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Somervell County has had at least three instances, that I know of, where an employee working for a public governmental entity, either embezzled money from the entity or worked with money while convicted of a felony. One, back in 2015, was Melanie Reese, former City Secretary of Glen Rose who plea bargained theft of government funds. A second was Janice Nickell who embezzled from Glen Rose Medical Center in 2013. And then there was Liz Morgan, who embezzled church money and spent at least part of it to take her child on a $20,000 Florida vacation. She worked for Glen Rose Medical Center in charge of patient records and HIPAA privacy officer, presumably taking off an hour or so every week to attend her probation officer hearing. Very recently a friend of mine told me that there is a felon working in payroll at Somervell County Courthouse, where Danny Chambers is judge. Although Treasurer is an elected position, payroll is not, and the felony this person plead guilty to was Theft of Property $20k>$100k. A couple of people did a background check on this person and found that the offense she was arrested for was a felony classification, offense code 23990010, with probation begin date of 20130617, sentence CommunitySupervisionCountySomervell. I have a few questions. When was she hired to work in payroll, ie, dealing with money, for Somervell County? Did anyone flag her activity when she was hired? Have heard that the former treasurer, Susie Graves, hired her, apparently without the benefit of doing a background check on her first. What are this payroll person's probation terms? If her probation terms were 10 years, then was she on probation for this felony when she was hired? Second, she was not hired for a Human Resourced job initially. When did that happen and why? Who is the person that oversees what she does? Is it the treasurer (Valerie Williams) ? The auditor (Nikky Weeden) ? Surely she's not a person, with a felony record, in a department with no oversight. Mentioning that I will be updating this post after the open records request I have done asking for her criminal record, including probation disposition. My personal opinion remains the same as it has been with the 3 previous incidents where someone stole money and had a job that dealt with money. Are there not plenty of other job either now or in the future that a person can apply for when one is a felon other than dealing with money and sensitive data? I think so. And apparently, at this moment, Danny Chambers and the commissioners know that this woman was convicted of being a felon. Why is she still there? Is there absolutely no one in the area who knows how to do payroll and is not a felon for the job? The taxpaying public deserves to have confidence that the people in charge of their money in ANY position do not have a theft felony and confidence that others in charge will not close their eyes and ignore that background. And it's not only money but other personal information dealing with payrolls. Even if one argues that this felon's work is being overseen by the auditor, Nikki Weeden, is that really the way that business should be conducted, having to scrupulously being on guard against theft from someone who is already convicted of same? (Maybe you would do this with family members, but this is dealing with public taxpayer money) Mentioning also that this is a Right To Work state, which is a deceptive misnomer for being able to fire someone at any time for any reason. From the Somervell County Personnel Policies Below is the audio of the County Commissioners coming out of executive session and voting on a new HR department. Apparently the person doing payroll also was given the job of human resources, without any salary bump. The new position for HR apparently cuts out the current payroll employee who "wears many hats". She was clearly not happy, even though she was NOT getting a salary change but is apparently being paid the same without having the duty of being *the* HR person, and carried on about it (listen below and you can hear). Why does someone care this much about a position for which she was not even being paid? Anyone know what this woman is referring to? Were there payroll problems already under her watch? What were those problems and how were they resolved? I'd also like to know why this week, her job of HR was cut off. What happened? Did the court finally realize this was a colossally bad idea or did something happen that made it imperative? Chambers makes the comment that back in 2019, the departments were changed. Some more timeline. Compare the 2023 budget and the 2022 budget First, I can find no entry for HR or Human Resources. Maybe sharper eyes can locate that but if this means, as the audio above shows, that they basically just tacked on that duty to the payroll person but now plan to create an HR department, that would explain why it's not there (and again, according to the audio, the commissioners were not paying the felon any extra money for this position). The Treasury job in 2022's budget showed 2022 010-405-101 TREASURER SALARY $56,055.00 $56,055.00 56,055.00 44,374.50 79.16 56,054.64 56,054.76 2022 010-405-103 TREASURER CHIEF DEPUTY $46,471.00 $46,471.00 38,700.28 13,096.86 33.84 53,907.90 43,752.06 2022 010-405-104 TREASURER PERSONNEL $42,500.00 $42,500.00 54,110.24 55,881.07 103.27 34,005.90 0 but in 2023, the Treasury Salary is $59,000 but the Chief Deputy, Personnel and Part time are 0 compare auditor 2022 010-404-101 AUDITOR SALARY $75,480.00 $75,480.00 75,480.00 59,755.00 79.17 75,480.00 75,480.00 2022 010-404-103 AUDITOR ASSISTANTS SALARIES $81,844.00 $81,844.00 81,683.49 50,604.88 61.95 79,324.40 72,791.52 for 2023 budget Auditor Salary is $79,254,00 with assistant auditor 89,118.75 Cannot find a payroll administrator in 2022 Payroll in 2023 Payroll Administrative $55,650.00 with Payroll Clerk 0 So the way this looks is that the Treasurer had additional staff cut for 2023, auditor still has salary and assistants both years and Payroll administrator was added for 2023. HR as a budget account does not appear in either 2022 or 2023.
Agenda for 4th October 2021 Did they screw it up and not follow the law when they approved the budget AND the HIGHER tax rate on 9/23/2021? Here was the signed motion made after Judge Chambers and the commissioners voted on it. Apparently so. Brian Watts, former auditor for Somervell County, sent Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers an email on September 27, 2021 that basically accuses Danny Chambers and Dwayne Johnson, Somervell County Commissioner for Precinct 2, of hubris and violating the law, as well as hiding a *slush fund* amount of significant dollars from the public and also of behaving unprofessionally. Here is the letter Letter to Somervell County 09.27.2021.pdf Some parts, with comments Some comments by me. First, this is the tax rate posted on Sep 17 as referenced above by Brian. The minutes include the documents and also votes from the commissioners. The question is why the tax rate is going up to this extent, when there appears to be plenty of money to handle basic county business.Is the reason to cover the over 1 million dollar slush fund? Second, beyond the sheer incompetence shown by Chambers (and the implication that hiding these amounts may be on purpose), which is allowing govt employees NOT to be paid because the budget is illegal, there is the matter of the *slush fund*. Why in the world IS that large amount of money unaccounted for, over 1 million dollars? Not only is that illegal, but is Somervell County planning to pay for something they don't want citizens to know about? Something, for example, on behalf of a private business???? Anytime money is spent from the budget it is going from one account to another, with receipts and payment stubs, and with citizen knowledge that the items have been voted on and approved by the commissioners (thus also holding them accountable for their votes). The items on the Bill Payments section needs to be specific and of course can be looked at by anyone that does an open records request. From a practical standpoint, I would guess that when the commissioners vote and where Danny Chambers, who is responsible for showing the payments on the overhead or the handout for the meeting, does not do so, citizens have no clue what their taxes just paid for AT THE MEETING. Are there actions that are being taken outside of the meetings that involve promises, possible payments to others, etc and the plan is to take the money from the slush fund? Who knows, but this needs to be brought up and strongly in order to put that money in an account that is recognizable by the public and HAS A DEFINED PURPOSE. I actually thought the contingency fund was for that. I've been to meetings before where a given department needed an item, he or she made their pitch before the PUBLIC commissioners court meeting and then the commissioners voted, at which time the money came from contingency. Certainly that happened with the amounts Somervell County had to pay to my husband over the lawsuit lost by the State of Texas (as represented by Andy Lucas) and Darrell Best; the money was paid from the contingency fund. But why should some amorphous amount of money without a stated purpose just be hanging out there WHILE RAISING TAXES on people? A corrupt explanation would say that the commissioners are considering doing something illegal with taxpayer money for the benefit of others and are not wanting people to know what that is. Third, and this is a personal gripe, Brian calls out the behavior and actions of Dwaine Johnson, who is MY county commissioner. In one section, he talks about Danny and Dwaine trashing citizens *in profane language* after Somervell County citizens bring what they believe to be valid complaints and suggestions up to them. Disgusting. Brian further intimates that Dwaine is avoiding following the rules and laws that he, as a commissioner, should be AS A PUBLIC SERVANT. I suppose Danny might just be waiting to get his retirement pension, coasting till then, and then someone corrupt will run for office to take his place, who knows? But I do know that HE is the one responsible and clearly if he acts this way in private and shows such contempt for Somervell County citizens, he should never be looked up to again.