First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Darrell Best Testimony
Darrell Best’s testimony
Q. And what were the allegations you made in that petition?
A. Well, there was two allegations to start with. The first allegation had to do with the proposal
to set the tax rate at zero, and the second had to do with the 501a, what they call slush fund, and
accusing the CFO and CEO of performing criminal acts relative to the 501a.
Q. And subsequent to filing that petition, you made some open records requests and you
discovered some communications between board members that gave you concern that walking
quorums had been created in violation of the Open Meetings Act; is that correct?
A. I believe that the request for information was before I filed the petition, but I did receive text
messages as a result of an open records request, yes.
Q. All right. Kind of -- give a description of what you've witnessed regarding Mr. Harper's
behavior at these board meetings.
A. In general, his behavior has been fine, but there's been times when things have gotten a little
out of hand. In particular, the evening that we talked about in our petition about the 501a. He accuses Mr. Reynolds of making up numbers. He's very, I think, less than cordial in his
communications with Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Reynolds had to correct him in some of his
It’s very surprising to me that Best could somehow ignore the appalling behavior of Ron Hankins,
another board member while excoriating Harper. The good news is that there is video of these
exchanges and people can watch and make up their own minds without having to join the opinion of
He was very, very direct, and, quite frankly, I felt it was something that should have been
handled between him and Mr. Reynolds in meetings. Now, Mr. Reynolds said during that
meeting that he had talked to Mr. Harper about that, so this was clearly Mr. Harper's attempt
to expose this in a public forum.
So… it would have been okay for Harper to discuss hospital business in private away from the public
eye of an open meeting, eh?
Q. All right. Now, you were at the meeting when Mr. Harper made the recommendation that
the district's tax rate be set at zero, correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right. In your opinion, why would such an action amount to incompetence, which means
gross ignorance in official duties or gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties?
A. Well, just on the face, setting the tax rate at zero would obviously cause a $3 million
shortfall, but it ‐‐ so that's number one. I would think that somebody that's on a board, that has
taken a pledge ‐‐ taken an oath to execute their duties in good faith, would study the problems
and really understand what the results would be of their actions before proposing such a thing.
Q. Now, in the communications you've received following your open records request, did Mr.
Harper make any statements about why he was elected, what – whether or not he was elected
to turn the hospital around, things of that nature?
A. Yes. There was several text messages between him and Mr. Parker and Mr. ‐‐ him and Mr.
Harrison in that regard, and one of the statements that's made is, I wasn't elected to turn it
around, I was elected to eliminate the tax.
Q. What does that mean to you?
A. Well, what that means to me is: I can set the tax rate to zero and let the chips fall where they
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Do you have any person connections to Harper?
Did you know him prior to this litigation?
A. Sure. I mean, it's a small county. I get around, so, yes. I know the Harpers ‐‐
A. ‐‐ and they know me, but not on anywhere of a personal level.
Q. Do you have any personal ax to grind with him?
A. No. I ‐‐ you know, I was the president of the Chamber of Commerce ‐‐ excuse me ‐‐ the 4‐B
Tax Corporation. I was the chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce. I made their
blog site, but I consider it a bit of a badge of honor because just about every elected official of
Somervell County has made their blog site at one time or another. People that I respect, like
Judge Ford, Gary Marks, the mayor, has been on there. City council people have been on there.
Commissioners have been on there. Water district. There just about isn't any public entity that
hasn't made their blog site. So when I made the blog site, it was a bit of a compliment.
He is mistaken in characterizing my blog site as “their”.
By Mr Dowell
Q. Is it your belief that every discussion of hospital business that occurs outside of the board
of directors meetings is a violation of the Open Meetings Act?
A. It's my belief that if it's being discussed between parties, it is approaching a violation of the
act. When four people are involved, I believe, it is in violation of the act, because that would
constitute a meeting, and without being published as a meeting, would be a violation of the
Q. So the answer to my question was, what, there are times they can discuss business outside
of the meeting?
A. I ‐‐ I believe that they cannot, but I – I believe that whence ‐‐ once you have four, which
means a quorum of people talking about an issue, that definitely is.
Q. All right. But that's not ‐‐ you're not a lawyer?
A. No. I ‐‐ I just read what it said in the handbook.
Q. But all we have before us is text messages between three people; is that right?
A. That's correct. Mr. Brode does not use text.
Q. And even of these text messages between these three people, not all of the categories of
information are discussed between each of them; is that right?
A. I wouldn't say that in every case, no.
Q. And you believe that's a violation of the Open Meetings Act?
A. I believe it's a violation of the Open Meetings Act when you're discussing business between
Q. So there's no time that you can discuss the business of the county hospital district without
having everyone present for a quorum?
A. I believe that's true.
Q. All right. Then there's a response that goes on with responses back and forth until it comes
to the statement from Mr. Harper in red, [as read] "This goes back to competence. If she can
save the notices in PDF, why can't she save these in PDF?" Does that make you believe they
were talking about the minutes at that time?
A. One minute, please.
A. I believe that would be correct, yes.
Q. Okay. Are you aware of any legal requirement that the minutes of the hospital district be
Q. Are you aware of any legal requirement that requires the minutes of the hospital district to
be posted on the Internet somewhere?
Q. Is there anything wrong if minutes of the hospital district or minutes of the county dog
catchers society or any other minutes get posted on Ms. Harper's Web site and she gets
income from that? Those are public records, aren't they?
A. They're public records.
Q. And those can be posted anywhere, can't they?
A. I believe so.
Q. And if somebody does it in a manner that gets them income, that there's nothing wrong
with that, is there?
A. No, sir.
Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) Then, if you'll turn to line 174.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. [As read] "Anything to add to the" – excuse me ‐‐ "Anything to add to agenda?"
Do you think that part of it is ‐‐ is a violation of the Open Meetings Act?
A. I wouldn't think so, sir.
Q. Okay. [As read] "Do we want to get rid of CEO and AA this week?"
A. I think that would be.
Q. Okay. And you think that for the same reason you thought the other ones were, that you
just can't talk any business without being in a public forum with a quorum?
Q. When you ran for the county judge position, did you run as a Republican?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You're aware my client was a Democratic party chair here in Somervell County?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you ever accuse Mrs. Harper of making blog posts that you believe were derogatory
A. I remember a blog post that I wasn't very happy with. I don't know if I classified it as
derogatory, but, yes, we did have a discussion about a blog post that I didn't appreciate.
Q. Okay. Fair enough. You told us that in your travels around this county and visiting with
different people, people were in favor of having the hospital district ‐‐
A. Yes, sir.
Q. ‐‐ having the hospital here in Somervell County?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. But ‐‐ but, actually, you didn't talk to everybody in the county?
A. Oh, absolutely not, yes.
Q. And would you agree with me that not everybody in the county may hold the same opinion
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you believe that the hospital, and by extension the hospital district, should run off the
backs of the taxpayers?
A. If necessary, I do believe that, yes.
Q. Well, you said one of the reasons was because there was a $3 million shortfall?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Well, what if the shortfall was $4 million and they had to raise the taxes for that, would you
say then that the hospital was being mismanaged and somebody else should take a shot at it?
A. I don't know that ‐‐ if I had proof that there was mismanagement, I would be ‐‐ yes, I would
be opposed to that administration continuing.
Q. What about 5 million? Would 5 million be enough to where you'd
say this is enough, you're putting too much of a burden on the taxpayers?
A. I would say that there's almost no number that I would object to in terms of running the
Q. So ‐‐
A. It's economically important for this community for a hospital to exist.
Q. So as far as you're concerned, you're taking the exact dead opposite position of Mr. Harper.
It would be okay with you if the hospital were a totally free entity only run by governmental
funds, collected from the taxpayers of Somervell County, up to and including its entire annual
budget of $15 million?
A. I don't know that I would like you to put words in my mouth, but here is what I would say
about that ‐‐
Q. I'm sorry, sir. I'm not asking to put words in your mouth.
A. Okay. No.
Q. Okay. So there is a number that's too much burden to put on the taxpayers?
A. I'm not certain what that number would be.
Q. Okay. Well, do you think it is reasonable to try to put as little a burden on the taxpayers as
Q. In your travels across Somervell County visiting with the residents and talking to them about
the hospital here, did anybody tell you that the last thing they wanted to see was a private
entity coming in and running this hospital, perhaps even at a profit, so they wouldn't have to
pay a tax?
Q. You're not opposed to that, are you?
A. I'm sorry?
Q. You're not opposed to that, are you?
A. No, sir.
Q. You talked about your belief as to how Mr. Harper's duties changed once he was elected ‐‐
A. Yes, sir.
Q. ‐‐ to the hospital district, and you talked about he had a good faith requirement placed on
him at that time to do things in good faith for the hospital. And you believe that's in the best
interest of the city ‐‐ the citizens of Somervell County, correct?
Q. Is it in the best interest of the citizens of Somervell County to have a hospital running at
20 percent deficit that has to be funded by taxpayer contributions?
A. I have no opinion on that.
Q. That's because you've never run a hospital before, correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. You've never negotiated a hospital contract; isn't that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. You have no idea what it would cost to change one doctor from a 501a over to a 286
employee of the hospital district itself; isn't that correct?
A. No, that's not correct. I have talked to ‐‐
Q. Except for what you've been told by somebody?
A. Yes, I've talked to people.
Q. Okay. Okay. You've never done that yourself?
A. No, sir.
Q. You've never had to pay for it?
Q. Right? You never had to put a pen to it to figure out what it would be?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did ‐‐ did anyone that you talked to in Somervell County tell you they couldn't support the
hospital if the tax rate were only 8 percent?
Q. Four percent?
A. Restate the question.
A. I don't ‐‐ I don't believe so.
Q. You told us that ‐‐ that many people told you they supported the hospital even if it required
them to pay taxes, and I'm just trying to figure out if there were people in Somervell County
that wouldn't mind paying less taxes?
A. Everybody would like to pay less taxes.
Q. You said that it was your belief that my client wants to shut down the Pecan Plantation
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, you heard that there's a net income coming from that clinic; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. But you also heard that there's no way that the hospital can force those doctors to send
their patients here to this hospital, correct?
A. Correct, but they do.
Q. Tomorrow we can't say?
A. Tomorrow we can't say.
Q. You mentioned behavior at the board of directors meetings. Are their behavioral
A. No, sir.
Q. So this is a just a personal ‐‐ you thought it should be handled differently?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When this comment was made about moving the tax rate to zero, I'll ask you the same
questions I asked Mr. Reynolds. He was not recognized by the chair on that, was he?
A. What happened ‐‐ no, he was not recognized by the chair. Motion was made and he ‐‐ he
Q. No one seconded ‐‐ a motion was made to set the tax rate at 11‐point‐something percent,
A. Yeah, 11.55.
Q. And he offered that he thought it should be zero.
A. Yeah, "I'd vote for zero."
Q. Okay. And no one seconded that?
A. That's right. It ‐‐ discussion ended.
Q. No ‐‐ no vote ever came up on that?
A. That's correct.
Q. And it certainly didn't pass at zero, did it?
A. No, sir.
First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Ray Reynolds Testimony
The First Removal Hearing‐ October 20 2014
The state called for a hearing on October 20 2014. 3 people testified overall. Ray Reynolds, CEO of Glen Rose
Medical Center, George Darrell Best (petitioner) and Debbie Harper in January 2015(Somervell County Salon
blog post owner and writer). Lucas threw the kitchen sink, outside of the charges on the petition at Harper,
despite Harper’s attorneys animated running objections. The judge put in an order for him to be temporarily off the
board till a state agency decided if a required PIF form was impacted by a possible ineligibility questoin. The judge said the board could operate with 6 people. That was on 10/20/2014. The Office of Inspector General replied to Ray Reynolds on November 5,
2014 that there was no issue. Harper was to be reinstated at that point, but that didn’t happen until the next
hearing on January 8, 2015. In fact, Ray Reynolds sat on that information, rather than immediately see Paul put
back on the board. Meanwhile, on Oct 20, 2014, Paul put in an anti‐slapp motion to dismiss.
Ray Reynolds testimony
The case was scheduled to be heard on October 20 2014 at 9 am at the Somervell County District courtroom.
Paul, meantime, had hired an attorney, David Dowell from the law firm of Cantey Hanger to represent him. The
Glen Rose Reporter’s Brent Addleman, was there to report on the hearing; he had previously erroneously said in
the paper that Paul had made a motion and had issued a correction. When Addleman’s article came out about
the first removal hearing, none of Darrell Best or Ray Reynolds testimony was included or referenced, only
Paul’s. I felt this was slanted and left citizens unaware of what Paul’s accusers said so that they could form a
Paul’s attorney started out the hearing by saying that “this is a very extraordinary remedy. And while it’s within
the Court’s discretion to so determine, the Court discretion can’t be exercised in evidence of any evidence and
the plaintiff has got that burden of proving this hearing, as the Court well knows. .. I think the evidence is going
to show that this is really part of a broader‐based political witch‐hunt, and that the acts that my client has been
accused of… simply did not occur or misunderstandings or do not rise to the level of incompetency or official
Ray Reynolds, CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, was called as the first witness. He was asked about this work
and educational background, which is not included here.
P 43 “Q (from Lucas). .. prior to Mr Harper taking office as secretary of the board in 2013, he had
presented you a petition for the dissolution of the hospital district; is that right?
A. (Reynolds) That is correct.. it was a petition which required a certain number of signers on the
petition to call for an election to dissolve the hospital district. I believe that number was 900. Those
signatures were accumulated. They were – they were presented to‐to the hospital board for their
Paul’s attorney objected as to the relevance of this testimony since the petition action occurred before
Paul was elected. The judge said “This is a matter that involves all the citizens of this county and I’m not
going to cut anybody off”.
Q. (by Mr Lucas). So, Mr Reynolds, the attorneys for the district reviewed this petition for the dissolution
of the district and they concluded what?
A. They concluded that there were not enough validated signatures on the petition to support an
election to dissolve it.
Q. (by Mr Lucas). Mr Reynolds, what would have been the effect of the dissolution of the hospital
district at that point?
A. In my opinion it would have –it would close the hospital down.
Mr Dowell (Paul’s attorney). Excuse me, Your Honor. I’m going to object to speculation.
The court: All right. Overruled.
…Court: Would it, if there was an election and they did away with the hospital district, would it revert
back to the county?
The Witness (Reynolds). Yes, yes, it would.
Mr Lucas: Your Honor, it’s my understanding that the county could accept or decline.
Q. (by Mr Lucas). All right. Mr Reynolds, let’s talk about some of the policies that Mr Harper has
advocated since he’s been on the board of directors. Has he talked to you about setting the tax rate at
A. Yes, that discussion was had. That discussion took place in one of our board meetings where Mr
Harper made the suggestion that the tax rate be set at zero.
Q. And this is something that he’s talked about since he campaigned for office, is that correct?
A. Yes.. I believe his campaign position had two major points. One was to do away with the hospital
tax and the other was to replace administration.
The Court: Now, does Hood County have their own hospital district too?
Mr Lucas: It does, Your Honor
Mr Dowell: Yes, it does
Mr Lucas: It is a nontaxing district
The Court: It’s a nontaxing district?
Mr Dowell: Their tax rate is zero
The Court: It says zero and it still operates?
Mr Lucas: Somehow……
Mr Dowell: Mr Reynolds,. As you sit here, testifying under oath to tell the truth, you can’t tell us how
much money comes from the Pecan Plantation Clinic as a direct benefit from patients referred from
that facility and that facility alone, as opposed to other patients who live within Hood County ZIP
codes coming over here to Glen Rose?
A.I have that number in our financial package. I do not know the number off the top of my head.
Q. And so the answer to my question was, yes, you’re unable to tell us that number right now?
A. That is correct.
A (Reynolds: The other thing is the actions which I have seen out on his blog. And the comments and the
references that he’s made about the hospital and the hospital staff, you know, on his blog, the
Q. So you’ve seen postings on his blog, is that correct?
A. That is correct
Mr Dowell: Q. Has Mr Harper told you that he owns this blog, this Somervell Salon blog?
A. No. He has not told me he owns it.
Q. Have you done any investigation on your own independently to determine the owner of that Web
site and that blog?
A. I have determined that he is the administrator of that blog.
Q. How have you done so sir
A. Through, through the research of the administrator of blogs
Q. So you’re telling me something that someone else told you?
A. That is correct, I am.
Q. So you’re –you’re basing your information on hearsay that was told outside this courtroom, is that
A. I’m basing information that I’ve been given by the CFO who is
By Mr Lucas: Q. What are some of these blog posts on The Salon that you’ve referred to?
A. Well, specifically Mr Dowell; Your Honor, I’d again, object. One, it’s not been shown that these posts were made by
him; two , it’s not been shown what these posts are. This is hearsay. It’s outside the Court’s statement.
A (Reynolds) Well, you know the first that he, you know, the posting on the blog that’s accused me and
the CFO of breaking the law, which there is no basis whatsoever for us breaking any law.
Q. By Mr. Lucas: Well, what is his basis for saying that you and the CFO broke the law?
A. It has to do with the transfer of funds from the 501a.. from the hospital to the 501a, the
supplemental funding which I mentioned. And there is a provision in the management agreement as to
specifically how these funds will be transferred. And in a conversation at the board, you know, I made a
statement, you know it’s a saying that we did not follow the letter of the law in making those transfers87.
It’s not a law, it’s an agreement of how these are to be transferred. I further explained to the board that
even thought that‐ that we are not following the exact method spelled out, that every transfer of dollars
from the hospital to the 501a and from the 501a to the hospital is properly documented, and those
reports have been given to the board members on at least two separate occasions.
The next part has to do with the blog posting records from the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners
about two physicians who had complaints against them. These complaints are available on the internet
to anyone and are public record, as well as included here.138
Q. (By Mr Lucas). How does it help the district to post something like this, to reveal this information?
A. Well, you know if you’re a new patient in town‐or a new citizen in town and you’re trying to make a
decision about, you know, physicians you will use or hospitals that you will use. You know, any
information, you know, that is of a negative nature, nature particular if it’s unfounded as I believe this
was unfounded, you know, could and probably would influence that patient as to whether or not they
would get their care from either one of our affiliated physicians or from our hospital
About Karen Burroughs and Dr Peters. Exactly the point about why I posted these public records, because people
have a right to know when the State Medical Board takes actions against physicians and for what cause. If
Reynolds felt it was *unfounded*, perhaps he should have taken it up with the Texas State Medical board.
88Continuing to employ, for example, someone who was sanctioned for improper prescription use to patients , is
an issue people deserve to know. 89
Q. So you’re saying in taking actions like this that it doesn’t serve the best interest of the hospital?
A. Absolutely it does not.
Q. Okay. Do you find it objectionable to see posts like this?
A. Well, yes, I do. … there were posts out there of our board members‐ you know, making fun of our
other board members, you know. You know, cartoonish depictions of them and referring to them, you know, one of them is referred to as a dog. I mean, those‐those are‐those are certainly not in the best
interest of our hospital to have our physicians and board members depicted in this manner.
Q. Does it case the hospital and the hospital district in a bad light?
A. I absolutely think it does
Q. The bylaws dictate that certain activities are prohibited by board members. One of those is doing
anything that would jeopardize the bonding obligations of the district. Do you believe Mr Harper has
taken actions that would jeopardize the bonding obligations of the district?
A. With a zero tax rate, there’s no way that we’d be able to meet our‐ our obligation of the bond. No
Q. Okay, Another prohibited activity is taking any action with the intent to harm the district or any of its
operations. Do you believe Harper’s actions on the board have been taken with the intent to harm the
district or any of its operations?
A. Yes, I do…. The posting on the blog, you know. I think, you know, any attempt to get rid of the 501a
would be devastating to the hospital and I can, you know that agreement needs to be approved to
assure our physicians that after 12/31 there will be continuing employment for them.
Q. On Mr Harper’s website he post of a lot of things regarding the district, right?
A. He does.
Mr Dowell: Q. Have you seen any contract between the blog operator and Mr Harper?
A. No, I have not.
Q. Have you done any investigation to determine how much money, if any, Mar Harper made from
any advertising that may have been on the Somerville (sic) Salon blog site?
A. No, I have not.
Q. So your testimony here is nothing but mere speculation as to how you think things might have
happened between whoever owns that blog site and the advertisers thereon; is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
By Mr Lucas: Q. Just one thing on the web site. Is his name or picture anywhere located on this site?
Does he post under
A. Oh, yes, he posts on them.
A. . Uh‐huh, he posts on it. Yes, he does
Q. So it would be posts from Paul Harper?
Q. And his picture is on the web site?
A. I –I I don’t know the answer to that.
Q. Okay. All right, Based on everything you’ve testified about here this morning, would you say that Mr
Harper’s actions on this board are making it impossible or unnecessarily difficult to carry on the
intended or ordinary business of the hospital district?
A. Yes, I would.
Dowell. Q. Mr Reynolds, my client is but one director of seven directors, is that correct?
A. That’s correct
Q. There are no acts that my client can do on his own with regard to eliminating the tax rate, can he?
Q. He can’t‐he can’t cancel a physician’s contract, can he, on his own?
A. No, he cannot
Q. By himself?
A. No, he cannot.
Q. He cannot shut down the operations at Pecan Plantation by himself, is that right?
Q. The only thing that he does do that’s an independent duty of his own self is in his capacity as the
secretary of the board of directors, is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
… Q. When my client ran for election here in Somervell County, he ran on a platform of a zero tax rate
and a change of administration, is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
Q. That change of administration would include a change of your position?
A. That is correct.
Q. Now, a zero tax rate, that’s exactly what the folks in Hood County have in their hospital district,
A. To my understanding, yes.
Q. And Hood County brought in a third party to run the hospital there in Hood County, didn’t they?
A. They did.
Q. And that was part of my client’s platform for running for election, wasn’t it, bring in a third party to
administer and run the hospital facility here?
A. that’s correct.
Q.. Has he ever hidden the fact that that’s what he would like to see happen here in Somervell
A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. And he was elected as one of the seven members elected to the board of directors of the hospital
district on the very first election of the hospital district, wasn’t he?
A. He was.
…. Q. Do you understand from my client’s campaign that he never on a campaign to try to close Glen
Rose Medical Center, don’t you?
A. I I do not know that.
Q. Do you know that in his campaign he wanted it run like it’s being run in Hood County, with a third
A. I do know that. …
Q. When you initially brought the budge for review by the board of directors, you actually brought in
two different numbers, one that had a 9 percent tax rate and one that had a 12 percent tax rate; isn’t
A. I’m not‐ I’m not sure about the 9 and 12. We brought several budgets to the board for review…
Q. Were you requested to go back and comply with the law and the bylaws and bring back a detailed
line by line budget?
Q. Is there another 501a agreement that's required cash to be transferred from the hospital district
to the 501a entity?
Q. All right. And in those times, is there a specific procedure under the agreement between
entity and the hospital that's to be followed?
A. Yes, there is.
Q. And, in fact, when you testified earlier about a statement you made in a meeting about
followed the letter of the law and you described, What I really meant was, we weren't
following the terms of the contract specifically, is that the incident you were talking about,
this influx of cash from the district to this 501a entity?
A. I would argue whether or not it was the terms of the contract.
Q. Well, does the -- is that the incident that you were discussing?
A. Yes. Yes, it is.
A. Well, it's not an incident. It's a transfer that takes place on a regular basis.
Q. All right. Takes place on a regular basis as the 501 needs cash?
A. That's correct.
Q. And under the agreement between the 501 and the
district, they're suppose -- the 501 is supposed to make a written request for those funds?
A. That's what the agreement says.
Q. And it's supposed to specify what it is those funds are going to be used for?
A. Again, that's what the agreement says.
Q. And then the board can take action on that. The board of the hospital district can take
A. I'm not certain about -- I'm not certain about the wording of that, but I would -- I would
Q. Okay. Well, they can decide either to do it or not to do it. They don't have to comply with
request of the 501a separate entity, do they?
A. I guess they -- I guess they would not, but those are all budgeted numbers that are contained
operating budget that's presented for board approval on an annual basis.
Q. And then afterwards, after that money is given over, the 501a is supposed to come back
and report to the board how that money was used, that it was used for the purposes for
which they requested it, aren't they?
A. I mean, I guess I would say yes.
Q. All right. And when you said that y'all weren't exactly following the letter or doing whatever
the contract said, that specifically was what was not being done. Money was being transferred
directly from the district's funds straight into the 501a without a written request, without a
review by the board, and without recognition and accounting for it after the fact; isn't that
A. No. There was accounting for it after the fact. A report is -- a report is generated every
that -- that documents every transfer, either from the 501a -- from the hospital to the 501a or
from the 501a to the board. That -- that report is generated every month, and –
Q. I'm talking about from -- how the 501a actually used those funds, where those funds
went to. That report is kept by the 501a, and that's not been transferred back to the board
pursuant to the terms of the 501 Agreement, has it?
A. I would say yes.
Q. What is that report called?
A. It's -- it's a transfer -- transfer of funds between 501 -- between the hospital and 501a.
Q. I'm sorry. I'm not asking about the transfer. I'm asking if 501 goes back to the board
and says, Remember that $30,000 you gave us, here's how we used it.
Q. Is that report given back to the district?
A. No, it has not been.
Q. Okay. And that's something that's required 18 under this agreement, isn't it?
A. Under the agreement, yes.
Q. Who runs that 501?
A. I do from a business perspective. I'm the 22 president of the 501a.
Q. Does -- does that 501 keeps minutes?
Q. Who keeps those minutes?
A. I keep those.
Q. And have you ever been requested to turn over a copy of those minutes to the board of
the hospital district?
A. I've had a request from Mr. Harper.
Q. Okay. And you've not turned over those minutes to him, have you?
A. I -- I informed him that I did not find any of those in my file.
Q. I'm sorry. What?
A. I did not find any of those minutes in my file.
Q. These minutes are just like the ones the hospital district is suppose to keep?
A. Yes. We're required to have an annual meeting, and I could not find a copy of the
annual meeting --
Q. I didn't ask you about an annual meeting.
A. All right.
Q. I'm asking about the minutes that we've already talked about as being so important, and
the fact that you brought my client here and have talked about how deficient he is in his duties as the secretary for the way and the manner that he keeps the minutes. Has he found
all the minutes for the hospital district?
A. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Have you looked for them, the minutes of the 2 hospital district?
A. Yes. From time to time, yes.
Q. Have you ever not found them?
Q. Okay. Now, this agreement between the hospital district and the 501, did you write that
A. I did not.
Q. Was it written by attorneys?
A. I'm sure it was written by the Reed Law Firm, but I do not know the answer to that.
Q. Okay. Would you agree with me that there's probably some important legal reason
why the Reed Law Firm thought it was important enough to add the terms that the
request has to be in writing, that there's an opportunity for the board to review it, and
then there's a report afterwards from the 501 as to how those funds were actually used?
A. I wouldn't know the answer to that.
Q. Does the Reed Law Firm often present things to you that you don't think are worth
Q. You mentioned earlier in your testimony about the corporate practice of medicine -- and I
have to admit, it's been a long time since I've been involved in Q. You mentioned earlier in your
testimony about the corporate practice of medicine -- and I have to admit, it's been a long time
since I've been involved in those contracts, you know, would be -- would expire and it would be
a renegotiation with all of the physicians, you know, in terms of -- of their employment.
Q. Well, I -- I guess that's a pretty good question that we ought to talk about, and the
public certainly has a right to know, don't they? Those physicians could decide they no
longer wish to contract with the 501a; isn't that right?
A. They have that in their contract right now. There's no notice -- there's a -- there's a
time frame where they can -- you know, they can leave any time they get ready.
Q. And so, as you told us on direct, that the Medical Center -- that it would be devastating
to Glen Rose Medical Center if those physicians left. The fact of the matter is, irrespective
of anything done by Mr. Harper or the entirety of the board of directors, those physicians
could leave at any time, couldn't they?
A. Of course they could.
Q. And that would be devastating to the hospital?
A. Yes, it would.
Q. On the same terms, the 501a could ask to renegotiate -- or the next time it comes up for
renewal, could ask to negotiate. The doctors' demands could be more than what the 501a
could see paying; isn't that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Now, whether we're talking about physicians here at Glen Rose Medical Center or the
ones down in Pecan Plantation -- I want to make sure I still know the law on one thing --
you cannot, as a hospital or as a hospital district or as a 501, contract with a physician to
be your employee and then have them guarantee that they will send all patients to your
A. Oh, that is absolutely correct.
Q. That would be illegal, wouldn't it?
A. Yes, it would.
Q. You can't do anything to interfere with the medical judgement of the physician, even if he's
A. Absolutely correct.
Q. So all this money coming out of Pecan Plantation could dry up tomorrow if Pecan Plantation
doctors decided to accept your salary you're paying them and send their patients somewhere
A. Sure, they could. To Cleburne, to Hood County, to Fort Worth. Yes, they could.
Q. Speaking of Pecan Plantation, is Pecan Plantation included in your budget -- the
A. It's included in the 501a detailed budget under each individual physician, the revenues from
lab and X-ray are included in the revenues for lab and X-ray for the hospital.
Q. Are there line item expenditures for the Pecan Plantation operation in the budget for the
A. They would be in the detail, yes.
Q. I want to ask you about this -- this board meeting that occurred where the -- the tax rate was
Q. And in particular, the time that the tax rate -- when -- when my client said that he
should be set at zero.
Q. Okay. Was my client recognized by the chair for a motion on that issue?
A. I don't believe I could testify that a motion was made.
Q. I didn't ask you to testify to that. My question was: Was he recognized by the chair?
A. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Okay. Well, was a vote taken on it?
A. No, there was not.
Q. So I take it that there was no time that it ever passed or was considered for passage by
the entirety of the board of directors?
A. I would agree with that.
Q. And, in fact, the tax rate was set at well above zero, wasn't it?
A. Yes, it was.
Q. In fact, it was set above the nine percent number that you had suggested would be a possible
A. That's correct.
Q. And that all occurred during a regularly scheduled meeting with an agenda?
A. That's correct.
Q. Have you made any requests of the board of directors as an ex officio member to amend or
change the bylaws with regard to the duties of the secretary?
A. I have not.
Q. Have you made any requests to modify the minutes as were adopted and approved by the
A. No, I have not.
Q. Isn't it true, sir, that when the bylaws -- excuse me -- when the minutes are produced by
Mr. Harper, that he sends them to the hospital's PR director for publication on the
hospital's Web site?
A. He does.
Q. And he copies you on that e-mail, doesn't he?
A. Not in all cases but in most cases.
Q. Have you made any motion, as an ex officio member of the board of directors, or
requested that a motion be made to change the policies and procedures regarding timelines
for presentation of the minutes?
A. No, I have not.
Q. You talked to us about the legal counsel and how you had been restrained on how you
could access outside legal counsel; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Okay. That decision wasn't made by Mr. Harper alone, was it?
A. It was made by the executive committee.
Q. The executive committee -- the three-member executive committee; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. And, in fact, the restriction was that you had to bring them into the loop and let them
know when you were doing -- when you were going to access the outside attorneys?
A. The requirement was I'd notify them when I call the attorney -- contact the attorney,
Q. Not that you receive approval, that you notify them?
A. That's correct.
Q. And that was after an approximate $90,000 expenditure on legal fees alone in the year
A. That's correct.
Q. You're an at-will employee; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. You do not have a contract with the hospital district or the hospital itself?
Q. Okay. Are you familiar with a mechanism on Facebook whereby you can, quote, like
A. I'm familiar with the term. I do not know how to do it. I do not know how it's accomplished.
Q. As the CEO and administrator of the medical center, prior to the time of the hospital district
coming into -- excuse me -- prior to the time of the election of the directors for the hospital
district, didyou place any limitations on Ms. Collins as to what was appropriate or inappropriate
for the hospital to comment on?
A. Did not.
Q. Did you leave it up to what you thought would be her good judgment as far as what would be
appropriate or inappropriate?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Do you know whether or not Ms. Collins, using her authority over the hospital's
Facebook account, would "like" certain things that were derogatory towards some of the
candidates for the board of directors in that first election?90
A. It's my understanding that occurred one time and she immediately removed it.
A. Based on -- based on -- based on her telling me, yes, she -- she immediately removed it.
Q. How many hours in immediately?
A. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. How many days?
A. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Okay. So it wasn't as though she posted it and then immediately regretted her actions
and took it off.
It was on for some time, because I take it somebody complained about it?
A. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Did somebody complain about it to you later?
A. Did not.
Q. How did you learn about this?
A. I don't -- I don't -- I don't recall the details of that. I really don't.
Q. Did Ms. Collins come in and just confess to you, I just posted something on the Facebook
account for the hospital, and I immediately regretted it. And therefore, before anybody could
possibly see it, I tookit off?
A. She reported to me that she -- that she had made a mistake and that she deleted it.
Q. Okay. Wouldn't you agree with me that it's probably a good idea to have certain policies and
procedures to control the hospital's communications?
Q. In fact, isn't that one of the reasons the hospital and the hospital district have a PR director?
A. We've only had one for about six months, so I guess the answer to that would be maybe yes.
Q. Okay. Well, did you feel like that was a good expenditure of the people's money?
A. Oh, absolutely.
Q. All right. And so you'd agree with me there's certain things that it's just not appropriate for a
public entity like a regional medical center or a hospital district to be commenting on; is that
A. Let me ask you a question. I'm -- I'm not -- I'm not certain as a government entity that -- that
we -- that we have the authority to delete posts once they've been posted.
Q. All right. Because you're worried about Open Records Act and other things?
Q. So that makes it even much more important that before something's posted, that we're very
certain that it's appropriate for the hospital to have posted it at all, right?
A. I would say yes.
Q. Okay. Well, for example, if -- if the hospital's Web -- Facebook posting all of a sudden
up a thing that said, You know what, we don't think homosexuals should be treated
anymore at our hospital, that would be inappropriate, wouldn't it?
A. It would be inappropriate in terms of my personal judgment of that.
Q. Okay. And it would be inappropriate for the hospital to be saying that's the hospital's
position on things?
A. If it was -- if it was -- if it was the hospital's position -- if the hospital -- if the
hospital posted, I would say yes.
Q. Okay. All right. And yet no one, other than Ms. Collins, was minding the store as far as
what was posted by the hospital on its Facebook page?
Q. Since Mr. Harper, as secretary of the board of directors, has taken control of the Facebook
there ever been anything that you wanted posted on it that wasn't posted?
A. I've never made a post on a Facebook page. The answer to that would be no.
Q. On the election of the hospital district -- excuse me -- on the election that created the hospital
district, that was not the first time that election had come up in Somervell County, was it?
A. That's correct.
Q. Do you recall how many times before it had come up and failed?
A. I only know of one time before.
Q. All right. It's my understanding that on this particular election that actually did pass, it passed
A. That's correct.
Q. If -- if -- if the election to create the hospital district had not passed, were you prepared
shut the doors of the hospital?
A. No. We'd still have been a hospital authority.
Q. Well, if -- if these doctors that you're concerned about were to decide not to contract
hospital any longer, for whatever reason, would you shut down the hospital?
A. Yeah, that depends on the number and whether or not we were able to recruit
replacements. I mean,
that's, you know...
Q. Would you take efforts to try to keep the hospital open?
A. Of course we would, yes.
Q. If the tax rate were rolled back to, say, 8 percent, would you still try to operate within that
budget and provide the health care services this county needs?
A. I can't tell you that 8 percent -- I would tell you that there -- there is -- you know, there is a tax
rate at which, in my professional judgment, it would -- it would be futile to try to continue to
operate the hospital.
Q. Because you'd be operating with, at most, a $3 million loss, right, per year?
Q. If the citizens of Somervell County had presented enough signatures on the petition, that you
described earlier, that would have made a determination to whether or not to roll -- to eliminate
the hospital district, if they had so chosen to do, would you have closed the doors of the hospital
or would you have looked for other opportunities to keep those operations going?
A. I don't want to answer that. I wasn't faced with that decision.
Q. You don't have any contingency plan for that?
A. You know, I was not faced with that. I hadn't made that decision, so I did not make that
Q. Is there something special or something unfortunate about Somervell County that you
don't think a third party such as THR, Texas Health Resources, Baylor, or some other
501a entity could come in and run the hospital?
A. There has been no interest expressed from THR, you know, regarding the operation of
Q. Yes, sir. That was close, but that wasn't my question.
A. Okay. I'm sorry.
Q. My question was: Is there something wrong with this area where you don't think that
an entity --
A. Oh, no.
Q. -- like Baylor or THR could come in and run that hospital?
A. Surely could.
On attending meetings.
Q. Ms. Harper sometimes attends?
A. I'm not sure -- well, yes, I guess. Yes, I guess. I don't recall specifically. Yes. I know she's
been to at least one board meeting, yes. Uh-huh, sure.
Q. The information that you described as being derogatory on the blog posts earlier; do you
A. I do.
Q. Did you look to see whose signature line was at the bottom of that blog post?
A. No, no, no. I mean, I -- I have -- I have read where Debbie says that she's -- she's done that --
Ms. Harper's done that.
Q. Okay. These blog posts that we're describing, have you ever actually looked at them online?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. So as we sit here today, you're unable to tell the Court that any of the blog posts that
you described in direct testimony as being derogatory were, in fact, signed off on by my
client, Mr. Harper, can you?
A. I don't -- I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Well, certainly, if the postings were done by somebody other than Mr. Harper, you
wouldn't fault him for what was said derogatory about the hospital, would you?
A. It's my understanding he's the administrator of the site.
Q. But you don't know what administrator of the site means?
A. I know what being the administrator of the hospital means.
Q. Yes, sir. I'll ask my question again: You don't know what it means to be the
administrator of a Web site, do you?
A. Oh, no, I don't
BY MR. LUCAS:
Q. Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Harper's contention -- or his question, Why can't a third party run Glen
Rose Medical Center, are they referring to Lake Granbury?
A. I would assume.
Q. Okay. Have there been discussions about Lake Granbury leasing Glen Rose Medical Center?
A. There have.
Q. Have they expressed an interest in doing so?
A. Yes, with significant considerations.
Q. And what are those considerations?
A. They would immediately shut down all hospital beds. We would no longer be able to operate
hospital beds. That they would -- they would -- they would consider making us an ambulatory
surgery center or an emergency room, with the -- the most significant part of that is that they
would -- they would close all hospital beds, and we would no longer be able to operate the
medical and surgical unit.91
This is not strictly true. Lake Granbury had attempted to be included at the time when GRMC was part
of the Hospital Authority. And one of the spokesmen from Lake Granbury Medical Center had attempted
to get a non-disclosure agreement from Somervell County Commissioners Court and Judge Mike Ford.
It was ignored. Larry Shaw
Q. Would that be good for Glen Rose Medical Center?
A. I think it'd be very bad.
BY MR. DOWELL:
Q. Has an RFP, a request for proposal, been put together by the board of directors for
A. Has not been.
Q. Is a decision, such as accepting the terms presented to you by Lake Granbury Medical
Center, something that Mr. Harper can do on his own on behalf of the board of directors
or would that still require a majority vote?
A. Majority vote.
First Removal Hearing - Oct 20 2014 Paul Harper Testimony
Paul Harpers’ testimony
Q. (Lucas) Mr. Harper, after the hospital district was created, you created a petition to
dissolve the district; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right.
A. Actually, it was not to dissolve the district. It was a petition to call for an election to
dissolve the district.
Q. Okay. Call for a dissolution election?
Q. Okay. And you gathered signatures on that petition?
A. We gathered about 930 signatures.
Q. Okay. And you presented that petition to Ray Reynolds, the hospital administrator?
A. Yes, at a board meeting.
Q. All right. And then the -- the board of directors at the time, which was the temporary board of
directors, took it under consideration; is that correct?
A. I assume that's what they did. I don't know. I don't know.
Q. But the petition was not acted upon; is that right?
A. I don't know what you mean by not acted upon. Their attorneys had went and found 200
signatures that did not have a city next to the person's name, and so they disqualified those
Q. Okay. So some of the signatures were disqualified, which took it below the requisite
number that was necessary to call for the election?
A. Yes, sir.
A. But the board could have called for the election anyway.
Q. Yes. The board could have, on its own motion, called for the election.
A. They could have.
Q. Okay. Why at the time did you not repeat the process, create another petition, and just do it
properly the second time around?
A. We did.
Q. Okay. What became of that?
A. The election came before that, before we could gathered enough signatures.
Q. What election?
A. The election for the hospital district board.
Q. The board. Okay. So you were in the process of gathering signatures for another petition?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. In the interim, you ran for the board of directors?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you were elected?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Okay. So have you now kind of disregarded the second petition that you created or have you
aside or what have you done with it?
A. I haven't looked at that since I was elected.
Q. Okay. Would it be fair to say that you campaigned on certain ideas?
A. I still have a campaign Web site posted with my agenda on it.
Q. Okay. And what was that agenda that you campaigned on?
A. To eliminate the property tax, to cease operations in Hood County, to bring in
management – new management, and there was a fourth thing. I'd have to look. I don't
remember what it is off the top of my head -- oh, cease operations in -- of Pecan Plantation
in Hood County.
Q. Okay. Now, as you were campaigning on these ideas, you obviously hadn't served on the
board of directors, right?
A. When I was campaigning, no.
Q. Okay. So you didn't know all the operations of the hospital and the hospital district. You
didn't have that knowledge when you were actually running for office, did you?
A. I had knowledge that I had acquired from listening to the audio from meetings and from
reading the minutes from meetings, but, no, not to the extent that I do now.
Q. Now that you're a board member, you -- you more fully understand the operations of the
A. I better understand the operations. I wouldn't say I fully understand every operation.
Q. All right. And you understood that in running for office, if you were elected, that you would
become responsible for the proper administration of the hospital?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Okay. And you understand that your responsibilities are defined by the bylaws of the
A. They are defined by 286 and the bylaws.
A. And just to be clear, 286 Health and Safety Code. I don't want to --
A. -- leave that out there.
Q. All right. And that's the statute under which the -- the hospital district was formed, right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Okay. And in the bylaws, you would agree, would you not, that the -- listed in the duties of
directors, that the -- that a director shall discharge the director's duties in good faith, with
ordinary care, and in a manner the director reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the
Q. Okay. And you understand that as a board member, you have no individual authority?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right. Only the board as a whole determines policy, right?
A. That's right.
Q. Okay. When you were elected, you quickly took many actions, right, in assuming your role as
secretary for the board?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. All right. One of the things -- one of the first things you did was place an item on the agenda
to terminate the -- is it the public relations officer?
A. Public relations director.
Q. Public relations director.
That was one of the first things you – you put on the agenda, right?
A. I -- I don't think that was my choice to put in the agenda. Any -- according to the
president, any board member can have anything put on the agenda they want and it
doesn't have to go through any discussion to get it on there. All you have to do is ask. And I
don't believe I asked for that to be on the agenda. I believe one of the other board members
did, but it was on the agenda.
Q. Okay. Was that something you supported?
A. It never came up for a vote.
Q. Okay. Was it -- was it premature at that point to start talking about terminating people?
I mean, you had just been elected to the board.
A. Look, you know, we never got into that discussion, so I can't tell you what could have
happened, should have happened, or -- or -- because we didn't hear the dialogue between the
board members on why that was on there or why they wanted to discuss it. There could have
been valid reasons for all I know.
A. We didn't get into the dialogue so I don't know.
Q. All right. But you or your fellow board members ‐‐ at this point you've just been elected,
you ‐‐ you probably don't even know what the public relation director does, right?
A. Some people have some ideas, it just depends on who the person is and what they think of
that role. And, you know, we didn't get into a dialogue about what the role was and what it
provided, so we don't know.
Q. Okay. You haven't always been very kind to the administrative staff, have you?
A. I believe that the ‐‐ the administrators should be replaced.
Q. Okay. Now, have you been rude to the staff, the ‐‐ say, the administrative assistant to the
A. I don't believe so.
Q. Okay. Have you had difficulties communicating with her?
A. No. E‐mail works great.
Q. Okay. Now, it was your idea that as secretary of the board that you would control the
A. No, it's ‐‐ it's dictated in the bylaws.
Q. Okay. And what is dictated in the bylaws since your ‐‐
A. That I would put the agenda together ‐‐
A. ‐‐ and the minutes.
Q. All right. Do you seek the advice and support of the administration when you're setting forth
the agendas for the meetings?
Q. Okay. Do you determine what goes on the agendas based on your communications with
them, or do you ‐‐ at times do you decide on your own or through other board members what
you want to put on those agendas?
A. Sometimes I make a decision to put something on there, sometimes other board members
make decisions to put stuff on there. Again, it's not a discussion when somebody wants to put
something on the agenda. They just say put it on there, we put it on there.
Q. Would it be fair to say that in your responsibilities of preparing the minutes of meetings,
that they have not been done in a timely manner?
A. I would not say that's accurate.
Q. Now, when did the board ‐‐ let's just take an example, the board minute ‐‐ board minutes for
July of this year, when were they approved by the board as a whole?
A. I do not know. I'd have to go look.
Q. Do you have an idea?
A. I really don't. There's so ‐‐ been so many meetings and there's so many minutes and so many
agendas that I can't tell you which one was approved when and posted when. I can go back and
look and figure out in my notes, and if I had known that I was going to be asked these
questions, I could have provided answers.
Q. Would it be fair to say that the minutes aren't being approved by the board until months
after the meetings?
A. A couple have been ‐‐ not been approved for a couple months, but the rest of them are
approved at the regular board meetings.
Q. Now, Mr. Reynolds testified that the minutes were being poorly done. Would you agree with
Q. They're not very thorough, are they? A. They're not detailed. I mean, we don't go into
much detail on the minutes.
Q. But you don't go into any detail in the minutes, do you?
A. Sure I do.
Q. Okay. When there is a discussion of a particular agenda item, what do you include in the
minutes about ‐‐ about that discussion?
A. A discussion about this topic, motion for this, seconded by whoever, and then it fails or
passes, whatever the vote is.
Q. Okay. So you just say discussion, you don't describe what the contents of that discussion
A. As far as I know, there's no law that requires me to do that.
Q. So you think it's ‐‐ the way you're doing the minutes is proper in your opinion?
A. I think it's fine the way I do it right now, and if people would like them to be different and the
board would like to be different, I'm open to changing them. I have no problem doing that. I've
been very cooperative with the rest of the board on things they've wanted changed as far as
the secretary's role goes.
Q. Okay. How are you keeping the official minutes of the district?
A. They're ‐‐ once they are approved by the board, then they ‐‐ I go ‐‐ what I do is before the
board meeting, I go and I create the minutes and I mark them, unofficial, and then I bring the
unofficial minutes to the board meeting. After the board meeting and they approve the
minutes, I go back and take off the word official and I save it as a PDF and I send it to Ashley and
I cc Ray.
A. Ashley is our public relations director. So she can post it on the Web site.
Q. Ashley Woodley?
Q. Okay. But the hard copy of ‐‐ of what's approved ‐‐ actually approved by the board, the hard
copy is not kept with hospital administration?
A. It is given to the hospital administration when it is provided to the public relations director.
when I e‐mail Ashley and say, Please post it on the Web site, Ray is cc'd, so Ray has a copy of
the minutes at that point.
Q. So you're e‐mailing official documents?
Q. Okay. There has been a post on your blog or your Web site ‐‐ let me ‐‐ let me ask you this:
Tell ‐‐ tell the Court about your ‐‐ your Web site, is it ‐‐ is it located at GlenRose.net?
A. I have many Web sites, that's got to be clear.
Q. All right.
A. Thousands of them. So to be clear: The Somervell County Salon, I think the Web site you're
referring to, is run and managed by my wife, Debbie Harper. I have no authority over what
gets posted, approved, not approved on that Web site.
Q. So you're not the administrator for the site?
A. That's correct.
Q. Okay. Are you aware of what your wife posts on this blog?
A. Not always.
A. Sometimes I get a text, which you probably see in one of your replies there from Chip where
Harrison is telling me about a post my wife did, and I'm like, Well, I haven't read it yet.
Q. Okay. But y'all discuss what she posts on the site, right?
A. Not necessarily.
Q. Okay. Are you often of a like mind when it comes to issues of public business.
A. I would say most married people are of like mind.
Q. Okay. If she were to post something that ‐‐ that casts the hospital district in a negative
light, would you admonish her not to do so again?
honestly couldn’t believe when Andy Lucas said this to Paul. This is 2018. In what world does
Mr Lucas reside in which a husband should *admonish* a wife? And particularly for freedom of
speech issues on her own blog? 92
A. I can't tell her what to do and what not to do, that's not my job.
Q. Okay. But you're a member of the hospital district board, don't ‐‐
A. Yes, I am.
Q. ‐‐ you think that the items that you and your wife are responsible for should cast the
hospital in a positive light?
A. It doesn't matter what I think. What she wants to post, she can post. That's her business,
it's not mine.
Q. Okay. Let me ask you this ‐‐ oh, I'm ‐‐ let me ask this first. There was a ‐‐ a posting on the
Salon that said something to the effect, Why would anyone ‐‐ in all caps ‐‐ anyone want to ever
do business with GRMC? Would you agree that was a posting on the Salon site?
A. I have no idea.
Q. Okay. You've never read that?
A. I may have seen it. I don't know where I saw it, but I certainly didn't post it.
Q. Okay. You've read Mr. Best's petition, have you not?
A. I have read his petition.
Q. Okay. And you saw the exhibits?
A. Oh, is that the post you're referring to?
A. The exhibit?
A. No, I didn't post that. I have read it, though.
Q. You have read it?
Q. Okay. And you're saying your wife posted that?
Q. Okay. Was your wife at that meeting that ‐‐
A. All the videos from every meeting are posted on YouTube for anybody to watch anytime they
Q. Okay. But those videos wouldn't be posted until probably the next day, right?
A. That depends. Sometimes it posts the next day, sometimes a couple days later. It depends on
Q. Okay. Do you approve of your wife saying something like that, Why would anyone want to
ever do business with GRMC?
MR. DOWELL: Judge, I'm going to object to that. I think that's an improper question.
THE COURT: Overruled. I'll allow it.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Do you approve of your wife making that comment?
A. I don't have a say either way.
Q. Don't you think it would be proper for you to talk to your wife about this since you're a
member of this board?
A. I believe it's better for me not to get into what people post about the district, for me to get
into discussions with them or arguments with them about it. It's my job to talk to the other
board members and find out what we can do to make things better.
Q. Now, this Salon site ‐‐ you do make posts on this site at times, don't you?
A. Yes, I do, but I post as myself.
Q. Okay. It's got a picture of you that comes up on the post?
Q. Okay. And you kind of advertise for people to come look at this site, right?
A. I don't know what you mean by advertise. No, we don't spend money.
Q. Okay. You like for citizens of this county to ‐‐ to come look at the site, to come look at your
posts, reply ‐‐
A. I like for citizens of the county to be informed.
Q. Okay. And you do that with this Salon Web site, right?
A. I don't.
Q. Okay. You post on that site at times, though, do you not?
A. I do.
Q. Okay. So when you're posting on the Salon site, you're trying to inform the public, right?
A. It depends. I may be stating an opinion, I may be stating a fact. It just depends.
THE COURT: Do you always sign it when it's your posting?
THE WITNESS: When you post it, it shows that you posted it under your ID at the top.
THE COURT: I'm not a big ‐‐ I'm not a big deal in ‐‐
THE WITNESS: So you can see that when PHarper posts something, that's me. When Salon posts
something, that's her.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this:
Mr. Harper, what would you say are the strengths of the hospital?
A. The strengths of the hospital? That's a good question. They've got some good staff, some
very good staff. They've got some good doctors working for them. I'd hate to see those doctors
leave. I think it's got a great location, and I think it has a lot of possibilities if it was managed
Q. Now, you say ‐‐
THE COURT: That's your big controversy with Mr. Reynolds?
THE WITNESS: I'm sorry?
THE COURT: Would you say that's the biggest controversy between you and Reynolds?
THE WITNESS: That's probably one of the biggest one is between ‐‐
THE COURT: What are y'all paying him?
THE WITNESS: You know what's funny is I've been asking him to send me the salaries in an email,
and he won't do it.
THE COURT: You're on the board and you don't know what you're paying ‐‐
THE WITNESS: So ‐‐
THE COURT: ‐‐ him?
THE WITNESS: So I would guess ‐‐ most of the board doesn't know, because we've been
asking and he won't tell us. We can see in the budget that there's so much budgeted for the
administrative salaries, but that's not his salary alone. That's ‐‐ that's his and ‐‐ and his admin
‐‐ his assistant's budgeted into there, because that's their ‐‐ they're allowed that. But we have
asked him specifically for all the salaries for him and all of his direct reports, and
he's refused to give it to us. That's another contention issue I have with Mr. Reynolds.
THE COURT: All right. Go ahead.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Wasn't the budget just approved, though?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Aren't the salaries listed in the budget?
A. Not individually. They are listed as part of a ‐‐ that group's budget. So the administration
office, that's their ‐‐ that's their section, that's that tab. You go to each tab in the budget and
there's different salaries ‐‐ accumulative salaries, not individual salaries.
Q. Okay. You just said a second ago you would hate to see good doctors leave Glen Rose
Medical Center, right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. But you heard Mr. Reynolds' testimony that terminating the 501a Management Agreement
would result in doctors leaving our hospital, right?
A. I would disagree with him.
Q. Okay. Why would you disagree with his opinion?
A. Because I think a lot of the doctors would come and work for us directly, they wouldn't just
They have ‐‐ they're based here, they have ‐‐ they have customers here.
Q. Do you put no stock in Mr. Reynolds' 42 years in hospital administration that ‐‐ do you put no
stock in that experience?
A. I do to some degree, yes.
Q. But you think you know better than him?
A. No. I don't say I know better than him. I think differently than him.
Q. Okay. And when he tells you that terminating that 501a Management Agreement would
result in losing doctors, you disregard that or you disagree with it or what's your contention?
A. I disagree because, you know ‐‐ I disagree with that. I think that we could still keep doctors
employing directly, not have to go through the 501a.
THE COURT: Is it your testimony you're not trying to shut down the hospital?
THE WITNESS: Sir, I've never told anyone that I want to shut down the hospital.
THE COURT: Well, that's what they're saying.
THE WITNESS: I know, but I've never said that, I've never taken an ad out saying that, I've never
written it, I've never tried to close the hospital. It was never my intention. In fact, if you go my
Web site right now, it says my agenda is to keep the hospital open for
business, and it's said that ever since I started campaigning.
THE COURT: You just don't like the tax?
THE WITNESS: I just don't like the tax.
THE COURT: All right. Go ahead.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) In some of your messages ‐‐ your text messages, though, you ‐‐ you call for a
A. I call for the dissolution election.
Q. Okay. And you acknowledge in those messages that dissolution would result in Glen Rose
Medical Center closing its doors?
A. I don't know that.
Q. Okay. But you believe that's exactly what would happen?
A. I don't know that that would happen.
A. When you go through dissolution in Chapter 286 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, there's
a lot of options as far as people, when they're dissolving their district. It could stay open for
years as the ‐‐ as the Reed attorney for the district has told us last year.
Q. And it would remain a taxing entity, right?
A. It would until the debt is paid.
Q. So your goal of eliminating the tax would not be served, right?
A. I don't know. That would be ‐‐ that would be a tough one. I don't know.
Q. Okay. Now, you at different times have accused Ray Reynolds of breaking the law, right?
A. You're talking about before I was elected?
Q. No, since.
A. I have not done that since I was elected.
Q. Okay. You have not made comments about Ray Reynolds and Michael Honea breaking the
A. I may have had text messages regarding ‐‐ discussing that, possibly, whether they were doing
that or not. Because it's my understanding that if you're taking public funds and you're moving
them to private accounts and you don't have elected oversight of doing that ‐‐ or elected
approval of doing that, you're basically embezzling money at that point. And ‐‐ and ‐‐ and I
really would like rather just to have the board vote and approve the ‐‐ the funds.
THE COURT: You're talking about that money that came from the hospital over to this 501, is
that what you're talking about?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir. They're taking tax dollars and they're taking it from the hospital and
giving it to the 501a, just moving the money to the accounts with no board approval at all.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this ‐‐
A. Except the budget when it's approved every year.
THE COURT: Okay.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Let me ask you this: Whose legal opinion are you ‐‐ are you relying on when
you say those actions are illegal?
A. Those are my own. I don't rely on any legal opinion whatsoever that says that. That is my
belief, and that is just what I believe.
Q. So you determine who's breaking the law and who's not?
A. No. That's what the law is for.
Q. Okay. But you don't rely on attorneys to tell you what the law is, you make your own
determinations of what the law is?
A. I would disagree with that.
Q. Okay. I asked you who you had relied on – you know, what legal counsel you had relied on in
determining that the 501a is illegal, and your answer was what?
A. I never said the 501a is illegal. The moving of the money, I believe, would be a problem that
needs to be solved.
Q. Okay. You have said that the medical center operating the clinic in Pecan Plantation is
A. I believe that there is an issue with that, too, because we are operating in another district's
area without having a local agreement between the two, and I believe Chapter 286 prohibits
Q. But Ray Reynolds has shared with you the opinion from the hospital district's attornies
that says it's permissible?
A. The one from 2012 before the district was created.
Q. Okay. Do you think the circumstances have changed somehow?
Q. How so?
A. It's a district.
Q. Okay. But that was the anticipation in the letter that ‐‐
A. It is a hospital authority when it was written.
Q. The whole basis of the opinion was ‐‐
MR. DOWELL: Excuse me, Your Honor. I'm going to object to this line of questioning talking
about some document ‐‐ some opinion given by somebody outside the court. The document is
not within the record.
MR. LUCAS: It's Exhibit 2, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Overruled. I'll allow it. You're talking about this memorandum from
Kevin Reed, right?
MR. LUCAS: Correct, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Yeah, it talks about the anticipation of creating the hospital district. Anyway...
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mr. Harper, will you take a moment to read that.
A. Sure. Okay. I've read it.
Q. Mr. Harper, what is the conclusion that Mr. Reed reaches in that opinion ‐‐ that letter in ‐‐
A. Well, it's his opinion that they're able to do what they're doing.
Q. And you would disagree with that?
Q. What is the basis for your disagreement? Are you relying on another legal opinion?
A. No, no.
Q. Just your own?
A. Yeah. There's a couple things in here that bug me.
Q. Do you have any legal training, Mr. Harper?
A. I ‐‐ I never claimed to be a lawyer. I've never been to law school, I don't know anything about
the law other than what I can read on the Internet.
Q. But it would be your opinion that the district should disregard the advice and counsel of its
attorney as stated in that opinion?
A. Well, see, there's a problem right here with something I'm reading. It says, [as read] "The
clinic will refer patients to the hospital thereby (a) increasing the volume of patients at the
hospital" ‐‐ which has not happened since 2012 ‐‐ "and allowing the district to provide services
it would otherwise not have to ‐‐ not have had sufficient patient volume to provide and
providing revenue to help the district maintain a lower tax rate." The tax has gone up. So two
things he says right here have already happened. It would have been opposite to what he
claims, so, no, I wouldn't agree with him.
Q. Okay. So would it be correct to say that as a board member, you would pursue an action to
sever ties with the Pecan Plantation Clinic?
A. No, I didn't say that.
Q. So you would continue operating the Pecan Clinic just as ‐‐ as the district has ‐‐
A. The Pecan Clinic has been operating since I was elected to office.
Q. All right. In your text message communications, though, you have a problem with the
district operating that clinic in Hood County, don't you?
A. I do.
Q. And so you believe the district should ‐‐ should cease its operation of that clinic,
A. I believe that since they have their own district, that they should take care of the people in
their district, and we should take care of the people in our district. Now, have I tried to sever
that agreement? No. Have I discussed it? Sure, because you have to
discuss all options.
Q. And you've discussed that with other members of the board?
A. I've discussed that with other members of the board, the public.
Q. Okay. Would it be fair to say that there were four of you elected to the board that ran on a ‐‐
on an agenda to end the tax?
A. I don't know if I would say that, because we didn't all run on the same thing. In fact, there
was some disagreements between us on different things.
Q. Did the four of you share that goal?
A. I don't think we got together ever and shared any goal. We never all four got together and
said, This is what we're going to do. That just hasn't happened, ever.
Q. These text message communications that Mr. Best was able to uncover through these open
records requests shows some of your communications with John Parker, right?
Q. And they show some of your communications with Chip Harrison, right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And within those you say you have had discussions with Gene Brode as well, right?
A. I have talked to Gene, yes.
Q. Okay. And these communications are pretty clear in that you're trying to seek the other
board members' approval of your petition ‐‐ of your positions, right?
A. I was trying to get people to understand that we needed to take care of this.
Q. All right. You're trying to influence how they vote, right?
A. No. I'm trying to make them aware that we need to take care of this.
Q. And you're convincing them why, right?
A. Well, we have a 501a contract that's expiring January 1st, we need to deal with it.
Q. And would it be your preference that that agreement expire?
A. That is up to the board, not up to me.
THE COURT: Now, what's your personal opinion?
THE WITNESS: My personal opinion is that we employ the doctors directly and we do away with
THE COURT: Okay.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Not withstanding the effect that the hospital administrator, Ray Reynolds,
says that would have on the hospital?
A. Ray has told us the hospital's going to close so many times I can't even count. And that was
when we ran up to the first election where it failed to create the district, and when they went
to create the authority, when they were telling everybody if we didn't do this, it was going to
close. And this last time when it actually got created they were telling everybody if it doesn't
pass, it's going to close. And so, you know, you have to take that with a grain of salt when
you hear it over and over and over and over.
Q. Wouldn't you agree, though, that if ‐‐ if the hospital severed ties with the Pecan Clinic and
lost approximately 60 percent of its revenue, that it would shut the doors on the hospital;
wouldn't you agree with that?
A. I don't know.
Q. If that's ‐‐
A. ‐‐ scale back operations ‐‐ huh?
Q. What's your opinion?
A. I think you can scale back operations at the hospital. I think you can scale back operations at
the hospital. I don't think we need to have all the services we're providing right now. In fact, the
United States government agrees. When they applied for a grant from Chet Edwards many
years ago, the feds came back and said, No, you guys live too close to other hospitals, you don't
qualify. 94And so we didn't get all that money that Chet Edwards promised us we'd get.
And so I would tend to agree with them that there's too many hospitals around here 95and we
shouldn't be trying to ‐‐ instead of trying to compete with them for services ‐‐ like Ray always
wants to complete with Lake Granbury for this and compete with, you know, Cleburne for that.
We don't need to do that. We need to cooperate with them so they can provide services and
we can provide services for everybody. So that they provide some things and we provide some
things to complement each other, opposed to trying to kill each other and ‐‐ and ‐‐ with
Q. You would prefer that Lake Granbury provide the services that our hospital is currently
A. I don't know if I would agree with that.
Q. Somebody ‐‐ somebody told me this and I don't know if it's true, you ‐‐ you tell me if it's true.
Somebody said that you were having a heart attack and you bypassed Glen Rose Medical
Center, risking your own health, to drive all the way to Lake Granbury because under no
circumstances would you stop at our hospital; is that true?
A. That's a correct statement.
Q. If that's true, if you have such disdain for this hospital, why would you want to serve on its
A. Because I want to make it better. And if people like me don't want to go to it, there's a
And so ‐‐ and how do you get people to go to it, you change it.
Q. Do you get people to go to it by terminating 60 percent of its revenue?
A. Well, you ‐‐ you ‐‐ there's a bunch of different ways that you can bring people in, and the way
we're doing it now is not working.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Have ‐‐ have you pursued positions like eliminating the 501a Management
Agreement that would result in Glen Rose Medical Center losing physicians, is that something
that you espouse?
A. I think that we need to take doctors and employ them directly and not go through the
Q. But not withstanding the ‐‐ the testimony from Ray Reynolds that doctors don't want to be
employed like that?
MR. DOWELL: Objection. That's a mischaracterization of Ray Reynolds' testimony.
MR. LUCAS: Well, I don't think it – I don't think it is, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Well, let him answer. Answer any way you want, just tell him how
A. Well, I would disagree with him on that, if that's what his stance is.
THE COURT: Do you dislike the 501a also because ‐‐
MR. LUCAS: Mr. Reynolds.
THE COURT: ‐‐ Mr. Reynolds is running it?
THE WITNESS: Well, he's not actually running it, which is kind of funny. He is but he's not.
If you look at the paperwork, the president is Dr. Burroughs, not Ray Reynolds.
Now, it's filed with the state comptroller's office, you can look it up. The ‐‐ Dr. Burroughs, who
is not a member of the 501a, who is on our board, is president of the 501a.97
THE COURT: Well, who runs ‐‐
THE WITNESS: They haven't even had a board meeting in ‐‐
THE COURT: ‐‐ who runs the 501a right now?
THE WITNESS: According to Ray, he runs it, but she's the president and they've never had a
THE COURT: Okay. But you don't like that ‐‐ I mean ‐‐
THE WITNESS: I don't like that at all. I would rather have it be, you know, everybody know
who's ‐‐ who's in charge and who's running the show, and make sure that the ‐‐ the
administrator's actually running the show.
Right now we've got doctors entering into agreements in a 501a that the board never even
don't approve these agreements whatsoever. If it came through the hospital, we would have
more control of that and what salaries are and what the bonuses are and that
kind of stuff. And right now we don't even see it. I've never even seen any of the doctors'
THE COURT: Is today the first day you've heard how much they pay the doctors?
THE WITNESS: No. I've ‐‐ I've ‐‐ I've heard of how much they pay, but I've asked Ray to let me
see the agreements and he says I can only look at them on his computer. I can't get a copy of
THE COURT: Go ahead.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mr. Harper, describe for me how the hospital benefits from setting the tax
rate at zero.
A. Well, that's up to the voters. The voters have said they want the tax rate set to zero, and it's
the board members ‐‐
Q. How have they said that?
A. By voting me in. I ran on that, I campaigned on that. People voted for me. If they didn't want
that, they wouldn't have voted for me.
Q. So you believe the fact that you were elected gives you the right to set the tax rate at zero; is
correct? A. I believe the people want the tax rate set to zero, and that's why they sent me here.
Q. You've heard Mr. Best's testimony that it looked to him like the ‐‐ the result of the election
55 percent of the voters being in favor of the hospital district?
A. You can dissect it however you want, seven people were elected.
Q. And there were 6 of you running that were opposed to the tax and 12 running in favor of the
A. I assume that's correct.
Q. Okay. Now that you've been on the board and you've had a chance to review its financials,
the CFO, see some of its operations, talk to the CEO, do you not see the problem with setting
the tax rate at zero?
A. I see the argument against it, sure.
Q. Okay. And what do you think of that argument?
A. I think that, you know, the taxpayers disagree with the people who are running the business.
Q. So it doesn't matter what effect it's going to have on the hospital, just the ‐‐ you've just got
the tax at zero, right?
A. I need to try to accomplish what the taxpayers put me here to do.
Q. And it didn't happen this year, but it could happen next year, right?
A. I have no idea.
Q. You're going to work for that, aren't you?
A. I'm going to do what the taxpayers asked me to do.
Q. Which is set the tax rate at zero, right?
A. If ‐‐ if I have the opportunity, sure.
Q. Okay. Thank you. When Ray Reynolds was speaking with you about the Pecan Plantation
Clinic, he advised you that severing ties with the clinic would result in Glen Rose
Medical Center closing its doors, and your response to him was, Whatever happens, happens;
isn't that correct?
A. I don't ‐‐ I don't remember saying that exactly, but ‐‐
Q. What do you remember saying?
A. I do remember that Ray and I discussed how I had ‐‐ of course, he was like, The hospital's
going to close if, you know, XYZ happens, as he always does, but, you know, I tend to disagree
with him. I think he's kind of extreme in that manner. The hospital should have been closed half
a dozen times now according to him, and it's never been closed.
Q. Did you say, Whatever happens, happens?
A. I don't know that that's the exact wording, but ‐‐
Q. What do you recall being your exact wording?
A. I don't know what the exact wording was, to tell you the truth. I just remember the gist of
the conversation, thinking, Ray's saying we're going to close again, and I'm thinking, Well, he's
Q. Because you know more than Ray?
A. No. Because Ray keeps saying over and over and over that this place is going to close, it's
going to close, it's going to close. Every time there's a threat or anything that has to do with the
hospital district stuff, they come out with this ramped up thing scaring everybody. Telling
everybody, Oh, it's going to close if this happens, oh, it's going to close. And they keep doing
that, they've been doing it for years. Gary Marks used to do it when he was running it. He used
to run around with his PowerPoint telling everybody, If we don't do this, it's
going to close. And Ray was right behind him, same thing.
Q. You consistently disregard the advice of the CEO and the CFO, don't you?
Q. You don't?
Q. What do they do that you agree with?
A. I like the way that Mr. Honea came up with the budget after I griped about it. I like the ‐‐ the
thick binder that thick (indicating) telling me just about everything I want to know, except for
the detailed salaries, about what's going on as far as the budget goes. We didn't have that
before. They tried to give us a three‐page budget before ‐‐ before I reached out about it. And so
now I'm glad that – that Mr. Honea now understands that we need to comply with the law, with
Chapter 286 Texas Health and Safety Code, and our own bylaws.
Q. Again, Chapter 286, that's ‐‐ that's your reading of the chapter, right?
A. If you can go read it ‐‐
Q. I mean, you're not ‐‐
A. ‐‐ it dictates what the law requires.
Q. You're not relying on some attorney telling you anything, it's ‐‐ it's your reading of 286, right?
Q. Okay. Do you ‐‐ have you ‐‐ since you've been on this board, have you ever relied on the
advice of an attorney ever?
A. I don't know what you're saying.
Q. Have you ever relied on the advice of an attorney for any of the activities of the hospital
A. Oh, the hospital district. I think they've given us ‐‐ oh, yeah, yeah. Actually, I have given ‐‐ I
have relied on some advice he gave us during
Q. What was that?
A. Work together.
Q. Work together?
A. Yeah, and I've tried to work together. I have reached out to other board members, even
though some of them have not responded. I've tried to reach out to them in a correct way.
Q. What else have you done that the attorney advised you to do during orientation?
A. Oh, I don't know. I can't think of anything that stands out.
Q. You would ‐‐ you would never reach out for the opinion of Kevin Reed, the hospital district's
attorney, would you?
A. I believe we did ask him something. I forget what it was about, but it had to do with ‐‐ I
forget, but I know that we had talked to him. We had a phone call with him. We had a call with
the attorney and with Ray and the attorney and Chip. I was on that call. I don't recall what it
was about, but I remember I was talking to the attorney.
Q. Mr. Harper, how do you believe your actions on this board have served the best interest of
A. I am doing what the voters want me to do.
Q. What is that?
A. Push to eliminate the property tax, push to bring in better management, make sure we're
legal as far as Pecan Plantation goes, but ‐‐ but really, I – I would prefer to not operate there
and allow Hood County to operate there. That's their division, that's not ours, you know.
Q. How would you suggest that the district pay its bonded indebtedness?
A. Well, they either have to make the money or tax people to do it, one of the two. There's no
way around it. And we already have the debt, we can't argue about that. That's already there,
so we just have to deal with it.
Q. There has to be a tax to pay that debt, though?
A. Unless the hospital figures out a way to make money.
Q. Now, this is a small, rural hospital with many challenges. How ‐‐ how do you propose this
hospital would go about making money?
A. Well, there's ‐‐ there's ‐‐ there's ‐‐ there's been some push to get more primary care
physicians around, but then we've run into the problem where we'd have to go and spend
money to modify the building to bring those guys in. It's going to take us six years to make that
money back, you know, and you have to make these kind of decisions whether you want to
invest that money
and not get it back for six years like we did with the building modification that we voted on
earlier this year that I voted for.
Q. Okay. So at different times you talk to Mr. Brode and you talk to Mr. Harrison and you talk to
Mr. Parker and you're trying to convince them all to follow these policies that you've advocated
here today, right?
A. I don't know that that would be a proper wording. I'm trying to ‐‐ I don't know. I'm trying
to ‐‐ what's ‐‐ what's the right wording I'm trying to use here?
I'm trying to ‐‐ to ‐‐ to ‐‐ to make them understand what we need to do, and ‐‐ and ‐‐ and see if
they're on board. Because a lot of times, you know, you ‐‐ you don't want to bring something
up that ‐‐ if ‐‐ if you don't think that there's going to be support for it. And I don't like
necessarily talking about changing something in ‐‐ in a board meeting if I know that nobody
supports it but me.
Q. So you're talking to them outside of the open meetings and you're seeing if you can get
commitments from them –
Q. ‐‐ otherwise you wouldn't bring it up in the open meeting; is that what you're saying?
A. I'm not ‐‐ commitments, no. And I've brought up things that have failed in ‐‐ in ‐‐ during the
hospital board meetings.
Q. All these communications that we saw with ‐‐ with Parker and with Harrison, these things
have ‐‐ these things haven't been discussed in the open meetings, have they?
A. I think everything we've discussed has been discussed in the open meetings.
Q. Okay. So these communications you're having that Mr. Best discovered, you're ‐‐ you're
having these conversations in the open meetings?
A. As far as I know everything we talked about everybody knows about. We aren't making any
decisions. We're not coming ‐‐
Q. You're not?
A. No. We're not making any decisions. We're not saying, Oh, let's go do XYZ and then you go
talk to him and you go talk to him and I'll ‐‐ and that would be wrong.
Q. You're not asking them what they want to do?
A. Sometimes I ask them what they want to do and I say, Do you want to ‐‐
Q. Don't you think that's asking for a commitment?
Q. What's the distinction?
A. Distinction is see if there's any interest. You can have interest without finding out what
Q. You're not asking in these messages what they're ‐‐ what they think?
A. Sometimes I might be.
Q. Well, are you or are you not?
A. You're going to have to refer to which text message you're talking about.
Q. All right. Well, let's take some time to do that. You said in a message to John Parker, [as
read] "We, or at least I, did not run on being better than the people there. I ran on an agenda
which includes eliminating the tax. The voters wanted us to stop the tax, not maintain it."
A. That's right.
Q. [As read] "If we can't stop the tax, we should give them the opportunity to have a say in
whether they pay a tax or dissolve." Now ‐‐
A. That's fair. That's common knowledge, everybody knows that.
Q. [As read] "The voters wanted to stop the people who are running it then. If we did that, they
would not be able to just start up again. Dissolving would entail selling buildings. If the voters
want us to dissolve the district, we should. Since the county has transferred everything to us,
dissolution would likely close the hospital." You made that statement, right?
A. I'd ‐‐ I'd have to look at that. Let me see that and I can tell you for sure. Thank you. I don't
remember writing that line there. That's ‐‐ that's part of the problem here, I don't remember
writing that line. I remember writing this line (indicating).
THE COURT: Y'all approach just a second. (Sotto voce discussion at the bench.)
A. I don't ‐‐ I don't remember writing that, but it looks like my writing. Yeah, but I would agree
with that, it would likely cause that problem to happen. So ‐‐ so yes, I agree with that
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Okay. So ‐‐ but aren't you telling ‐‐ aren't you telling these guys in these
messages what they should do?
A. I don't tell people what to do.
Q. You're telling what they should do, what you believe they should do?
A. Doesn't matter what I believe, it doesn't – it matters what they believe.
Q. But you're trying to convince them of your ‐‐ or your way of thinking, right?
A. I try to do that during ‐‐ when we're talking about it at board meetings. I try to save the
for the board meetings so we can discuss it in detail without getting into details prior to.
Q. These messages don't contain details?
A. I don't like getting into details privately, I prefer to go to board meetings.
Q. These messages don't go into details?
A. I don't know what details you're referring to.
Q. Okay. You completed your open meetings training, right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you know what a walking quorum is, don't you?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you describe for the Court what a walking quorum is?
A. A walking quorum is where the majority of the board gets together through either physically
or by one person going and talking to another and that person talking to another and that
person talking to another and everybody agreeing to do the same thing at the board meeting.
That would be a walking quorum.
Q. And you understand that a violation, also known as a walking quorum, can be a criminal act,
Q. And you understand that your behavior as a public official must be lawful, don't you?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And that applies to the Open Meetings Act?
A. Yes, sir.
Harper Files Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss on Oct 27 2014
In between hearing #1 and hearing #2, Harper filed a Defendant’s Anti‐Slapp Motion to Dismiss. Chris Brown,
one of the terrific attorneys at Cantey Hanger, had found the TCPA (Texas Citizens Participation Act) and found it
directly applied to what Best and Lucas were doing. TCPA was a fairly recent statute, otherwise known as Anti‐
Slapp. It was apparent that the petition from Darrell Best was really targeted towards Harper’s freedom of
speech and freedom to petition, and including Andy Lucas addition regarding the Open Meetings Act.
Why was the Removal Petition frivolous? Because anyone, elected official or not, has freedom of speech and freedom to petition in this country. Most people, if they have resources to hire an attorney, would fight unjust attempts to suppress political speech. Also, a removal petition has specific grounds for which to remove an official to include incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication. The question is whether a person who exercises his freedom of speech when elected should be judged incompetent for those opinions, as a reason for a removal action.
Second Removal Hearing January 8 2015
At the hearing on January 8 2015, I testified about charge #2, the blog entry that had criticized several people
involved with the hospital. The judge ruled that Harper would be reinstated as Director on the Somervell County
Hospital District board but also dismissed the anti‐slapp motion without a hearing on it. Lucas apparently didn’t
come prepared to prove his case prima facie, but did say that the removal action was an enforcement order and
therefore the anti‐slapp motion didn’t apply. Judge dismissed the motion, D Harper, Paul Harper’s wife,
testified, and at the end, the judge ruled that Harper was to be put back as Director of the Somervell County
Anti‐Slapp Motion Dismissed by Judge Cooke
THE COURT: After that the Defense filed what we call an Anti‐SLAPPP Motion asking to dismiss the action; and by agreement of Counsel, even though the State was putting on their testimony before, we are going to switch and do the Defendant's Anti‐SLAPPP Motion to Dismiss. Is that true?
MR. DOWELL: Yes, Your Honor, that's correct.
THE COURT: Is that your agreement?
MR. LUCAS: It is, Your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. So based upon that, we will take up the Anti‐SLAPP Motion. The ‐‐ once that is heard and I have ruled on it, if I, of course, grant the motion, the case is over. If I don't grant it, then we will proceed with the State's ‐‐ rest of their testimony. So that's kind of where we are. So you may proceed on your Anti‐SLAPP Motion.
MR. DOWELL: Thank you. May it please the Court.
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
MR. DOWELL: Counsel. Judge, I know you have had an opportunity to review the motion that we have filed under the Anti‐SLAPP Statute. Briefly stated, we believe there are two independent bases why this case should be dismissed under that statute. First, all of the actions brought by the relator and then thereafter the State relate to my client's exercise of his right to petition and his right to freedom of speech. Because of those issues and the direct bearing that the conduct that has been alleged against my client has regarding those two rights, we believe it falls squarely under the Anti‐SLAPP Motion. Further, Judge, the acts themselves of which my client has been accused do not meet the – the requirements of incompetence of the petition or – or misconduct. Finally, Your Honor, we would note that even if true, the allegations made against my client fall within the scope of a defense of qualified legislative immunity. Therefore, it's shown conclusively that the relator cannot recover on the suit as they have been pled and proved. We would ask the Court to take judicial notice and accept the testimony from the prior hearing on the State's motion to temporarily disqualify as further evidence in addition to that which we have already provided the Court.
THE COURT: Any objection to taking up the prior‐tendered testimony for today's hearing?
MR. LUCAS: No objection.
THE COURT: All right. That's granted. Go ahead.
MR. DOWELL: Your Honor, we believe that our client meets the affirmative defense of legislative immunity. We also believe this is clearly a case under the Anti‐SLAPP Motion for the reasons set forth in our motion and would seek the Court to dismiss this case on that basis.
THE COURT: Counsel.
MR. LUCAS: Your Honor, the Anti‐SLAPP Statute deals with a citizen's right to speak freely, associate freely, and participate in government. That ‐‐ that is not what is at issue in this matter. The issues we are dealing with are Mr. Harper's incompetence as a public official, not as a private citizen, by way of his gross ignorance of his official duties and his gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties, as well, further ‐‐ further allegations of his official misconduct in
participating in illegal meetings; and those are the issues contemplated by Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code. And the Local Government Code is the ‐‐ Chapter 87 is the controlling statute in this matter. Anti‐SLAPP, the P‐P stands for Public Participation; and we are complaining of his acts as a public official, not as a member of the public. And more importantly and specifically, Section 27.010 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the Anti‐SLAPP chapter exempts enforcement actions brought in the name of the State of Texas by the County Attorney. And specifically, Section 27.010(a) says, "This chapter does not apply to an enforcement action that is brought in the name of this state or political subdivision of this state by the Attorney General, the District Attorney, a criminal District Attorney or a County Attorney." And on the issue of immunity, Your Honor, legislative immunity cannot be asserted when an individual was sued in his official capacity, which is clearly the case here.
THE COURT: Do you want to close on your motion?
MR. DOWELL: Yes, Your Honor. First, we would note that under the Anti‐SLAPP Statute, the burden shifts to show the alleged incompetence or other malfeasance on the part of my client; it shifts to, in this case, the relator. And they have to show by clear and convincing evidence, which has not been done, even taking the testimony from the prior hearing. Second, the alleged misconduct in this case that I did not address was this idea that there had been some violation of the Open Meetings Act because of text messages sent. The cases cited ‐‐ and in particular, we would direct the Court's attention to the Esperanza case and the AG opinions that say that ‐‐ that no quorum existed, even when they talked outside, as long as you did not rise to the level of a majority quorum of the Board.
And here there was no evidence that it was any more than ever three people being discussed ‐‐ or discussing any issues of Board business. Second, this is not an enforcement action. This is a Motion to Disqualify. So we do not believe that 27.01 applies in this action. Now, he's not sued in his official capacity. He is not sued as the Board acting through him. He is sued for his individual actions.
THE COURT: What about the fact that he says that the County Attorney is exempt from that?
MR. DOWELL: That's where I believe that's only in enforcement actions under 27.01. We've got the statute here. We can take a look at that if you would like, Judge. THE COURT: Do you want to expand on that, Andy?
MR. LUCAS: Judge, I don't know why this wouldn't be considered an enforcement action. This is an enforcement action under the Local Government Code Chapter 87, and certainly it's brought in the name of the State of Texas by the County Attorney.
MR. DOWELL: May I borrow your ‐‐
MR. LUCAS: Yes.
MR. DOWELL: Judge, I do not believe that this is an enforcement action. This is an action seeking to disqualify, but it's not an enforcement. You are not instructing an officer to perform an act or to cease performing an act. This is an action seeking to disqualify, and the only reason it was brought in the name of the State was because it's required to in order for that portion of the Government Code to be enacted.
THE COURT: All right. Anything else?
MR. LUCAS: No, Your Honor. I think the enforcement provision if ‐‐ if the State and the relator are successful at trial ‐‐ at the jury trial, then ultimately the Court would suspend permanently the officer from office.
THE COURT: Anything else?
MR. DOWELL: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: The Defendant's Anti‐SLAPP Motion is overruled. All right. Let's proceed.
Second Removal Hearing January 8 2015-D Harper's Testimony
I was the only witness on the stand on January 8th, for probably an hour and a half at the temporary suspension hearing for Best v Harper. The reason I was called as a witness to testify is that the petitioner has falsely claimed that my husband wrote a post that I actually wrote, under my screenname *salon*, entitled "Shame on you, Chip Harrison...". (As a side note, there are affidavits in the anti-slapp motion regarding who wrote the posts.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mrs. Harper, the ‐‐ there is a blog called The Somervell Salon; is that correct?
A. No. It's called Somervell County Salon.
Q. And that is a blog site; is that right?
Q. I am going to ask you to kind of explain some things that would make the Court and ‐‐ and me familiar with this site.
Q. You can explain some of this. The Somervell County Salon, that is a blog site that's operating under glenrose.net; is that correct?
A. No, it operates under salon.glenrose.net, which is a subdomain of glenrose.net.
Q. Okay. The ‐‐ I guess the ultimate parent domain would be glenrose.net; is that accurate?
Q. Okay. So at the top of the chain is glenrose.net, and then it branches from there; is that
A. Yes. My particular site is salon.glenrose.net.
Q. Okay. Are there other subsets of glenrose.net, or can you explain that for the Court?
A. Yes. This is talking about domains. My husband has a domain called glenrose.net. He has ‐‐ he also has domains for other people. He has other subdomains that he solely manages that are like info.glenrose.net or agenda.glenrose.net. He's able to make various subdomains that he wants. My particular one is salon.glenrose.net. It is the sole one of the subdomains that I particularly have control over.
Q. Okay. And I guess I am trying to make this clearer. It all operates under glenrose.net, right?
A. I need to be careful how I say this because I'm a technical person, and I can tend to say things that will make people's eyes glaze over. The ‐‐ you have a server, and the server has various subdirectories on it. And then people can have different domains that they use to put on different, you know, places on that server. So, for example ‐‐ and I really think it's more appropriate to ask Paul about this because he's the one that manages other sites, as well. So he would be the person to ask about things like glenrose.net or info.glenrose.net or even some of other websites that are on there. That also includes other websites that I have. I have a DNA website that is used in connection with genealogy, that is hosted on those particular servers. So when you have a domain, you've got a domain registrar like networksolutions.com or GoDaddy or something like that. And you essentially say, here's my website; here is my domain; this is the person that I am going to have as the contact person for this or as the technical contact and so forth. So ‐‐ and those types of details can also be private, as well. In this case, when I started this website, I went to Paul about over nine years ago, and I said, hey, I would like to have a blog website. And I said, I would like to go and get my own domain. I think I ‐‐ you know, I already had a number of domains that were in my own name, such as ‐‐ well, I've got a number of domains in my own name. And I said, I would like to have a blog; and he said, well ‐‐ you know, because as married couples do, he said, well, he said, maybe we don't want to spend money on another one; what about if you had a subdomain? And I said, yeah, I
would be fine with that as long as I have full control over that subdomain. I went out, and I got the database software for it. I set up the database, which is running on a SQL server. It's running on a Windows NT operating system at the back end, which I have full access to. I went and I got software that was blogging software. I do coding. So I have coded in ASP, which is Active Server Pages. It also has Java Script in it. It uses a Microsoft SQL server database for pulling the entries down. I designed the entire thing using software that was out there, including the registration and login system. So that subdomain salon.glenrose.net is entirely mine and is entirely under my control.
Q. Would it be fair to say that when we are talking about glenrose.net, the ‐‐ the registrant for glenrose.net is ‐‐ is your husband?
A. Yes. And the reason for that is that we are married. And so since we have a number of different domains ‐‐ and I have got some that I have had for myself for a number of years that were solely mine. And it's ‐‐ and what networksolutions.com has is a deal where if you have multiple domains, you get a discount on your domains. So at some point in the past, we talked about it and said, you know, let's just bring them all under one particular, you know, domain owner; and that way we'll get this discount that's there for it.
A second reason for me wanting to do that at that point was also I ‐‐ I used to have my name privatized when I was the sole person that was doing the domain registration. The reason is because I am female and I don't like on the internet having my name and the fact that I am a female freely available all over the internet under my real name. So I am quite happy to have one domain registrar showing as my husband, even though technically, I have a lot of domains that are mine, and he has nothing to do with them, including salon.glenrose.net.
Q. Okay, but the parent site, the glenrose.net, the registrant e-mail contact administratrator and technical contact is your husband, right?
A. Yeah, at --at networksolutions.com that's right.
Q. Would it be on -on Somervell County Salon, the blog that we are discussing this morning, would it be fair to say that both you and your husband post on that blog?
A. Yes, along with 37 other top level posters and over 1400 unique commentators.
Q. Okay, Does your husband-is your husband-let me ask you this. Is your husband's access to the site restricted somehow?
A. My husband's access to the site is the same type of access that anyone else has that is a poster. So, for example, Darrell Best has posted on the site before. So when he's gone up there to do it, he's done it as a poster. He's had--you know, there-there is a form that comes up and says, do you want to post, as he's done under his own name, or anonymously? And he's been able to post. There's no special restriction, let's say, to doing that. For people that are top level posters, I have a registration system. What somebody needs to do is register to log in. They can use whatever password they like to have, and then when they go to post, they have access to be able to--depending on if I give it to them, to be able to post autosomatically to the blog without- you know, just on the basis of them being a regular identified poster. So that's how my blog operates.
Q. And forgive me. I mean, you are just-you are explaining some things for me that I am not familiar with.
A. I know. I am a network systems engineer. So I apologize.
Q. This is not my background.
Q. So you are just kind of explaining how this works. When you post a comment to the blog, do you have a picture that shows up along with your post?
Q. Okay. And Paul also has a picture?
Q. Okay. Does everybody that posts on the blog have a picture that comes up?
A. Only if they decide to create a profile. When somebody registers on the blog, let's ‐‐ let's say it's Darrell Best. And he has not, to my knowledge, ever registered as a top‐level poster on the blog. But let's say he did. He'd say ‐‐ he could say, I'm "Save Chalk Mountain". And he could give himself his own password. He could then go and upload a photo of himself or he
could upload a photo of ‐‐ you know, of Tommy What's‐His‐Face. He could ‐‐ he could put some picture up there that he thought would represent him. And then what the – what the blog software does is it sends back ‐‐ a reply back to say, here, you reply back to this, and then you'll be a registered member. At that point, then he can use that to log in; and anything he would post at that point would show his picture that he chose.
A. Facebook does the same thing. Do you use Facebook? Oh, excuse me. No questions.
Q. I'll ‐‐
A. Facebook ‐‐ Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites operate much the same way where someone has the choice to be able to decide how they would like to present themselves to the public and choose a picture or, you know, what kind of name they want to have underneath it and choose their password.
Q. Mrs. Harper, have ‐‐ have you reviewed the pleadings in this matter and what's been filed?
Q. And have you had an opportunity to look at ‐‐ look at everything?
Q. You saw in Mr. Best's original petition that there were certain posts to the Somervell County Salon blog that were ‐‐ that were attached to his original petition, right?
Q. Okay. And that particular post was made, I believe, at 9:27 p.m. on August the 21st; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. There was a meeting of the Somervell County Hospital District Board that evening, right?
Q. And that meeting took place at 7 o'clock, the regular, scheduled time?
A. I assume. I don't know what time the meeting started. I don't remember.
Q. Okay. You did not attend that meeting, did you?
A. No, I did not attend.
Q. Do you recall where you were that evening?
A. I was at home.
Q. Okay. Is there ‐‐ was there any way for you to watch the meeting as it was going on? Was there any live stream or anything like that?
Q. You weren't at the meeting; but based on my best information, I think it lasted about an hour and a half. Do you recall ‐‐ I think that's accurate, but do you recall when your husband got home from the meeting?
A. I was trying to remember what I was ‐‐ I was watching television, and I honestly don't remember what time he got home specifically. But I remember him coming home after the meeting.
Q. Okay. And, of course, you hadn't witnessed the meeting?
Q. Okay. That post was made at ‐‐ at 9:27. We don't know, I guess, when your husband got home. But how did you gather the information that you got in making that post at 9:27? What were you relying on?
A. My husband came home from the meeting; and I ‐‐ you know, I have always had a very strong interest in political matters, as well as recording meetings, getting open records requests, posting agendas and so forth. And so I was very interested in what was going to happen at the hospital meeting because I had seen that they were going to talk about the
contract for the 4B. So when he came home, I said, hey, you know, as couples do, I said, what happened after the meeting?
For a while during this testimony, I said “4b” instead of “501a”. Reason was that I was thinking about Darrell Best, who was sitting almost directly in front of me but off to the right. He had been appointed head of the GREDC, 4b, at one point and 4b was on my mind. I was still annoyed that he had even brought the charge about the blog into a lawsuit about Paul, since I believed he knew dang well it was my blog and my writing and not only was addressing my answers to the court but also about Best. Later, as you will see, Lucas asked me if what I had really meant was 501a and I corrected myself.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) So, Mrs. Harper, what I'm – what I'm asking you is what were you relying on when you made that post? What information were you relying on?
A. When my husband came home, I said, "What happened at the meeting?" And he told me what happened, and he told me what, you know, the ‐‐ the vote had been about that 4B contract. I was astonished over the fact that the Board would vote to not follow a contract that was written and signed. That ‐‐ so I sat, and I wrote about it at that point. My husband did not tell me, go write about this. He didn't say, hey, I need you to, you know, complain about this or whatever. Because of the history that I have with talking about 4B, as I'm sure you are aware, I have been recording meetings about the 4B, have done specific open records request about the 4B for the last six years. I have gotten open records request that show the transfer of money.
And you are aware of the complaint that I put in to you and Sheriff Doyle last year in August of 2013 about what I said was a slush fund. So this is not an unusual thing for me to be concerned about. When I heard ‐‐ and ‐‐ and ‐‐ and – and frankly, it ‐‐ I was ‐‐ the people that I voted for – the people that I voted for for hospital district did not include, for example, Ron Hankins or Brett Hankins – or Brett Nabors or Karen Burroughs. I voted for specific people that I felt were going to do things, like make sure things like contracts were upheld. When my husband told me that Chip Harrison was one of those that voted against following an existing signed contract ‐‐ and again, given as you are aware of the fact that I have been concerned about that being a slush fund for at least a year ‐‐ so I was like, you are kidding; you are kidding me. And so I went over to my computer, which is in my office. My husband and I do not share an office. We do not share a computer. I kind of think that he stayed in the other room and was watching TV or doing something else at that point.
I wrote, shame on you Chip Harrison for, you know, doing this, for, you know, not following the contract, for voting for a slush fund. And ‐‐ and it ‐‐ and frankly, I mean, I will be glad to give my opinion about this anytime. In contracts in general and – and Darrell Best knows this because he knows that I feel this way about the Land of the Dinosaurs. He voted, along with the 4B Board, for the Land of the Dinosaurs, without them having a contract, to give them $80,000. So this is not an unusual stance for me to have to be concerned about the fact that Government would give out money without a contract. So I wrote about it.
Now, if you ‐‐ if you're at all familiar with the blog ‐‐ and you may or may not be ‐‐ you would know that quite often what I do is I go back, and I try to get audio or video after the fact to be able to back up what I say. And I like to look at it. I ‐‐ I always, if I'm interested in a meeting and you ‐‐ and I've recorded you in plenty of City of Glen Rose meetings. If I am not there, I like to go get the audio or the video and watch it because as a citizen, I like to not just read minutes, but I like to hear what people said in a given meeting.
Q. But in this case when you ‐‐ when you made this ‐‐ when you are saying you made this post, you had not viewed the meeting?
A. I had not viewed it at that point. I viewed it within the next week.
A. Within the next week, I asked Paul if he had a copy of the video that he could give to me. It's not unusual for me to get materials outside of open records requests. Darrell Best himself has done that for me before where he's given me copies of 4B things outside of an open records request for me to be able to read and review. And so I got a copy of the video, and
then I sat down and watched it from my computer and looked to see what ‐‐ you know, to verify what I had actually heard and hear the statements.
Q. I just want to be clear that what you were relying on that evening of the 21st at 9:27 p.m. was your conversation with your husband and not having reviewed the video of the meeting.
MR. DOWELL: Objection, Judge. I think that misstates the evidence.
THE COURT: Overruled. Go ahead. You can answer.
A. Okay. Okay. Yes. And ‐‐ and I believe – you know, my husband is ‐‐ he tells the truth about things. I asked him what happened. And so he said ‐‐ he told me the vote was that Chip Harrison voted with Ron Hankins, Karen Burroughs and Brett Nabors; and that he, Eugene Brode, and John Parker voted to follow the contract. I ‐‐ I was really glad to hear that the people that I had voted for were following a contract, with the exception of Chip Harrison, who very clearly over multiple times has made ‐‐ he has said repeatedly that he was a fiscally responsible person. And I really thought that he would be one of those that would ‐‐ you know, I ‐‐ I just couldn't believe that they ‐‐ I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that they voted against following a contract.
Q. And let me clarify something. You ‐‐ when you say ‐‐ you've been saying 4B; but what you are referring to is the 501a Management Agreement, right?
A. No. When I say 4B in connection with Darrell Best, I'm talking about ‐‐
Q. Not ‐‐ not in connection with Darrell Best. You had said 4B ‐‐
A. I was talking about the Glen Rose Economic Development Board when I said 4B.
A. Darrell Best was president of the five ‐‐ of the Glen Rose Economic Development Board/4B at one point.
Q. Right. I know what you're saying there.
A. Okay. When I say ‐‐
Q. But what ‐‐
A. When I'm talking about ‐‐
Q. When you're talking about a slush ‐‐
A. I'm talking about 501a.
Q. ‐‐ what you called a slush ‐‐ Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mrs. Harper, when you're referring to what you call a slush fund, you are talking about the 501a Management?
Q. Okay. I just want to make that clear.
Q. And so after your conversation with your husband, you made this post, and you specifically named Chip Harrison in the post, right?
Q. And what did you say about Mr. Harrison in that post?
MR. DOWELL: Objection, Your Honor, best evidence. The document has already ‐‐ I think it's been admitted. And I know it's in the Court's file.
THE COURT: Well ‐‐
MR. DOWELL: If he wants to show her the document or give her that to read, I have no objection.
MR. LUCAS: I don't mind having her read the ‐‐
THE COURT: Okay. Let her read it.
THE WITNESS: I mean, I could probably tell you what I said because I wrote it.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS:) Go ahead and read that in its entirety.
MR. DOWELL: I am sorry. Do you mean read it orally?
MR. LUCAS: Yes. Yes, read it orally. I'm sorry.
THE WITNESS: Okay.
MR. LUCAS: Thank you.
MR. DOWELL: In its entirety.
A. Okay. Shame on you Chip Harrison. You like GRMC operating an illegal slush fund? And then it says "Salon". And you have the part ‐‐ this is not including the part that has my picture with it, but my picture is on the post because I'm the person that did it. 21 ‐‐
MR. DOWELL: I am sorry. Your Honor, may I approach the witness? I am trying to figure out what that is she's reading from.
THE COURT: All right. I don't know what ‐‐
MR. LUCAS: That's taken from the ‐‐ what was filed in the original petition.
THE WITNESS: This is from the original petition.
MR. DOWELL: Okay. And where are you reading?
THE WITNESS: I am reading the title here.
MR. DOWELL: Okay. I'm sorry.
THE WITNESS: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't read the thing that said petition at the top.
MR. DOWELL: That's all right.
THE COURT: Read ‐‐ just read it, ma'am.
A. Okay. 21:27 on 21st of August 2014. More on this later. I just found out that Chip Harrison voted to table a discussion about the 501a slush fund. Ron Hankins apparently brought up the motion and that other guy that's in sales seconded it. Now, I didn't know what his name was.
Q. Just read it.
A. Okay. I guess Ron Hankins believes in censorship because he sure didn't want to hear about how GRMC has been breaking its own agreement to properly monitor and have accountable funds that the 501a doctors have to ask for since they are not part of GRMC but a separate organization. What astonishes me, though, is that Chip Harrison, who at least pretended to be for spending money wisely. Guess not. Anyone that thinks that giving money into an account that Michael Honea simply fills up when he sees it is running low, for a budget that includes the 501a even they are not ‐‐ though they are not part of the hospital but only have an agreement with the hospital and agrees that even though Ray Reynolds is breaking the law with regard to the budget and the Texas state hospital code must be highly ethically challenged. Again, shame on you, Mr. Harrison. You ran on saying that you would be fiscally responsible, that you were for getting rid of the hospital tax, and you can't even handle a discussion on the 501a. Coward!
And coward and censor describes Ron Hankins too because there is no reason in the world to not discuss this before the public and let taxpaying citizens hear what is going on and draw their own conclusions. I'm willing to bet a lot of citizens are not even aware of what Ray Reynolds and Michael Honea are doing, but if you aren't trying to hide the truth, seems like you would air it out in public at an elected board meeting. Oh, not Mr. Harrison or Mr. Hankins, who apparently are trying to keep this scam hidden. Pah! P.S. Why would anyone ever want to do business with Glen Rose Medical Center? The Board voted tonight to ignore following a contract they have with doctors. Gee, that makes you feel really confident about their contempt for legal contracts with anything if they won't honor the contract they have. Contempt? Yeah, I have contempt for these people because as long as there is zero accountability with money that Michael Honea puts into an account when it looks like it's getting low, no one should have any confidence in either the people that voted not to follow the contract that already exists. Shame on every single one that voted not to follow it. Let's review. And I don't ‐‐ this ‐‐ I don't think is the entire ‐‐ is the entire post? I don't think this is the entire post.
Q. That is what is on file.
A. Okay. Let's review. The 501a is a doctor organization that is not part of GRMC but has a management contract with GRMC. They are supposed to be self‐ supporting except in the case when they need to come begging for extra OSA shortfall money. This is spelled out in the management contract under section C which indicates that doctors have to ask for the money and then are supposed to provide a report that shows how the money was spent. Ray Reynolds has certified and signed his name, as has Larry Shaw, in formal audits that this has been followed and all is accurate. This has been done for at least four years but has stopped being acted upon sometime in the last year. Michael Honea, when he sees that the account that they are now managing is running low, puts extra money into the account, no paperwork, no
requisitions, no reports to show how the money is being spent. It's as if you have a business on your own, let's say a coffee shop, and you go to government to ask them to give you money and they just do it without you having to justify what you are even using it for. Not only that, but Ray Reynolds is breaking the law by setting the tax rate before even having a legal budget. Ray Reynolds is breaking the law by not following the section of the Texas Health and Safety Code that requires certain things to be in a budget and a legal budget but are missing from the budget Mr. Reynolds has presented. Further, he is including the 501a in the budget. And yet, Ron Hankins, Karen Burroughs, Chip Harrison and that sales guy have zero problem in even ‐‐ in not even allowing those who do have a concern about legality and accountability to even speak
about this before voting on a high tax rate. Frankly, this is akin to embezzling money. If you can just shift money around and you don't have to follow a legal contract, then what else might you be thumbing your nose at?
MR. DOWELL: Excuse me just a second.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Are you saying there was more to that post? Is that an incomplete ‐‐
A. Well, I don't know. It looks to me like it was cut off. I mean, I don't see the top part of it so I'm not sure if this is the full post. I just ‐‐ you know.
Q. Okay. You just ‐‐ you don't recall whether there was more to it or not?
A. I write a lot of ‐‐ I write a lot of stuff.
Q. Okay. That's all we have to work from because that is what was filed with the original petition. So I don't know if there was more to that or not.
A. Well, the original petition, I believe, had the other part of it that has my picture on it.
Q. I'm going to ‐‐
A. So that's why I'm saying ‐‐
Q. I'm going to get to that.
A. Okay. Okay.
Q. So it was based on your conversation with your husband about the meeting that evening that you – that was the basis for you referring to Mr. Harrison and Mr. Hankins as cowards?
Q. Okay. And it was based on your conversation with your husband that you said Mr. Reynolds was violating the law, breaking the law?
A. No. No.
Q. Okay. What were you basing that statement on?
A. As you know ‐‐ because I put in a complaint in August of 2013 to the Sheriff's Department after I had done an open records request asking what ‐‐ what I asked for essentially in August of 2013 as one of the many open records requests that I did to the hospital is ‐‐ I was looking at that management contract, the 501a management contract. And in the contract it said that the doctors were supposed to make requests before they got this optional money because this is not ‐‐ since they are a separate organization, they don't automatically get taxpayer money. It has to go through an approval process. So the 501a contract says the doctors are supposed to come and do a request; and then if, optionally, the GRMC decides, well, we'll give them money, then they're supposed to come back with a report afterwards to show how
the money has been spent. When ‐‐ in August of 2013, I did an open records request to Sharla Collins and I said ‐‐ you know, I was thinking about it, and I thought, you know, well, I would like to see some of the requests and the reports that came in. There must be requests. So I did this open records request, and Charla wrote me back she said, we don't have any requests or reports. And honestly, when she said that, I sat at my computer for about half an hour, and I thought, well, how ‐‐ how do you know the doctors need this money? How do you know they need the money since the contract said they were supposed to come and ask for the money and then show how they spent it? How do you know it? And so she wrote me back and said basically ‐‐ and I can't ‐‐ I don't have it in front of me so I can't tell you word for word. But she basically said that Michael ‐‐ or she said that the CFO was monitoring the accounts; and when he would see them getting low, he would just put money in. And that's a slush fund to me. You may or may not agree with me. I thought that is a slush fund because the contract says you're supposed to have some justification for the money. What I did then at that point is I wrote up a complaint, and I sent it to the Sheriff's Department to Sheriff Doyle. I don't remember the exact day, but it was in August of 2013. He gave it to Darrell McCravey, and then I didn't hear from Darrell McCravey for about a month or something. And it turned out that Darrell McCravey was going to go to Johnson County. So I asked Sheriff Doyle again, I said, hey, you know, have you had a chance to look at this complaint that I have, which also included some information, as you well know, about Pecan Plantation and spending money in a different hospital district. So those were the two things I was complaining about. I didn't hear back any ‐‐ wait a ‐‐ let me finish. Let me finish.
A. I didn't hear anything back on this, and so then I asked Darrell ‐‐ Darrell ‐‐ I asked Greg Doyle again, and he said, I am going to talk to Andy Lucas about it. So he went, and he talked to you about it. And then I had a series of e‐mail exchanges between you and Greg – Greg Doyle about the upshot of this. And you told me for that part that your office doesn't do
investigations. So I said, okay. So then I kept asking Greg Doyle about it, and the next time I asked him was in December of 2013. And there had been a really bad car accident about that time, and he said, hey ‐‐ he told me in an e‐mail or maybe it was on the phone ‐‐ he said, I will get back to you after the new year; I'm really busy with whatever this, you know, bad
accident was. And then he never got back to me. So as a citizen, you know, I ‐‐ I do care about that. And I ‐‐ if I ‐‐ I have a history of saying that I want to see contracts followed. So that's why I wrote about it.
Q. And you are obviously aware that ‐‐ that since the time of your post ‐‐ the posting on that blog that the Hospital District Board in a 6‐0 vote has renewed the 501a Management Agreement?
A. Oh, yes. Yes, I am aware. I ‐‐ as you know ‐‐ or I suppose you know, Ray Reynolds had said during some of those interim meetings –99
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) You mentioned that ‐‐ the one thing that kind of threw me off was that the post that you're holding right now, which was page one of Exhibit A. of the Original Petition, it did not show your picture.
Q. And then the page two that you were referring to, that did show your picture, right?
A. Well, that's what I saw when I looked at the petition. I saw when ‐‐ when my husband got served with the papers, we went to go pick it up; and I actually was highly surprised when I saw my post was part of what he was being sued for. If there was other things that – you know, that's his business. But I was surprised to see that, and I remember looking and seeing ‐‐ and I don't see it here ‐‐ that my picture was associated with the filing that went in there. So I just know I saw it. I don't know where it is now.
Q. I wonder why your picture was on the second post and not the first, because the second post is different than the first; right?
Q. Let me show you.
MR. LUCAS: May I approach, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Okay.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mrs. Harper, page two showed a different post. And I believe that Mr. Best printed that out later in the week, and the post had been modified, right?
Q. Why did you modify your original post?
A. I modify quite a few of my original posts when I get more documentation for something or if I decide I want to add something to it. An advantage to blog software to me is that I can go back and edit it. You understand I wasn't expecting somebody to come back and sue me over something that I ‐‐ or sue ‐‐ I say me ‐‐ sue my husband for something that I said. And so I quite often will ‐‐ when I get ‐‐ when I listen to audio or video or if I happen to think of something else, go back and edit the page.
Q. I guess my ‐‐ my question is and what confuses me is the original posting which took place at 9:27 on the evening of the meeting, it did not have your picture on it; and it was different than what you posted with your picture on it later in the week.
A. That's not true. I have had my picture with my posts for years. That is not true. It was on the original post.
I ALWAYS for YEARS have had my photo with my own posts. (When I got home I wondered why the fool the exhibit Lucas showed me DIDN’T have my photo, since every single thing I post has the photo of me with a dino behind it, and I realized it’s because someone had done a screen scrape instead of a screen capture. As my husband’s attorney showed, even though the plaintiff's exhibit wasn’t correct, my screen name of *salon* was on the post.) In fact, I made a VIDEO about this the other day,
Q. Okay. Can your husband post under the Salon?
Q. Okay. And I guess what I am seeing here is the ‐‐ the sentiments expressed in your post ‐‐ you ‐‐ you've read the text messages that were attached to the supplemental petition, right?
A. Not really. I mean I ‐‐ I really didn't read them. The part that was of interest to me was the part about this blog post because I wrote it. The other parts, you know, that's his lawsuit.
Q. I mean, what your husband says in these text messages to Mr. Parker and Mr. Brode is eerily similar to what you have posted on your blog.
MR. DOWELL: Objection, Your Honor. She's already testified she doesn't know what's in those.
THE COURT: Well, if you don't know, just say you don't know.
A. Oh, don't know.
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Do you and your husband make money from this blog? Do you ‐‐ do you earn income from it?
A. You need to really ask him about that. We – we have some Google ads that are on the page. And he has asked me if I would put Google ads on that page; and after some discussion, I said I would. But I don't ‐‐ I don't know. You would have to ask him.
Q. So your husband is in control of the blog to the extent he ‐‐ he can put ads on the blog?
A. No, no, no. Let me ‐‐ let me say ‐‐ and other people may not have this kind of relationship in their marriages. He asked me if I would put ads on the page. I considered it, and I have other blogs where I don't put ads on the page. And if I would have said, I don't want to do this, he wouldn't have any ads on that page because it's my blog.
Q. I guess my question is this: Do you‐all use AdSense from Google? Is that right?
A. You need to ask him that question.
Q. All right. So the income that's generated from the ads goes directly to your husband?
A. You need to ask him that question. I mean I am not ‐‐ I don't have something where I'm getting a check, if that's what you're asking, from AdSense.
Q. Okay. If he's the registrant under glenrose.net, the checks would come to him for the advertising income; right?
A. Well, you need to ask him.
Q. Okay. In your ‐‐ well, let me ask this. In your affidavit ‐‐ you filed an affidavit in this cause,
Q. And in that affidavit you state that all of the ideas of your ‐‐ that posting that is at issue are strictly your own.
Q. That's not really accurate, is it? Your – your views are the same as your husband's, right?
A. Not necessarily. I mean, in a marriage it wouldn't be unusual for two people to have some of the same viewpoints; but I could tell you there is a lot of viewpoints we don't share. And so you know ‐‐
Q. I guess what ‐‐
A. He ‐‐ he does not speak for me, and I do not speak for him for his opinions.
Q. I guess what we are looking at in this case when it ‐‐ when it comes to these blog postings is those postings match what were included in his text messages to the other board members. I mean, do you see that?
A. I don't know what he said in his text messages so I can't say that I know that they match.
All I can say about this is that these are my opinions. These are my opinions that are based on me looking at videos, me listening to audio, me having discussions with people and being an informed citizen. He may or may not have the same opinions that I do about various things; but you know, I don't think that would be a huge surprise.
MR. DOWELL: Judge, I am going to object to going any further on that line of testimony. It's my understanding that the relator's petition is based on the idea that somehow or in some way this posting was done by Mr. Harper or at his direction, and that has – possibly could or has caused some harm to the hospital district. That's a far cry from the fact that she's saying these are my opinions, and he has those same opinions. There's nothing illegal about him having those opinions. There's nothing improper about that. So to the extent that she's being questioned on his opinions or her opinions, that's totally beyond the scope of this hearing and the purpose of the statute. He can have those opinions.
Q. Okay. Would you agree that ‐‐ that your husband as the administrator of the site glenrose.net is responsible for the contents of that website?
A. For the top level for ‐‐ for glenrose.net, yes; that's his website.
Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) Picking up on that, for the website or whatever it is, salon.glenrose.net, is your husband responsible for the contents posted thereon?
Q. Do you have a password or something that allows you to post under your name?
Q. Do you share that with your husband?
Q. Let me ask you, if you will take a look at the exhibit before you. It's marked Exhibit A.
MR. DOWELL: May I approach, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes.
MR. DOWELL: Thank you.
Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) You should have two pages; is that correct?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Both on the first page and on the second page of Exhibit A that's been attached to the petition to remove your husband, underneath the title, there is the word salon. What is that?
A. That is my screen name.
Q. What did that indicate to you, looking at pages one and two of Exhibit A?
A. It shows that I am the one that wrote this.
Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) Let me ask you if you'll take just a moment to look at Exhibit A, the first page of it.
Q. The first sentence of the actual blog post itself ‐‐ excuse me, the second sentence, it says, "Just found out that Chip Harrison voted to table a discussion about the 501a slush fund."
Q. Did you learn from your ‐‐ your husband that Chip Harrison had voted to table that discussion?
Q. In the remainder of the body of Exhibit A to the relator's initial petition to start this suit, is the remainder of this based upon your investigation or is it based upon things told to you by your husband that night?
A. It's possibly a mix of both. My husband, he came back from the meeting –
Q. Tell me which parts.
A. ‐‐ and I asked him what happened.
Q. Tell me which part is information given to you by your husband as opposed to your opinion or your determination based upon your own investigation.
A. Okay. I would say in the first line ‐‐
Q. Just if you'll stop and just look at it.
Q. And then tell me when you can tell me, just one line at a time.
A. Okay. In the second sentence where it says, "Just found out that Chip Harrison voted to table a discussion about the 501a slush fund ‐‐"
Q. All right. Stop there. You told us that you later watched the video of that meeting. Was that statement accurate?
Q. Now, did your husband refer to it as a 501a slush fund or did he just refer to it as the 501a contract?
A. I couldn't tell you what he said specifically, but I can tell you that slush ‐‐
Q. All right. I don't want to know anything other than what I ask you.
Q. Do you understand that?
Q. What else? What other factual information did your husband give you?
A. "Ron Hankins apparently brought up the motion, and that other guy that's in sales seconded it."
Q. When you watched the video, did you learn that to be a truthful statement?
Q. Okay. What else? What other information here on
Exhibit A did your husband give you?
A. "And coward and censor describes Ron Hankins too because there's no reason in the world to not discuss this before the public and let taxpayer citizens hear what's going on and draw their own conclusions."
Q. What part of that did Mr. ‐‐ did your husband tell you?
A. He told me about Ron Hankins' actions, and then I later watched it on video.
Q. Were you the one that determined them to be, in your opinion, a coward and a censor?
Q. All right. What else did your husband tell you?
A. He told me the Board voted tonight ‐‐ that's in that second part after that P.S. ‐‐ to ignore following a contract that they have with doctors.
Q. And is that what you found to be true when you watched it?
A. Yes, yes.
Q. Did he tell you that the Board had voted to ignore the contract?
Q. All right. What else?
A. I think the rest of this is all my opinion.
Q. All right. So would it be fair to state that on Exhibit A, other than the three or four factual statements that you just confirmed for us that you have also testified you confirmed through the videotape were truthful statements, the remainder of Exhibit A is your opinion or your
conclusion based on your investigations?
Q. Was it your attempt on the night of August 21st 9 to do anything other than post your own viewpoint?
Q. Were you trying to post your husband's viewpoint?
Q. Did your husband ever ask you or tell you or approve what you were going to post that evening?
Q. Let me show you what's been previously marked as Defendant's Exhibit 1.
MR. DOWELL: If I may approach, Your Honor?
Q. (BY MR. DOWELL) And let me just start with, do you recognize that document?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. What is that document?
A. After I wrote the blog post ‐‐
Q. Ma'am, one step at a time. What is that document?
A. Oh, okay. This is a letter to the ‐‐ it's an e‐mail to Brent Addleman, letter to the editor.
Q. Who is that e‐mail from?
A. It's from me.
Q. How do you know it's from you?
A. Because it says, from D** Harper, dXXX@XXXXX.net. And it's also signed by me.
I have anonymized my email somewhat here
Q. DXXXX@XXXXX.net, do you own that e‐mail account?
A. It's my e‐mail account, yes.
Q. Does your husband have access to send e‐mails under that e‐mail account?
Q. Is that e‐mail account password‐protected?
Does he have your password to do that?
Q. Have you ever known your husband to send an e‐mail from the account dXXXX@XXXXX.net?
Q. Without going through the body of that, since it's been made a part of the record, when did that e‐mail get sent?
A. I sent that e‐mail about ‐‐ in fact, it's on the thing. It's at 11:25 p.m. on Thursday, August 21st, 2014.
Q. Is it a fair representation of Defendant's Exhibit 1 to say that that contains many of the same opinions that you posted in your blog post that we have been referring to as Exhibit A?
Q. And to whom did you send that e‐mail?
A. I sent it to Brent Addleman at the Glen Rose Reporter.
Q. Having already posted this on your website, why did you send that to Mr. Addleman?
A. Because I was really perturbed; and I thought, you know, besides posting this on the blog, which gets a certain number of eyeballs, I was so astounded over the idea that they voted against following a contract that I thought I want to write a letter to the editor, as well.
Q. Are you an elected official?
Q. Are you a member of the Board in any form or fashion ‐‐
Q. ‐‐ of Glen Rose Medical Center?
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) Mrs. Harper, that e‐mail, Defendant's Exhibit 1, once again, that was sent prior to you watching the video of the meeting?
Q. Let me ask you this: To your knowledge, has your husband ever expressly disagreed with anything you have written on your blog regarding the hospital ‐‐
Q. ‐‐ regarding the hospital district?
A. I don't know.
THE COURT: Overruled. Answer it if you know.
A. I don't know. You would have to tell me a specific instance. We don't agree about a lot of things and so, you know ‐‐
Q. (BY MR. LUCAS) I am talking about the hospital district.
A. Yes. We don't agree about a lot of things about the hospital.
Q. Has he ever asked you to ‐‐ to stop making posts regarding the hospital district?
Again with the implication that somehow my husband not stopping me from making posts regarding the hospital
district renders him incompetent, as if wives do not have the same freedom of speech rights as their husbands or
belong under a controlling thumb.
"I do not believe the state has met its burden to remove him from office"
After the second removal hearing , Judge Kit Cooke's ruling
THE COURT: Okay. The ‐‐ referring back, first of all, to the Anti‐SLAPP Motion, I don't think
theCounty or the State brought this with any animosity to try to prevent anything. That's why I
overruled it. But I ‐‐ I do not believe that the State has met its burden to remove him from office.
The most important thing that we have in this country is the election of our citizens. Whether we
agree with what Mr. Harper does or does not do, is allowed to the voting public, and the voting
public put him on the Board. I agree that he is ‐‐ he walked a close line. Mr. Harper, what you
hopefully have learned from this hearing is what you can and can't do. But the petition to remove
him from office is overruled, and he is placed back on the hospital board. You draw me an order to