondered if he was attempting to ratchet up his numbers in a future election by going after the hospital voting crowd. Or perhaps he had been privately assured that if Paul was removed from the board, he would be appointed in his stead. He and I had had some experience together. If I had been completely unknown to Darrell Best, I might understand a little bit how he could have been so ignorant as to list charge #2 against Paul. But he not only has had no excuse, he has known me for years, including sharing email, personal conversations and even posting on my blog, Somervell County Salon. It led me to wonder if someone else actually wrote up that second complaint, someone who had no knowledge of the blog, that a woman owns and manages it. After all, the complainant took umbrage at how an elected official, Ron Hankins and an at-will employee Ray Reynolds, were characterized, but it wasn''''t Darrell Best who would have had his feelings hurt. I had known him for some years, including going on a trip to Panther Cave, which I video recorded. Panther Cave is a non-public local site in which an ancestral family, the Stephens, lived in a cave in the era when the area was being settled, and encountered a panther. Some people had won, via a raffle, an opportunity to go onto the private property and enjoy a tour and commentary, arranged by Bussey. Bussey, knowing that I so frequently video recorded government events and other activities, asked me to come record the outing. While there, Darrell Best told me it was nice of my husband to let me use his camera, which nonplussed me into no reply. I did think it was indicative of what he might believe about a woman''''s subordinate role since it didn''''t occur to him that could be, and was, my own camera. Maybe he was from an era where women didn''''t own video cameras. Other women told me that they considered him a woman-hater, misogynistic. One said he had treated her dismissively at a government meeting. I also have a photo I took of him at the Chamber of Commerce, mano y womano when I interviewed him for about an hour about the GREDC, of which he had volunteered to sit on the committee and act as president. I ail to understand how he would represent Paul as writing a post on my blog. For some years, I video recorded a lot of government meetings. This included some City of Glen Rose meeting, in which I criticized some actions he took as an appointed, unelected official on the Glen Rose Economic Development Board (GREDC). He had voted to recommend to spend $80,000 without a contract for a short-lived play production called "Land of the Dinosaurs". The original pitch came from Jay Clayton who first went to the Somervell County Commissioners Court. Clayton told them that they were developing private funding and didn''''t want anything from the commissioners. But in February of 2010, they were asking for funding from the City of Glen Rose, most particularly through those extra tax dollars that GREDC was bringing in. The GREDC made recommendations to the elected City of Glen Rose Town Council, which the City could accept or reject. The City of Glen Rose voted to approve the GREDC recommendation and awarded $80,000 without even a contract. Don''''t know about anyone else, but I consider that worse than irresponsible. At one city meeting in that same time frame, an auditor came and told the Glen Rose Town Council that they could not invest money in a show called "Land of the Dinosaurs" but the money had to be in the form of a promissory note (Too late!) After the meeting, I was talking with one of the council members, Dr Mike Jones, and asked if I could have a copy of the auditor''''s document.Best yelled out from the other side of the room for Dr Mike not to give it to me. Best also had said he had invested in the Land of the Dinosaurs show himself, leading not only me but a number of people to wonder why he didn''''t recuse himself from any votes about this. There was an attempt over the years to somehow get the money back from the failed Land of the Dinosaurs company, but because there had been no contract written up at the time of the vote, ultimately the City wrote the $80,000 off the books. Another time he voted to take money from the GREDC to give to the private local Chamber of Commerce (He was president of both entities at the time). I considered this rather smarmy and self-serving. Citizens of Glen Rose had voted to collect an additional tax specifically to award for those who had written proposals for projects that would benefit the city. If the local Chamber could not afford to pay an events coordinator, then perhaps there was something faulty about its management. A broader question is whether it was legal for the GREDC to use funds for a chamber-fun events coordinator and whether the man leading the public service board allocating those monies was being ethical to try to give money to the entity he was managing at that point. At that time, I made a satirical photo of him on one of my blog posts. The post was about his voting to take money from the 4b (Glen Rose Economic Board-GREDC) board and giving it to the Chamber of Commerce, which still strikes me as a huge conflict of interest and improper. He was upset and told me in a recess during a City of Glen Rose meeting, finger a-wagging in my face, in the hallway that was full of people, that I should remove that picture of he would sue me. I didn''''t remove my picture. I believed, and still do, that someone that decides to be in the public eye, in a governmental position, should be accountable to the public for decisions and potential monies spent. Darrell Best alluded to this his testimony during the first Removal Hearing of Paul Harper Clearly Best knew it was me that did the satirical photo as well as the blog post. Also while Chamber president, he allegedly attempted to buy the Palace Theatre in downtown Glen Rose through the 4b (GREDC) for the Chamber and got into a dustup with Billy Huckaby, who insinuated Best was lying about the process. At the time, the Chamber of Commerce and Billy Huckaby,who worked for the city in the Hotel/Motel tax area shared space in the same building, and also apparently could overhear conversations. According to then-mayor Pam Miller, Best did not come prepared with not only specific written proposals, but evidence of how the Chamber would pay to rent the Palce Theatre facilities; the money to buy the Palace would be a significant outlay. Best wanted the 4b not to run the facility but lease it out to an entitey that would run it, his own private Chamber of Commerce. Darrell Best was involved in some economic development activity that badly needed some light shed on it, including the SR2O deal, an attempt made to give freebies tax free to an unproven company (Just ask TJ Sims about it, who at one time had the Happy Hippo coffee/sandwich shop). SR20 was a company that wanted a recycling center for tires, did not want to have to pay taxes, and wanted to lease land that would have been acquired by Somervell County without the company paying a dime. Where did Darrell Best come into this? He had started his own economic development committee that decided to take $25,000 and get a guy named Wes Jurey out of Arlington, Texas, to send a company here to pitch business; it appeared to me based on some articles from different parts of the country, that Jurey may have had client companies that he sent out to communities. Best was, at the time, wanting to become Somervell County Commisioners Court Judge (he lost to Danny Chambers). As a side note, then-Judge Mike Ford also pitched targeted meetings with Wes Jurey, also about a company Prometheus, as did Darrell Best. Here''''s my point. When Darrell Best put in the petition to remove Paul, he already knew me, knew that I had a blog, Somervell County Salon, and that I had written many times about him on it, in details, and quite often, unfavorably. He had also himself posted on the blog before. Here is one example from June 2010. (screen grab done in 2018 with an updated photo of myself, Salon. Darrell Best had started a group to contest a hill-stripping company that was decimating the landscape, on the west side of Somervell County. On one occasion, a number of people went down to a TCEQ meeting in Austin to give public comment, including Paul, who had taken my camera down to record the meeting. In Best''''s comment on my blog entry, he thanks Paul for coming down to record it. And I had emails between he and I. Here is an example, from the aforesaid link, of an email thread from August 2010 in which I did an open records request asking him for budget information. In the email, he asks me to have Paul contact him, not about anything having to do with city business, but because Darrell wanted Paul to help him with a computer problem. This particular exchange shows he knew not only us both but knew who he was writing to versus Paul. So what reason could Best have had for complaining in his removal petition about a blog post I did about what I called a "slush fund", enough to falsely accuse Paul of writing it? There are 3 people I did criticize in the post, the Somervell County board president, Chip Harrison, the CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, Ray Reynolds, as well as an existing board member. Ronald D Hankins. The slush fund post, while caustic, was not directed towards Best, at all.. Note that Ron Hankins was shown to have been the one who actually wrote the petition, in a deposition taken in 2019. http://scsalon.org/newform/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=41 Best''''s petition complaint about Harper''''s supposed blog post is entirely disingenuous and insults any woman who believes she should be treated as an adult. Although I certainly took umbrage to this farce, there’s another question here. Suppose it had been true, which it wasn’t, that Paul had actually written the post or instructed me what to say (brrrrr, gives me chills down my back even to write that because it’s so sexist). Had they been his posts, which would have been posted under his name and picture, didn’t he have the right of freedom of speech to write what he wanted? In other words, once a person, man or woman, becomes elected, they no longer have a right to express themselves except as a set of rules dictates on a given elected forum? That would mean that anytime any elected official ever gave a newspaper or television interview, or wrote on their own websites any type of opinion, they would be breaking the law. And who is it that gets to decide whether the opinion is all right to be spoken or written? Essentially, Darrell Best, and possibly someone else behind the scenes, wanted to be the censor of what could properly be said and whose opinion counted , and thus showed himself to be against the constitutional freedom of speech. And that once elected, Paul could no longer express himself freely from the dais, or from an internet or other publishing medium of his choice. P.S. The blog post was originally on http://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp?v ... k&id=15197 I have since migrated over to this forum, and will be putting the old blog up as an archive Harper''''s Platform to replace the Hospital Administration You may wonder why Paul Harper had as one of the platforms he was running on to be a board member of the hospital district to replace the administration. That of course, included Ray Reynolds, who was well aware of this and referred to it during the removal hearing. No Employee Evaluation for Ray Reynolds in violation of hospital board bylaws https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15917 (eventually, some years later, he was evaluated) In fact, Ron Hankins, working with Andy Lucas, was so worried about the process of even giving at‐will employee Ray Reynolds a required evaluation , that he attempted to restrain Paul from even attending a board meeting. The problem for both Hankins and Lucas is that replacing the administration is what Paul ran on, from the beginning, so there is no way anyone could wrongly, as they did, win by insinuating there was some sort of revenge at work. Another time, in May 2015, , Paul put in for an agenda item to evaluate Reynolds. Dr Karen Burroughs removed that from the agenda. (Video)https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15674 Ray Reynolds Hid Facts about Hospital Employee Embezzling money Some background facets. At one point, an employee of Glen Rose Medical Center, Janice Nickell, who was then Human Resource Director, embezzled money. She was paid some money and the action was kept quiet, except for a public information request which brought it to light. “Kristina and I met with Janice again on about May 22. I informed her that I had made the decision to ask for her resignation. I told her because she had been an employee of Glen Rose Medical Center for 23 years that I would pay her the PTO balance in exchange for her agreeing to me withholding the amount in question from the PTO payment plus signing a Severance Document that I would have our attorney prepare. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15070 Ray Reynolds avoided firing a woman, who embezzled from a church and was charged with a felony. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15803 Ray Reynolds Tried to Hide Doctor Salaries Although They are Public Information https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15907 Ray Reynolds did not want anyone to know what taxpayers paid for doctors and for his salary https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15963 In fact, the Judge in District court was quite surprised when Paul told him during hearing testimony that Reynolds wouldn’t let the board know those amounts nor allow them to see the doctor contracts. Ray Reynolds comingled funds that were required to be kept separate when given the 14.4 million. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=11702 When the money from the COS was made available to GRMF, those funds were contractually supposed to be kept in a separate reserve account. Ray Reynolds did not follow that contract. This lead to Walter Maynard, who was then Somervell County Judge, said if the separating of funds was not complied with, it would make the relationship fragile. Did you know that Somervell County Hospital District owns property in Pecan Plantation in Hood County?https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15823 What’s interesting about this is that means besides the money that taxpayers pay for a clinic at Pecan Plantation, in a county which already has a hospital district and Hood County residents pay no taxes for, while we do, there is also property tax money going to Hood County. Ray Reynolds Salary was Listed in Two different places in the budget, one with obscure information https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=16613 Paul called this information out during a budget meeting in October 2015. Ron Hankins griped about them too. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15178 I know because I have followed open records on the internet, that Somervell County Hospital District did not keep minutes on the Glen Rose Medical Center website, as they were supposed to. When Paul was the secretary, he sent a copy, via email, of the minutes to an “Ashley” who would then post them on the website Ron Hankins noted that the commissioners court signs the minutes, although he appeared not to know that the digitized copy is not kept on the Somervell County website. Paul Harper said that after the minutes are approved copies are sent to the public relations director for posting on the website and a copy to Ray Reynolds, that all the minutes have been provided to administrator Ray Reynolds. "If you think they haven''''t been, I have emails that will show otherwise". Ron Hankins then talks about how it''''s a good idea for them to start signing minutes. I was curious to see what section 11 of the bylaws says but it has nothing about requiring signatures. I do think it's a good idea to sign them, appears to be different on WHO signs them depending on which governmental entity we're talking about, but doing so isn't in the bylaws. …. It takes some dang nerve for Ron Hankins to insinuate, without a shred of proof, that Harper might have been changing the minutes after approval. Had he taken 30 seconds to confirm with Ashley, who took the approved minutes as soon as sent and posted to the website OR EVEN CHECKED WITH HIS OWN COPY, he would presumably have not had the nerve to try to peddle that swill. (And he obviously didn''''t know or chose to obscure, that the Bylaws Do NOT REQUIRE that the minutes be signed. I actually agree with that, but wonder why Mr. Whiner didn''''t bring this up before as, since he's the self‐appointed authority on all things bylaw, wouldn''t he have chosen to bring this up immediately instead of using this as another later attack on a fellow board member? If he didn''''t actually know until this last meeting or think about it, and given it wasn''''t in the DANG BYLAWS, why should anyone else?) , But of course he was doing this as the Hankins Medicine Show barker, throwing out chum with a sneer for the gullible in the audience who won''''t take the time themselves to see that the snake oil has no medicinal value. …. I was in a county commissioners office the other day and asked about the county budget and he was giving me a copy when we confirmed that the budget was on the website, ONE copy, for ALL to see and download. … is there anything that STOPS people from being CIVIL while disagreeing? Apparently so for Ron Hankins and some of the thugs in the audience, including some prominent people, that believe it''''s their right to act be disruptive simply because they don''''t personally agree with other''''s opinions. GROW UP! The Hospital Authority Board (pre‐District) passed over more than 90 qualified candidates to pick Ray Reynolds as CEO https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=14790 Along with this, one of the reasons Larry Shaw told the Glen Rose Reporter that he hired Ray Reynolds was because they wanted a Somervell County resident. Ray Reynolds at that point lived in Erath County and apparently continued to live there instead of Somervell County for at least 2 more years.151 Employees cannot be board members, yet Dr Vacek was. . Doctors are employees. In contravention of Hospital District law, Dr Vacek sits on the board. 152 Vacek has said on a number of occasions that he considers himself an employee of the hospital153, just not the same as *others* that work at the hospital. Facebook Glen Rose Medical Center commented on political issues on Facebook,154 and on their Glen Rose Medical Center page, expressed negative opinions about LBGT. Bigoted and/or partisan statements could cause them to lose their funding. Complaints against Ray Reynolds and Somervell County Hospital District by Dr Albert Turk and Shelley Turk This was a huge issue. Dr Turk and his wife, who was a nurse at Glen Rose Medical Center, were very concerned about safety issues at the hospital. Dr Turk attempted to bring his issues to the attention of Ray Reynolds but were ignored. I recently did a couple of public information requests to the Somervell County Hospital District. In particular, I asked for communications between doctors/other medical personnel and board members.Here is the latest request I did, on October 23, 2014 I am requesting, in electronic format, the following. I would like this sent back in email or if not possible, would be happy to come inspect the records in person at a mutually convenient time. All communications between any and all current hospital board members and any and all doctors and/or medical staff that work for Glen Rose Medical Center and/or Pecan Family Medical Center since 10/14/2014 through this date (10/23/2014). This includes all emails, notes or text messages (any form of written communication), excluding any information that could violate HPPA laws or attachments in emails that are publicly available. I received the following directly as responsive to that request from the board president. Honestly, I was pretty shocked to read this, my comments below. (I blacked out the name of the doctor who wrote this letter). Now, here is a transcript of what this letter says, interspersed with my comments Bravo to this doctor for continuing to push for improvements in the hospital and patient care. And bravo to the board member, president, who got TORCH put on the agenda. I personally haven''''t followed TORCH closely except that my understandiing is that a consultant affiliated with TORCH was hired in some way, and that on Sep 11, the board went into executive session to discuss and on Sep 18, implementing TORCH recommendations. and again on agenda on Sept 25. Texas State Department of Health and Human Services Paid a Visit to Glen Rose. Their list of violations is in this post. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15799 The board packet with the DHHS report, including specific significant violations, was on the Glen Rose Medical Center for almost two years1. It contained also a patient record of someone from Granbury with identifying information.https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=16788 Federal Lawsuit filed by Turks Against Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds in 2015 In August of 2015, the Turks filed a federal lawsuit against Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds. Several years later, the lawsuit has been dismissed due to Somervell County Hospital District having sovereign immunity against being sued. Note that none of the safety issues or validity of various claims were litigated and resolved. Darrell Best and Ron Hankins Wanted to Remove Duly Elected Harper from Office Darrell Best had run for Somervell County Judge and had been defeated by Danny Chambers. Right from the start, the very day Harper was sworn in as board member on the hospital district board, Best and Ray Reynolds, the CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, were attempting to get him off the board. Incidentally, on the day BEFORE all this when the decisions were being made who would appear where on the ballott, Angie Robertson said she could be bribed. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15110 Paul’s first 3 months on the board BEFORE the lawsuit On the day when election results were to be certified, the unelected board didn’t bother to open the results envelope The temporary board that had been set in place by the passing of the district, were to come in and certify the election results for the first real election. They 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 hem 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. Ray Reynolds and Darrell Best wanted a hospital employee to speak against Paul Harper at the very first meeting when newly elected members were being sworn in May 2014. Apparently, at least one person involved in this lawsuit was attempting to find or start collecting grounds to remove Paul from the very first day of being sworn in. Remember that one of the main agenda items Paul ran on was to replace the administration, and that would include the CEO, Ray Reynolds, of the hospital. The timing of the filed petition makes it appear that Best, perhaps with conversation with others involved in the hospital district, believed that Paul exercising freedom of speech and my blog post criticizing the board, attributed to him, provided an *incompetency* charge. Didn''''t know this at the time, but it came out in the deposition in 2019 that Ron Hankins had been the one that wrote up the petition, emailed it to Darrell Best, who took it to a different attorney. Best brought an email to the deposition that proved this, and then Hankins had to admit it when he was shown the email. Here is Best saying that Gary Lewellyn was the attorney that did the petition. But the emails that Darrell brought clearly show that he received the petition which (hankins) had worked up via email before he went to Lewellyn When Hankins was shown the email he sent Hankins was asked why he didn''''t file the peition himself since he was the one that wrote the petition and he said it was because he was on the board. This comes into play at another time when he didn''''t recuse himself from a vote regarding Harper, a conflict of interest that he apparently sought to keep hidden. As an interesting sidenote, in October of 2014, Best wrote an email to "Ron" regarding an open records request he was doing but accidentally sent it to the wrong email. "You should expect to be sued" said Ron Hankins. This quote is from Ron Hankins, then elected Somervell County hospital district board member, and former Somervell County attorney, about another elected board member, Paul Harper. (Harper got more votes than Hankins did) Hankins clearly didn''''t like the platform that Harper publicly ran on and believed that Harper should have changed his agenda once he was elected to agree with Hankins. Is that right? Telling people what your positions are when you run for office, and then getting elected because people agree with your positions should cause you to be sued by the disgruntled? I could not have imagined that living in small county Somervell, the second smallest county in Texas, and running for political office would bring out the very worst traits from those who imagined their power to be threatened. Or that having a difference of political opinion would cause one man, with the direct intervention and control of the county attorney, Andrew Lucas, as well as support from the precious county attorney, Ronald Hankins, to try and remove an elected official, Harper, from office. The Glen Rose Reporter quoted Ron Hankins in an article after he said such a bullying threat. Ron Hankins, Somervell County Hospital District board member and, as he was often fond of repeating, former Somervell County Attorney, saying that people should expect to be sued if they ran on known agendas, got elected and then tried to implement those agendas. He was video recorded saying that, and it’s the philosophical heart of this entire case. How DARE someone not get with the program and actually try to do what he or she ran on? Ron Hankins is sorely in need of being educated on whether candidates for office and/or elected officials have agendas. One wonders how in the fool Hankins makes a determination on who to vote for? Does he stick his finger into the wind? Blindfold himself and pick out a name from a hat? Hah! Or maybe he wants to make himself into the Voting Police to ensure that ONLY the candidates he likes with the agenda he likes get voted in. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Glen Rose Reporter about this absurdity in June 2015 A week later someone else wrote a letter to the editor. Ron Hankins went to the police about it.http://scsalon.org/newform/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=24 Harper''''s Original Answer Filed Sep 29, 2014 Given that this was a lawsuit, and the citation for person service 40specified that he had been sued and had the option to hire an attorney, Paul hired a very good law firm, Cantey‐Hanger, with David Dowell as the lead attorney and Chris Brown secondary. Later on, David Dowell changed firms and Mary H Barkley took over the case. '
  17. 'Can a citizen remove an elected official without the State being involved? Nope About a month after the original petition had been filed, Andy Lucas officially took on the petition to remove Harper, with styling "State of Texas ex rel George Darrell Best v Paul Harper". This means that for all purposes, the lawsuit was now being driven by Andy Lucas, who acted/acts as a representative of the State of Texas. Again, this is because George Darrell Best had no ability to pursue the case he brought because he could NOT do so. Anyone can put in a petition to remove someone. Freedom to petition government is an American right. If I looked out my window and saw a spaceship hovering over the yard with one of the county commissioners on the side waving him on, I could go down to the courthouse, pay a fee, and file a legal petition to remove that commissioner because I believe he was drunk when he was consorting with aliens. Now, does that mean anyone has to act on my petition? Nope. In the same vein Andy Lucas did not have to act on Darrell Best’s petition. On October 1, 2014, however, Andy Lucas added a third, supplemental charge to the lawsuit. Darrell Best had also been doing quite a few open records requests and, upon receiving some text messages and emails, Andy Lucas had the lawsuit amended to include a 3rd charge of violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). adopted Darrell Best’s (2) pleadings, and an order issued that set the hearing on state’s motion for October 20, 2014. In fact, a citizen can’t just on his or her own get a hearing to remove an officer, the State must decide to accept and join. That is a discretionary action by the State; Andy Lucas could have decided to ignore it and Best would have been out his filing fees and possibly, his own attorney fees. By doing this, Andy Lucas accepted the pleadings in Best’s petition, added his own and changed the styling of the case to State of Texas ex rel George Darrell Best v Paul Reed Harper. For some odd reason, when Darrell Best originally filed the petition for removal, and Harper was served, Lucas was listed as Best''s attorney and the petition was not in the State of Texas. Since when does the Somervell County Attorney, as represented by that position, do personal work for a resident (this was a civil case) ? (Absurdly, if one believes that is true, then we can all stop going to pay personal attorneys for any type of work, because the County Attorney will do it for us gratis). Deciding to take on Best's petition was an entirely discretionary action by Lucas. For example, here is Ron Hankins, who was previously the county attorney talking about the prosecutorial discretion a prosecutor has to pursue a case. Andy Lucas was not required to take on the petition. he could have turned it down. In fact, he was asked by the justices on the 10th Court of Appeals whether he had to take on the case. He said no. Then one of the justices asked him why he had done it. He said it was because he thought Harper was going to harm the district. That certainly was not any espoused reason on the petition to remove Harper, but apparently Lucas''''s personal opinion. Should a personal opinion be the reason a county attorney decides, at his or her discretion, to pursue a case? Lucas did not do any type of research first to see if Best''''s claims were true. Surprisingly that the idea of Harper having freedom of speech didn't preclude him from taking this on, nor did anyone approach Harper or me about who actually wrote the blog posts in question. When Lucas came to the deposition in 2019, he was supposed to bring what was in his file regarding the case. He apparently did not keep good records. He didn''t get original records but instead took on marked up records from Darrell Best. He didn''''t ask Somervell County Sheriff''''s Department to check into whether this had happened. About Lucas and the Texas Open Meetings Act and Violations Lucas, as the State of Texas, added an additional complaint, that of violating TOMA (Texas Open Meetings Act). But TOMA was not actually ever formally charged over that, and it looks like Best nor Lucas ever had the complaint investigated by law enforcement. The TOMA complaint said that a number of people violated it by talking together outside of meetings but no one other than Harper was included, so why was only Harper included in the complaint? It was odd to me that Lucas, if he was truly concerned about this being a TOMA violation, besides not including all the people involved, and only going after Harper, didn''''t follow the law regarding violations of TOMA. The Texas Open Meetings Handbook specifies remedies if someone is found to have violated the act, after a hearing before the judge. The Act provides civil remedies and criminal penalties for violations of its provisions. District courts have original jurisdiction over criminal violations of the Act as misdemeanors involving official misconduct. The Act does not authorize the attorney general to enforce its provisions. However, a district attorney, criminal district attorney or county attorney may request the attorney general's assistance in prosecuting a criminal case, including one under the Act. Penalties are, according to page 67, for the misdemeanor, 1. a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500. 2 Confinement in the county jail for not less than one month or more than six months or 3 both the find and confinement. There is no penalty to remove someone from office. In other words, if Lucas was truly concerned about an alleged TOMA violation, there was a separate action he could have taken. However, he had told the appeals court judges in the 10th circuit court of appeals, that the reason he took action was because he thought Paul was going to harm the district. That creates the appearance that he simply used a TOMA violation as a vehicle to remove Paul from office that was not related to the actual reason he wanted him removed. And note that Lucas never actually charged him with a TOMA violation, did not bring this to the sheriff's office, etc, only a charge in a removal petition that, as you see below, was shown as a big nothing. Of interest in the TOMA handbook for 2018 on p 7, in “Noteworthy Cases Since 2016”, is How involved was Lucas in ensuring that meetings in general were open and operated according to TOMA. Judge for yourself. When Lucas was City of Glen Rose attorney, he ignored that a meeting took no notes, and recorded no audio. Paul attended with my camera and recorded the entire meeting, otherwise, there would have been no notes, nothing. The meeting, July 18, 2009 was posted as a special open meeting. March 19 2010 City of Glen Rose. Signage was discussed in an executive session. 78 Where was Mr Lucas on this? Ron Hankins, while on the Somervell County Hospital District board, violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. Where was Mr Lucas to enforce the law? https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=12119 The Somervell County commissioners wanted to give away land, with no taxes to be gathered to a company that had no proven record of successful business, SR2O. Then judge Mike Ford arranged a special meeting to schmooze this company. Ultimately, the deal didn’t go through but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Mike Ford, then Somervell County judge, whined a commissioners that they didn’t vote his way on SR20. He said “You each indicated to me and to Mike Clemons that you wanted to move to the due diligence phase.” Sure looks like some prodding about actions and decisions being made out of the public eye. Where was Andy Lucas to enforce OMA? https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15128 In 2013, Mike Ford, while Somervell County Judge, didn’t allow the public to speak during a comment part of the meeting, which was posted, because he told the assembled group of citizens he already knew what they were going to say. At the same meeting, he spoke about items not on the agenda, which is a violation of TOMA. Andy Lucas was county attorney then. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=14919 Ron Hankins, while an elected official, violated the Texas Open Meetings Act in 2016. You can’t just up and talk about something on a whim without it being an agenda item. There was no public comment section on the agenda and yet Hankins allowed for the public to speak. Why did this not draw Andy Lucas attention?https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=16572 In 2013, Mike Ford, while Somervell County Judge, conducted a commissioners court meeting with a vague agenda in which he also inserted items that were not on the agenda. This included discussing “step in grade” and employee benefits. Why does this matter? Because the public might attend if they knew that was going to be discussed but the agenda, although saying budget workshop, only had “Review/Discuss County Purchasing Policies” listed. Misleading at best, but definitely violated TOMA. Where was Andy Lucas? And yet another time Ford violated TOMA and Lucas did nothing. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=15027 In 2013, then Somervell County Hospital Authority showed a video the hospital and doctors had created to tout voting for a hospital district. Not only did this, in my mind, raise questions about who paid for this, but also why a partisan video created by both appointed board members as well as taxpayer subsidized medical personnel was being shown at a government meeting. I asked Lucas about this and he said It is my understanding that the court was unaware of the contents of the video before it was presented. It was offered as a department report. I’m sure you would have the opportunity to address the dissolution during citizens comments. First, if we are to believe that the appointed Somervell County Hospital Authority Board didn’t understand that you can''''t put political content in a department report to show at a government meeting, then perhaps the ones in charge of them needed to prescreen their material. Otherwise, that may have set a precedent in which one an discuss political content. And, they were not simply pushing this content as part of a citizen comment but as an agenda item (the difference is in how much time one has at a citizen comment versus a presentation). In any case, this certainly showed poor judgement on the part of the appointed Somervell County Hospital Authority Board. And to mind, Lucas skirted his duty as county attorney. Brian Watts, auditor for Somervell County, violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by meeting with commissioners outside of any posted meeting to arrange and okay a fund transfer to Somervell County Hospital District. Andy Lucas was county attorney at that time. Paul sent a complaint to the District Attorney. 85 I also heard anecdotally from one of the commissioners that at a time when Lucas thought he had lost the lawsuit against Harper, he went around to each commissioner, two by two, to tell them to expect the worst, from his viewpoint. That sounds like a walking quorum. Also, to my knowledge, Somervell County Commissioners Court has not held even one meeting to discuss potentially the effect a loss by the State of Texas would have on finances. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=16199 To repeat my point. If Andrew Lucas truly was concerned about Texas Open Meetings Act violations, he would have been much more scrupulous about them. Instead, as he said to the 10th court of appeals in oral arguments, he was concerned about Paul harming the hospital district, so that an observer might reasonably postulate that he was looking for a pretext to try to remove Paul from office. Plus, the other people that were included in item #3, Chip Harrison, John Parker and Eugene Brode, were not charged with violations of TOMA. Why not? By leaving them out of the action, it only spotlighted the appearance that Paul Harper was specifically and uniquely targeted for non‐valid reasons. P.S. TOMA gets violated all the time. One might say that if it happens, say, at the Somervell County Hospital District meeting, Lucas would not know unless someone complained. But he ATTENDS the Somervell County Commissioners Court meetings. Somervell County Commissioners Court Oct 22 2018 Somervell County Commissioners Court 25 Jun 2018 Somervell County Hospital District meeting Dec 19 2019 Did Andy Lucas confer with the State of Texas or Somervell County about the case? Andrew Lucas adopted for all purposes Best's petition and added a complaint of his own. Best said he had gone to Lucas's office and they had taken the petition to file with the clerk. Lucas denied that. Note that he had been listed as an attorney and not on the state of Texas on the citation for personal service for Harper BEFORE he joined the suit. Lucas is shown as the attorney for plaintiff. The appearance of the citation was that a Somervell County resident had a county attorney acting as his attorney. It wasn't until later that he specifically has himself listed as the State of Texas He acknowledged that he was the State of Texas representative for the case. But when was there an ex parte meeting before a judge to determine that? Lucas didn't know. Did Lucas understand TOMA to require an investigation by police? Yes. Lucas didn't include the other people who were part of the accusation of violating TOMA through a walking quorum. No. Did he investigate the complaint? Was the sheriff notified, asked to see if any of Best's claims or Andy's were even true? Nope. Did he do his own collection of materials? No, he got materials from Best that Best had already marked up. Lucas said since he acted as the State of Texas, he didn't consult with the State of Texas (state govt level) about the case. This shows that this was not only discretionary but also that this was their direct responsibility. Lucas was also asked if he held special meetings to discuss the case with the county commissioners. I was told by someone that Lucas did what was in effect a walking quorum to tell the commissioners. Certainly the taxpayers had no opportunity to know this was going on. But Danny Chambers, the county judge knew. Lucas said he provided periodic updates to him. Andy Lucas and the Constitution It still startles me that Andy Lucas was so willing to trample on freedom of speech rights re: Paul. However, perhaps it shouldn't have been. A year or so before all that, I was planning to stand at the Somervell County public library with a clipboard and a petition to sign. Of course I would not block anyone's way but I figured it was a good way to reach people as well as exercise my constitutional rights. The good women at the library were not sure if Andy Lucas needed to be checked with about it, so I called him up. I told him what I was planning to do and he told me I could not do that there because it was "county property". I said, no, it's taxpayer funded public property. I told him that he would have to arrest me. He said he'd call me back and let me know. In our next call, he told me it was fine for me to do that. OF COURSE IT WAS. Makes me think that a prerequisite of being a county or city attorney should include a basic civics class
  18. First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Darrell Best Testimony Darrell Best’s testimony Q. And what were the allegations you made in that petition? A. Well, there was two allegations to start with. The first allegation had to do with the proposal to set the tax rate at zero, and the second had to do with the 501a, what they call slush fund, and accusing the CFO and CEO of performing criminal acts relative to the 501a. Q. And subsequent to filing that petition, you made some open records requests and you discovered some communications between board members that gave you concern that walking quorums had been created in violation of the Open Meetings Act; is that correct? A. I believe that the request for information was before I filed the petition, but I did receive text messages as a result of an open records request, yes. Q. All right. Kind of -- give a description of what you''''ve witnessed regarding Mr. Harper''''s behavior at these board meetings. A. In general, his behavior has been fine, but there''''s been times when things have gotten a little out of hand. In particular, the evening that we talked about in our petition about the 501a. He accuses Mr. Reynolds of making up numbers. He''''s very, I think, less than cordial in his communications with Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Reynolds had to correct him in some of his observations. It’s very surprising to me that Best could somehow ignore the appalling behavior of Ron Hankins, another board member while excoriating Harper. The good news is that there is video of these exchanges and people can watch and make up their own minds without having to join the opinion of Best. He was very, very direct, and, quite frankly, I felt it was something that should have been handled between him and Mr. Reynolds in meetings. Now, Mr. Reynolds said during that meeting that he had talked to Mr. Harper about that, so this was clearly Mr. Harper''''s attempt to expose this in a public forum. So… it would have been okay for Harper to discuss hospital business in private away from the public eye of an open meeting, eh? Q. All right. Now, you were at the meeting when Mr. Harper made the recommendation that the district''''s tax rate be set at zero, correct? A. That''''s correct. Q. All right. In your opinion, why would such an action amount to incompetence, which means gross ignorance in official duties or gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties? A. Well, just on the face, setting the tax rate at zero would obviously cause a $3 million shortfall, but it ‐‐ so that''''s number one. I would think that somebody that''''s on a board, that has taken a pledge ‐‐ taken an oath to execute their duties in good faith, would study the problems and really understand what the results would be of their actions before proposing such a thing. Q. Now, in the communications you''''ve received following your open records request, did Mr. Harper make any statements about why he was elected, what – whether or not he was elected to turn the hospital around, things of that nature? A. Yes. There was several text messages between him and Mr. Parker and Mr. ‐‐ him and Mr. Harrison in that regard, and one of the statements that''''s made is, I wasn''''t elected to turn it around, I was elected to eliminate the tax. Q. What does that mean to you? A. Well, what that means to me is: I can set the tax rate to zero and let the chips fall where they may. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Do you have any person connections to Harper? Did you know him prior to this litigation? A. Sure. I mean, it''''s a small county. I get around, so, yes. I know the Harpers ‐‐ Q. Okay. A. ‐‐ and they know me, but not on anywhere of a personal level. Q. Do you have any personal ax to grind with him? A. No. I ‐‐ you know, I was the president of the Chamber of Commerce ‐‐ excuse me ‐‐ the 4‐B Tax Corporation. I was the chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce. I made their blog site, but I consider it a bit of a badge of honor because just about every elected official of Somervell County has made their blog site at one time or another. People that I respect, like Judge Ford, Gary Marks, the mayor, has been on there. City council people have been on there. Commissioners have been on there. Water district. There just about isn''''t any public entity that hasn''''t made their blog site. So when I made the blog site, it was a bit of a compliment. He is mistaken in characterizing my blog site as “their”. By Mr Dowell Q. Is it your belief that every discussion of hospital business that occurs outside of the board of directors meetings is a violation of the Open Meetings Act? A. It''''s my belief that if it''''s being discussed between parties, it is approaching a violation of the act. When four people are involved, I believe, it is in violation of the act, because that would constitute a meeting, and without being published as a meeting, would be a violation of the act. Q. So the answer to my question was, what, there are times they can discuss business outside of the meeting? A. I ‐‐ I believe that they cannot, but I – I believe that whence ‐‐ once you have four, which means a quorum of people talking about an issue, that definitely is. Q. All right. But that''''s not ‐‐ you''''re not a lawyer? A. No. I ‐‐ I just read what it said in the handbook. Q. But all we have before us is text messages between three people; is that right? A. That''''s correct. Mr. Brode does not use text. Q. And even of these text messages between these three people, not all of the categories of information are discussed between each of them; is that right? A. I wouldn''''t say that in every case, no. Q. And you believe that''''s a violation of the Open Meetings Act? A. I believe it''''s a violation of the Open Meetings Act when you''''re discussing business between board members. Q. So there''''s no time that you can discuss the business of the county hospital district without having everyone present for a quorum? A. I believe that''''s true. Q. All right. Then there''''s a response that goes on with responses back and forth until it comes to the statement from Mr. Harper in red, [as read] "This goes back to competence. If she can save the notices in PDF, why can''''t she save these in PDF?" Does that make you believe they were talking about the minutes at that time? A. One minute, please. Q. Sure. A. I believe that would be correct, yes. Q. Okay. Are you aware of any legal requirement that the minutes of the hospital district be posted? A. Yeah. Q. Are you aware of any legal requirement that requires the minutes of the hospital district to be posted on the Internet somewhere? A. No. Q. Is there anything wrong if minutes of the hospital district or minutes of the county dog catchers society or any other minutes get posted on Ms. Harper''''s Web site and she gets income from that? Those are public records, aren''''t they? A. They''''re public records. Q. And those can be posted anywhere, can''''t they? A. I believe so. Q. And if somebody does it in a manner that gets them income, that there''''s nothing wrong with that, is there? A. No, sir. Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) Then, if you''''ll turn to line 174. A. Yes, sir. Q. [As read] "Anything to add to the" – excuse me ‐‐ "Anything to add to agenda?" Do you think that part of it is ‐‐ is a violation of the Open Meetings Act? A. I wouldn''''t think so, sir. Q. Okay. [As read] "Do we want to get rid of CEO and AA this week?" A. I think that would be. Q. Okay. And you think that for the same reason you thought the other ones were, that you just can''''t talk any business without being in a public forum with a quorum? A. Yes. Q. When you ran for the county judge position, did you run as a Republican? A. Yes, sir. Q. You''''re aware my client was a Democratic party chair here in Somervell County? A. Yes, sir. Q. Did you ever accuse Mrs. Harper of making blog posts that you believe were derogatory towards you? A. I remember a blog post that I wasn''''t very happy with. I don''''t know if I classified it as derogatory, but, yes, we did have a discussion about a blog post that I didn''''t appreciate. Q. Okay. Fair enough. You told us that in your travels around this county and visiting with different people, people were in favor of having the hospital district ‐‐ A. Yes, sir. Q. ‐‐ having the hospital here in Somervell County? A. Yes, sir. Q. But ‐‐ but, actually, you didn''''t talk to everybody in the county? A. Oh, absolutely not, yes. Q. And would you agree with me that not everybody in the county may hold the same opinion you do? A. Yes, sir. Q. Do you believe that the hospital, and by extension the hospital district, should run off the backs of the taxpayers? A. If necessary, I do believe that, yes. Q. Well, you said one of the reasons was because there was a $3 million shortfall? A. Yes, sir. Q. Well, what if the shortfall was $4 million and they had to raise the taxes for that, would you say then that the hospital was being mismanaged and somebody else should take a shot at it? A. I don''''t know that ‐‐ if I had proof that there was mismanagement, I would be ‐‐ yes, I would be opposed to that administration continuing. Q. What about 5 million? Would 5 million be enough to where you''''d say this is enough, you''''re putting too much of a burden on the taxpayers? A. I would say that there''''s almost no number that I would object to in terms of running the hospital. Q. So ‐‐ A. It''''s economically important for this community for a hospital to exist. Q. So as far as you''''re concerned, you''''re taking the exact dead opposite position of Mr. Harper. It would be okay with you if the hospital were a totally free entity only run by governmental funds, collected from the taxpayers of Somervell County, up to and including its entire annual budget of $15 million? A. I don''''t know that I would like you to put words in my mouth, but here is what I would say about that ‐‐ Q. I''''m sorry, sir. I''''m not asking to put words in your mouth. A. Okay. No. Q. Okay. So there is a number that''''s too much burden to put on the taxpayers? A. I''''m not certain what that number would be. Q. Okay. Well, do you think it is reasonable to try to put as little a burden on the taxpayers as possible? A. Yes. Q. In your travels across Somervell County visiting with the residents and talking to them about the hospital here, did anybody tell you that the last thing they wanted to see was a private entity coming in and running this hospital, perhaps even at a profit, so they wouldn''''t have to pay a tax? A. No. Q. You''''re not opposed to that, are you? A. I''''m sorry? Q. You''''re not opposed to that, are you? A. No, sir. Q. You talked about your belief as to how Mr. Harper''''s duties changed once he was elected ‐‐ A. Yes, sir. Q. ‐‐ to the hospital district, and you talked about he had a good faith requirement placed on him at that time to do things in good faith for the hospital. And you believe that''''s in the best interest of the city ‐‐ the citizens of Somervell County, correct? A. Yes. Q. Is it in the best interest of the citizens of Somervell County to have a hospital running at 20 percent deficit that has to be funded by taxpayer contributions? A. I have no opinion on that. Q. That''''s because you''''ve never run a hospital before, correct? A. That''''s correct. Q. You''''ve never negotiated a hospital contract; isn''''t that right? A. That''''s correct. Q. You have no idea what it would cost to change one doctor from a 501a over to a 286 employee of the hospital district itself; isn''''t that correct? A. No, that''''s not correct. I have talked to ‐‐ Q. Except for what you''''ve been told by somebody? A. Yes, I''''ve talked to people. Q. Okay. Okay. You''''ve never done that yourself? A. No, sir. Q. You''''ve never had to pay for it? A. No. Q. Right? You never had to put a pen to it to figure out what it would be? A. No, sir. Q. Did ‐‐ did anyone that you talked to in Somervell County tell you they couldn''''t support the hospital if the tax rate were only 8 percent? A. No. Q. Four percent? A. Restate the question. Q. Sure. A. I don''''t ‐‐ I don''''t believe so. Q. You told us that ‐‐ that many people told you they supported the hospital even if it required them to pay taxes, and I''''m just trying to figure out if there were people in Somervell County that wouldn''''t mind paying less taxes? A. Everybody would like to pay less taxes. Q. You said that it was your belief that my client wants to shut down the Pecan Plantation Clinic? A. Yes, sir. Q. Now, you heard that there''''s a net income coming from that clinic; is that correct? A. That''''s correct. Q. But you also heard that there''''s no way that the hospital can force those doctors to send their patients here to this hospital, correct? A. Correct, but they do. Q. Today? A. Yes. Q. Tomorrow we can''''t say? A. Tomorrow we can''''t say. Q. You mentioned behavior at the board of directors meetings. Are their behavioral guidelines? A. No, sir. Q. So this is a just a personal ‐‐ you thought it should be handled differently? A. Yes, sir. Q. When this comment was made about moving the tax rate to zero, I''''ll ask you the same questions I asked Mr. Reynolds. He was not recognized by the chair on that, was he? A. What happened ‐‐ no, he was not recognized by the chair. Motion was made and he ‐‐ he jumped in. Q. No one seconded ‐‐ a motion was made to set the tax rate at 11‐point‐something percent, wasn''''t it? A. Yeah, 11.55. Q. And he offered that he thought it should be zero. A. Yeah, "I''''d vote for zero." Q. Okay. And no one seconded that? A. That''''s right. It ‐‐ discussion ended. Q. No ‐‐ no vote ever came up on that? A. That''''s correct. Q. And it certainly didn''''t pass at zero, did it? A. No, sir. First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Ray Reynolds Testimony The First Removal Hearing‐ October 20 2014 The state called for a hearing on October 20 2014. 3 people testified overall. Ray Reynolds, CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, George Darrell Best (petitioner) and Debbie Harper in January 2015(Somervell County Salon blog post owner and writer). Lucas threw the kitchen sink, outside of the charges on the petition at Harper, despite Harper’s attorneys animated running objections. The judge put in an order for him to be temporarily off the board till a state agency decided if a required PIF form was impacted by a possible ineligibility questoin. The judge said the board could operate with 6 people. That was on 10/20/2014. The Office of Inspector General replied to Ray Reynolds on November 5, 2014 that there was no issue. Harper was to be reinstated at that point, but that didn’t happen until the next hearing on January 8, 2015. In fact, Ray Reynolds sat on that information, rather than immediately see Paul put back on the board. Meanwhile, on Oct 20, 2014, Paul put in an anti‐slapp motion to dismiss. Ray Reynolds testimony The case was scheduled to be heard on October 20 2014 at 9 am at the Somervell County District courtroom. Paul, meantime, had hired an attorney, David Dowell from the law firm of Cantey Hanger to represent him. The Glen Rose Reporter’s Brent Addleman, was there to report on the hearing; he had previously erroneously said in the paper that Paul had made a motion and had issued a correction. When Addleman’s article came out about the first removal hearing, none of Darrell Best or Ray Reynolds testimony was included or referenced, only Paul’s. I felt this was slanted and left citizens unaware of what Paul’s accusers said so that they could form a rounded opinion. Paul’s attorney started out the hearing by saying that “this is a very extraordinary remedy. And while it’s within the Court’s discretion to so determine, the Court discretion can’t be exercised in evidence of any evidence and the plaintiff has got that burden of proving this hearing, as the Court well knows. .. I think the evidence is going to show that this is really part of a broader‐based political witch‐hunt, and that the acts that my client has been accused of… simply did not occur or misunderstandings or do not rise to the level of incompetency or official misconduct.” Ray Reynolds, CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, was called as the first witness. He was asked about this work and educational background, which is not included here. First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Paul Harper Testimony Paul Harpers’ testimony Q. (Lucas) Mr. Harper, after the hospital district was created, you created a petition to dissolve the district; is that correct? A. That''''s correct. Q. All right. A. Actually, it was not to dissolve the district. It was a petition to call for an election to dissolve the district. Q. Okay. Call for a dissolution election? A. Right. Q. Okay. And you gathered signatures on that petition? A. We gathered about 930 signatures. Q. Okay. And you presented that petition to Ray Reynolds, the hospital administrator? A. Yes, at a board meeting. Q. All right. And then the -- the board of directors at the time, which was the temporary board of directors, took it under consideration; is that correct? A. I assume that''''s what they did. I don''''t know. I don''''t know. Q. But the petition was not acted upon; is that right? A. I don''''t know what you mean by not acted upon. Their attorneys had went and found 200 signatures that did not have a city next to the person''''s name, and so they disqualified those people. Q. Okay. So some of the signatures were disqualified, which took it below the requisite number that was necessary to call for the election? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. A. But the board could have called for the election anyway. Q. Yes. The board could have, on its own motion, called for the election. A. They could have. Q. Okay. Why at the time did you not repeat the process, create another petition, and just do it properly the second time around? A. We did. Q. Okay. What became of that? A. The election came before that, before we could gathered enough signatures. Q. What election? A. The election for the hospital district board. Q. The board. Okay. So you were in the process of gathering signatures for another petition? A. Yes, sir. Q. In the interim, you ran for the board of directors? A. Yes, sir. Q. And you were elected? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. So have you now kind of disregarded the second petition that you created or have you set it aside or what have you done with it? A. I haven''''t looked at that since I was elected. Q. Okay. Would it be fair to say that you campaigned on certain ideas? A. I still have a campaign Web site posted with my agenda on it. Q. Okay. And what was that agenda that you campaigned on? A. To eliminate the property tax, to cease operations in Hood County, to bring in management – new management, and there was a fourth thing. I''''d have to look. I don''''t remember what it is off the top of my head -- oh, cease operations in -- of Pecan Plantation in Hood County. Q. Okay. Now, as you were campaigning on these ideas, you obviously hadn''''t served on the board of directors, right? A. When I was campaigning, no. Q. Okay. So you didn''''t know all the operations of the hospital and the hospital district. You didn''''t have that knowledge when you were actually running for office, did you? A. I had knowledge that I had acquired from listening to the audio from meetings and from reading the minutes from meetings, but, no, not to the extent that I do now. Q. Now that you''''re a board member, you -- you more fully understand the operations of the hospital? A. I better understand the operations. I wouldn''''t say I fully understand every operation. Q. All right. And you understood that in running for office, if you were elected, that you would become responsible for the proper administration of the hospital? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. And you understand that your responsibilities are defined by the bylaws of the district, right? A. They are defined by 286 and the bylaws. Q. Okay. A. And just to be clear, 286 Health and Safety Code. I don''''t want to -- Q. Okay. A. -- leave that out there. Q. All right. And that''''s the statute under which the -- the hospital district was formed, right? A. Yes, sir. Q. Okay. And in the bylaws, you would agree, would you not, that the -- listed in the duties of directors, that the -- that a director shall discharge the director''''s duties in good faith, with ordinary care, and in a manner the director reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the district? A. Yes. Q. Okay. And you understand that as a board member, you have no individual authority? A. That''''s correct. Q. All right. Only the board as a whole determines policy, right? A. That''''s right. Q. Okay. When you were elected, you quickly took many actions, right, in assuming your role as secretary for the board? A. Yes, sir. Q. All right. One of the things -- one of the first things you did was place an item on the agenda to terminate the -- is it the public relations officer? A. Public relations director. Q. Public relations director. That was one of the first things you – you put on the agenda, right? A. I -- I don''''t think that was my choice to put in the agenda. Any -- according to the president, any board member can have anything put on the agenda they want and it doesn''''t have to go through any discussion to get it on there. All you have to do is ask. And I don''''t believe I asked for that to be on the agenda. I believe one of the other board members did, but it was on the agenda. Q. Okay. Was that something you supported? A. It never came up for a vote. Q. Okay. Was it -- was it premature at that point to start talking about terminating people? I mean, you had just been elected to the board. A. Look, you know, we never got into that discussion, so I can''''t tell you what could have happened, should have happened, or -- or -- because we didn''''t hear the dialogue between the board members on why that was on there or why they wanted to discuss it. There could have been valid reasons for all I know. Q. Okay. A. We didn''''t get into the dialogue so I don''''t know. Q. All right. But you or your fellow board members ‐‐ at this point you''''ve just been elected, you ‐‐ you probably don''''t even know what the public relation director does, right? A. Some people have some ideas, it just depends on who the person is and what they think of that role. And, you know, we didn''''t get into a dialogue about what the role was and what it provided, so we don''''t know. Q. Okay. You haven''''t always been very kind to the administrative staff, have you? A. I believe that the ‐‐ the administrators should be replaced. Q. Okay. Now, have you been rude to the staff, the ‐‐ say, the administrative assistant to the administrator? A. I don''''t believe so. Q. Okay. Have you had difficulties communicating with her? A. No. E‐mail works great. Q. Okay. Now, it was your idea that as secretary of the board that you would control the agendas, right? A. No, it''''s ‐‐ it''''s dictated in the bylaws. Q. Okay. And what is dictated in the bylaws since your ‐‐ A. That I would put the agenda together ‐‐ Q. Okay. A. ‐‐ and the minutes. Q. All right. Do you seek the advice and support of the administration when you''''re setting forth the agendas for the meetings? A. Sure. Q. Okay. Do you determine what goes on the agendas based on your communications with them, or do you ‐‐ at times do you decide on your own or through other board members what you want to put on those agendas? A. Sometimes I make a decision to put something on there, sometimes other board members make decisions to put stuff on there. Again, it''''s not a discussion when somebody wants to put something on the agenda. They just say put it on there, we put it on there. Q. Would it be fair to say that in your responsibilities of preparing the minutes of meetings, that they have not been done in a timely manner? A. I would not say that''''s accurate. Q. Now, when did the board ‐‐ let''''s just take an example, the board minute ‐‐ board minutes for July of this year, when were they approved by the board as a whole? A. I do not know. I''''d have to go look. Q. Do you have an idea? A. I really don''''t. There''''s so ‐‐ been so many meetings and there''''s so many minutes and so many agendas that I can''''t tell you which one was approved when and posted when. I can go back and look and figure out in my notes, and if I had known that I was going to be asked these questions, I could have provided answers. Q. Would it be fair to say that the minutes aren''''t being approved by the board until months after the meetings? A. A couple have been ‐‐ not been approved for a couple months, but the rest of them are approved at the regular board meetings. Q. Now, Mr. Reynolds testified that the minutes were being poorly done. Would you agree with that? A. No. Q. They''''re not very thorough, are they? A. They''''re not detailed. I mean, we don''''t go into much detail on the minutes. Q. But you don''''t go into any detail in the minutes, do you? A. Sure I do. Q. Okay. When there is a discussion of a particular agenda item, what do you include in the minutes about ‐‐ about that discussion? A. A discussion about this topic, motion for this, seconded by whoever, and then it fails or passes, whatever the vote is. Q. Okay. So you just say discussion, you don''''t describe what the contents of that discussion were? A. No. Q. Okay. A. As far as I know, there''''s no law that requires me to do that. Q. So you think it''''s ‐‐ the way you''''re doing the minutes is proper in your opinion? A. I think it''''s fine the way I do it right now, and if people would like them to be different and the board would like to be different, I''''m open to changing them. I have no problem doing that. I''''ve been very cooperative with the rest of the board on things they''''ve wanted changed as far as the secretary''''s role goes. Q. Okay. How are you keeping the official minutes of the district? A. They''''re ‐‐ once they are approved by the board, then they ‐‐ I go ‐‐ what I do is before the board meeting, I go and I create the minutes and I mark them, unofficial, and then I bring the unofficial minutes to the board meeting. After the board meeting and they approve the minutes, I go back and take off the word official and I save it as a PDF and I send it to Ashley and I cc Ray. Q. Okay. A. Ashley is our public relations director. So she can post it on the Web site. Q. Ashley Woodley? A. Yes. Q. Okay. But the hard copy of ‐‐ of what''''s approved ‐‐ actually approved by the board, the hard copy is not kept with hospital administration? A. It is given to the hospital administration when it is provided to the public relations director. So when I e‐mail Ashley and say, Please post it on the Web site, Ray is cc''''d, so Ray has a copy of the minutes at that point. Q. So you''''re e‐mailing official documents? A. Yes. Q. Okay. There has been a post on your blog or your Web site ‐‐ let me ‐‐ let me ask you this: Tell ‐‐ tell the Court about your ‐‐ your Web site, is it ‐‐ is it located at GlenRose.net? A. I have many Web sites, that''''s got to be clear. Q. All right. A. Thousands of them. So to be clear: The Somervell County Salon, I think the Web site you''''re referring to, is run and managed by my wife, Debbie Harper. I have no authority over what gets posted, approved, not approved on that Web site. Q. So you''''re not the administrator for the site? A. That''''s correct. Q. Okay. Are you aware of what your wife posts on this blog? A. Not always. Q. Okay. A. Sometimes I get a text, which you probably see in one of your replies there from Chip where Chip Harrison is telling me about a post my wife did, and I''''m like, Well, I haven''''t read it yet. Q. Okay. But y''''all discuss what she posts on the site, right? A. Not necessarily. Q. Okay. Are you often of a like mind when it comes to issues of public business. A. I would say most married people are of like mind. Q. Okay. If she were to post something that ‐‐ that casts the hospital district in a negative light, would you admonish her not to do so again? honestly couldn’t believe when Andy Lucas said this to Paul. This is 2018. In what world does Mr Lucas reside in which a husband should *admonish* a wife? And particularly for freedom of speech issues on her own blog? 92 A. I can''''t tell her what to do and what not to do, that''''s not my job. Q. Okay. But you''''re a member of the hospital district board, don''''t ‐‐ A. Yes, I am. Q. ‐‐ you think that the items that you and your wife are responsible for should cast the hospital in a positive light? A. It doesn''''t matter what I think. What she wants to post, she can post. That''''s her business, it''''s not mine. Q. Okay. Let me ask you this ‐‐ oh, I''''m ‐‐ let me ask this first. There was a ‐‐ a posting on the Salon that said something to the effect, Why would anyone ‐‐ in all caps ‐‐ anyone want to ever do business with GRMC? Would you agree that was a posting on the Salon site? A. I have no idea. Q. Okay. You''''ve never read that? A. I may have seen it. I don''''t know where I saw it, but I certainly didn''''t post it. Q. Okay. You''''ve read Mr. Best''''s petition, have you not? A. I have read his petition. Q. Okay. And you saw the exhibits? A. Oh, is that the post you''''re referring to? Q. Yes. A. The exhibit? Q. Yes. A. No, I didn''''t post that. I have read it, though. Q. You have read it? A. Yes. Q. Okay. And you''''re saying your wife posted that? A. Yes. Q. Okay. Was your wife at that meeting that ‐‐ A. All the videos from every meeting are posted on YouTube for anybody to watch anytime they want. Q. Okay. But those videos wouldn''''t be posted until probably the next day, right? A. That depends. Sometimes it posts the next day, sometimes a couple days later. It depends on Internet stuff. Q. Okay. Do you approve of your wife saying something like that, Why would anyone want to ever do business with GRMC? MR. DOWELL: Judge, I''''m going to object to that. I think that''''s an improper question. THE COURT: Overruled. I''''ll allow it. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Do you approve of your wife making that comment? A. I don''''t have a say either way. Q. Don''''t you think it would be proper for you to talk to your wife about this since you''''re a member of this board? A. I believe it''''s better for me not to get into what people post about the district, for me to get into discussions with them or arguments with them about it. It''''s my job to talk to the other board members and find out what we can do to make things better. Q. Now, this Salon site ‐‐ you do make posts on this site at times, don''''t you? A. Yes, I do, but I post as myself. Q. Okay. It''''s got a picture of you that comes up on the post? A. Yes. Q. Okay. And you kind of advertise for people to come look at this site, right? A. I don''''t know what you mean by advertise. No, we don''''t spend money. Q. Okay. You like for citizens of this county to ‐‐ to come look at the site, to come look at your posts, reply ‐‐ A. I like for citizens of the county to be informed. Q. Okay. And you do that with this Salon Web site, right? A. I don''''t. Q. Okay. You post on that site at times, though, do you not? A. I do. Q. Okay. So when you''''re posting on the Salon site, you''''re trying to inform the public, right? A. It depends. I may be stating an opinion, I may be stating a fact. It just depends. THE COURT: Do you always sign it when it''''s your posting? THE WITNESS: When you post it, it shows that you posted it under your ID at the top. THE COURT: I''''m not a big ‐‐ I''''m not a big deal in ‐‐ THE WITNESS: So you can see that when PHarper posts something, that''''s me. When Salon posts something, that''''s her. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this: Mr. Harper, what would you say are the strengths of the hospital? A. The strengths of the hospital? That''''s a good question. They''''ve got some good staff, some very good staff. They''''ve got some good doctors working for them. I''''d hate to see those doctors leave. I think it''''s got a great location, and I think it has a lot of possibilities if it was managed properly. Q. Now, you say ‐‐ THE COURT: That''''s your big controversy with Mr. Reynolds? THE WITNESS: I''''m sorry? THE COURT: Would you say that''''s the biggest controversy between you and Reynolds? THE WITNESS: That''''s probably one of the biggest one is between ‐‐ THE COURT: What are y''''all paying him? THE WITNESS: You know what''''s funny is I''''ve been asking him to send me the salaries in an email, and he won''''t do it. THE COURT: You''''re on the board and you don''''t know what you''''re paying ‐‐ THE WITNESS: So ‐‐ THE COURT: ‐‐ him? THE WITNESS: So I would guess ‐‐ most of the board doesn''''t know, because we''''ve been asking and he won''''t tell us. We can see in the budget that there''''s so much budgeted for the administrative salaries, but that''''s not his salary alone. That''''s ‐‐ that''''s his and ‐‐ and his admin ‐‐ his assistant''''s budgeted into there, because that''''s their ‐‐ they''''re allowed that. But we have asked him specifically for all the salaries for him and all of his direct reports, and he''''s refused to give it to us. That''''s another contention issue I have with Mr. Reynolds. THE COURT: All right. Go ahead. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Wasn''''t the budget just approved, though? A. Yes, sir. Q. Aren''''t the salaries listed in the budget? A. Not individually. They are listed as part of a ‐‐ that group''''s budget. So the administration office, that''''s their ‐‐ that''''s their section, that''''s that tab. You go to each tab in the budget and there''''s different salaries ‐‐ accumulative salaries, not individual salaries. Q. Okay. You just said a second ago you would hate to see good doctors leave Glen Rose Medical Center, right? A. Yes, sir. Q. But you heard Mr. Reynolds'''' testimony that terminating the 501a Management Agreement would result in doctors leaving our hospital, right? A. I would disagree with him. Q. Okay. Why would you disagree with his opinion? A. Because I think a lot of the doctors would come and work for us directly, they wouldn''''t just leave. They have ‐‐ they''''re based here, they have ‐‐ they have customers here. Q. Do you put no stock in Mr. Reynolds'''' 42 years in hospital administration that ‐‐ do you put no stock in that experience? A. I do to some degree, yes. Q. But you think you know better than him? A. No. I don''''t say I know better than him. I think differently than him. Q. Okay. And when he tells you that terminating that 501a Management Agreement would result in losing doctors, you disregard that or you disagree with it or what''''s your contention? A. I disagree because, you know ‐‐ I disagree with that. I think that we could still keep doctors employing directly, not have to go through the 501a. THE COURT: Is it your testimony you''''re not trying to shut down the hospital? THE WITNESS: Sir, I''''ve never told anyone that I want to shut down the hospital. THE COURT: Well, that''''s what they''''re saying. THE WITNESS: I know, but I''''ve never said that, I''''ve never taken an ad out saying that, I''''ve never written it, I''''ve never tried to close the hospital. It was never my intention. In fact, if you go my Web site right now, it says my agenda is to keep the hospital open for business, and it''''s said that ever since I started campaigning. THE COURT: You just don''''t like the tax? THE WITNESS: I just don''''t like the tax. THE COURT: All right. Go ahead. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) In some of your messages ‐‐ your text messages, though, you ‐‐ you call for a dissolution, right? A. I call for the dissolution election. Q. Okay. And you acknowledge in those messages that dissolution would result in Glen Rose Medical Center closing its doors? A. I don''''t know that. Q. Okay. But you believe that''''s exactly what would happen? A. I don''''t know that that would happen. Q. Okay. A. When you go through dissolution in Chapter 286 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, there''''s a lot of options as far as people, when they''''re dissolving their district. It could stay open for years as the ‐‐ as the Reed attorney for the district has told us last year. Q. And it would remain a taxing entity, right? A. It would until the debt is paid. Q. So your goal of eliminating the tax would not be served, right? A. I don''''t know. That would be ‐‐ that would be a tough one. I don''''t know. Q. Okay. Now, you at different times have accused Ray Reynolds of breaking the law, right? A. You''''re talking about before I was elected? Q. No, since. A. I have not done that since I was elected. Q. Okay. You have not made comments about Ray Reynolds and Michael Honea breaking the law? A. I may have had text messages regarding ‐‐ discussing that, possibly, whether they were doing that or not. Because it''''s my understanding that if you''''re taking public funds and you''''re moving them to private accounts and you don''''t have elected oversight of doing that ‐‐ or elected approval of doing that, you''''re basically embezzling money at that point. And ‐‐ and ‐‐ and I really would like rather just to have the board vote and approve the ‐‐ the funds. THE COURT: You''''re talking about that money that came from the hospital over to this 501, is that what you''''re talking about? THE WITNESS: Yes, sir. They''''re taking tax dollars and they''''re taking it from the hospital and giving it to the 501a, just moving the money to the accounts with no board approval at all. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this ‐‐ A. Except the budget when it''''s approved every year. THE COURT: Okay. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this: Whose legal opinion are you ‐‐ are you relying on when you say those actions are illegal? A. Those are my own. I don''''t rely on any legal opinion whatsoever that says that. That is my belief, and that is just what I believe. Q. So you determine who''''s breaking the law and who''''s not? A. No. That''''s what the law is for. Q. Okay. But you don''''t rely on attorneys to tell you what the law is, you make your own determinations of what the law is? A. I would disagree with that. Q. Okay. I asked you who you had relied on – you know, what legal counsel you had relied on in determining that the 501a is illegal, and your answer was what? A. I never said the 501a is illegal. The moving of the money, I believe, would be a problem that needs to be solved. Q. Okay. You have said that the medical center operating the clinic in Pecan Plantation is illegal, right?93 A. I believe that there is an issue with that, too, because we are operating in another district''''s area without having a local agreement between the two, and I believe Chapter 286 prohibits that. Q. But Ray Reynolds has shared with you the opinion from the hospital district''''s attornies that says it''''s permissible? A. The one from 2012 before the district was created. Q. Okay. Do you think the circumstances have changed somehow? A. Yes. Q. How so? A. It''''s a district. Q. Okay. But that was the anticipation in the letter that ‐‐ A. It is a hospital authority when it was written. Q. The whole basis of the opinion was ‐‐ MR. DOWELL: Excuse me, Your Honor. I''''m going to object to this line of questioning talking about some document ‐‐ some opinion given by somebody outside the court. The document is not within the record. MR. LUCAS: It''''s Exhibit 2, Your Honor. THE COURT: Overruled. I''''ll allow it. You''''re talking about this memorandum from Kevin Reed, right? MR. LUCAS: Correct, Your Honor. THE COURT: Yeah, it talks about the anticipation of creating the hospital district. Anyway... Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mr. Harper, will you take a moment to read that. A. Sure. Okay. I''''ve read it. Q. Mr. Harper, what is the conclusion that Mr. Reed reaches in that opinion ‐‐ that letter in ‐‐ A. Well, it''''s his opinion that they''''re able to do what they''''re doing. Q. And you would disagree with that? A. Yes. Q. What is the basis for your disagreement? Are you relying on another legal opinion? A. No, no. Q. Just your own? A. Yeah. There''''s a couple things in here that bug me. Q. Do you have any legal training, Mr. Harper? A. I ‐‐ I never claimed to be a lawyer. I''''ve never been to law school, I don''''t know anything about the law other than what I can read on the Internet. Q. But it would be your opinion that the district should disregard the advice and counsel of its attorney as stated in that opinion? A. Well, see, there''''s a problem right here with something I''''m reading. It says, [as read] "The clinic will refer patients to the hospital thereby (a) increasing the volume of patients at the hospital" ‐‐ which has not happened since 2012 ‐‐ "and allowing the district to provide services it would otherwise not have to ‐‐ not have had sufficient patient volume to provide and providing revenue to help the district maintain a lower tax rate." The tax has gone up. So two things he says right here have already happened. It would have been opposite to what he claims, so, no, I wouldn''''t agree with him. Q. Okay. So would it be correct to say that as a board member, you would pursue an action to sever ties with the Pecan Plantation Clinic? A. No, I didn''''t say that. Q. So you would continue operating the Pecan Clinic just as ‐‐ as the district has ‐‐ A. The Pecan Clinic has been operating since I was elected to office. Q. All right. In your text message communications, though, you have a problem with the district operating that clinic in Hood County, don''''t you? A. I do. Q. And so you believe the district should ‐‐ should cease its operation of that clinic, right? A. I believe that since they have their own district, that they should take care of the people in their district, and we should take care of the people in our district. Now, have I tried to sever that agreement? No. Have I discussed it? Sure, because you have to discuss all options. Q. And you''''ve discussed that with other members of the board? A. I''''ve discussed that with other members of the board, the public. Q. Okay. Would it be fair to say that there were four of you elected to the board that ran on a ‐‐ on an agenda to end the tax? A. I don''''t know if I would say that, because we didn''''t all run on the same thing. In fact, there was some disagreements between us on different things. Q. Did the four of you share that goal? A. I don''''t think we got together ever and shared any goal. We never all four got together and said, This is what we''''re going to do. That just hasn''''t happened, ever. Q. These text message communications that Mr. Best was able to uncover through these open records requests shows some of your communications with John Parker, right? A. Sure. Q. And they show some of your communications with Chip Harrison, right? A. Yes, sir. Q. And within those you say you have had discussions with Gene Brode as well, right? A. I have talked to Gene, yes. Q. Okay. And these communications are pretty clear in that you''''re trying to seek the other board members'''' approval of your petition ‐‐ of your positions, right? A. I was trying to get people to understand that we needed to take care of this. Q. All right. You''''re trying to influence how they vote, right? A. No. I''''m trying to make them aware that we need to take care of this. Q. And you''''re convincing them why, right? A. Well, we have a 501a contract that''''s expiring January 1st, we need to deal with it. Q. And would it be your preference that that agreement expire? A. That is up to the board, not up to me. THE COURT: Now, what''''s your personal opinion? THE WITNESS: My personal opinion is that we employ the doctors directly and we do away with the 501a. THE COURT: Okay. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Not withstanding the effect that the hospital administrator, Ray Reynolds, says that would have on the hospital? A. Ray has told us the hospital''''s going to close so many times I can''''t even count. And that was when we ran up to the first election where it failed to create the district, and when they went to create the authority, when they were telling everybody if we didn''''t do this, it was going to close. And this last time when it actually got created they were telling everybody if it doesn''''t pass, it''''s going to close. And so, you know, you have to take that with a grain of salt when you hear it over and over and over and over. Q. Wouldn''''t you agree, though, that if ‐‐ if the hospital severed ties with the Pecan Clinic and lost approximately 60 percent of its revenue, that it would shut the doors on the hospital; wouldn''''t you agree with that? A. I don''''t know. Q. If that''''s ‐‐ A. ‐‐ scale back operations ‐‐ huh? Q. What''''s your opinion? A. I think you can scale back operations at the hospital. I think you can scale back operations at the hospital. I don''''t think we need to have all the services we''''re providing right now. In fact, the United States government agrees. When they applied for a grant from Chet Edwards many years ago, the feds came back and said, No, you guys live too close to other hospitals, you don''''t qualify. 94And so we didn''''t get all that money that Chet Edwards promised us we''''d get. And so I would tend to agree with them that there''''s too many hospitals around here 95and we shouldn''''t be trying to ‐‐ instead of trying to compete with them for services ‐‐ like Ray always wants to complete with Lake Granbury for this and compete with, you know, Cleburne for that. We don''''t need to do that. We need to cooperate with them so they can provide services and we can provide services for everybody. So that they provide some things and we provide some things to complement each other, opposed to trying to kill each other and ‐‐ and ‐‐ with customers. Q. You would prefer that Lake Granbury provide the services that our hospital is currently providing? A. I don''''t know if I would agree with that. Q. Somebody ‐‐ somebody told me this and I don''''t know if it''''s true, you ‐‐ you tell me if it''''s true. Somebody said that you were having a heart attack and you bypassed Glen Rose Medical Center, risking your own health, to drive all the way to Lake Granbury because under no circumstances would you stop at our hospital; is that true? A. That''''s a correct statement. Q. If that''''s true, if you have such disdain for this hospital, why would you want to serve on its board? A. Because I want to make it better. And if people like me don''''t want to go to it, there''''s a reason. And so ‐‐ and how do you get people to go to it, you change it. Q. Do you get people to go to it by terminating 60 percent of its revenue? A. Well, you ‐‐ you ‐‐ there''''s a bunch of different ways that you can bring people in, and the way we''''re doing it now is not working. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Have ‐‐ have you pursued positions like eliminating the 501a Management Agreement that would result in Glen Rose Medical Center losing physicians, is that something that you espouse? A. I think that we need to take doctors and employ them directly and not go through the 501a.96 Q. But not withstanding the ‐‐ the testimony from Ray Reynolds that doctors don''''t want to be employed like that? MR. DOWELL: Objection. That''''s a mischaracterization of Ray Reynolds'''' testimony. MR. LUCAS: Well, I don''''t think it – I don''''t think it is, Your Honor. THE COURT: Well, let him answer. Answer any way you want, just tell him how you feel. A. Well, I would disagree with him on that, if that''''s what his stance is. THE COURT: Do you dislike the 501a also because ‐‐ MR. LUCAS: Mr. Reynolds. THE COURT: ‐‐ Mr. Reynolds is running it? THE WITNESS: Well, he''''s not actually running it, which is kind of funny. He is but he''''s not. If you look at the paperwork, the president is Dr. Burroughs, not Ray Reynolds. Now, it''''s filed with the state comptroller''''s office, you can look it up. The ‐‐ Dr. Burroughs, who is not a member of the 501a, who is on our board, is president of the 501a.97 THE COURT: Well, who runs ‐‐ THE WITNESS: They haven''''t even had a board meeting in ‐‐ THE COURT: ‐‐ who runs the 501a right now? THE WITNESS: According to Ray, he runs it, but she''''s the president and they''''ve never had a meeting. THE COURT: Okay. But you don''''t like that ‐‐ I mean ‐‐ THE WITNESS: I don''''t like that at all. I would rather have it be, you know, everybody know who''''s ‐‐ who''''s in charge and who''''s running the show, and make sure that the ‐‐ the administrator''''s actually running the show. Right now we''''ve got doctors entering into agreements in a 501a that the board never even sees. We don''''t approve these agreements whatsoever. If it came through the hospital, we would have more control of that and what salaries are and what the bonuses are and that kind of stuff. And right now we don''''t even see it. I''''ve never even seen any of the doctors'''' contracts. THE COURT: Is today the first day you''''ve heard how much they pay the doctors? THE WITNESS: No. I''''ve ‐‐ I''''ve ‐‐ I''''ve heard of how much they pay, but I''''ve asked Ray to let me see the agreements and he says I can only look at them on his computer. I can''''t get a copy of them. THE COURT: Go ahead. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mr. Harper, describe for me how the hospital benefits from setting the tax rate at zero. A. Well, that''''s up to the voters. The voters have said they want the tax rate set to zero, and it''''s up to the board members ‐‐ Q. How have they said that? A. By voting me in. I ran on that, I campaigned on that. People voted for me. If they didn''''t want that, they wouldn''''t have voted for me. Q. So you believe the fact that you were elected gives you the right to set the tax rate at zero; is that correct? A. I believe the people want the tax rate set to zero, and that''''s why they sent me here. Q. You''''ve heard Mr. Best''''s testimony that it looked to him like the ‐‐ the result of the election was 55 percent of the voters being in favor of the hospital district? A. You can dissect it however you want, seven people were elected. Q. And there were 6 of you running that were opposed to the tax and 12 running in favor of the tax, right? A. I assume that''''s correct. Q. Okay. Now that you''''ve been on the board and you''''ve had a chance to review its financials, talk to the CFO, see some of its operations, talk to the CEO, do you not see the problem with setting the tax rate at zero? A. I see the argument against it, sure. Q. Okay. And what do you think of that argument? A. I think that, you know, the taxpayers disagree with the people who are running the business. Q. So it doesn''''t matter what effect it''''s going to have on the hospital, just the ‐‐ you''''ve just got to set the tax at zero, right? A. I need to try to accomplish what the taxpayers put me here to do. Q. And it didn''''t happen this year, but it could happen next year, right? A. I have no idea. Q. You''''re going to work for that, aren''''t you? A. I''''m going to do what the taxpayers asked me to do. Q. Which is set the tax rate at zero, right? A. If ‐‐ if I have the opportunity, sure. Q. Okay. Thank you. When Ray Reynolds was speaking with you about the Pecan Plantation Clinic, he advised you that severing ties with the clinic would result in Glen Rose Medical Center closing its doors, and your response to him was, Whatever happens, happens; isn''''t that correct? A. I don''''t ‐‐ I don''''t remember saying that exactly, but ‐‐ Q. What do you remember saying? A. I do remember that Ray and I discussed how I had ‐‐ of course, he was like, The hospital''''s going to close if, you know, XYZ happens, as he always does, but, you know, I tend to disagree with him. I think he''''s kind of extreme in that manner. The hospital should have been closed half a dozen times now according to him, and it''''s never been closed. Q. Did you say, Whatever happens, happens? A. I don''''t know that that''''s the exact wording, but ‐‐ Q. What do you recall being your exact wording? A. I don''''t know what the exact wording was, to tell you the truth. I just remember the gist of the conversation, thinking, Ray''''s saying we''''re going to close again, and I''''m thinking, Well, he''''s wrong. Q. Because you know more than Ray? A. No. Because Ray keeps saying over and over and over that this place is going to close, it''''s going to close, it''''s going to close. Every time there''''s a threat or anything that has to do with the hospital district stuff, they come out with this ramped up thing scaring everybody. Telling everybody, Oh, it''''s going to close if this happens, oh, it''''s going to close. And they keep doing that, they''''ve been doing it for years. Gary Marks used to do it when he was running it. He used to run around with his PowerPoint telling everybody, If we don''''t do this, it''''s going to close. And Ray was right behind him, same thing. Q. You consistently disregard the advice of the CEO and the CFO, don''''t you? A. No. Q. You don''''t? A. No. Q. What do they do that you agree with? A. I like the way that Mr. Honea came up with the budget after I griped about it. I like the ‐‐ the thick binder that thick (indicating) telling me just about everything I want to know, except for the detailed salaries, about what''''s going on as far as the budget goes. We didn''''t have that before. They tried to give us a three‐page budget before ‐‐ before I reached out about it. And so now I''''m glad that – that Mr. Honea now understands that we need to comply with the law, with Chapter 286 Texas Health and Safety Code, and our own bylaws. Q. Again, Chapter 286, that''''s ‐‐ that''''s your reading of the chapter, right? A. If you can go read it ‐‐ Q. I mean, you''''re not ‐‐ A. ‐‐ it dictates what the law requires. Q. You''''re not relying on some attorney telling you anything, it''''s ‐‐ it''''s your reading of 286, right? A. Yes. Q. Okay. Do you ‐‐ have you ‐‐ since you''''ve been on this board, have you ever relied on the advice of an attorney ever? A. I don''''t know what you''''re saying. Q. Have you ever relied on the advice of an attorney for any of the activities of the hospital district? A. Oh, the hospital district. I think they''''ve given us ‐‐ oh, yeah, yeah. Actually, I have given ‐‐ I have relied on some advice he gave us during orientation. Q. What was that? A. Work together. Q. Work together? A. Yeah, and I''''ve tried to work together. I have reached out to other board members, even though some of them have not responded. I''''ve tried to reach out to them in a correct way. Q. What else have you done that the attorney advised you to do during orientation? A. Oh, I don''''t know. I can''''t think of anything that stands out. Q. You would ‐‐ you would never reach out for the opinion of Kevin Reed, the hospital district''''s attorney, would you? A. I believe we did ask him something. I forget what it was about, but it had to do with ‐‐ I forget, but I know that we had talked to him. We had a phone call with him. We had a call with the attorney and with Ray and the attorney and Chip. I was on that call. I don''''t recall what it was about, but I remember I was talking to the attorney. Q. Mr. Harper, how do you believe your actions on this board have served the best interest of the hospital? A. I am doing what the voters want me to do. Q. What is that? A. Push to eliminate the property tax, push to bring in better management, make sure we''''re legal as far as Pecan Plantation goes, but ‐‐ but really, I – I would prefer to not operate there and allow Hood County to operate there. That''''s their division, that''''s not ours, you know. Q. How would you suggest that the district pay its bonded indebtedness? A. Well, they either have to make the money or tax people to do it, one of the two. There''''s no way around it. And we already have the debt, we can''''t argue about that. That''''s already there, so we just have to deal with it. Q. There has to be a tax to pay that debt, though? A. Unless the hospital figures out a way to make money. Q. Now, this is a small, rural hospital with many challenges. How ‐‐ how do you propose this hospital would go about making money? A. Well, there''''s ‐‐ there''''s ‐‐ there''''s ‐‐ there''''s been some push to get more primary care physicians around, but then we''''ve run into the problem where we''''d have to go and spend money to modify the building to bring those guys in. It''''s going to take us six years to make that money back, you know, and you have to make these kind of decisions whether you want to invest that money and not get it back for six years like we did with the building modification that we voted on earlier this year that I voted for. Q. Okay. So at different times you talk to Mr. Brode and you talk to Mr. Harrison and you talk to Mr. Parker and you''''re trying to convince them all to follow these policies that you''''ve advocated here today, right? A. I don''''t know that that would be a proper wording. I''''m trying to ‐‐ I don''''t know. I''''m trying to ‐‐ what''''s ‐‐ what''''s the right wording I''''m trying to use here? I''''m trying to ‐‐ to ‐‐ to ‐‐ to make them understand what we need to do, and ‐‐ and ‐‐ and see if they''''re on board. Because a lot of times, you know, you ‐‐ you don''''t want to bring something up that ‐‐ if ‐‐ if you don''''t think that there''''s going to be support for it. And I don''''t like necessarily talking about changing something in ‐‐ in a board meeting if I know that nobody supports it but me. Q. So you''''re talking to them outside of the open meetings and you''''re seeing if you can get commitments from them – A. No. Q. ‐‐ otherwise you wouldn''''t bring it up in the open meeting; is that what you''''re saying? A. I''''m not ‐‐ commitments, no. And I''''ve brought up things that have failed in ‐‐ in ‐‐ during the hospital board meetings. Q. All these communications that we saw with ‐‐ with Parker and with Harrison, these things have ‐‐ these things haven''''t been discussed in the open meetings, have they? A. I think everything we''''ve discussed has been discussed in the open meetings. Q. Okay. So these communications you''''re having that Mr. Best discovered, you''''re ‐‐ you''''re having these conversations in the open meetings? A. As far as I know everything we talked about everybody knows about. We aren''''t making any decisions. We''''re not coming ‐‐ Q. You''''re not? A. No. We''''re not making any decisions. We''''re not saying, Oh, let''''s go do XYZ and then you go talk to him and you go talk to him and I''''ll ‐‐ and that would be wrong. Q. You''''re not asking them what they want to do? A. Sometimes I ask them what they want to do and I say, Do you want to ‐‐ Q. Don''''t you think that''''s asking for a commitment? A. No. Q. What''''s the distinction? A. Distinction is see if there''''s any interest. You can have interest without finding out what somebody thinks. Q. You''''re not asking in these messages what they''''re ‐‐ what they think? A. Sometimes I might be. Q. Well, are you or are you not? A. You''''re going to have to refer to which text message you''''re talking about. Q. All right. Well, let''''s take some time to do that. You said in a message to John Parker, [as read] "We, or at least I, did not run on being better than the people there. I ran on an agenda which includes eliminating the tax. The voters wanted us to stop the tax, not maintain it." A. That''''s right. Q. [As read] "If we can''''t stop the tax, we should give them the opportunity to have a say in whether they pay a tax or dissolve." Now ‐‐ A. That''''s fair. That''''s common knowledge, everybody knows that. Q. [As read] "The voters wanted to stop the people who are running it then. If we did that, they would not be able to just start up again. Dissolving would entail selling buildings. If the voters want us to dissolve the district, we should. Since the county has transferred everything to us, dissolution would likely close the hospital." You made that statement, right? A. I''''d ‐‐ I''''d have to look at that. Let me see that and I can tell you for sure. Thank you. I don''''t remember writing that line there. That''''s ‐‐ that''''s part of the problem here, I don''''t remember writing that line. I remember writing this line (indicating). THE COURT: Y''''all approach just a second. (Sotto voce discussion at the bench.) A. I don''''t ‐‐ I don''''t remember writing that, but it looks like my writing. Yeah, but I would agree with that, it would likely cause that problem to happen. So ‐‐ so yes, I agree with that statement. Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Okay. So ‐‐ but aren''''t you telling ‐‐ aren''''t you telling these guys in these messages what they should do? A. I don''''t tell people what to do. Q. You''''re telling what they should do, what you believe they should do? A. Doesn''''t matter what I believe, it doesn''''t – it matters what they believe. Q. But you''''re trying to convince them of your ‐‐ or your way of thinking, right? A. I try to do that during ‐‐ when we''''re talking about it at board meetings. I try to save the details for the board meetings so we can discuss it in detail without getting into details prior to. Q. These messages don''''t contain details? A. I don''''t like getting into details privately, I prefer to go to board meetings. Q. These messages don''''t go into details? A. I don''''t know what details you''''re referring to. Q. Okay. You completed your open meetings training, right? A. Yes, sir. Q. And you know what a walking quorum is, don''''t you? A. Yes, sir. Q. Can you describe for the Court what a walking quorum is? A. A walking quorum is where the majority of the board gets together through either physically or by one person going and talking to another and that person talking to another and that person talking to another and everybody agreeing to do the same thing at the board meeting. That would be a walking quorum. Q. And you understand that a violation, also known as a walking quorum, can be a criminal act, don''''t you? A. Yes. Q. And you understand that your behavior as a public official must be lawful, don''''t you? A. Yes, sir. Q. And that applies to the Open Meetings Act? A. Yes, sir. Harper Files Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss on Oct 27 2014 In between hearing #1 and hearing #2, Harper filed a Defendant’s Anti‐Slapp Motion to Dismiss. Chris Brown, one of the terrific attorneys at Cantey Hanger, had found the TCPA (Texas Citizens Participation Act) and found it directly applied to what Best and Lucas were doing. TCPA was a fairly recent statute, otherwise known as Anti‐ Slapp. It was apparent that the petition from Darrell Best was really targeted towards Harper’s freedom of speech and freedom to petition, and including Andy Lucas addition regarding the Open Meetings Act. Why was the Removal Petition frivolous? Because anyone, elected official or not, has freedom of speech and freedom to petition in this country. Most people, if they have resources to hire an attorney, would fight unjust attempts to suppress political speech. Also, a removal petition has specific grounds for which to remove an official to include incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication. The question is whether a person who exercises his freedom of speech when elected should be judged incompetent for those opinions, as a reason for a removal action. Second Removal Hearing January 8 2015 At the hearing on January 8 2015, I testified about charge #2, the blog entry that had criticized several people involved with the hospital. The judge ruled that Harper would be reinstated as Director on the Somervell County Hospital District board but also dismissed the anti‐slapp motion without a hearing on it. Lucas apparently didn’t come prepared to prove his case prima facie, but did say that the removal action was an enforcement order and therefore the anti‐slapp motion didn’t apply. Judge dismissed the motion, D Harper, Paul Harper’s wife, testified, and at the end, the judge ruled that Harper was to be put back as Director of the Somervell County Hospital District. Anti‐Slapp Motion Dismissed by Judge Cooke THE COURT: After that the Defense filed what we call an Anti‐SLAPPP Motion asking to dismiss the action; and by agreement of Counsel, even though the State was putting on their testimony before, we are going to switch and do the Defendant''''s Anti‐SLAPPP Motion to Dismiss. Is that true? MR. DOWELL: Yes, Your Honor, that''''s correct. THE COURT: Is that your agreement? MR. LUCAS: It is, Your Honor. THE COURT: All right. So based upon that, we will take up the Anti‐SLAPP Motion. The ‐‐ once that is heard and I have ruled on it, if I, of course, grant the motion, the case is over. If I don''''t grant it, then we will proceed with the State''''s ‐‐ rest of their testimony. So that''''s kind of where we are. So you may proceed on your Anti‐SLAPP Motion. MR. DOWELL: Thank you. May it please the Court. THE COURT: Yes, sir. MR. DOWELL: Counsel. Judge, I know you have had an opportunity to review the motion that we have filed under the Anti‐SLAPP Statute. Briefly stated, we believe there are two independent bases why this case should be dismissed under that statute. First, all of the actions brought by the relator and then thereafter the State relate to my client''''s exercise of his right to petition and his right to freedom of speech. Because of those issues and the direct bearing that the conduct that has been alleged against my client has regarding those two rights, we believe it falls squarely under the Anti‐SLAPP Motion. Further, Judge, the acts themselves of which my client has been accused do not meet the – the requirements of incompetence of the petition or – or misconduct. Finally, Your Honor, we would note that even if true, the allegations made against my client fall within the scope of a defense of qualified legislative immunity. Therefore, it''''s shown conclusively that the relator cannot recover on the suit as they have been pled and proved. We would ask the Court to take judicial notice and accept the testimony from the prior hearing on the State''''s motion to temporarily disqualify as further evidence in addition to that which we have already provided the Court. THE COURT: Any objection to taking up the prior‐tendered testimony for today''''s hearing? MR. LUCAS: No objection. THE COURT: All right. That''''s granted. Go ahead. MR. DOWELL: Your Honor, we believe that our client meets the affirmative defense of legislative immunity. We also believe this is clearly a case under the Anti‐SLAPP Motion for the reasons set forth in our motion and would seek the Court to dismiss this case on that basis. THE COURT: Counsel. MR. LUCAS: Your Honor, the Anti‐SLAPP Statute deals with a citizen''''s right to speak freely, associate freely, and participate in government. That ‐‐ that is not what is at issue in this matter. The issues we are dealing with are Mr. Harper''''s incompetence as a public official, not as a private citizen, by way of his gross ignorance of his official duties and his gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties, as well, further ‐‐ further allegations of his official misconduct in participating in illegal meetings; and those are the issues contemplated by Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code. And the Local Government Code is the ‐‐ Chapter 87 is the controlling statute in this matter. Anti‐SLAPP, the P‐P stands for Public Participation; and we are complaining of his acts as a public official, not as a member of the public. And more importantly and specifically, Section 27.010 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the Anti‐SLAPP chapter exempts enforcement actions brought in the name of the State of Texas by the County Attorney. And specifically, Section 27.010(a) says, "This chapter does not apply to an enforcement action that is brought in the name of this state or political subdivision of this state by the Attorney General, the District Attorney, a criminal District Attorney or a County Attorney." And on the issue of immunity, Your Honor, legislative immunity cannot be asserted when an individual was sued in his official capacity, which is clearly the case here. THE COURT: Do you want to close on your motion? MR. DOWELL: Yes, Your Honor. First, we would note that under the Anti‐SLAPP Statute, the burden shifts to show the alleged incompetence or other malfeasance on the part of my client; it shifts to, in this case, the relator. And they have to show by clear and convincing evidence, which has not been done, even taking the testimony from the prior hearing. Second, the alleged misconduct in this case that I did not address was this idea that there had been some violation of the Open Meetings Act because of text messages sent. The cases cited ‐‐ and in particular, we would direct the Court''''s attention to the Esperanza case and the AG opinions that say that ‐‐ that no quorum existed, even when they talked outside, as long as you did not rise to the level of a majority quorum of the Board. And here there was no evidence that it was any more than ever three people being discussed ‐‐ or discussing any issues of Board business. Second, this is not an enforcement action. This is a Motion to Disqualify. So we do not believe that 27.01 applies in this action. Now, he''''s not sued in his official capacity. He is not sued as the Board acting through him. He is sued for his individual actions. THE COURT: What about the fact that he says that the County Attorney is exempt from that? MR. DOWELL: That''''s where I believe that''''s only in enforcement actions under 27.01. We''''ve got the statute here. We can take a look at that if you would like, Judge. THE COURT: Do you want to expand on that, Andy? MR. LUCAS: Judge, I don''''t know why this wouldn''''t be considered an enforcement action. This is an enforcement action under the Local Government Code Chapter 87, and certainly it''''s brought in the name of the State of Texas by the County Attorney. MR. DOWELL: May I borrow your ‐‐ MR. LUCAS: Yes. MR. DOWELL: Judge, I do not believe that this is an enforcement action. This is an action seeking to disqualify, but it''''s not an enforcement. You are not instructing an officer to perform an act or to cease performing an act. This is an action seeking to disqualify, and the only reason it was brought in the name of the State was because it''''s required to in order for that portion of the Government Code to be enacted. THE COURT: All right. Anything else? MR. LUCAS: No, Your Honor. I think the enforcement provision if ‐‐ if the State and the relator are successful at trial ‐‐ at the jury trial, then ultimately the Court would suspend permanently the officer from office. THE COURT: Anything else? MR. DOWELL: No, Your Honor. THE COURT: The Defendant''''s Anti‐SLAPP Motion is overruled. All right. Let''''s proceed. Second Removal Hearing January 8 2015-D Harper''''s Testimony I was the only witness on the stand on January 8th, for probably an hour and a half at the temporary suspension hearing for Best v Harper. The reason I was called as a witness to testify is that the petitioner has falsely claimed that my husband wrote a post that I actually wrote, under my screenname *salon*, entitled "Shame on you, Chip Harrison...". (As a side note, there are affidavits in the anti-slapp motion regarding who wrote the posts. For a while during this testimony, I said “4b” instead of “501a”. Reason was that I was thinking about Darrell Best, who was sitting almost directly in front of me but off to the right. He had been appointed head of the GREDC, 4b, at one point and 4b was on my mind. I was still annoyed that he had even brought the charge about the blog into a lawsuit about Paul, since I believed he knew dang well it was my blog and my writing and not only was addressing my answers to the court but also about Best. Later, as you will see, Lucas asked me if what I had really meant was 501a and I corrected myself. I ALWAYS for YEARS have had my photo with my own posts. (When I got home I wondered why the fool the exhibit Lucas showed me DIDN’T have my photo, since every single thing I post has the photo of me with a dino behind it, and I realized it’s because someone had done a screen scrape instead of a screen capture. As my husband’s attorney showed, even though the plaintiff''''s exhibit wasn’t correct, my screen name of *salon* was on the post.) In fact, I made a VIDEO about this the other day, I have anonymized my email somewhat here Again with the implication that somehow my husband not stopping me from making posts regarding the hospital district renders him incompetent, as if wives do not have the same freedom of speech rights as their husbands or belong under a controlling thumb. "I do not believe the state has met its burden to remove him from office" After the second removal hearing , Judge Kit Cooke''''s ruling '' '
  19. District Judge dismissed Anti-SLAPP; Harper appeals the District judge had dismissed the anti-slapp motion. Lucas was supposed to have presented his evidence with clear and specific evidence; he did not. Harper and his attorneys filed a notice of accelerated appeal on March 29 2015 with the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco. Specifically What is a SLAPP Suit and an Anti-SLAPP action? From Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic ... ticipation See also A Primer on Anti-Slapp law https://slappedintexas.com/primer/ '
  20. 'Briefs Filed from Both Sides with the 10th Court of Appeals Briefs were filed from both sides and on November 4, 2015, oral arguments were heard by the justices on the appeals court. Harper''s brief Andy Lucas as the State of Texas brief Lucas, as the State of Texas, essentially argued that Removal Actions are exempt from the TCPA, that the TCPA was not intended to apply to a removal action, and that the State established a clear and specific case for removal. As have mentioned elsewhere, it was entirely discretionary for Andrew Lucas to take on Darrell Best’s petition. He could have ignored it as specious and frivolous and realized Best was trampling upon the first amendment of the constitution. 158 Oral Arguments Nov 4 2015-Lucas told the 10th Court of Appeals justices that he didn''t have to pursue the case We showed up at the Waco 10th Court of Appeals early on November 4, 2015 . I had been there once before, in support of a local resident named Joelle Ogletree, so I remembered that the courtroom was spacious, with the justices sitting behind a dais at the front, and about 3‐4 rows of seats on each side. Paul’s attorneys were there, the lead attorney, Mary, had come prepared with a poster and presentation on just what the TCPA was and how this case fit the criteria. What was odd to me was that when Andy Lucas came in, instead of sitting on the other side of the room, he sat on our side, behind Mary. There was one appeal that was being heard before us, so we patiently waited for them to make their case before the court. I did not know that the justices would, besides hearing the case presented to them, be asking questions. In fact, it was wonderful that they did, because they were able to find out particulars from both Paul’s attorneys and from Andy Lucas that they would not have known in a different court venue, as, for example, Andy Lucas wouldn’t have been questioned in district court. About whether other districts paid no taxes‐ Hood County doesn’t. (In fact, a couple of the Somervell County Commissioners had previously gone to Lake Granbury Medical Center to discuss a 3rd party deal before the hospital district passed. They wanted to try to get the same no‐tax hospital district deal that Hood County has.) About 3rd party private hospitals run by business. One judge liked that. One of the most fascinating parts of the hearing was when Lucas was asked by the justices his motivations and actions regarding the petition. “Did you Have to Act On the Petition? Asked if he *had* to act on the petition. At first he said yes, and then he said no he didn’t have to Asked about why he did it. Said he was concerned that Paul was trying to harm the district (hospital?) Asked if he would have done the same if it was a drunk. He said he didn’t know. What’s absurd about that answer is that intoxication is one of the 3 valid reasons for trying to remove an elected official from office, and Lucas apparently didn’t take that seriously. Lucas threatened Harper in the hallway after the court hearing. We were standing there with Paul''s attorneys and Andy said "“I’m still going to go after Paul with a jury trial after this is over”. Arrogance. As if the appeal was a mere blip in the road that prevented him from harassing Paul some more with a jury trial. Before the Ruling, Insurance Company Required Harper to offer to settle Paul Harper put in an offer to settle May 2016 Paul was called by his attorney in May 2016 and told that the insurance company wanted to make a settlement offer to Andy Lucas. The offer was actually pretty good. The insurance company would forgo the entire amount of the lawsuit sans the 25k that Paul was owed and another 25k. Paul did not want to do it as he was certain he would win out in the Motion for Rehearing that Lucas had filed, but the insurance company said that if he didn’t, they could decide not to cover any more of the lawsuit. The offer was made, and astoundingly, Lucas turned it down. He said there was no money to pay it, and he’d ride it out. I have to think he must have thought Paul was making the offer because he thought he would lose and that gave Lucas confidence to ignore the offer. Alternatively, Somervell County was also involved in a lawsuit with Luminant over property taxes at that time, and were cutting back on other government services in response. 10th Court of Appeals Opinion April 2016 "We Agree with Harper" On April 21, 2016, the appeals court ruled in Paul’s favor on all counts and issued a judgement against the State of Texas The Judgment went against the State of Texas State of Texas Filed Motion for Rehearing in the 10th Court of Appeals May 2016 Motion for Rehearing was filed on May 2016, the 10th COA asked for a response from Harper, and State of Texas Motion for Rehearing was denied on July 13, 2016. Brief from Andy Lucas on Motion for Rehearing from the 10th court of appeals There were, besides others, two very bizarre arguments made in this brief. One is that maybe the TCPA wasn’t a legal action. The second was that “denying a citizen’s right to petition for removal of a public official is contrary to the purpose of the TCPA.” The Texas Supreme Court ruled that TCPA IS a legal action. And the issue is simply ridiculous about whether Darrell Best was denied his right to petition for removal of a public official. Of course he was entitled to do so, but Lucas did not have to choose to join his petition. Gives the appearance that perhaps behind the scenes it had already been decided to press forward by any means to try to remove Paul, regardless of whether it violated constitutional protections. Response to State’s Motion for Rehearing 10th court of appeals Paul’s attorneys main points were 1. The State Relinquished Sovereign Immunity ..................................... 1 A. State Waived Immunity from Suit When it Became a Plaintiff ..................................................................... 2 i. The County Attorney Was Not Obligated to Continue the Removal Suit ....................................................... 4 ii. State Must Be Held to Same Standards as All Other Litigants ............................................................................ 5 B. The State Waived Immunity from Liability By Failing to Plead It ...................................................................... 6 C. Governmental Entities Are Not Exempt from the TCPA ..................................................................................... 7 i. TCPA Waives Sovereign Immunity ......................................... 7 ii. The Removal Statute Should Not Limit Procedures Available to Defendants .................................................. 10 2. Remand for a Determination of Costs, Reasonable Attorneys’ Fees, and Sanctions Tacitly Concludes that Such an Award against the State is Proper ........................................ 11 3. The State’s Arguments Regarding Application of the TCPA and Preemption, if Not Waived, Lack Merit ......................... 13 A. The TCPA Applies in Any Suit in Which an Exception Does Not Apply ...................................................... 13 B. The Removal Action is a Legal Action .................................. 14 C. Preemption Does Not Apply ................................................... 16 States Reply to Harper''s Response to Motion for Rehearing 10th court of appeals A few points. The State tried to argue again that they didn’t file the removal action. Right, they didn’t file the petition of George Darrell Best, but Andrew Lucas chose to take it on as well as add an additional TOMA charge. Lucas attorneys, (for he at this point had contracted with a legal firm to represent him rather than himself) also argued that the State had sovereign immunity. Also argued that the Anti‐slapp motion by Harper didn’t ask specifically for the judgement to be against the State. Lucas attorneys wanted the 10th court of appeals to withdraw their opinion and modify judgement to remove taxation of appellate costs against the State. Andy Lucas changes the stylings of the lawsuit after he lost in 10th court of appeals I found this interesting. In every case style that included Lucas as the State of Texas, he styled the case as “The State of Texas on the relation of George Darrell Best, Plaintiff. Except for the Motion for rehearing, which was styled as if it was a case between Harper and Best The 10th Court of Appeals was not confused by this, but instead set it right in their ruling which denied State of Texas Motion to Rehear. Notice the proper style is "State of Texas ex rel George Darrell Best". Motion for Rehearing Denied by !0th Court of Appeals (bolding mine) Lucas called Harper''s Attorney After Motion for Rehearing Denied Sep 9 2016 Andy Lucas, who had already turned down a different settlement offer made before the appeals court came back with his motion for a rehearing shot down, had his own offer to make on September 9, 2016. Lucas called Paul’s attorneys . Paul rejected the below. 1. Lucas had hoped that the Texas Attorney General’s office would take on his case. They said no. 2. Although Lucas had been spending county funds on an outside attorney, Somervell County apparently told him (with no public meeting) that they weren’t going to spend any more money on that. 3. Lucas was asking if Paul would agree to just hold Best responsible and not the State of Texas. 4. Overall, Lucas said the county had no more money to spend on this. Keep in mind that this was during the time they were in a lawsuit with Luminant, who was seeking to pay significantly less property taxes and it was causing budget cuts and reductions at all levels. 5. Seemed like Lucas was fishing to see how the judgement was to be enforced, and fishing for an appropriate settlement offer. '
  21. State of Texas (Andy Lucas) Appeals Defeat to the Texas Supreme Court Paul Harper won 3 times, Andy Lucas lost 3 times. The judgement on the Anti‐Slapp Motion to Dismiss was against the State of Texas. For whatever reason, Lucas wanted to continue to press his case. One factor may have been that he was able to use taxpayer money to pay for not only his own filings but the outside advice he got from more presumably experienced attorneys. Lucas wasn’t quite ready to make it an official brief but requested 30 more days to presumably see if he could figure out some way to avoid taking responsibility for the case, and he couldn’t. All of that took another month. And, understand, one never knows for sure each time how the courts might rule. And what about the money? If you’re not rich or at least well to do, do you even have money to spend on attorneys? Paul had to hire an attorney to fight the suit in the first place‐What the Amicus Brief said. The last day that Andy Lucas, as the State of Texas, could appeal the loss at the 10th court of appeals, to the Texas Supreme Court was August 26, 2016. I had gone to the Somervell County Commissioners Court meeting that day, and left the camera running after the meeting ended. I did that, not because of the case, but because I wondered why, after a meeting adjourned, there was still a quorum on the dais. However, interestingly, Ron Hankins attended this meeting, which, at least for the meetings I recorded, he didn''t typically do. I want you to notice when you watch the people who stick around after the meeting, and after Danny Chambers gives a head nod, go out of the room with him. About an hour later, the appeal to the Texas Supreme Court was filed. Going to remind again, because Ron Hankins was clearly part of this, that Ron Hankins is the one, although unknown at the time, who wrote up the original petition that Darrell Best used to go after Paul. Ron Hankins didn''t want anyone to know he did this, at least not publicly. Did all the people in this meeting, including Danny Chambers, know that Hankins was actually the one behind all this trouble and violation of the rights of Paul? As a side note, I had been informally told by a friend of mine that Judge Chambers was not going to let Lucas go to the Texas Supreme Court. Apparently he changed his mind, and that decision caused more attorney fees to rack up, as well as the prospect should the judgement go against the State of Texas again (and it did), taxpayers would pay it Andy’s brief “Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits (Texas Supreme Court) filed on behalf of the State of Texas” was filed 2/21/2017 His attorney argued that a removal petition is not subject to dismissal under the Citizens Participation Act and again, that the State of Texas should not have to pay the judgement. Mary H Barkley’s brief, “Respondent’s Brief on the Merits (Texas Supreme Court) filed on behalf of Paul Harper was filed 3/13/2017 Andy’s reply brief (Texas Supreme Court) Tried again to argue that somehow Lucas HAD to prosecute this case. Of course he did not and had said so when asked by the justices of the 10th court of appeals in oral arguments Texas Supreme Court asked both sides for briefs on why the case should not be moot. Andy’s brief filed on 11/15/2017 txscotpostsubmissionbrieflucas0FC.pdf Mary’s brief filed on 11/16/2017 postsubmissionbriefharper1FA.pdf Andy’s reply to Respondent Brief filed 11/20/2017 112017replytobrieflucas20A.pdf Amicus Letter filed by Cleve Doty 11/29/2017 Amicus letter‐ Clevel Doty Freedom of Information Texas put in Amicus Brief 12/28/2017 amicusbriefffoit17E.pdf Even Empower Texas with which entity I share few political views amicusbreifemplowertexas124.pdf Oral Argument at the Texas Supreme Court Andy Lucas hired an attorney to represent him at the Texas Supreme Court. As a side note, who paid for that? Somervell County taxpayers did. Paul Harper Wins at Texas Supreme Court- Judgement Against the State of Texas The Texas Supreme Court ruled in Harper''s favor on 6/29/2018. The Texas Supreme Court recognized and spoke about this harassment of Harper when they said, in their opinion Because no one can ever express an opinion based on what someone else tells them, or from watching a video, listening to an audio or reading pertinent documents. Seems that someone had a thin skin about criticism. Maybe that person or those persons should think twice about running for public office. State of Texas (Andy Lucas) Asks for Motion to Rehear on 7/20/2018 Motion to Rehear denied on December 2018. More than 4 years after the original lawsuit was filed. Amicus Brief from Thomas Cowart 7/16/2018 8/23/2018 the Texas Attorney General’s office put in an Amicus Brief amicusbriefthomascowart026.pdf Note the contradiction between what the AG had already said in a different case in which they cited Harper’s TCPA argument on the TOMA claim as not being an enforcement action. ENFORCEMENTACTION2017.pdf Response to amicus brief 9/11/2018 Response to amicus brieflafond2eb Supplement to Thomas B Cowart amicus brief 10/9/2018 '
  22. 'Andy Lucas, bizarrely, puts in an answer to the original Anti-Slapp motion. Darrell Best was told by Andy Lucas, when the Texas Supreme Court ruled against the State of Texas, that the next step was going to be coming back down to district court to determine fees and sanctions. NOT to try the entire case over again from scratch. Judge Weeks Rules for Judgment Against State of Texas and Darrell Best As part of the hearing in August 2019, Chip Harrison testified under oath that he had been threatened by Andy Lucas. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=17312 Here''s part of that Now, you see that Andy Lucas says "Okay" to Chips comments about threatening and bullying, instead of contesting them. Also, and this is a critical part, IF it were 1 that Harper was violating TOMA with a walking quorum, then rightly the OTHER PEOPLE IN THAT So-CALLED QUORUM should also have been charged. They weren''t, ONLY Harper, which definitely gives the appearance Harper was being singled out and it wasn''t about TOMA. Also, John Parker testified that he had been threatened to be sued by the chief deputy of the Sheriff''s Department. https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=17319. Part of that And John Parker said he was actually threatened by someone who works for the Somervell County Sheriff''s Department. That was probably the meeting held on 3/20/2015 at which the indemnification was discussed. According to John Parker, the person that threatened him was Dwayne Griffin. Note that at the meeting in which this was voted on after this,on May 28 2015, the hospital attorney had said that he agreed Harper should be paid the $25,000 from hospital funds. From the minutes http://salon.glenrose.net/img/may282015minutes.JPG Ron Hankins, who had secretly written the petition for removal, and did not recuse himself for some reason from the vote,voted against. https://youtu.be/QUhFVXf4tv8 At this same hearing, the money amounts were discussed in detail, Judge Weeks rendered judgment for Paul Harper in these amounts. Notice that some of this judgment was in case Lucas, as the State of Texas, decided to appeal this judgment. He did not and thus any opportunity to contest whether the judgment was fair or not is gone. What was telling was that Andy Lucas attorney tried to take out Lucas responsibility for the case by trying to take out the text that showed the State of Texas appeared through its counsel AND REPRESENTATIVE AND also attempted to exempt Somervell County, who was not a specific party to the case from having to pay the judgement, as well as the Somervell County Attorney. The judge, OF COURSE, said no to the latter. Have said multiple times in this forum that Somervell County paid for the case anyway; they paid for Andy Lucas'' attorney, all filing fees, anything that had to do with getting the case ready, and the Somervell County Commissioners Court voted multiple times to pay for it from county funds. That''s not to mention that the Texas AG''s office said in a letter that the county was responsible because what Lucas did as the State of Texas was discretionary. Darrell Best Tries Bankruptcy to get out of judgment, Fails, Pays $45,000 George Darrell Best, usually known as Darrell Best, is the one who originally brought the Petition for Removal, which was secretly written by Ron Hankins, former Somervell County Attorney and current Somervell County Hospital District board member. The judgment went against him and also the State of Texas. Best didn''t want to have to pay. Best filed bankruptcy on January 13, 2020 in the US Western District Bankruptcy Court, Case #20-60034-rbk. Here is Best''s bankruptcy petition which included a list of his debts, debtors and assets. gdbestinitialpetition180125392728.pdf Darrell Best went through a credit counselor before filing gdbestcreditcounseling180125392731.pdf His bankruptcy also included employing an auctioneer to sell property, including, among other items, a 1925 Model T Firetruck and a 1945 Buffalo Firetruck abestmotiontosellproperty180125842193 (1).pdf Harper objected to Best trying to get out of the judgment and filed an adversary case on April 17, 2020 Case 20- (bolding is mine) Best then went to the State of Texas (ie, Andy Lucas) to try to be part of a deal for Harper, but Lucas told him that they weren''t paying. That, in my opinion, left Best hanging out to dry. Best then made his own deal with Harper to pay part of the judgment. The bankruptcy court put up Best''s firetrucks to sell. His 1925 Ford Model T Firetruck sold for $4,900 and the 1945 Buffalo Firetruck sold for $1,700. 20210201bestsale.pdf Who Paid for the State of Texas to Pursue This and for Lucas's attorneys? You did Some people in the community, including some on the Somervell County Commissioners Court, thought the case was a private one between Darrell Best and Paul. I have no idea if they were honestly fooled, or considered it a better public stance to pretend the case would simply go away. They ignored the fact that Andy Lucas, as the State of Texas, had decided to take on Darrell Best’s specious claims and added one of his own, and was thus moving through the system as either the appellee or the appellant, depending on which court he was pleading in. Consider that if Andy Lucas were truly and solely concerned with a TOMA (Texas Open Meeting Act) violation, he could have done that separately and it would have been appropriate, nay, really necessary, for him to also include the others he alleged were violating TOMA via a walking quorum, which would involve multiple people. He did not. Certainly the clue for who is responsible would have been that the styling was not merely Darrell Best but Andy as the State of Texas in relation to Best. Besides this, Somervell County Commissioners Court voted on at least two occasions to pay for Andy Lucas legal fees in this case. Andy apparently didn’t believe he had the legal expertise to act on his own behalf so he hired an attorney. One of the attorneys from the law firm he contracted with did the oral argument pleading before the Texas Supreme Court, not Andy. Andy Lucas does have a budget but a budget transfer was done from taxpayer funds to pay for that extra attorney. The last time I looked at this was in August 2016, when the outside legal expenses for this case were $4,726.50. 159 No mention was ever given in budgeting sessions for upcoming years, nor did, apparently, Somervell County Commissioners Court have even one meeting about this lawsuit. I consider that irresponsible. It may be that the case, when it finally wound through the courts, would end up favoring Andy Lucas, but the commissioners court had no way of knowing that and keeping the commissioners informed through properly posted open meetings, even if held in closed session, was imperative. I spoke to a commissioner at one point and he said he knew about the case. I told him it shouldn’t be just a gossip issue but a losing verdict would affect taxpayers. I was also told, anecdotally, that Andy Lucas at one point went around to the commissioners’ offices to tell them, in groups of two, that he was probably going to lose. Not only did that sound like a walking quorum, but it skirts the very idea of public service governance. Lucas had no engagement letter with the attorney who represented him at the Texas Supreme Court. Somervell County paid that attorney''s invoices. "At least ELEVEN TIMES Where Somervell County Commissioners Court Paid the Bills for the State of Texas ex rel Best v Harper case" How is that done? One time I was at a Somervell County Commissioners Court meeting and Brian Watts, the auditor, mentioned that there was a budget transfer that needed to be made for Andy Lucas. No one on the court asked what that was, and I wondered, so I did an open records request. That led to finding that we, the taxpayer, were paying for two different attorneys who were doing work on the Best v Harper case. What? YOU had to hire an attorney, we got to use county resources! You don’t mind paying twice do you? I attended a Somervell County Commissioners meeting a while back, in July 2016. The county auditor, in presenting the budget transfers (parts of one account to be shifted and paid by another) mentioned moving money to pay the County Attorney’s outside legal expenses. Since Andy Lucas had most recently filed a “Motion for Rehearing” in the case, I not only wondered what the outside expenses might be, but also if Lucas had paid other attorneys to help him with his motion. Got the answer, yup, he paid out $4726.50 to a couple of different attorney firms. Other than that, his cost, besides his time, was for filing fees. The county, that is, the taxpayers of Somervell County, are the ones that are paying for this. The question is, what skin is off the county attorney’s nose to spend to fight frivolous cases in court? Not much, compared to the cost that Paul has had to pay out, which started with $25,000 and has gone up from there. To add insult to injury, because there was also an appraisal district property tax lawsuit going on with Luminant at the same time, I had to hear Judge Danny Chambers say that he thought Luminant should pay, they’d already lost twice,. I thought, and yes, so has Andy Lucas and the State of Texas, where is Paul Harper’s justice? Somervell County Judge and Commissioners Court pretended the suit didn’t exist What was appalling to me was that, even though should Paul have continue to prevail in winning against Lucas''s lawsuit, the Somervell County Commissioners Court did not hold one meeting, open or closed, to discuss it. One of the commissioners told me he was aware of it but only informally. That seems like a dereliction of duty. I did hear that Andy Lucas went around individually to the commissioners to tell them at one point that he thought the county had lost, but this was done as a sort of walking quorum, not in any type of public session. Where was the obligation to Somervell County taxpayers? https://salon.glenrose.net/default.asp? ... k&id=17358 Consider also that Somervell County Commissioners routinely approved, in Somervell County Commissioners Court meetings, paying for these invoices of Andy''s for the case without any type of discussion. Let me say that again. The commissioners not only didn't balk at paying attorney fees in this case that Lucas was primarily pursuing, but they didn''t even discuss it at all in meetings. Is there any way you would know that this was being done? Only on this site. Don''t forget that when Somervell County received notice of suit from Paul Harper for the judgment, they hired an attorney Mike Dixon to represent them (different attorney than the one Andy Lucas hired to represent him as the State of Texas) . You may wonder whether Danny Chambers knew already that the Texas Ag''s office told them via letter they were responsible to pay. Yes, they did. No, they did not until Paul filed suit and then almost a year later paid. I have not yet done an open records request for this amount but plan to in the future. Who paid? You, the taxpayer Update: I have now done, in June 2021 my final open records request to discover how much Somervell County paid for this lawsuit since the last time I asked. Last time I posted about the money spent was on 24 Nov 2019 and all bills were through the final judgment hearing I neglected to post the invoices on that article, which is now an archive, so putting them here Pricey for that Waco attorney to come to Glen Rose I wanted to know if there were more bills after that, because Somervell County DRAGGED their feet about paying the judgment. From 12/21/2019- notice that it''s not possible to split out the Texas Civil Rights call and Andy Lucas/Harper lawsuit so will split the difference and say the Harper call was $96.00. By my reckoning the total amount spent by Andy Lucas, himself an attorney, on other attorney services came to $2800.29 since Dec 2019. This is added to the amounts spent previously on this case to include May 2019 to Nov 2019 $6,342.64 Nov 2017-6 May 2019- $9,900.00 , Aug 2016 - 11,586.50 2016- $4634.00 -the total spent is around $35,263.43 - that doesn''t count the salary Andy Lucas got during those years while he was racking up money by using outside attorneys for a frivolous lawsuit that he did not have to take on and continually lost Somervell County Commissioners Court settles $165,000 Dec 2019-Harper sent a notice to sue to Somervell County. Don''t forget the judgment against the State of Texas was done in September of 2019, with zero accountability by the county, who pays for the State of Texas bills. Then Best was chased into his attempt to avoid payment by declaring bankruptcy court action 2020- Because of a lack of any action by Somervell County or the State of Texas to resolve this, Harper put in a Notice to sue Somervell County and the State of Texas -asking for a declaratory judgement. Ie, Who is the State of Texas? Is it the office in Austin where the Comptroller pays or is it the State of Texas, Andy Lucas? Remember that the State of Texas Attorney General''s office had already, apparently twice, sent a letter explaining that the county was responsible to pay. 2019 1107 State of Texas ex rel. Best v. Harper re Final Judgment.pdf Notice that the AG''s office says that Somervell County is responsible to pay, waived immunity for the costs, and because Lucas prosecuted the underlying legal action at (his) own discretion and without any involvement of the AG''s office. Somervell County reached out to settle and agreed to settle the case for $165,000 on August 31, 2020, some 6 years after the original Petition for Removal was filed. The following is from the agenda and minutes on August 31, 2020 Somervell County Commissioners Court Notice that all the county commissioners voted to pay this. And that the money came from the *contingency* fund. Personally, I believe that a contingency fund ought to be used for more important things that covering the ass of an out of control county attorney Why did Somervell County pay? The State of Texas as represented by County Attorney Andrew Lucas was responsible to pay the judgment. Here''s the rub. Lucas took on the frivolous petition by Darrell Best (and secretly written by Ron Hankins) for all purposes and added an item of his own. He did so, not as the Somervell County Attorney but as the State of Texas. When the judgment came down from Judge Weeks in District Court in 2019, The State of Texas and Darrell Best were jointly and severally responsible for the money judgment. Somervell County was not explicitly listed, because they had not been a party to the lawsuit. BUT..... Somervell County had been paying Lucas''s attorney bills for the case, including the Commissioners Court voting to pay those bills. The bills were not paid by the Comptroller''s office in Austin. The Texas Attorney General''s office sent a letter stating that the county was responsible to pay the State of Texas judgement because it was entirely discretionary on Lucas part to take on the case, he could have said, this is nonsense and turned it down and 2. the county is responsible for his bills. (see above) Cantey-Hanger was FANTASTIC!!! Paul was represented by Cantey-Hanger out of Fort Worth, specifically, Mary Barkley and Chris Brown. As an onlooker, I was so impressed with the quality of the work they did. It''s been six years and Brown, in particular, went from having no children to a number of them. '
  23. Why Did George Darrell Best, Ron Hankins and Andy Lucas Do This? Theory of what they may have thought would happen This next part is my personal theory about what the heck happened. When you decide to sue someone, you have to weigh the possible outcomes. When Andy Lucas decided to take on Darrell Best’s petition, he may have thought *Paul will quit because he doesn’t want to spend, or doesn’t have, the money for an attorney *If Paul doesn’t quit but doesn’t hire an attorney, we’ll be smarter than him. *We will get him thrown at least temporarily off the board while ginning up a jury trial in the future. We don’t actually have to have the jury trial, it will never come but Paul will be off the board anyway It seemed to me possible that Andy Lucas, Darrell Best, and Ron Hankins were all working together to effect Paul’s removal. Andy was listed as Best’s attorney and not as the State of Texas almost from the start, giving the appearance that he was a private attorney working for him. Best was in email communication with a “Ron” who I believe was Hankins. (In fact, it turned out that Hankins was involved with this from the start and was the one who wrote the original petition, while keeping it hidden) Certainly Hankins seemed to take much more umbrage than anyone else at Paul’s comments and actions, and it was his opinion, captured on video that Paul deserved to be sued for those opinions. The day that the Supreme Court brief was due, I saw Hankins waiting in commissioners court for Lucas. Darrell Best seemed to me to be more interested in working the hospital crowds, probably in anticipation of running for another office, as he had most recently lost to Danny Chambers as judge. Or perhaps he thought if Paul just up and quit, he’d be appointed in his stead and he wanted to be sure he was visible. Both Ray Reynolds and Darrell Best, as evidenced by Shelley Turk’s affidavit, had wanted to kick Paul out almost as soon as he was duly elected, and were looking for any pretense to do it. Sad that none of them apparently value freedom of speech. What I don’t personally believe any of them anticipated is that Paul would hire a law firm, Cantey-Hanger, and fight this. Otherwise, surely they would have spent more time researching why their lawsuit was untenable. Why should a duly elected official be thrown off a board simply for winning and not sharing the same positions as some others? We live in America, right? When Paul fought the lawsuit, at one point the judge actually told him that he could quit if he wanted. I believe that had they been able to keep Paul *temporarily* off the board or had found some other item in the *kitchen sink* hearing to throw him off, they would have put off into the future the jury trial that was required , so that Paul would never again have been on the board until his term was up. The judge ruled in Paul’s favor at the hearing that was set more than 2 months later, but still held out that there might be a jury trial. Paul, however, was back on the board. I complained at one point to the Glen Rose Reporter’s Brent Addleman that he was not presenting this correctly as being a civil case in the newspaper and he wrote a corrective article. But it was tough fighting gossips as well as a lightweight newspaper. Next, Andy Lucas, with the help of Ron Hankins, put in a motion for a temporarily restraining order to prevent Paul from attending the next scheduled meeting. 163That also failed. Even then, Lucas told Paul’s attorneys after the appeals court hearing that he was still going to go after Paul in a jury trial. The man wouldn’t quit, he had a vendetta and a mission. This was his Moby Dick. One of the neighbors told us months into the Texas Supreme Court process that some were saying that Paul would give up or run out of money. That’s the very essence of a SLAPP suit, yes? A bully lawsuit to target those who probably wouldn’t fight. And I do have to wonder whether these same bully tactics were used with other people. Somervell County is not a rich county, and I would guess most people would simply give up rather than fight, even if they thought it was wrong, because lawsuits are costly. After all, Lucas used Somervell County taxpayer funds to pursue the lawsuit. And lawsuits also take an inordinate amount of time. Even though the common wisdom is that anti‐slapp motions will end actions quickly, at least in Paul’s case that didn’t happen but the suit dragged on for years, more than 6 years to be exact. Make no mistake. I’m immensely proud of him for fighting. Another one of our neighbors told me that if it were him, he would have immediately quit once sued. But there’s a principle involved here. When a bully uses a frivolous SLAPP suit to shut someone up and get someone to stop what they don’t like, it’s great that Texas has a law that allows, on the basis of constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition, to try to get the lawsuit thrown up before too much time and money have gone by. That simply didn’t happen here. But.. .Paul won. Andy Lucas and Darrell Best lost. And paid for it. Who Said Anti‐Slapp Motions were quick? I see people tweet blithely about threats to them that “We have anti‐slapp laws now” as if a magic wand will erase long lawsuits and bring immediate justice. In this case, the judge dismissed the motion without Andy Lucas as the State of Texas having to follow the procedures to show clear and specific evidence for his case. Had he done so, this probably would have come to an end right away, because it was a ridiculous and frivolous suit. The good news is that Paul could appeal this within a certain amount of time, and he did, as a defensive action against the suit, which he did not bring. The courts, including the 10th Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court, agreed with him and he won at all stages. But that takes time, so anyone that thinks anti-slapp motions will always be resolved quickly, as actually was the intent when that law was passed, is not correct. Changes to the Anti-Slapp law in Texas in 2018 Paul won his case. He was an elected official who was sued by other people, including an elected official, and was able to use the Anti-Slapp (Texas Citizens Participation Act) as a defense. And this is as it should be. If an elected official violates someone''s freedom of speech and freedom of petition, others, including elected officials should be able to fight against what clearly are constitutional violations via Anti-Slapp. Saying this another way, just because one is elected, does not make you any less of a citizen whose rights can be trampled by overzealous prosecutors. Here''s a letter I wrote to officials on a couple of Texas Lege committees on May 23 2019 regarding changes to the Anti-Slapp law Hopefully, no one at any level of government is dumb enough to do what Andy Lucas as the State of Texas did. But if they do, I believe the person being wrongly targeted would have a good legal action to take to say that the TCPA applies to them for their use, despite the actions of the Texas Legislature. Enforcement Action? I disagree with the Texas Supreme Court When Andy Lucas, as the State of Texas, tried to claim that the petition to remove Paul from office was an enforcement action, without presenting any proof of that, I wondered how that could be. The !0th Court of Appeals said what he did was NOT an enforcement action. How do you enforce something that hasn''t been proven in a court of law????? From the 10th Court of Appeals opinion Right. The District Court made no attempt to determine anything about the TCPA and didn''t even require Lucas to follow the law regarding the steps he should have taken to prove his case. Interestingly, the Texas Attorney General''s office agreed with that definition of enforcement action and said so in a filing on a different case. (See p 44 of the 2015 Administrative Law handbook) Here is a brief the Attorney General''s office (Ken Paxton) put out in the TEXAS, Appellant, v. AUSTIN FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 975, Appellee. No. 03-17-00131-CV. March 29, 2017 appeal at the 3rd Court of Appeals ENFORCEMENTACTION2017.pdf Before you read any further, note that the people from the AG''s office What did the AG''s office argue re: enforcement action? Why, they cited the 10th court of appeals! If Lucas had followed the law regarding a TOMA (Texas Open Meetings Act) violation, which he did not, and then it turned out that a judge had ruled that Paul was in violation, the enforcement action would then still not be to remove him from office, but he very well could have faced other penalties. How, in other words, do you do an enforcement action against something that has not yet been proven to be true? That was the whole point of Lucas calling for a jury trial in the future. Another example. Suppose someone believes you owe child support. Shouldn''t the movant have to prove that and then take the resulting court document to the child support bureau to then have paying that child support enforced? What the Texas Supreme did was change the definition of what an enforcement order is from what the 10th court of appeals said. From the Texas Supreme Court opinion. And therein, again, lies the rub. An UNPROVEN allegation by the State of Texas does not equal a PROVEN allegation that then leads to an action that can be enforced. Otherwise, couldn''t this *enforcement action" be used against just about anything without any type of requirement that, first, the person alleging the action has to follow already existing law and prove their case or second, that they should, in the aspect of the TCPA, have had to follow the TCPA law to prove to some extent that they had a case and this was not frivolous? I believe the Texas Supreme Court was wrong and I wonder if they were trying to "split the baby" with this? From Joseph Larson''s amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court. Josephlarsonamuicusbrief17E.pdf '
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