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  1. 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/
  2. 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.
  3. SO HOT here now, under a heat advisory through Friday evening, and it will be over 100 degrees every day for at least a week. And that only brings us to the middle of July. Time to bring up one of my favorite things about living in this county and that is the Somervell County Transfer Station where I can get a free truckload of mulch. I have done this twice already this summer (really should have started in March) and it has done wonders for the trees and bushes in the yard. Whereas before I would water, the water would quickly evaporate due to the hot dry winds blowing through the yard, now the trees are actually green and some of the crepe myrtles are blooming. Hub set up the lawnmower with a cart so that I can drive to exactly where I want to put mulch, so I get a bunch from the back of the pickup, put it in the cart, and then place it around the trees I'm trying to save. The first time I did this, in the last 3 weeks, I waited till a day it would not get to 100 degrees to do it. Really, the trees needed a second layer of mulch, so waited again for another day of below 90 and actually where it would be below 100 for a few days, and did it again. I read some years back from a prominent DFW gardener that said the secret of gardens in Texas is Mulch Mulch Mulch and I heartily agree. I feel very lucky that we have such a great dump here, and appreciate the lady who is always there at the window checking in residents, with a cheerful smile. And the people who help get the pickup loaded via front end loader. All good!
  4. I wrote about why I'm an atheist on my old blog, Salon, in 3 parts, going to copy the information to put it all here. I wrote this in 2010 so that was 12 years ago. Why I Am Now An Atheist Part 1- Religious Background Why I'm Now an Atheist- Part 2- Feminism and Women in Religion Um. Thanks. :) I also do not believe that being a woman physically is a curse, that being able to have children, or feel pain during childbearing, is a curse, or that women should be blamed, like Pandora opening the box, for all the world's evils. I've read a number of stories where women have been in abusive relationships and have been told by religious *authorities* to basically put up with it, and wait on god. That's absurd. If a woman genuinely feels that she is being abused, she can make her own decision about whether to get out or not. Again, her OWN decision, because she is an adult, not a child that needs to be told what to do. And I don't want to hear "If people would actually follow the example of God's love...". Belief that one should treat each other kindly and with love is an ethical position that anyone can have; conversely there are plenty who profess to be moral that don't follow loving precepts. From Alternet I've wondered before it was all simply a desire for power. That is, one who wants power must have others to be powerful over. If you can convince half the world that you have a right, simply because of your sex, to have the power and they cannot, because god says so, why wouldn't you do it? But why does any woman buy into this? When I started really considering whether a book had the right to dictate how I should be perceived, only because I happen to have been born female, I decided it could not. That goes for any so-called holy book or any religion or philosophy. To me, a book only has power over you to change how you perceive yourself if you allow it to. If there are women that want to be submissive to the men in their lives, they can be. But because America is a nation of laws, others that do not want to live this way do not have to and can, in good stead, reject that choice of life. I prefer relationships that are based on love, respect and equality. That gets me to the heart of my philosophical argument I had with myself regarding a just god. I don't believe that if god exists, he or she would make a distinction based on a flawed book between male and female, that he would punish a woman just for eating an apple that represented knowledge, or create physical problems and pain. If that were 1, then god would be no better than an abusive husband. I do not see any evidence among religions that claim to speak for god that women are treated consistently better. Is there any reason to have male dominance over women aside from claims for it, or justification based on a book? No. If god existed, and god were good, he or she or it would have made sure that everyone, male or female, was treated fairly and that if there were those that sought to lord it over others were stepping out of bounds, they would be snapped back. Instead there are a host of evils that are done to woman in the name of religion. Therefore, I reject religion as an artifice of humans designed for various earthly ends. Why I'm Now An Atheist- Part 3- Why Even Say Anything Publicly? I'm the same person I was before, didn't suddenly grow hooves, or change my basic moral and ethical beliefs. The only thing that changed is that I no longer believe in god. This is not a bad thing. In fact, there's a real mental freedom that comes with this. I don't believe in a vindictive god that would condemn me to an eternity of torment because of jealousy. I do believe in treating people well during their lives and having the best, happiest, most appreciative, and ethical life one can, because this is when it counts to show love to others. Not later. Now. I don't believe that a god would want me to lie about worshipping him or her IN CASE I'm wrong. As Bertrand Russell said "But sir, you didn't give us enough evidence." People will then often say, "But surely it's better to remain an Agnostic just in case?" This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I've been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.) Douglas Adams Everyone is an atheist in his or her own way. If one doesn't believe in the god/gods of another religion, that one is atheist in that regard. I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. ~ Stephen Roberts I really didn't talk directly much on this site about what I was thinking, but instead about other issues that illustrated issues I was grappling with. Like, why, since the pledge of allegiance was altered in only 1954, should anyone stand and say it in its new religious guise? It's a marriage of obeisance to a piece of cloth and god (graven idol anyone?) It also doesn't seem fair that since we are a country that has freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion, that secular government should include a marriage of church and state. (I may feel extra strongly that way because I was raised as a baptist, which STILL has in its belief statements that church and state should be separate.) I don't see anyone being forbidden to do private religious activities in taxpayer spheres as long as they aren't imposed on the public. (Like children praying in school-who stops them unless they try to stand up and lead the class?) If there are those that want to be religious and worship one god over another, I am not trying to stop them. Again, we have freedom of religion in this country and that includes, for example, Islam. I began recently, though, to feel that I wanted to express myself on this. I"m not ashamed of calling myself an atheist. I am a moral, ethical person. I starting feeling like anyone that thought maybe I was would consider that I was trying to hide it. In this country, though, why would anyone with a difference in beliefs or opinion feel compelled to not treat beliefs as normal and part of life? I know a lot of people who start their meals with a prayer, don't have any problem with telling me how they feel about their god, and, in fact, as in the case of evangelists, consider it their mission in life to do so. I want to express my opinion as well. I'm an American and proud to live in this country where I can speak up, even when I am not sure that my views are popular.
  5. Back in 2011 when Rick Perry had aspirations to be president, Texas had a major drought. At one point, Rick Perry told people that "Only God Can Help" and told them to pray for rain. Well, looks like god was busy when Perry was asking so finally Perry had to give up and ask then-President Obama for federal help in August. We had another drought year a few years back and it was one main factor on why I decided not to keep yard birds anymore. That brings us to this year, 2022. I got a lot of wild flower seed, as well as bluebonnet seed which I started planting last year in anticipation that we would have a glorious display all spring and summer like we did last year (maybe part of that was because of the Texas freeze in the winter) But nope, it has been extremely dry and I have been working hard to keep the trees and bushes alive. Got a load of mulch from the dump and plan to get another one this week to get more of the trees surrounded, as well as add a layer to ones there. It's funny how much, when it's dry all the time, any clue that some rain might come by and bring even a little relief is pored over, at least by me. And so it is today. If it does not rain late this afternoon, I need to go out again and water the yard. And it's still only June. The other day, on a day when the weather service told us there was a Heat Advisory until 7:00 and also Somervell County is under a burn ban, the phone rang a couple of times. Didn't recognize the number, we get a lot of spam calls, but the person calling didn't leave a message. Hub and I decided to go to town about then, and as we drove down the county road, we saw a huge amount of smoke from the adjoining property. As we got closer, we saw there were two large fires going, but even more horrific, as we watched, the fire jumped the road onto the property of the neighbor's across the street, who have a log home. Hub immediately called 911 for the fire department and we decided not to drive through the fire and smoke but return home. The people whose property had the fire are not living there yet, with a home, so I texted the neighbor to let her know in case she didn't realize it, that the fire was now coming her direction, following a strong wind. She was not home at the time. Over the next hour, from my own property, I listened and watched a bunch of different fire vehicles, most from Somervell County, one from Bosque (Walnut Springs) and was happy to see how quickly they were on the scene and worked to put all the fires out. The Walnut Springs fireman told us the adjoining property owner had been spot welding, started a fire which got out of control. I thank the speed and professionalism of all involved as it could easily have been a very bad situation, due to the dry brush and grass from this drought and the wind speed. There have been a few fires over the years on this road. One, towards the end, burned down a mobile home. The second happened at a lovely home across the street the other way, also a case of a very stiff wind, small fire which got out of control and burned a significant part of the house, making it unlivable. That family ended up razing it to the ground, selling the property and moving to another state. Some kids living in one of the properties on a nearby county road burned down their whole front yard field over fireworks. One time I was talking with a former Somervell County Commissioner who told me he had started a fire which fortunately did not get out of control when doing spot welding to repair a fence. I also found out at one county meeting I attended that you can't burn stuff in a barrel. Anyway, my point is that the whole thing was terrifying and exhausting, the wind shifted at one point towards our direction. The good news there was that there were so many fire personnel that they had the fire under control at that point at the two places they were. Suggesting that until we have a really good rain, it is a better idea for people to refrain from doing anything that can start a fire, OR if there is something necessary to be done, have a hose or other running water available to put it out quickly. Again, Somervell County has a burn ban going on, and when there is also an extended drought and a heat advisory, what a great idea to be inside somewhere sipping a cold drink and watching a movie.
  6. 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 '
  7. In previous Somervell County Commissioners Court administrations, a citizen attending the Commissioners Court meeting was given a handout that included the budget transfers. That is, when money is used from one account to pay for another, it generated a line item, like 00001 X Dept Training Seminar to 00003 General Fund. In other words, although sometimes it was a heck of a lot of moves, you could easily follow what moneys were being moved around between different accounts. The overhead system to display the agenda was put in sometime during Mike Ford's court time, and all the items were displayed for the attendees to read. At some point after Danny Chambers became judge, that practice stopped. I asked several different commissioners about it and was told that the auditor, who at that time was Brian Watts, had not finished preparing the transfers in time for them to go out with the agenda, the list was emailed to the commissioners and judge before the meeting. I further heard that Chambers was the one in charge of displaying the agenda on the overhead, and requested that this be done. To my knowledge, it has not been done so since at least 2016. Here is a post on my archive site which contains a discussion between Brian Watts and myself. He said that he sent out the transfers via email on a Friday afternoon. I asked that the reports be made part of the agenda packet or that Mr Chambers include the budget transfers in the overhead. At the time, pre-covid, I attended a lot of meetings and this was never done. What is the procedure right now? Budget transfers are handed out to the commissioners at the time of the meeting, and later, sometime after the meeting, scanned in by Michelle Reynolds office to be posted on the Somervell County website as part of the minutes agenda. They are not made available via a handout to the citizen attendees, nor are they displayed on the overhead. According to Nikki Weeden, the information comes in after the agenda is posted and can be fluid during the weekend, so is only available at the time of the commissioners meeting, so not available through email. Why even care about this? Because the money is being transferred between multiple bank accounts now. Some years back the Enterprise Fund was created, most recently the new Assistance District account. Wouldn't you like to know, for example, what moneys from either are being transferred from any other account or even transferred within the same account? I would! (Side note that budget transfers were how I discovered during the frivolous lawsuit brought by Andy Lucas against my hub that Andy Lucas had hired a law firm to do his work since he apparently could not do so himself and Somervell County taxpayers paid for it. There was a mention of the transfers during the meeting, they were NOT shown, but I did an open records request looking for the receipts and contracts, etc.) So, you all know the adage "Follow the money". Budget transfers as well as bills to pay allow taxpayers to see how the money is being accounted for. Right now, the budget transfers can be, at the least, included in the agenda minutes packet that goes in after meetings. You can see what I mean by going to the Somervell County agenda site, where there are columns for the agenda, the agenda packet, minutes and the minutes packet. The Somervell County clerk, who is Michelle Reynolds currently, scans in the relevant information afterwards, so that the info might not be part of the agenda itself but can be found later in the agenda packet or the minutes packet. Upshot is that the transfers are manually handed out right before the meeting by the Auditor's department and are not displayed for the benefit of citizens attending the meeting as they were in previous administrations. Since there are no handouts available of the agendas at the meetings, if a person wants a copy, he or she would need to go before the meeting to the auditor's office and ask for a copy. Otherwise, the budget transfers, if done and voted upon during the meeting, will be in the Minutes Agenda sometime after the meeting.
  8. Got to thinking about this the other day because Dwayne Johnson, who is in a runoff for Precinct 2 County Commissioner, came by the house bragging about how the golf course and other businesses are essentially self-paying without using any county money. The idea is that all profits and expenses come, not from line items in the general Somervell County budget, but from the Enterprise fund. In the past, the golf club did not make enough money to run without additional moneys from the general budget. The way the County Commissioners have proposed to fix it is by selling booze and pushing through grills and restaurants run as businesses by Somervell County, pushed through with minimal public involvement and costing lots of money. But does that include spending tons of money on projects such as the pavilion/grill? I mean, if you're going to brag about money coming in, shouldn't all money going out be factored in? That includes what is now a restaurant at Squaw Valley Golf Club called Rooster Bar & Grill. How exactly did it come about and what was the process for building it:? Setting the stage that anything the commissioners court does is with YOUR (and MY) tax money. The agendas for the commissioners court need to be specific enough so that any citizen can look at them, see what is going on and make at least somewhat of an informed decision whether they would like to attend. The problem with this Pavilion Remodel, to me, is not that the initial Hey, Fix the Roof and add a wall around it, plus let's fix the bathrooms, was not a good move to make, but that actions after that were made without a clear, voted on-plan, on the basis of commissioners talking about changes, vaguely, in meetings, and without an RFP for additional changes, including restaurant equipment, television sets, etc, but instead *change orders". Imagine that you were having something remodeled in your property and the contractors just up and decided they would add some stuff, didn't let you know explicitly what was going to happen, had no drawing of the changes where you could confirm (or were difficult to find) and okay them, and then you got the bill. It is not enough to say that Somervell County residents voted these people in, so anything they do after that requires them not to inform the public or make decisions without real transparency. The taxpaying public gets to KNOW that our money is being spent on and how much, etc. Maybe everyone would want to have a restaurant, maybe citizens would like to weigh in about what kind of windows or other facets of the construction, but until this was basically a done deal, NOTHING apparently used the word restaurant in any public agenda or minutes until into 2020. Keep in mind that the county is deciding to be in business on property that is tax exempt and if, say, a business or restaurant was built across the street from the golf course, that business (suppose a restaurant) would be in competition with the grill, and would have to pay property taxes. (Much the same situation that Oakdale was in when the City of Glen Rose decided to buy it and run it as a business. There were a number of businesses that were unhappy with Oakdale's plans to add additional RV spots to adjoining property, particularly since they operated the park at a lower rate than other businesses. For example, Danny Chambers at that point had an RV site business on Hwy 67 that was put in competition with Oakdale and also spoke out at the Somervell Commissioners meeting about the RV spaces being put in at the Expo Center in 2010) Feb 2010 April 2010 First time I could find any reference to a grill/restaurant was with regard, not to a restaurant, but to an open air pavilion and bathroom. The open air pavilion, as I understand it, was falling into disrepair, plus there was a desire on the previous manager's part to add some sort of semi-walls around it to help keep the wind off since it was outside. Saying that the original bid to fix the pavilion was to add some walls to the pavilion and some restrooms. Starting out with a definition of what a pavilion is: The idea of fixing up the pavilion seems to have been first put on the Somervell County agenda on May 14, 2018. Item #6 was "Discussion on RFP's related to the Pavillion at the Golf Course. Renovations will include metal removed and new metal added on the north wall; five double pane windows and two roll up doors will be added. No action taken". So no vote to actually start the RFP at this time, but had they done so, it would NOT have been to make a restaurant but fix the roof, put some metal, presumably for a roof on one side, add some windows and a couple of doors. There is no audio available for meetings in the year 2018. Following is walking through the agendas and RFPs to try to find where the restaurant was explicitly discussed (not a vague Golf Course Projects) on the agenda, what the plans looked like, how the public could see them and weigh in, etc. May 14, 2018 11/8/2018 Summit Construction Group submits scope of work for pavillion "Looking forward to doing business with you" Nov 19, 2018 Item 3 was "Discuss take action on construction of new rest room facilities at the golf course". Clearly this took priority over the pavilion, but again, no mention of any restaurant. Dec 3, 2018 #2 "Discuss/Take Action on Selection and Engagement of Construction Manager for Project at Golf Course". Stopping for a moment to say that this is a terrible description for the public. It possibly violates the Texas Open Meetings Act by not being explicit about *what* project at the golf course. Since there was also something involving a pump station at one point, no one who might want to attend a meeting based on the description would know exactly what was being referred to. Which project was this construction manager being engaged for? All of them? Only one or two? Which ones:? Dec 3 2018 #1 - "Discuss/Take Action on Authorizing RFP for Project at Golf Course". Again, what project? Dec 3 2018 -Notice on the page where the commissioners signed the motion to get RFPs that the motion explicitly says "Solicit RFPs for Pavillion and the restrooms;. The Pavillion Project". Note again, nothing about a restaurant According to this page within the Dec 31 2018 meeting, a copy of the specifications for this were available from Lesley Jameson of the County Auditor's office. So I have done an open records request to the Auditor's office asking for that. Bid in the newspaper for the Golf Course Pavillion Remodel and Renovation 11/8/2018-here is the bid from Summit Construction Group-does not include anything about a grill Dec 17, 2018-Last day for bids to come in, which would be opened at Commissioners Court Dec 31, 2018 - "Award Bid for Pavillion Remodel and Renovation" Don Gill recommended accepting the bid from Two Brother's Construction for -Vote was 5-0. Also doing an open records request to see this winning bid and what it entailed. So.. at this point in 2018, the Pavillon remodel has been awarded to a company with a specific price of over $93k. 1/21/2019 Item 17 Fence for Golf Course, #18 Equipment Rental, #19 Rates and Fees for the Golf Course, #20 Expo Rates and Fees. Mentioning this here because this is a project for the Golf Course, right? Fixing or replacing the fence? So if there is something on the agenda that vaguely says Golf Course projects without specification, it might include the fence. 1/28/2019- a project pertaining to a fence at the golf course contract on the agenda. This is actually good because it is clear reading this that this particular project isn't about, say, the restrooms or the pavilion, but about the fence. 11 Feb 2019 #5 Discuss and Receive Updates on Golf Course Projects. C'mon. If you're looking at this, do you know WHICH projects these are? Would it have been too much effort for whoever drew up this agenda (was it Danny Chambers?) to add a short description of the projects, like Fence, Pavilion, Pump Station, Buying more land for the golf course, etc. Maybe you would only be interested in attending if it was about the pump station. Rough Transcript: 19 Feb 2019 #8 Discuss/Take Action on Future Improvements at Golf Course . Dwayne brought this up. Apparently he went out and conferred with Jeff and Duff to get them for buy in with making part of the pavilion into a grill. Note again that there is NOTHING about a restaurant or grill or making changes to the original RFP to add a food area. Apparently Johnson brought in a scribbled doc where he sort of laid out what he would do, on a piece of paper. Also, looks like Hulsey is concerned that Johnson is running ahead on his own to make plans that might possibly confuse the contractor (Don). So, Johnson was running around talking to the contractor, to Jeff and to Duff and did not make sure even that the agenda had what he was doing disclosed to the public ahead of time. Rough transcript: 3/6/2019. Here, as apparently done by Don Gill is a printed plan for the grill area, including seating and restaurants. Keep in mind no one had voted for this BEFORE this document. (Summit Construction Group)This was before the March 11 2029 meeting in which Johnson broached the idea of adding a grill area. Who asked Summmit Construction for this and were taxpayers charged for this BEFORE it was voted on? Mar 11 2019 - #21 Discussion take action on Demo of Bell Tower and Canopy at Golf Course #22 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavillion Remodel at Golf Course Rough transcript: That was bizarre. They did not do an RFP or RFQ FIRST after deciding and voting on exactly what would happen in the future and instead were going to pay the contractor Don to receive *bids* on an action that had not been decided and voted upon, ie, wouldn't that actually be an RFP? This action certainly was not approving any bid because they dang well had not decided, besides Johnsons efforts to bully his own viewpoint through, on what should happen with the Pavilion. Can you imagine trying to get people to bid out a job you have with costs on your house where you have not yet decided what exactly you are going to do? Mar 14 2019 - #6 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course . From the minutes "Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to approve the change order on the contract on the pavilion remodel at the golf course. Motion carried. All voting aye". Rough transcript: Wait Wait Wait. Is this approving a bid for a pavilion remodel or a change order for contract? What specifically was in the change order? Not in the minutes packet and there was nothing on the agenda about a change order for presumably existing contract from 2018. I believe that this did not accurately reflect what was actually going to happen and should have been put on the agenda as a change order for the next meeting. Also, what exactly was in this proposal? Last meeting was a disagreement between Hulsey and Johnson but I heard nothing here that specified that the disagreement was solved and one view or the other was going to be used. Cost? Materials? Mar 28 2019- Item 6- Commissioners Precinct 2 (Dwayne Johnson). Discussion/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. Item #7 - Approve County invoices for Golf Course Pavilion Work. No audio for this., however, there is nothing that shows Approving Bid in the minutes. There is "Motion was made by Kenneth Wood and seconded by Wade Busch to approve payment of two invoices from Two Brother's Construction for $25,978.37 and Summit Construction for $5,437.50 for the golf course pavilion remodel. Motion carried. All voting Aye April 8 2019 - #10 - Discuss/Take Action on Kitchen Equipment for the Pavillon at the Golf Course #11 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bids for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. #12 Moving money from contingency account to 010-429 for expenses? Minutes show that Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by dwayne Johnson to obtain prices for kitchen equipment for the Golf Course Pavilion Project. Discoveries will be brought back to court for review before purchase. Motion carried all voting aye. Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to accept bids from Comfort Pros in the amount of #31,212.00 for the air conditioning system and Howard's Electric in the amount of $22, 375.00 for the electrical work for the pavillion remodel at the golf course. Motion carried. All voting aye. April 29, 2019 #3 Discuss/Take action on budgetary items dealing with golf course- VAGUE May 6, 2019 #5 Discussion/Take Action on purchasing equipment for the Pavilion. Minutes show "Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to move forward with purchasing the pavilion kitchen equipment from Cowtown Restaurant Supply in the amount of $20,236.92. Motion carried. All voting aye. What was odd about this agenda item is not just that it was unnecssarily vague but that the commissioners and Chambers talked about other stuff THAN the restaurant equipment. If the purpose of the agenda item was to discuss restaurant equipment for the Pavilion, that should have said so, but instead other related topics were also discussed. Watts, former auditor, reminded Chambers that talking about TexPac was not on the agenda. Also, and I do not know much about the process of buying equipment, but this seemed odd to me, maybe someone that can refer to what the law says can cite a source. The original project for the pavilion, which did not include any type of grill, was put out for a bid, won and came in with a number somewhere around $90,000. There was even a contractor hired for this. In this particular instance, about restaurant equipment (see invoice below) which totaled around $20,000, Dwayne Johnson and Wade Busch drove around the metroplex to some suppliers to get quotes, and settled on Cowton Restaurant Supply. They decided between themselves, apparently that Cowtown had the best prices, and they brought that to the court, rather than, say, getting an RFP. Now, bids only have to go out for projects, etc above $50,000 BUT if this is considered part of the Pavilion project, did the new items that were changes to the original contract also have to go out for bids, since they were part of the overall price? Also, and maybe this is how it is done, but it seems strange to me to have commissioners go out and sort of decide on their own what equipment to buy without bringing it to ALL the commissioners. Also, in what world were either Johnson or Busch considered to be restaurant and cooking equipment experts? Since taxpayers were already paying for a contractor for the project, why was he not in charge of investigating additional restaurant equipment and then bring his suggestions to the court? 7/15/2019 Cowtown invoice for restaurant equipment Aug 26 2019 Item 8 "Discuss Take Action on repairs to rest rooms at the Golf Course 12 Nov 2019 Wild Hog issue at golf course #18 Discuss Take Action on Tables and Chairs for Golf Course Pavilion 1/9/2020/1/13/2020 #11 Discuss Take Action on purchasing equipment for Golf Course Pavilion Item #11 Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to approve purchasing television equipment for the Golf Court Pavilion from vendor SLG for $5,162.97. Motion carried, all voting Aye. May 11 2020- Discuss Take Action on Job Description for New Rooster Manager Position. Discuss Take Action on creating a cook position for the Rooster at the Golf Course. /********************Documents *******************************
  9. 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.
  10. Tony Riker from the Texas Municipal Police Association was asked by the Somervell County Sheriff's Office Association to come do a presentation to the Somervell County Commissioners Court on 5/9/2022 specifically about how there are salaries paid within the Sheriff's department that are markedly lower than what other counties pay, and that there is a danger of losing professional employees to areas that pay equitably. Astonishingly, Mr. Riker was treated with arguments from, primarily, Judge Danny Chambers, as well as insulted and *judge-splained* to. This is besides the fact that the discussions brought up by Chambers and Tammy Ray were about the budget process, which was NOT on the agenda. Who knew as a citizen they would be treated to a rude argument that included telling Mr. Riker that he needed to 1. Come do his presentation prepared to say what other departments should trim their budget 2. Be the expert on how the Sheriff's department is run 3. Be told he needed to get explanations from others. 4. Be asked, despite the fact he introduced himself as being from Frisco, whether he was a lobbyist OR if he was from Austin. 5. Be told he shouldn't be coming with his *hands out*. Ugh. As Mr Riker repeatedly told Chambers, his presentation was to inform and bring up the problem of some employees getting low pay for a job others in the state of Texas get paid significantly more for. Since it was a presentation and NOT a budget hearing, it was not Riker's job nor, clearly, his intention, to beg for money or tell other departments to cut back for these salary jumps. He did mention that because Somervell County has a huge surplus of money, other govt areas have used that to give their sheriff's departments raises. Chambers whole attitude made it sound like he was giving the back of the hand to the employees. Whose responsibility is it to decide to cut one department's budget versus another's? Is it the responsibility of the department who wants additional money for, say, equitable raises in line with other government entities across Texas, or is it the responsibility of the elected officials who represent the citizens? Certainly there is a budget process every year in which each department in Somervell County has already looked at their own expenses and presents their, hopefully carefully thought out and researched, budget during the budget meetings that typically occur in. It is NOT the job of a department who is not controlling the budget to oversee somebody else's and decide what should be cut. That is the JOB of the commissioners, as presided over by Judge Danny Chambers to do. Instead, Chambers shows that what he wants is for others to do work FOR him and the commissioners, bring solutions to them. As Riker said "So what you're saying is you want us to do y'all's work for you". Chambers even tries to draw Rikers into a discussion about what other departments should do to come up with this money!!!!! Chambers "So you do not have a recommendation at this point to help me find the money". The funny (?) part is that Chambers already knows that these people are underpaid. Riker" It's not our job to do your work for you". It is also, incidentally, Judge Chambers or whoever is preparing the agenda, to clearly set out WHAT the agenda item represents so that citizens can go if they want to hear the presentation and/or discussion, as it may impact them. The agenda item does NOT say that this is a presentation about some salaries in the sheriff's department nor does it have Mr. Tony Riker as the presenter. Do you think you would know from THIS what this item was about? Nope. Let's hope Chambers didn't do that on purpose, to keep it quiet from the public. Also, why the fool was all this stuff which properly belonged in an item on the agenda called Discuss the budget, or better, part of the Budget Hearing meetings coming up soon. In fact, Jeff Harris, county commissioner, Precinct 1, was the smartest one on the dais because he said "I agree with everything you're saying ... I feel like, at this point, we're going to have to have this conversation with the budget process". Now, the new county attorney, Trey Brown, (seen on photo at left in front of Mr Harris, attending this meeting) whose job it is to enforce the Texas Open Meetings Act, said nothing when all this was going on. Neither did the other commissioners speak up to say that this was not a hearing on the budget, and Tammy Ray went farther to argue about what Mr Riker would do about other departments that also want raises, etc. In other words, if it was going to be an agenda item that dealt not merely with a presentation but also involved discussion on the budget process with all departments and salaries in general, that should have said so. It did not, and it was rude of Chambers to interrupt and challenge Riker instead of just saying "Thank you, we will be taking this up at the budget hearing. Appreciate your input". The full video, sans Riker's introduction, was recorded by someone in the audience at the commissioners meeting (might have to turn the sound up a bit), I have made a chop of the video to take out some of the repetitiveness, as well as extraneous information spouted by Chambers which should rightly have been in a budget meeting. First minute or so is from audio, recorded by the Somervell County Commissioners Court, of Riker introducing himself and then goes into edited video. Note that Riker says he is from Frisco; when Chambers asked him if he was a lobbyist or from Austin, did he not hear where Riker was from or was he wanting to subtly make some kind of comment to make Riker feel like an outsider or challenge his information? Certainly Chambers used his argumentativeness to tell Riker that to get information from other people, and worst of all, insinuated that Riker was there with his *hand out*- I saw Riker gulp on the video. Go count how much Chambers wants to argue with Riker on this video, again, it's just astonishing how unprofessional Chambers is. One more example of hubris is when Chambers tells Ray "Let's don't argue, we got a court reporter here", pointing to whoever was recording this video. Do as I say, not as I do.
  11. Had to laugh when I saw this. Just wrote about the 5/9/2022 Somervell County Commissioners Court meeting in which Judge Danny Chambers argued with the presenter regarding somervell county sheriff's department salaries. Dwayne Johnson notably stayed pretty quiet during this and one might think that he also had respect for TOMA (Texas Open Meetings Act) and would have refrained from discussing non-agenda items. But oh, no, there's a run off election coming so Johnson needed to find a way to toot his own horn. He not only made mention of some meeting that he apparently attended the "other night" (???) but said he had ideas about a whole new way of looking at things. Okay. So if he had something he wanted to present himself, it should have been his own agenda item, instead of a vague reference to some meeting that had occurred with some magical new ways of looking at things OR, BETTER, saved up that stuff for the budget hearings.
  12. As a citizen who is trying to keep up on what is going on, but covid and other factors getting in the way, I wondered about what the fool the Somervell County Special Assistance District is, when it was passed, what it is for, etc. Did some research the last couple of weeks. First, this special assistance district brings in additional taxes through extra sales taxes levied through businesses and the money is put into a separate county bank account. The sales tax cannot exceed the # set by the State of Texas comptroller, and it is not a tax like property taxes but on anyone who buys anything from a county business. The supposition is that tourist businesses such as Fossil Rim would provide additional revenue, but because it's sales, also means that if I, as a citizen, go to a county business and buy something, I am not exempted from paying the additional tax. The legal code for this is at Chapter 387 County Assistance District. This Somervell County Assistance District was placed on the ballot, approved on November 2, 2021 and results certified by Somervell County Commissioners Court, which members include Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Harris, Tammy Ray, and Wade Busch. Levying an additional tax required that this be on the ballot for Somervell County residents to vote on. Because the City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax that goes to the maximum and, although the City is contained within Somervell County, city residents could not vote on this because the tax would not affect them in any way. SAMPLE BALLOTS PCT 1, 2, 3, 3 GISD, 4.pdf The problem, as you see on the sample ballot at left, is that both Texas State props as well as the Somervell County Assistance District were both on the same ballott, so that if a city resident who of course lives in the county went to vote, there was nothing to indicate they could NOT vote on the Assistance District. VOTRING HISTORY FOR NOV 2, 2021 GENERAL ELECTION.pdf Notice on the list of people who voted in this election that there is no way to know how they voted, County vs City. But... City of Glen Rose residents did... which made the passing of this special assistance district illegal.. Also, not good is that Somervell County apparently made no effort to speak with and coordinate efforts with the City of Glen Rose, which left the city administrator *disappointed* when he found out about what Somervell County had done, and that, because city residents should not vote on any ballot item that does not affect them, it was essentially voting to lay a burden on other people that they would not experience. Gee, that's what the colonists went to war against in early America, taxation without representation. Adding to this, notifying the City of Glen Rose that Somervell County was considering a special assistance district wasn't simply a nice, polite idea but was part of the law regarding formation of same. Actually was merely a polite idea to notify the City of Glen Rose, since the proposed territory would be no part of the city territory. Really a shame, even so, that in the second smallest county in Texas, no one could be bothered to let the City know what was planned. As above, Michael Leamon said the City had heard nothing from the County, so I did an open records request to the City asking for a copy of the certified letter-they had no records responsive to this request. When Brian Watts, who was formerly the Somervell County auditor, saw what was going on, he wrote a letter, as a taxpayer, to County Judge Danny Chambers on Nov 22, 2021 Letter to Somervell County 11.22.2021.pdf So, that was on November 22, 2021 that Watts sent this latter to County Judge Danny Chambers. For reference, here is the agenda for July 12, 2021 #5 of commissioners court. on the resolution for a special election on creation of county assistance district. From Open Records, in image format -see screenshots of emails farther down below-bolding is mine. . This is from July 12, 2021 Commissioners Court meeting where the commissioners voted to commissioners voted on an order for a special election. Note that the order CLEARLY SAYS that this does not include the city. Dwayne Johnson made the motion for this, seconded by Tammy Ray The election was scheduled for November 2 2021. On November 11, Watts wrote Chambers about the issue. The Comptroller's office was aware there were problems with the election and yet Aubrey Mashburn of the Comptroller's office told Chambers to go ahead and then if there was a complaint filed, do something. On 12/16, Watts tells Chambers he is filing an official criminal complaint with SOS. On Jan 12, he writes Heger the Comptroller and mentions that the Commissioners actually sent a letter to city residents telling them to come vote in this election. It's not clear to me in looking at all of this whether the Comptroller's office did anything about what is clearly an illegal election. Or maybe, as Mr Leamon told me, there is a deadline under which if you want to complain about an election, you must do so. What is disturbing about this from my point of view is that Danny Chambers knew, every commissioner voted to say that the election was ONLY for the unincorporated parts of the county, and yet apparently sent out a letter to City residents telling them to come vote. Did they not understand what this means? And once it was known for sure that city residents voted on the assistance election, Chambers should have done the right thing and have REDONE THE ELECTION to make sure it was proper and legal. He did not because his haste, apparently to get this pushed through clouded his judgement. Since Dwayne Johnson was the one who made the motion, was he also the one that wanted the district? it is disheartening as well that, in the name of doing their job, the Comptrollers office completely glossed over the fact that this was illegal and instead hung their hat on whether someone would complain; So, the law is only to be obeyed as long as someone complains WHEN IT IS NOT FOLLOWED? But even then, as in this case, they came up with reasons to ignore valid issues. As a side note, notice again that we as county taxpayers not only paid Andy Lucas (now deceased) as county attorney['s salary but also a more expensive legal firm. From the hallway in City of Glen Rose, downtown, that shows the boundaries of the City of Glen Rose versus outside the city to the county Further, with regard to the city. The City of Glen Rose already has a sales tax within its limits and should the city decide they would like to annex land, they would not be able to extend that sales tax collection to what is now taken by an assistance district. A little disgusting that the county did not apparently make any attempt to talk to the city administrator about what they were doing so that the city would be informed. Seems that, at least so far as I can tell, the restitution for this illegal election is to plan to vote out people who do not care about following the law. Also, according to one of the commissioners I spoke with yesterday, the money would only be used for things such as police, fire, roads, etc. BUT Have to wonder if this would include maintenance of the expo, amphitheater and golf course. AND would this be an open ticket for the Somervell County Tourism/Promotions, EDC office that Kelly Harris is in charge of? Since the businesses that Somervell County runs now, which include liquor sales, are funded from the Enterprise account, and, further that this is supposed to be self-sustaining without taking money from other accounts, one hopes that the Assistance District account would not actually be earmarked FOR those businesses and tourism, etc instead of for what, at least in my opinion, is more important, roads, law enforcement, fires, etc. Why does this matter in this election? For one reason, and I think readers know I am not a fan of Dwayne Johnson, when anyone running for election wants to run around and brag how well the golf course is doing, when the Enterprise account was set up long before his term in office, and when there might even be the slightest possibility that actually these entities might not be self-sustaining (ie monies coming in versus monies going out ONLY from the expo, golf course, etc ) but with the backup AD account, it needs to be examined and challenged.
  13. 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.
  14. In the last couple of months, I was interested to know about a subdivision going in off 144 near the Bosque County line. I called to speak to Tammy, who is not my commissioner, but, frankly, I had no desire to speak to Dwayne Johnson, who is. When I called, the admin for the commissioners told me Tammy was not in. After I hung up, after not asking to speak to Johnson, I was surprised to see him calling me within a few minutes of my call. (I have heard that Johnson's wife works as admin for the commissioners, so if that was true she must have told him right away even though my call was not for him. And, I do not know this but does Johnson's wife also work for the elections department? If so, then certainly she should recuse herself from any election that involves her husband, particularly if she assists in counting votes). I answered the phone, again was surprised to see it was Johnson since I had not called him, and one of the first things out of his mouth after noting that I had called in was to tell me he hoped he could count on my vote. I told him that I have never voted for a Republican, and that even if somehow I was going to, I wouldn't vote for him due to his negligence regarding the runaway, irresponsible lawsuit that Darrell Best and Andy Lucas lodged against my husband some 6 years ago, which said hub won, and then had to fight to get Somervell County, who was responsible for the judgement, to pay it. (You can read about that here if you like) I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, but what aggravated me about his apologia is that he said, basically, that he wasn't in office when that whole thing started, as if he had no responsibility for it. I said in response that he had been personally asked, and been given, documentation for this whole thing, and he chose to ignore it AND was in office at that point. We continued the conversation about the subdivision and I was still disturbed after I got off the phone with how little due diligence Johnson did about the plans. For example, he had told me that there was only one way in and out of the subdivision, onto CR 2008, which, if every one of those lots is sold and there are a lot of people living there, will certainly backup the road, including onto 144, or to get out there will be a line of people passing Fossil Rim and backing up traffic there. He said, oh, that won't happen for a long time. Right, that's sure a good excuse not to make sure about the structure of the roads in the first place. He also said that the water district cannot put in pipes there due to the topography and all the water would be from drilling wells, without the assurance on paper that they would be drilling at the lower Trinity river level. Just seemed careless. I had forgotten that I wrote about Johnson about 9 months ago, during the time that Danny Chambers and the commissioners voted to approve a budget without taking due diligence to make sure they were, first following the law and rules for how to publicize and run hearings, and second, without identifying an over one million dollar slush fund. Someone told me at the time that the restaurant at the golf club had been done without open meetings and proper bidding, and that this money, unaccountable for, might have been part of what was used, without public scrutiny, for the construction and/or remodeling. At the time, I thought about looking into it, as any citizen can do, but the fact that less than half of the citizens in Somervell County were vaccinated for covid stopped me from wanting to go into the courthouse, as an enclosed space, to research. Sometime around there, before this, I saw that Brian Watts was no longer the county auditor and wondered what happened. When this illegal budget was passed, Brian Watts, no longer the county auditor, wrote a letter to Danny Chambers in which he made the following main points. That the budget was illegal because the county failed to follow the law regarding posting of hearings and also identifying all monies in the budget. Especially egregious when the county was asking for a large tax increase without apparent justification. That whole section of the budget, with additional tax revenues, were over a million dollars, at least $1,345.768, and unidentified, thus amounting to a slush fund. Also at the time, the county was sitting on 17,334,508.52 plus $886,579.71 of unreserved cash (that second number was for covid) According to Watts, that would have been "over 17 months of expense coverage without the county receiving a single penny of tax or fee revenue" Even worse, a required form for the taxpayers and required by the Texas Comptrollers office that would explain the tax increase was not even posted on the Somervell County website. As a side note, Watts made reference to Danny Chambers and Dwayne Johnson sitting together and ridiculing citizens who complained or challenged them about an issue. That really makes you feel good about Danny and Dwayne, eh? The respect (NOT) they have for taxpayers who want to express themselves AS IS THEIR RIGHT. There are a couple of other items that I think Dwayne Johnson has handled inappropriately but I'll leave those to another message. Those will include the lack of transparency regarding the building of the restaurant at Squaw Valley Golf Course, the sneaky,creation of an *Assistance District*, and the shenanigans around Mary Simpson who had the concession contract at the Expo Center, including an illegal liquor license.
  15. Apparently one of the changes made by the Texas Lege this last session was to require a posted guard during counting of ballots But it appears that this was an unfunded mandate, ie, the county must pay for the guard (someone from sheriff's department) but how do they get paid and how much, etc. Interesting discussion.
  16. 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
  17. From the Feb 14 2022 Somervell County Commissioners Court meeting. Discussion is about plans for an upcoming street festival and dance. Arrangements are being made with a third party company "Watermark Marketing Boutique" run by Morgan Loper, who apparently lives in Somervell County. Would love to see the contract for this. In the audio, you will hear Danny Chambers asking about where the money comes from and Harris says CVB. Also, the people who do fundraising for non-profits will be voting for someone to be Somervell Stud (I suspect that that person will not be some beefy hunk who looks straight out of Magic Mike casting. "And of course we'll have the Little Miss Somervell County Sweetheart pageant" Have to say I am amused by this.
  18. At the Feb 14, 2022 Somervell County Commissioners Court had item 12: County Judge: Commissioner, Precinct 4: Discuss/Take Action on First Look Vista Ridge Ranch Subdivision. Appears that Brazos Partners LLC sold land to Vista Ridge Ranch, LLC, specifically 282.026 acres of land on the southeast corner of FM 199 and Hwy 67. Wade Busch is commissioner of Precinct 4 Although these are unofficial documents, I am a little amused at how sloppy the filing is, hopefully they will correct it before final. Notice that Brazos Partners LLC has a mailing address in Plano, and Vista Ridge Ranch LLC (which, according to document above, is a Delaware limited liability company) has an address of 665 Simond Rd, Williamstown, MA (Zillow) -Could they have meant (plural) 665 SIMONDS (not SIMOND) Road? Also, guess what entity has this address as well, The Town of Williamstown, Transfer Station and Recycling Center (here in Somervell County, we call that the town dump). According to Bizapedia, there are 227 companies that have this address Now look at the second document, with local notary signature. The Vista Ridge Ranch LLC address has been crossed out and changed from 1209 Orange St, Wilmington DE to 665 Simonds Rd, Williamstown TX. (Not Williamstown MA but TEXAS??!!!) What is that address for 1209 Orange St in Delaware? Well, it's a hidden tax haven, for one. In fact, the below is sloppy. There is no such address in Texas. This page has the address for Williamstown, MA You can look in public records to see the full description of this property but note that it backs up on one side to Cheyenne Hills.
  19. 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 .
  20. 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.
  21. Not that every road in Somervell County can't be challenging, but this particular county road is VERY much so
  22. 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. '
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