And Then There Were Two

Looks like our information was (as always) right about the County Treasurer race. Last night this popped up on Lee Ann Seitsinger’s facebook page.

ROUND ROCK, TX – Today, Conservative Military Veteran Lee Ann Seitsinger formally announced she will seek the Republican nomination for Williamson County Treasurer in the March 6th, 2018 primary election. Seitsinger is a successful small business owner and U.S. Navy veteran with a track record of achievement, conservative fiscal policies, and dedication.

“This isn’t about a career in politics. As a military veteran it’s about public service. We expect our elected officials to report for duty and show up to work every day for the taxpayers they serve. I am strongly committed to the position of Treasurer for Williamson County and will apply my conservative practices to the office I seek to serve. As your elected public servant, I will answer directly to you, the taxpayers of Williamson County, providing strict oversight and accountability for our county’s funds. That is why I am running for Treasurer,” Seitsinger said.

Seitsinger is the owner of Tula Properties, a real estate company based in Williamson County. As a successful business owner, she has managed millions of dollars in real estate contracts and has a proven track record in financial management, experience in strategic planning, budget development, expense oversight, marketing, and team training.

Prior to her successful career in real estate, Lee Ann proudly served our country in the U.S. Navy at various military installations and on overseas deployments. Seitsinger served as an Interior Communications Electronics Engineer, earned two good conduct awards, various service-related medals and was honorably discharged at the rank of E5.

Seitsinger also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising Management from Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska where she graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. She and her husband, Doug, are the devoted parents of one son and have proudly called Williamson County home since 2004.

Seitsinger concluded, “My pledge to the citizens of Williamson County is that I will go to work every day looking for ways to increase government transparency, eliminate wasteful spending and provide strict oversight of our county’s funds. I took an oath to protect and defend our nation and proudly served our country for over a decade. I now report for duty to serve the people of Williamson County and will faithfully execute the duties of the Treasurer’s Office. I humbly ask for your support and vote in the March 6th, 2018 Republican Primary election.”

 

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2018 Wilco Republican Primaries Taking Shape

One of our former contributors used to call March primaries the “silly season”. It looks like that may be exactly what 2018 is shaping up to be; several races that could have lots of fireworks.

First in Pct. 3 you have Deanna Lewis, a very popular conservative Republican who has announced she will be running for the JP 3 seat if Judge Bill Gravell runs for County Judge. Her opponent, a far left liberal Democrat and social justice warrior by the name of Katherine Kerr Kubatzky.

Moving to Pct. 4, you have a commercial land broker from Round Rock, Russ Boles, Round Rock resident Bobby Seiferman, and the only non-Round Rock resident and political establishment outsider, Heather Peal.

Then you have the State Rep race for District 52. That race features Jermey Story and the outgoing Rep. Larry Gonzales backed candidate, Round Rock resident Cynthia Flores. This one should be a bashing free-for-all before it’s over.

And just this morning, now you have another Round Rock politician who has just this morning decided to jump in to the County Judge race. No other candidates have “officially” announced even though Judge Bill Gravell has said he is “strongly considering” a run, hamstrung by the resign to run rule. If the name ‘Leffingwell’ rings a bell, he is the son of former City of Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a liberal Democrat environmentalist. Frank is currently on the Round Rock City Council. Leffingwell’s press release states in part: “We need more business leaders and fewer insiders, bureaucrats, and career politicians in our governmental institutions”, deflecting away that he is also a politician tied in with the establishment insiders.

Another countywide position of interest is recently appointed Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer. As of now he does not have an opponent, but rumors are swirling about a potential candidate who is considering a run.

Then you have Pct. 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long, infamous for being found guilty of violating a man’s constitutional rights, costing taxpayers over a million dollars to defend. She had intentions of running for County Judge but those dreams were quickly thwarted, and now, according to sources, plans on running for reelection as Pct. 2 Commissioner.

County Court at Law 1 race is shaping up with Brandy Hallford, a long time and well known attorney against a virtually unknown candidate, Joe Marcee. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s possibly because he has been an attorney for less than 10 years and now wants to be a Judge. If his name does ring a bell, that’s probably because one client he defended in his short career was Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, terrorist and ISIS member.

Let the “silly season” and the fun begin. And again, if you don’t like what you see here because your chosen candidate gets the hammer dropped on them with fact based information, tough. Click the X at the top right.

 

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DA Shawn Dick Hammers Commissioner’s Court

A video surfaced on the Judge Bill Gravell and Heather Peal for Pct 4 Commissioner facebook pages yesterday of DA Shawn Dick addressing the Commissioners Court last week.

Dick wasted no time slamming the court in how the they handle the budget process. Check it out below.

 

 

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A New Day Dawns at the Wilco Report

Today begins a new day at the Wilco Report. While we greatly appreciate our former commentators hard work and great reporting, no worries, because you can count on this salty retiree for one thing; facts and nothing but the facts. Granted it may not be what you like or want to hear because often times the truth hurts.

And for the record, it doesn’t matter if you are a Republican who violates a mans civil rights that ends up costing the taxpayers a million bux to defend your illegal actions or a Democrat who skirts the law for personal gain, count on being featured. So cinch up, election season is right around the corner and we already have a few signed up that should give us lots to write about. From land brokers on the east side to liberal activists up north and a lot of other candidates in between, you can guarantee the next 6 months won’t be dull.

And last but not least, to all of you snowflakes out there who are easily offended, there’s a little X at the top right of your screen. Feel free to give it a click. For everyone else, enjoy the ride!

 

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Hutto Voters Reject Communist Candidate In a MAJOR Landslide

Early Voting numbers:

Terri Grimm – 73.06%

Jim Morris – 7.75%

Kris Andrews – 19.19%

As one voter said today on his way to the polls: “This election is about more than just Kris Andrews being a communist loving progressive. Let this also be a message to those like Michael Smith. We will NOT tolerate you, your puppets or your agenda anymore.”

No doubt the message was sent loud and clear. We will update the story once the final numbers are in

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Michael Smith: “Benedict Arnold” of the Wilco Republican Party?

We have been reporting on the controversy surrounding disgraced former Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith. City council candidate Kris Andrews has publicly stated Smith is “advising” his campaign. Kris Andrews has also publicly stated his affection for communism, socialism and other “progressive” philosophies.

Given Mr. Andrews public statements regarding his political views, it appears Smith has abandoned the Republican party’s philosophies although he still serves as the treasurer for the Williamson County Young Republican’s club.  The club’s constitution states:

“The purpose of the Club shall be to support the principles and objectives of the Republican Party; to work for the election of all duly nominated Republican candidates; to develop Republican Party leaders both within the Party structure and as candidates for public office; and to educate, activate, and empower Young Republicans throughout central Texas.”

In a very odd, somewhat delusional facebook post on election night, Smith’s wife, Kristin, who also serves as the President of the Williamson County Young Republicans stated:

Contrary to Ms. Smith’s excuse for her husbands 52 point loss, Smith, himself, stated in a letter to the City dated March 6, 2017  (with no mention of his wife) “my presence on the council  has become a distraction”. Therefore….I’ve decided it is in the best interest of the City that I vacate my position.” Smith went on to state: “I wish the City Council, staff and citizens nothing but success, and sincerely apologize for any discredit I may have inadvertently brought upon them.”

Michael Smith was forced to resign his position for violating the Hutto City, owing back taxes to the City from 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2015, the State of Texas shut down several group homes operated by Smith for “serious and pervasive noncompliance”. According to an in-depth investigative report by KXAN, Smith’s wife was also found to have falsified personnel information for Smith’s business.

Even though Mr. Andrews has publicly stated Smith is advising his campaign, some wanted “more” proof of Smith’s connection to Andrews. It appears folks will have to take the word of Mr. Andrews and also the fact Smith and his wife have a Kris Andrews campaign sign in the front yard of their home. (posted below)

One Republican party member who witnessed the sign in Smith’s yard yesterday evening stated: “This guy is a traitor to the Republican Party. He is our own Benedict Arnold. There is NO excuse that can justify this behavior. Now I ask, why has not one Republican “leader” taken action against this guy? This is unconscionable. No wonder we are losing ground in this county.” 

As stated prior, for Mr. Andrews, it is his personal right to subscribe to whatever political beliefs he wishes and for the voters of Hutto to decide if they agree with him on June 10. For the Republican Party in Williamson County, it’s decision time.

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Webster’s Woes: Former DA First Assistant Brent Webster Under Fire

Brent Webster

Former Williamson County DA First Assistant Brent Webster was in the hot seat yesterday in a Williamson County District Courtroom. According to testimony, Webster dropped the ball on 63 Asset Forfeiture cases that could ultimately land hundreds of thousands of dollars in seized assets back in the hands of criminals.

According to KXAN: “Judge Donna King found due diligence was not exercised in the case by the Williamson Co. District Attorney’s Office under the previous administration and ordered the return of $1,545 to criminal defendant Justin Cord Dabney.” That was just one of 63 other cases that was not resolved by Webster.

According to sources inside of the courtroom, Webster blamed everyone from Jana Duty to low level employees and several others in-between including law enforcement. KXAN reported one employee took exception to the finger pointing by Webster stating: “Brent had made a statement that he was not going to bring in money for Shawn Dick,” implying Webster’s failure to pursue asset forfeiture cases may have been intentional.”

Attorney Jennifer Earls grilled Webster while he was on the stand. Oddly, Webster brought his own defense attorney with him. However, Webster’s attorney was told he could not be involved in the proceeding. When Webster was questioned about his attendance at work (or lack thereof) while out campaigning in his disastrous run for Court of Appeals in 2016, Webster blamed former office administrator Vicki Vickers for his time sheets not being correct. According to sources, employees of the office, not Ms. Vickers are responsible for their time sheets.

We will be issuing an open records request for Webster’s time sheets and compare them to his facebook posts showing when he was out of the office on dozens of occasions during his campaign and overseas trips.

Current DA Shawn Dick, who inherited a mess at the DA’s Office stated, “What we realized was it was a much bigger problem than just that one case. We’re talking about dozens of cases. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that are going to end up being returned to criminals because of the negligence or the conscious indifference of the previous administration, specifically the lawyer responsible for handling those which was Brent Webster”.

According to several sources, Webster has stated he is planning on running again for the Court of Appeals in 2018. However, this latest revelation along with other “issues” that will ultimately surface about Webster may put a damper on his plans, especially if the State Bar of Texas launches an investigation into this latest debacle.

We will keep you updated on this issue as it progresses.

 

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Conservative vs. Communist: Early Voting Begins in Hutto

Early voting has begun in the special election for Hutto City Council featuring a fiscal conservative, Terri Grimm, vs. Kris Andrews, a candidate who has publicly stated his pro communism, socialism and other “progressive” philosophies.

Andrews stated an active member of the Wilco Republican Party, disgraced former Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith, “has advised me on my campaign and will continue to do so”. Smith also serves as the Treasurer for the Williamson County Young Republicans club.

Smith has not denied “advising” Mr. Andrews campaign nor has Mr. Andrews retracted that claim.

Mr. Andrews quotes have been highlighted on Hutto social media neighborhood pages. Below is a “Top Ten” list one Hutto resident Terje Revenew compiled and posted on facebook. These quotes were sourced and verified to be on a personal blog belonging to Mr. Andrews.

Early voting continues through next Tuesday and Election Day is June 10.

 

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Did Disgraced Former DA Jana Duty Convict An Innocent Man?

Jana Duty

In a stunning revelation that could overturn the child sex assault conviction of a former high school football star, Williamson County authorities have reopened the investigation of the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy and say they have identified a new suspect, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV have learned.

Read full story here

 

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Bombshell Lands On Wilco Republican Party: Part One

Last week, the reality of Williamson County turning solid purple in Pct’s 1 and 2 was highlighted. Now, a new bombshell has landed on the Williamson County Republican Party. Yesterday one candidate for Hutto City Council, Kris Andrews, publicly stated his affection for communism, socialism and other “progressive” philosophies. For him, that is his personal right to subscribe to whatever political beliefs he wishes and for the voters of Hutto to decide if they agree. For the Republican Party in Williamson County, buckle up.

Andrews replied to a few questions asked by Hutto and Williamson County residents. One of his replies has left many stunned. Andrews stated a member of the Wilco Republican Party, Michael Smith, “has advised me on my campaign and will continue to do so”. Smith also serves as the Treasurer for the Williamson County Young Republicans club. It’s worth noting, the club’s constitution states:

“The purpose of the Club shall be to support the principles and objectives of the Republican Party; to work for the election of all duly nominated Republican candidates; to develop Republican Party leaders both within the Party structure and as candidates for public office; and to educate, activate, and empower Young Republicans throughout central Texas.”

Michael Smith was evicted from office in March 2017 for violating the Hutto City Charter. He remained on the May 6th ballot and was devastated by 55 points (76.01-23.99). Now, Smith has turned to “advising” a candidate who subscribes to ideologies completely opposite of the Republican Party he “represents” and the “constitution” of the club in which he is an officer .

Andrews also stated he votes for both Democrats and Republicans but we could only find one primary election in which he voted since moving to Hutto from California (the San Francisco Bay area) in 2011. Andrews voted in the Democrat 2016 Primary.

Below is a screenshot provided to us that was posted in several facebook neighborhood groups.

One Wilco Republican Party member stated: “The Republican Party in Williamson County is losing ground and now this? Michael’s actions as an executive member of the Williamson County Young Republicans are a direct reflection on our Party. He has had some very problematical issues in the past that were ‘overlooked’ by a couple of local elected officials and one candidate for office in Pct. 4 who still maintain their support; but this is inexcusable. He should resign his position in the Young Republican’s Club and move on.”

At a time when the Williamson County Republican Party searches for leadership and direction, this latest shock-wave will no doubt only amplify that call.

 

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Election Day Results: Shock Excuses and Delusion

Local elections this past weekend sent shock waves throughout the Republican Party. However, voters rejected liberal spending, shooting down local bonds that would have tacked on hundreds of millions more in debt.

A closer look at the races show Pct. 1 is in big trouble. Not a big surprise given the results of last November where every Republican candidate on the ballot landed under 50% in that precinct. In Cedar Park, two Republican incumbents fell, losing in a landslide. In Round Rock, one Republican fell while two others barely squeaked out a win. In Georgetown, all Democrats fell handily minus the now liberal district 6. In Hutto, things went as expected with Tim Jordan beating former disgraced councilman Mike Smith in a massive landslide. Place 1 candidate Scott Rose who garnered almost 45% in a three-way race landed in a runoff against Dana Wilcott.

Excuses by disgraced former Hutto councilman Michael Smith’s camp for his massive loss were borderline delusional. Smith lost to Tim Jordan by a whopping 52 points. In 2015, the State of Texas shut down several group homes operated by Smith for “serious and pervasive noncompliance”. Smith also owed back taxes from 2014, 2015 and 2016 and was forced to resign his council position in March for violating the City Charter. According to an in-depth investigative report by KXAN, Smith’s wife (who is President of the Wilco Young Republican’s) was found to have falsified personnel information for Smith’s business. Here is her odd take on the loss.

While a few party insiders continue to play Monday morning quarterback, making excuses instead of providing solutions, some saw this coming. Last week, Sun City Club VP Cathy Cody issued a stern warning….The Democrats aren’t coming, they are here, and if something isn’t done and done quickly, Williamson County will continue its slide blue.

In 2014, Judge Bill Gravell spoke at the Republican Party County Convention. In what many view as a prophetic statement about the future of the Republican Party in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, Gravell said “Republicans in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, must see the reality of what is happening and take action now or we will pay dearly later”.

Judge Gravell went a step further by challenging everyone in the room to go out and work to register new Republican voters in their precincts. In fact, Judge Gravell returned to Pct 3, and with the help of Sun City Republican leaders, they registered thousands of new Republican voters. Pct 1 did not heed his warning and are now suffering the consequences.

The Republican Party better face the harsh reality of what is happening and make the necessary changes that are badly needed to get the Republican train back on its tracks, especially in Pct. 1 (and now Pct. 2). It will take strong leadership from those like Cathy Cody to see that happens. If they do not, trending blue may soon be the “new normal” in Williamson County. This isn’t a candidate problem, this is a party problem.

 

 

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Rachael’s Rule Part II: More Broken Rules

The Austin America Statesman is reporting on our story from Wednesday regarding Georgetown City Councilmember Rachael Jonrowe improperly placing campaign signs on Southwestern University property.

“Jonrowe did not get the required approval to put her signs on campus Monday”, said Jason Chapman, the assistant director of student activities and residence life.

According to the Statesman, “Jonrowe said she didn’t know about the approval policy and when officials told her about it she removed her signs.”

A Georgetown resident took to facebook Wednesday stating: “4 ½ hours after violating Southwestern’s policy, her signs were removed. Approximately 2 hours later, she violated policy again by having her van with signs on, parked by the polling place.”

The Statesman went on to say “She also said she did not put her signs within 100 feet of the mobile voting location that was on the university campus Monday.”

Jonrowe has come under fire recently for possibly violating basic rules and regulations of obtaining permits and inspections for construction projects at her residence.

Jonrowe sidestepped the permitting controversy in an interview with the Statesman a few weeks ago. The Statesman article stated: “Jonrowe said she wouldn’t comment on the details of her personal home renovation projects and ‘allow them to be used as part of a political smear campaign’.”

According to records obtained from the City of Georgetown, no inspections occurred after December 29, 2014 on a swimming pool being built at Jonrowe’s residence and showing no electrical permit, electrical inspection or a final inspection of the pool was obtained or conducted. Jonrowe never admitted to the Statesman reporter if in fact she ever obtained the required permits and final inspection on the pool.

Jonrowe also refused to comment on failing to obtain permits regarding the renovation of her home when the work began in the fall of 2016. October 2016, Jonrowe stated to several people she was renovating her home. No permits for the renovations were located at that time. Then on March 8, 2017, the Wilco Sun published an interview stating Jonrowe was conducting “an extensive house re-model” on her home which appraised at $301,452.00 in 2016. Oddly, only two days prior to the story hitting print, an “Electrical Trade permit, Mechanical Trade permit, Plumbing Trade permit and a Residential Remodel, Alteration, Addition or Accessory permit was issued.

Many are calling for Ms. Jonrowe to “come clean” with full disclosure of why she did not obtain permits in 2016 when her home renovations began and if she did or did not obtain an electrical permit and final inspection of her pool. If not, why has she and her family been using the pool since 2015 without the required permits and inspections? Perhaps we may never know since Ms. Jonrowe feels her “personal business” has no bearing on her public position as an elected official.

 

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Rachael’s Rule: Do As I Say ….

With early voting in full swing, it appears one Georgetown City Council candidate is having as many issues following election laws as she has had with the City permitting process. According to several residents, self described “liberal Democrat” Place 6 candidate Rachael Jonrowe possibly violated election laws concerning electioneering. Violating election laws is a criminal offense.

Sec. 85.036. ELECTIONEERING. (a) During the time an early voting polling place is open for the conduct of early voting, a person may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party in or within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building or structure in which the early voting polling place is located.

Here is a post from one resident regarding Jonrowe:

We will have more on this and other possible violations soon.

 

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Layin Down The Law in Hutto

KXAN is reporting an outside criminal investigation has been requested by the Hutto City Attorney regarding former employees and “others” who may have abused their access to official information and unlawfully disclosed that information.

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — Hutto’s city attorney is requesting an outside investigation into whether or not city employees misused official information.

The city released a press release stating it has identified a series of incidents where employees and others might have disclosed or used information that they obtained by means of their employment for non-governmental purposes. Texas law prohibits public servants from releasing information that would not have otherwise been public.

The city says its investigation revealed some former city employees and potentially others abused their access to official information. “In particular, these employees appear to have taken information they had access to only because of their positions as employees of the city of Hutto and disclosed that information for some form of personal gain,” said the city in the release.

Hutto has been draining the swamp recently with the forced resignation of disgraced former City Councilman Michael J. Smith and “resignations” of former Council member Bettina Jordan, Ex-Police Chief Earl Morrison and former City Manager Karen Daly.

Misuse of Official information is a felony. Looks like some “former City employees” and “others” associated with them may soon be headed to the “Wilco Hilton”.

 

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Georgetown Councilmember Rachael Jonrowe: Conduct in Question Part One

Georgetown City Council Rachael Jonrowe

Rachael Jonrowe

Georgetown City Council member Rachel Jonrowe has once again found herself in the middle of yet another controversy. Last week, the issue of Jonrowe refusing to say “Under God” during the pledge of allegiance, while on the dais, erupted. This week, it appears Jonrowe may not have followed the basic rules and regulations of obtaining permits and inspections for construction projects at her residence.

The City of Georgetown website spells out the permitting process in great detail when it comes to residential and commercial projects. Below is an excerpt.

Q: When is a permit required?

Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing system requires a permit.

A permit is required for: (For full list visit the city of Georgetown permit page here.) 

Demolitions, Additions, Remodel, Renovations, Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool Process

  1. Submit application along with required documentation as listed above online at www.mygovernmentonline.org
  2. Pay fee of $65.00 once application is accepted and you receive notification
  3. Allow ten business days for review
  4. Permit is approved
  5. Electrician requests electrical permit under main permit#/Plumber requests plumbing permit under main permit#
  6. Layout Inspection
  7. Pool Steel and Plumbing Rough
  8. Deck Bond and Deck Steel
  9. Swimming Pool Final

According to records obtained from the City of Georgetown, in December 2014, Jonrowe applied for a permit to construct a pool at her residence. According to inspection reports, it appears the layout was approved on December 11, 2014. An inspection for the pool steel/plumbing rough and pool bonding was scheduled on December 23, 2014 but was cancelled. On December 29th, the pool steel and pool bonding inspection sequence was conducted. The pool steel/plumbing rough portion passed but the pool bonding inspection failed.

Comments by the inspector under the pool bonding portion that failed inspection states: “Pool bond is good, but need electrical permit”. The information provided by the City only indicated records and inspection history on the pool occurred up to the 12/29/14 inspection and nothing after that date. If in fact no further inspections occurred, that would indicate no electrical permit, electrical inspection or a final inspection of the pool was conducted.

Fast forward to October 2016, Jonrowe stated to several people she was renovating her home. No permits for the renovations were located at that time. Then on March 8, 2017, the Wilco Sun published an interview stating Jonrowe was conducting “an extensive house re-model” on her home which appraised at $301,452.00 in 2016. Oddly, only two days prior to the story hitting print, an “Electrical Trade permit, Mechanical Trade permit, Plumbing Trade permit and a Residential Remodel, Alteration, Addition or Accessory permit was issued.

According to documents from the City of Georgetown, no final inspection report on the remodel appears to have been issued.

At a forum held last weekend, Jonrowe was critical of the permitting process. Jonrowe stated: “In a lot of ways, this process seems to goes a lot smoother for the big companies that come in to Georgetown than it does for individual homeowners.”

One resident stated: “I have to follow the rules, why doesn’t she? Claiming ignorance won’t cut it either. After all, she is a city council member and should know the permitting process better than any one else. Why has she been remolding her house since last year but never applied for or received any permits until a few weeks ago? Odd coming from someone who supports more guidelines and HARC regulations. She needs to explain herself.”

We will update you on this major issue as we receive more information.

 

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Controversy Erupts Over Georgetown City Councilmember’s Refusal To Answer Question

   Place 6 Councilmember Rachel Jonrowe                                  Mayoral Candidate Sherwin Khan

It appears a simple question posed to Place 6 Georgetown City Councilmember Rachael Jonrowe has evolved into quite the facebook debate. Jonrowe was asked: “Can you please confirm if you do or do not say “under God” during the pledge of allegiance? Thank you in advance for your prompt reply.”

Several of Jonrowes supporters (who claim to be inclusive) immediately jumped on the poster calling him a “troll”, ignorant and other names saying Jonrowe’s personal views were none of his business. Jonrowe, a well known far left liberal Democrat, responded: “It’s not easy to answer, for public officials dedicated to making sure all constituents feel welcomed and listened to, no matter their faith, or lack thereof, whether they be Christian or Muslim or Jewish or None of the Above. And so, I do not answer public questions about my personal faith practices. In my opinion, those are discussions best held with family and dear friends.”

The poster replied “your facebook page states ‘Rachael believes that our government is only as good as the people who are elected. She wants to encourage more people to: be aware of who their representatives are, get involved, and encourage accountability & transparency. Through the use of social networking tools and letting constituents know of her availability, she hopes to elicit feedback from a wide variety of citizens in District 6’, so I am asking is a simple question”. 

The back and forth went on for several hours. At one point, Mayoral candidate Sherwin Khan jumped in the fray. “Sherwin Kahn: You sir are nothing but a troll. Your question is inapproriate [sic] and your associations on Facebook make it clear you are nothing but an impostor and a bully. You should be reported.” The poster replied, “Reported? For what, asking a simple question of an elected official?”

Khan then posted on his page: “Trolled again this morning. This time by the troll that was harassing Rachael Jonrowe yesterday.” Perhaps Mr. Khan should understand asking a simple question of an elected official isn’t “trolling” or “harassing”. It’s a voters right.

We were sent this picture from Khan’s page. The person who sent it stated “This guy calls people “trolls” but posts things like this from a page called ‘liberal trolls’? Hypocrite much?”

The debate finally ended when the original poster stated “I am afraid that this page falls in line with the Public Information Act since it’s political and since she is an elected official. Privacy is a slippery slope…ask her maybe she can clarify that for you. I had a simple question about a public elected official. I have my “answer” with a “non-answer” by the candidate.”

If Ms. Jonrowe wishes to not say “under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during council meetings, that is her prerogative and the electorate will decide if that issue is important to them on election day. However, it is also the right of any constituent to ask questions of their elected officials who represent them without being attacked, being called “trolls” and harassed.

 

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Another Hutto Councilmember Bites the Dust

Another City Councilmember resigned last night in Hutto. First, Michael Smith who was found to have had over ten thousand dollars in unresolved back tax liens along with other issues and now Bettina Jordan, the councilwoman most characterized as Smith’s “yes man” on the dais.

Bettina Jordan’s resignation, described by many as a temper tantrum, will ultimately cost the taxpayers of Hutto over 12k, the price-tag for a special election to be held later this year to fill her abandoned position.

Two weeks ago, Michael Smith, after being found ineligible to run for office and also unqualified to hold the seat, was forced to resign. His resignation stemmed from back taxes he owed the city of Hutto related to a business he owned that was shut down by the State of Texas for “serious and pervasive noncompliance”. After further digging by KXAN, the back taxes owed by Smith may be the least of his worries.

New findings have surfaced showing Smith may have perjured himself  with documents he filed with the State Comptroller Office and the County Clerks office. Sources say a criminal complaint may soon be filed against Smith regarding these issues.

To make matters even more confusing, even though Smith was forced to resign and ruled ineligible to run for office, his name will stay on the ballot. The election code states if a candidate is ruled ineligible after the 78th day prior to election, their name remains on the ballot. This is where it gets tricky.

The Election Code states: In an election where there is no runoff requirement (i.e., election is by plurality): If a candidate dies or is declared ineligible after the deadline, the candidate’s name will remain on the ballot, and any votes cast for that candidate must be counted in the regular manner. If the candidate receives the vote required for the election, a vacancy results and is filled in the regular manner of filling vacancies in the political subdivision.

What does that mean? Simply put, if Smith were to pull off a miracle and win more votes than Tim Jordan, the election is null, forcing a special election for that seat. Given more legal troubles may be on the horizon for Smith, he could again be ineligible for that election as well.

Fast forward to August, the seat abandoned by Bettina Jordan last night will again go to the ballot to fill the unexpired 2 years remaining for the seat. City Council will more than likely place this issue on the agenda for their next meeting to temporarily fill this vacancy until the special election is held later this year.

Many spoke out on social media today about Bettina Jordan’s sudden resignation. One person commented, “We need to put a cardboard figure in it. Same input less trouble.” Another stated “After watching those meetings Thursday after Thursday. I will say that seat being empty is not gonna be much different than when she was sitting in it. Might get lucky and the empty seat might actually ask a question or at least look interested in being there.”

Needless to say, it’s a mess in Hutto but there appears to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel. The newer council members elected since 2015, along with the addition of Tim Jordan and a competent Place 6 member should calm the waters for some smooth sailing. A refreshing change of pace that hasn’t been seen in Hutto for many years.

 

 

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Hutto Councilman Michael Smith Resigns

KXAN is reporting breaking news that embattled Hutto Councilman Michael Smith has resigned.

Hutto Councilman Michael Smith resigns amid tax concerns

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — Hutto Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilman Michael J. Smith resigned from his post Monday, days after a KXAN investigation revealed outstanding tax issues and a questionable affidavit he filed in the Williamson County Clerk’s Office.

Smith said he was not aware of the tax issue until KXAN contacted him Feb. 27. Days later, Smith said he paid the taxes, and he was working to rectify any taxation issues.

In a March 3 Facebook post, Smith said he was in “constant contact” with Mayor Doug Gaul and the city attorney, and he was going to work with them on “whatever course of action is determined to be in the best interest of the city.”

KXAN first reported Smith had $146 in unpaid city and county taxes associated with his former day habilitation business, Beyond The Limits, dating back to 2014. Smith filed to run for reelection in May, while he still had unpaid taxes, according to Williamson County tax assessor-collector records and Hutto City Secretary election forms.

“After consultation with Michael to verify the facts and consultation with our City Attorney, Michael Smith submitted his resignation effective immediately,” Gaul said in a prepared statement Monday. “We would like to wish Michael the best of luck in the future and thank him for his years of service and dedication to the City of Hutto.”

According to the Hutto city charter, a candidate may not file to run in an election and be in arrears in the payment of taxes due to the city. It is not clear if Smith is still a candidate in the May election. City of Hutto spokesperson Jill Cloud said she did not have details on how the resignation would impact Smith’s place in the City Council race, and his candidacy is a “personal matter.”

According to the city charter, a majority of the City Council “shall appoint a qualified replacement to fulfill the remainder of the vacant term should the remainder of the term be less than one year.”

In addition to the outstanding taxes, Smith filed, and signed under oath, an affidavit in the county clerk’s office stating he was not associated with three unique documents in the county’s records. A KXAN review of those documents found that one was clearly a state tax lien related to Smith and his former business, Beyond the Limits. Smith said there was an error, and he had rectified the situation.

Smith’s former day habilitation center, Beyond the Limits, is closely linked to his former group home business, A Step Beyond. Both of those companies were shut down by the state in 2015, after state investigators found numerous serious issues, including possible falsification of a background check and mishandling of patient medication.

Smith told KXAN he had taken issue with the Department of Aging and Disability Services report, but he would not comment on the allegations in it. “Any mistakes that were made we’ve dealt with the consequences from that, and we have moved on,” Smith previously told KXAN.

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Official Documents Released As Councilman Smith Spins

Hutto Councilman Michael Smith

We were asked to provide supporting documents related to the Tax Liens, Questionable Affidavit and falsification of documents regarding embattled Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith. See below:

Jan 19, 2016 Lien 2016004330 for unpaid wages Click Here

Sworn Affidavit by Smith stating above Lien 2016004330 did not belong to him.  Click Here

November 8, 2016 Lien Release for unpaid wages (Paid the day after the deed for the sale of his home was executed (Nov 7, 2016) and affidavit stating this did not belong to him) Click Here

Tax Lien for unpaid taxes from 2012 Click Here

2012 Tax Lien Release executed Nov 9, 2016 (Executed two days after the deed for the sale of his home was executed) Click Here

May 2016 Lien for unpaid wages in the amount of $3,850.00 (No release on file) Click Here

August 2015 Tax Lien for unpaid back taxes in the amount of $7,288.29 (No release on file) Click Here

Full May 2015 Texas Department of Aging and Disability Investigation Report related to Kristen Smith admitting to falsifying documents and other issues related to the closure of Smith’s business by the State of Texas. (bottom page 5 and top of page 6 for details regarding Kristen Smith’s admissions) Click Here

 

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KXAN Drops Bombshell On Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith

In 2015, the State of Texas shut down several group homes operated by Hutto City Councilman Michael Smith for “serious and pervasive noncompliance”. According to KXAN, Smith owes back taxes on that business which renders him ineligible to run for reelection this May, according to the Hutto City Charter, and also disqualifies him from currently holding office.

According to KXAN, Smith owes back taxes from 2014, 2015 and 2016. KXAN first asked Smith about the taxes Monday. On Tuesday, Smith said there was an error and he had paid the taxes. However, according to the Wilco Tax Assessor Website, they have not been paid as of 3pm today.

KXAN also reported:

In addition, a state investigation into Smith’s former group home business says Smith directed his HR director to falsify personnel information, among other issues, according to a 2015 Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services report obtained by KXAN through the Texas Public Information Act.

In that report cited, Investigators with Aging and Disability Services asked Kristen Smith, the wife of Michael Smith and current director of the Hutto Education Foundation, to produce a background check on a person who was in contact with disabled clients. Kristen Smith said she destroys all documents every month. The report went on to say:

“The review team informed her that she is required to maintain records for 6 years. Review team then requested a copy of the one page background verification sheet she produced earlier. Kristen S returned several minutes later and asked to speak to a reviewer in private. The reviewer informed her that she could speak in front of the tea,. Kristen S proceeded to admit she falsified the one page background verification that she produced earlier. She further stated she filled out the for to indicate some checks were performed on 1/29/15 because Michael S told her that’s when they were done. As such, the program provider HR Director admitted to falsification of personnel information at the direction of the program director.”

Another major issue was discovered by KXAN. When Smith was asked about an affidavit of identity he signed regarding one of the several liens filed against Smith, he told KXAN:

“It was clearly a mistake that was made, but it was caught,” Smith said. “A tax lien is paid before we see any dividends from the house. So, it is not that we sold the house and then paid off the lien.”

On November 7, 2016, a sworn affidavit of identity was filed, by Smith, with the Williamson County Clerk’s office. The affidavit states “Affiant is NOT the same person(s) named in the matters filed of record under the document numbers: 2016004330 Official Public Records, Williamson County, Texas.” Problem is, according to filed documents, 2016004330 was in fact Smith’s lien. Smith then executed a deed document at the same time, selling his home after signing the affidavit.

Strangely, just one day later, on November 8, 2016, the lien from the TWC Smith said did not belong to him was paid and the lien was released. The other lien for back taxes owed in the amount of $2,100.00 since 2012 was also paid by Smith, according to documents, on November 9th, 2016.

In all, Smith had multiple liens filed for unpaid wages to back taxes owed. Some were paid, others still show to have not been released. In fact, two additional tax liens were discovered (not reported by KXAN) totaling over $11,000.00 owed to the State of Texas.

On October 18, 2016, Smith shut down his business, filing a Termination of Existence form (under oath) with the Secretary of State stating he did not owe any taxes on the business. In fact, according to the Wilco County Clerks website, there are two liens under the businesses name that have not been released which could lead to even more problems for Smith. One lien is for unpaid taxes totaling $7,288.29 and the other for unpaid salary owed to a former employee in the amount of $3,850.00.

Smith, was one of 7 Council members who amended the City Charter in 2009. He of all people should know full well he stands in violation of the City Charter relating to the unpaid back taxes. Question is, will he abide by the same rules he put in place. Judging by his post on social media, apparently not.

Outstanding taxes, questionable affidavit found in Hutto Councilman’s records

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — Michael J. Smith, an incumbent Hutto City Council candidate, has unpaid city taxes that could impact his eligibility to run for office. He filed a questionable affidavit in the county record related to a state tax lien, according to records obtained by KXAN.

Click here to read full story. 

 

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Let The May Races Begin

The race for several City Council and Mayor positions around Williamson County is now set. These positions are “non-partisan” races but the political contrasts between candidates are stark to say the least. Here are your candidates in Georgetown and Hutto.

Georgetown Mayor:

  • Incumbent Dale Ross, a conservative CPA vs. Sherwin Khan, an outspoken liberal Democrat and local activist.

Georgetown City Council Place 2

  • Conservative Valerie Nicholson vs. liberal David Sray.

Georgetown City Council Place 6

  • Lawrence Romero, a Military Veteran/businessman vs. Incumbent Rachael Jonrowe, an extremely far-left liberal and self-described “rabble-rouser” activist.

Hutto City Council Place 1

  • This is a three-way race between Scott Rose, Dana Wilcott and Steven Harris. All newcomers to the political arena.

Hutto City Council Place 4

  • This race features the embattled incumbent Michael J. Smith vs. businessman Tim Jordan. Jordan lost his bid for council last May by one vote. Smith recently scored the endorsement of Russ Boles, a possible candidate for Pct. 4 Commissioner. Jordan was just endorsed by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputies Association.

We will highlight these races and the individual candidates as each campaign progresses. We will also highlight other races in Round Rock and Cedar Park. This May election should get very interesting.

 

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Williamson Co. DA Shawn Dick: Cleaning Up The Duty Mess

Williamson County DA Jana Duty Mugshots

In 2016, a removal suit was filed against former Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty, in part, because she rarely showed up to her office in 2016. Now, the results of her absence are coming to light and it’s not a pretty picture for taxpayers and victims of crime.

Inherited backlog puts Williamson County DA months behind

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — As new Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick and his team settle into their office at the Williamson County Justice Center, they’re finding boxes of files everywhere, including 218 cases dating back to 2014.

“It’s pretty alarming. I knew it was a bunch, I didn’t figure it was going to be that many cases from that long ago,” explains Dick. “Do we have dangerous individuals, are there people we need to be actively looking for? Is it just a mistake? It’s certainly a lot of manpower we’re having to invest now.”

Dick says his team is sorting through the cases now, and he isn’t sure how far behind this will put his office. He says they’re already playing catch up with current cases and are about 3 months behind. But they are making progress. “I hope people will be patient and understand we’re trying to do the right thing on each case.”

Former Williamson County DA Jana Duty lost to Dick in the 2016 primary. Dick says he has not reached out to Duty to ask about the old cases they found, saying her office was not cooperative in the transition, and he doesn’t believe that would change now. KXAN reached out to Duty to ask about the backlog, but have not heard back.

During her time as Williamson County District Attorney, Duty tried two felony cases; one ended in a murder conviction that was reversed in December. An appeals court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict Rex Nisbett of murdering his wife. The second case was a capital murder trial against Crispin Harmel, which ended in mistrial. That is after a judge ruled Duty withheld evidence from defense attorneys and violated a gag order. Her actions got her jailed and sanctioned by the state bar.

See video here

 

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Hutto Appointed Official Goes Rogue: Residents Call For His Immediate Resignation

An article was published in the Williamson County Sun yesterday regarding the controversial $53m bond package that has been placed on hold, for now.

In the article, one Hutto Appointed Official stated a proposed 6 million dollar swimming pool was a priority, even though the majority of residents are staunchly against it.

The Sun stated: “Perry Savard says the thought of city spending does not bother him, even if it means a rise in taxes. ‘We need a lot of stuff and that’s the only way to get that stuff,’ he said. ‘We’ve been kicking the community pool down the road for the past 15 years.’”

The article continues “Mr. Savard is on his forth year as a member of the Parks Advisory board.” Savard was also recently appointed, in a controversial 3-4 vote of the council, to also serve on the Hutto Charter Review Committee. “In citywide surveys, residents list a pool as one of their top priorites, he said”.

Actually, the 2016 survey shows out of the eight issues proposed to residents, ranging from a Fire Station, Police Station, Roadway improvements, etc., the pool came in rated as least important to tax payers only ahead of a dog park.

The article made its rounds in local Hutto Community facebook pages that sparked more controversy. Savard engaged in the facebook comments, attempting to defend himself saying the reporter tried to make him “look bad”. Savard then made several incendiary comments, including comments berating Hutto business owner, Jason Wirth.

Below are the comments. If you are sensitive to profanity, here’s your warning. (PG13) This has led several residents calling for Savard’s immediate resignation. One stated: “Nice to know the City has folks like this representing them. Foul mouthed, free spending bureaucrats who think they can tell me what I need. And they wonder why we are cleaning house on May 6th? They never learn”.

It’s important to note, Perry Savard has since deleted his comments below.

Updated with correction. We originally reported Savard serves on the Bond Committee. That was corrected to Charter Reviw Committee.

 

 

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Williamson County Treasurer Jerri Jones To Resign

 

Williamson County has itself a new County Auditor: (Soon to be former) Williamson County Treasurer Jerri Jones. No doubt Jones will be a watchdog over our tax dollars and how they are spent.

Some folks in County government better get used to a person who has zero tolerance for nonsense. She’s tough, but fair. She’s extremely intelligent but not pretentious. She is (for now) an elected official but she’s not a “politician”. What you see is what you get with Jones. She is a true leader. One thing for certain, she always has the best interest of Williamson County at heart and that is great news for Williamson County.

Below is the press release from Williamson County:

January 13, 2017 (Williamson County, TX) – The district judges of Williamson County are proud to announce the appointment of Jerri L. Jones as the new County Auditor for Williamson County.

Ms. Jones has more than 20 years of financial experience including payroll, budgeting, accounting, and analyzing cost data for major military organizations.  Ms. Jones served honorably in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years as a Finance Officer achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  During Ms. Jones’ tenure with the Corps, she gained valuable experience in accounting, auditing, payroll, quality assurance, and financial management working her way up to Comptroller of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan.  In her capacity as Comptroller, Lt Col Jones managed a $350 million Navy budget and a $150 million Marine Corps budget in support of air and ground units in the Pacific.

In the Corps and in private life, Ms. Jones has exhibited her talents as a systems expert. Following military service Ms. Jones was a mid-level manager in manufacturing for Solectron, Texas.  Later, Ms. Jones became the Executive Director of the non-profit Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center.  While Director, she managed contract negotiations and construction accounting of the Advocacy Center facility built on Inner Loop Road in Georgetown.  Currently, Ms. Jones serves as County Treasurer and manages the county’s revenue and investments. Soon after taking office, Ms. Jones led the extensive effort to select a new financial institution for the county’s banking needs. The project included banking reviews, account analysis and successful conversion of the county’s extensive departmental accounts.  Additionally, under Ms. Jones’ leadership, the Treasurer’s office has reduced redundancies, increased efficiency and expanded the county’s investment activity.

County auditors work to help ensure that all aspects of county finances are properly accounted for and safeguarded.  Leadership, independence and strong ethics are essential for the County Auditor to perform her duties.  The District Judges of Williamson County believe that Ms. Jones’ overall experience, leadership qualities, and proven track record make her the right choice to move Williamson County forward in the coming years.  Ms. Jones is expected to assume her new duties as County Auditor no later than March 1, 2017.

 

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Another Day Another Massive Hutto Project Cost Overrun

Last Thursday, a hot topic on the agenda for the Hutto City Council was current City projects and the massive cost overruns of those projects. One project detailed was the East Street Project from Pecan to Farley. The initial budget for this project was $ 899,000.00. It now stands at $ 1,139,382.00, $240,382.00 over budget.

City Manager Odis Jones spoke candidly about project mismanagement and the resulting consequences.

“Let me be real direct, it happens when you don’t do a good job with scoping and costing a project” [speaking of the massive overruns.] “This is where we are. Moving forward, I’m going to be hands on and we have to do better work with how we structure our projects. Whether managing projects big or small, it’s junk in and junk out. You got to have real clear objectives and a real tight scope and contracts that are tightly done to protect you. We’ve got to do things where we are more sophisticated in terms of how we manage our contracts.”

Council member Anne Cano, who has been on the council since 2009 stated, “We’ve been here before, and that’s what happened to Farley and why the last block of Farley got cut out.” The cost proposed by the City to complete Farley in 2009 for the bond election was $1,283,600.00. However, in 2011, bids to complete the 1,800 square feet Farley roadway project came in nearly $1 million over the City’s projected $1,283,600.00 million dollar estimate.

To save money, the council voted to cut the Farley Street project from four blocks to three, eliminating the block between Short and West Street. Council member Anne Cano made the motion to award a total of $ 1,618,630.00 and set aside an additional $ 100,000.00 in project contingency and the motion was seconded by Council member Michael Smith. $435,000,00 over original budget.

Back to the Jan 5th council meeting regarding the East Street cost overrun, Council member Lucio, said “this has been in the plans for how many years. We outta have a guide in place already.”

Council member Hines who is one of the newer members to the council stated, “that’s correct, we have been here before, and before and before, and before”, clearly frustrated that projects are poorly managed and overrun with costs.

Council member Cano is correct, we have been here before, time and again. The latest East Street project, the Fritz Park 3.5 million dollar boondoggle, The 2.5 million dollar Gin “open air pavilion” project (that has no restrooms, A/C or heat) 200k over budget, Farley Street project and The YMCA to name a few.

Prop 4 of the 2009 Bond Initiative was for the construction of the YMCA. A bond package was approved by the voters totaling 5 million dollars to complete the project. But poor planning led to major cost overruns. The two major overruns that were reported (we have not yet investigated the final cost) were to the tune of almost ¾ of a million dollars over budget. $736,072.00 to be exact.

Of the $736,072.00 overrun, $550,000.00 was due to poor initial planning by the City that included no large site improvement. Also, the cost of bringing water and wastewater lines and access roads to the site were not included in estimates proposed in the bond election. The other $ 186,000.00 was due to cost related design and construction overruns.

Back again to the January 5th meeting, debate broke out regarding the necessity of focusing all of the funds on one downtown project when so many other areas of the City are badly in need of improvements.

Council member Michael Smith said he’s fine listening to input from other members about reducing scope and costs and then said “this is not a project we half ass. This is the center of our downtown.” 

Councilman Killough fired back stating “Is this to make something look pretty again”, referring to the Fritz Park 2 million cost overrun.

Smith said “we’re adding parking”. Cano said “this keeps people from driving in the ditch across from the Hall of Fame”.

Killough said “We have 990 thousand dollars. So functionally, can’t we take that money and add it to that lot (the 1.1 million dollars) and resurface a bunch of streets? We are so focused on putting bows on stuff just to make it look pretty. And I’m going to bring it up, how over budget on Fritz are we?”

Gaul said “It’s not just prettying up downtown. We need additional parking downtown. But can we reduce the scope without the pretty bows and have the parking.”

Killough then said “Hold on, I have a hard time swallowing this pill. That you are going to spend 1.1 million dollars on one street while only allotting only 990k to use on all of the rest of the streets. Let’s be a little logical here and take a different approach and think about the financial standing of how much can I get done and how many more roads can we repair and fix.”

Council member Lucio said, “But this was a bond thing”, thinking the bond funds were dedicated just for the downtown project.

Killough then said “no that bond was for ALL roads.”

Smith then said “it’s for downtown I remember”.

Gaul then said “It’s not just resurfacing, it’s additional parking.”

Smith then said “If you remember Farley Street before we did that project.”

Killough said “I do, now with a whole lot of empty parking.”

Cano said “That’s too far to walk and they won’t go to the businesses.”

Gaul then said, “People aren’t going to park there and walk down to the businesses and go eat” referring to the parking on Farley Street that is only one block away. (see map)

Killough then said “We should go back to needs, not wants.”

The council then agreed to try to reduce the overrun by eliminating some of the project and would go “line by line” through each expenditure, just as they did Farley Street.

To clarify, Council member Killough was in fact correct. The 2009 Bond Election, specifically Proposition 1, was for the issuance of $8,500,000 in General Obligation bonds for street improvements within the City, not just “downtown”.

Prop 1 states “The City of Hutto be authorized to issue general Obligation Bonds of the City in the principal amount of 8,500,000.00 for the permanent public improvements and public purposes, to wit: constructing and improving streets WITHIN THE CITY and includes installation of underground drainage, sidewalks, and streetscaping to several downtown streets. Below is the full bond initiative language for Pro 1.

Hutto tax payers have been tagged with millions in cost overruns on poorly scoped and managed projects. The specifics of promised projects have been reduced or outright eliminated in some projects sold to tax payers in 2009. This has led to Hutto residents paying much closer attention to business conducted by the council.

One resident said “Seems to me a few of these council members don’t learn from their mistakes. 103 million in debt and nothing but politically spun excuses. Conservative my back side. When I don’t have money at home for something I “want”, I don’t just go charge it up, I have to do without until I save enough for it. I have to live within my means. When I have a project at home, I make plans and have a solid budget. If it goes over budget, I have to wait until I have the money to complete it. I don’t have a credit card someone else pays for like these politicians do. At least we have a few new council folks up there and a new City Manager who are trying get a hold of this mess. I’ve had enough and you can bet come May I’ll vote to put some more new blood up there.”

As Einstein once said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” We will have more as this develops.

 

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Odis Jones: The Voice of Reason In Hutto

Last night, Hutto City Manager Odis Jones gave a dose of reality to the City Council regarding the proposed 53 million dollar bond package slated for the May 6th election.

Jones said he would like to see “deep dive” and intense 120-day evaluation of city finances and develop a plan for growth over the next 3 to 5 years. Jones said “We need to look at the financial state of the city and what can we afford to do. We need to take the time to assess where we are financially. I want to make sure we are prepared.”

Jones also warned not to make the same mistakes on how bonds are handled. As reported prior, some of the projects are still under construction at much higher costs with great cost overruns. Jones also briefly spoke about the “elephant” in the room; the Fritz Park bond debacle.

“Fritz Park is an example, for me and my staff, when you don’t spend the right time getting answers,” Jones said. “That’s a project that has not been managed correctly.”

“We’ve got a lot of questions to answer,” Jones said. “Fifty-three million is a lot to put on the backs of taxpayers. I’m a conservative guy. The council will need to be truly engaged.”

Council member Michael Smith said (while laughing), “ahhh, that’s walking around money”, which infuriated one person watching. “That right there is the problem. That mentality is why we are in debt over our heads and the mess we are in. I can barley get by as it is. This is no joking matter”.

Discussion of cost overruns on current bond projects were then discussed. Some comments left some shaking their heads. One council member said “we have been here before, and before and before” regarding the tens if not hundreds of thousands in cost overruns. “They’ve been there before and before and before and they still haven’t learned? Thank God for Odis Jones looking out for us because clearly some of these people have no clue what’s going on, don’t care or don’t mind because they can always put more on the tax payers back”.

Jones said better contracts and smarter planning moving forward is essential so the same reoccurring mistakes from the past are not again repeated.

The council then decided to delay the bond election from May to possibly November after “more review”.

 

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Hutto’s Hidden Debt Death Spiral Part II: The Political Spin Begins

After yesterday’s revelations of Hutto’s massive hidden debt, the spin has begun from a few local politicians. As the old saying goes, “liars figure, but figures don’t lie”. With that said, here is a quick analysis of debt in Hutto since December 31, 2008.

 

At the beginning of 2009, Hutto maintained 33 million in principal tax supported debt. That number more than doubled over the past eight years to almost 75 million. Combined with interest, debt rose from 59 Million to almost 104 million dollars. $103,959,928.96 to be exact. One million nine hundred fifty-nine thousand nine hundred twenty eight dollars and ninety-six cents.

As you can see from the data above, the tax rate has been raised 4 cents since 2008 and debt has more than doubled. Now, every man, woman and child in Hutto owes $3,287.78 each in debt.

This morning, Council member Michael Smith announced his intention to seek re-election for Place 4. Council member Ann Cano will not seek re-election for Place 1.

Smith’s term began in May 2009. During his announcement, he touted his “economic development and business experience”. Smith says “his work is not yet done” and “looks forward to three more years”.

The source for our data. The Texas Bond Review Board.

 

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Hutto’s Hidden Debt Death Spiral: Over 100 Million Dollars and Climbing

The Hutto City Council’s appointed Bond Committee is recommending a whopping 53.5 million dollar bond package. The City Council must call the election by February 17, 2017, in order to hold a May 2017 Bond election identified by the Committee.

The proposed bond election totals $53,575,000 and would be split over four propositions.

Proposition 1 totaling $14,100,000 for Public Safety facilities including a fire station and police station.

Proposition 2 totaling $18,600,000 for Transportation improvements.

Proposition 3 totaling $17,800,000 for Park improvements including athletic fields, family aquatic center (your six million dollar swimming pool), and parkland acquisition.

Proposition 4 totaling $3,075,000 for construction of a Maintenance Facility for the City of Hutto.

If all propositions were approved by the voters and the City Council proceeded with issuance of the debt, the interest and sinking portion of the tax rate could increase your tax bill over $320.00. The tax increase is fashioned with figures such as “.14 – .16 cents” to minimize the sticker shock.

Residents of Hutto agree there is a tremendous need for a fire station on the south side of Hwy 79. Hutto is also in need of new roads and improvement to current roads, a reasonable practice for bond initiatives. However, according to the majority of Hutto residents, at this time, they can not stomach a six million dollar swimming pool and other bloated and needless projects at the taxpayers expense.

Bundling certain projects together on the ballot creates voter dilemma and bond proponents know this. Combining the fire station and police station in one initiative and a swimming pool cleverly described as a “family aquatic center” with parkland acquisition is another example of this practice. It’s clear only a small handful of people and a couple of politically motivated politicians want the pool. However, bundling the pool with additional park land, something most residents want, places voters between a rock and a hard place.

The main factor? The actual “legal” bond wording does not appear on the ballot. All a citizen ever hears is what is sold to them by politicians and bond proponents in cleverly crafted brochures with carefully phrased buzz words. A prime example is those used in 2009 such as: “I look at it like an economic machine”, “Everyone gets nervous when their taxes go up, but it’s an investment” and “The residual is the community gets to use those facilities”.

Voter confusion and misleading bond initiative wording is another issue. We saw what happened in 2009 when a broadly written bond initiative was proposed and vague wording was on the actual ballot. In 2009, citizens were sold a bill of goods in city distributed literature, but the actual bond language (below) sat in the background allowing the funds to be later distributed on issues outside of those promised to the voters.

Unfortunately, reporters never outline the devil in the details, pitching the highlights of the proposed projects, not covering the actual bond language. As you can see below, it looks great on paper, but in reality is very misleading.

Another liability never mentioned in detail is interest payments on bonds. With interest rates now on the rise, the principal borrowed combined with interest is a hidden liability. Bond proposals are pitched in a way credit card company’s hooks a consumer into applying for and charging up the card. They never remind the consumer they eventually have to pay back not only what is charged, but also interest. It’s the “easy way to get it now” method.

Another way these bonds are pitched is by special interest groups who have a vested interest seeig they are approved by voters. In 2009,  a political action committee (PAC) called Moving Hutto 4ward was formed to push the 2009 bond initiative. Many of its chief organizers were the same people who served on the Bond Committee and also selected the projects that appeared on the ballot. The PAC tagged along with city officials to “informational meetings” in 2009, placed calls, put up signs and went door to door pitching their effort. No doubt you will see this again.

Below is a brochure distributed by the City in 2009. It details several projects regarding Fritz Park that were ultimately omitted earlier this year in a controversial split 4-3 vote by city council, headed by council member Michael Smith. What was promised publicly before the election in 2009 by Smith and other proponents now no longer exists. There will be no bleachers or seats in the new stadium, only staggered rows of concrete to sit on. The playground, gone. Batting cages, gone. The parking lot, gone. The internal walking trail, gone. Restoring the tennis courts, gone. Landscaping, gone. The one million dollars set aside for future park land, gone.

 

In 2014 taxpayers were on the hook for over 54 million in tax supported debt.

 

Now, for what you didn’t know. The taxpayers of Hutto currently owe a whopping $103,959,929 in debt. One hundred three million nine hundred fifty nine thousand nine hundred twenty nine dollars.

Below is a chart from the Bond Review Board of the State of Texas outlining Hutto’s Debt. 

$103,959,929 in debt and another $53.5 million being proposed. Remember, that proposed 53.5 million in new debt doesn’t include interest you and ultimately your kids will be on the hook for. Every man, woman and child who lives in Hutto would be in debt to the tune of approximately $7,200.00 each.

Who is to be held accountable for this out of control debt? Ask any politician and they will say “the voters approved it, not me”. One thing for certain, two current members who have been on City Council since 2009, a period when the majority of this debt was amassed, are up for re-election on May 6, 2017. The voters will ultimately decide who is responsible.

 

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2017: One and a Wakeup For Change

Lisa Birkman Jana Duty

Apparently lame duck District Attorney Jana Duty missed the memo that her term ends on December 31st at midnight. Duty stated Wednesday “a prosecutor will be filing the appeal next week with the Court of Criminal Appeals” regarding a cold case conviction that was overturned two weeks ago by the Third Court of Appeals. Problem is, Duty has no authority to do anything after midnight tomorrow.

Many are speculating Duty is doing everything she can to protect her “legacy” while leaving incoming DA Shawn Dick a huge mess. One person stated “Duty knows this case is dead in the water. She knows an appeal to the Court of Appeals is fruitless or she would have already filed it herself. She wants to dump her mess in Dick’s lap, forcing him to deal with the fallout. At least a professional (Dick) will be able to review the case and make a decision based on facts and the law, not a self serving ‘legacy’.”

Duty said “the Third Court of Appeals seriously abused their discretion and hopefully, the CCA (Court of Criminal Appeals) will right this wrong.” She also attacked the Third Court of Appeals saying:

The moral to this story for prosecutors across the state of Texas is don’t bother trying murder cases where the suspect was smart enough to get rid of the body. If the evidence in this no-body case was not enough, then the State should forgo [SIC] ever trying one of these cases again. The judges on the Third Court are substituting their judgment for the judgment of the 12 jurors that heard all of the evidence and rendered their verdict. Shame on the Third Court. This is not how the system is supposed to work.

Duty is on probation by the State Bar of Texas for multiple violations. According to sources, a new grievance may soon be filed against Duty for her latest tirade, attacking the Third Court of Appeals. One court house insider said “She just never learns her lesson. It seems being thrown in jail for violating the law and slapped by the State Bar of Texas on two separate occasions hasn’t taught her a lesson. A person who demonstrates over and over they are not willing to follow the law or the rules of professional conduct has no business holding a law license, period”.

In June of this year, Duty negotiated and accepted a plea deal acknowledging she lied in a Capital Murder trial and violated a court order. The Evidentiary Panel and Duty agreed and concluded that the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct have been violated: 4.01 (a), 3.04(d), 8.02(a), 8.04(a)(3).

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

One thing for certain, Jana Duty, James Wilson and Lisa Birkman are out and as of midnight tomorrow, irrelevant. Sunday will bring many fresh faces to Williamson County elected positions, replacing several career politicians whose departments are in turmoil. Changes most say are very welcome and long overdue. From Sheriff Elect Chody to DA Elect Dick, cleaning up the messes their predecessors have left are massive. Fortunately, both are experienced professionals, who will no doubt in time, clean up those problems and serve Williamson County well.

2018 primary elections are just around the corner, and without doubt, usher in more change for the better.

 

 

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$686,339.00 and Counting: The Spin Begins

The Wilco Sun published a story today regarding Williamson County Commissioner’s Cynthia Long, Lisa Birkman and Val Covey. The story centers around the three recently being found to have violated an applicants constitutional rights.

Birkman, who has only eight days remaining in office said she alone asked the illegal questions, providing cover for Long who has said she is considering a run for higher office next year. Covey did not ask any questions and only made notes of the applicants answers according to court documents.

The ruling from the Federal Court states in part:

At the trial, Commissioner Long testified that in 2013, applicants’ responses to questions regarding their views on same-sex marriage and abortion were very important to her. Lloyd’s responses to these questions, which Long characterized as a “stumble,” were important to Commissioner Long’s decision. However, it is clear the questions and the answers they elicited were related to Commissioner Long’s decision to vote for Stofle over Lloyd. Accordingly, the Court finds that Commissioner Long’s questioning deprived Lloyd of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Long was quoted in the Sun saying: “It has gotten so misconstrued that the whole interview was focused on those questions. Very little time was spent on those issues.”

Long’s attempt to minimize the unlawful conduct as “very little time was spent on these issues” and she did not directly ask the illegal questions is troubling to many. As one courthouse insider said, “If Long and Birkman both believed robbing a bank was acceptable by their ‘beliefs’, drove up to a bank, only Birkman went in to rob the bank and Long drove the getaway car, somehow Long feels less responsible?”

This isn’t the first time Long has been accused of this illegal conduct. Eddie Hurst Jr. said he had interviewed with Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long in 2008 to be appointed to a volunteer board. Hurst said at that time he was on the planning and zoning board commission in Cedar Park. Hurst said Long asked him if he was as conservative as she was, what his opinion on abortion was and how he felt about homosexuality. Long denied asking Hurst those questions and said “He’s lying for political gain.”

Birkman and Long’s attempt to minimize and make excuses for their illegal behavior is telling. Based on their quote (through their attorney) it’s clear they have not, nor will not accept responsibility for their unlawful conduct. “While the county commissioners disagree that they in any way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights, they are glad the litigation is finally over.”

Given Cynthia Long has made it clear to several she has higher political aspirations to run for County Judge, this spin comes at no surprise. But the facts remain, Birkman asked illegal questions. Long participated in the unlawful act. A federal court found Long and Birkman violated the applicants constitutional rights and that conduct has now cost tax payers (to date) $686,339.00 to defend their illegal actions.

The legal bills for November and December have still not been calculated and will greatly increase the total above. Now, the judge has granted Lloyd’s legal team an extension to file a request for his legal fees if the county and Lloyd can not come to an agreement for those fees before January 17, 2017.

The final bill may ultimately reach close to 1.5 million dollars. A huge expense tax payers must swallow defending illegal behavior. Unlawful conduct these commissioners still attempt to minimize.

 

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Commissioner Lisa Birkman’s “Legacy”: Roads not Lawsuits

Commissioner Lisa Birkman

Outgoing Pct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman attended a ground breaking ceremony for RM 620 improvements on Monday. According to the Statesman, Birkman said the project will be a part of her legacy as a commissioner. “I’m glad to be doing this before leaving office,” she said. “I had asked to make sure they could get it started at the end of this year.”

Commissioner Birkman may think RM 620 improvements may be her “legacy”, but she will always be remembered most as one of the Commissioners who was found to have violated a mans constitutional rights. That, along with the other countless lawsuits over her tenure that have cost the tax payers millions and millions of dollars to litigate or settle.

The latest law suit has cost tax payers, to date, over $700,000. The final bill to tax payers is not yet in but expected to reach close to $1,500,000 (1.5 million). In 2013, Commissioners Cynthia Long and Birkman asked illegal questions in an interview and were recently found, by a Federal Judge, to have violated the applicants constitutional rights.

The Statesman also reported (as we did months ago) Birkman said she is no longer considering a run to lead the Commissioners Court as county judge. But she did not rule out running for elected office in the future. For now, Birkman said she plans to travel with her husband and begin planning for a new political consulting services business.

Several are speculating her first client as a “political consultant” may be Commissioner Cynthia Long who has told several “insiders” she plans to run for County Judge in the 2018 Republican Primary. A run most are predicting will end in disaster based on several issues that will ultimately emerge.

Birkman, attempting to remain relevant, has also hinted a future run in politics. With her recent move to Georgetown, many are guessing she will make a run at the State Rep position currently held by Terry Wilson.

Based on her future political aspirations and those of Long for County Judge, many residents are stunned either would even consider a future in politics much less higher office.

One long time Republican resident in Georgetown said “I’m speechless. I really am. For either of them to think they have a political promotion in their future is mind-boggling. Tone deaf politicians never learn. Apparently breaking the law and costing us a boat load of tax dollars doesn’t apply to them or they think we are stupid. Let em’ run, the voters will remind them who is in charge at the ballot box. We won’t forget. They may think we will, but we won’t, that I promise”. 

 

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Jana Duty’s Cold Case Conviction “Legacy” Ends In Disaster

Jana Duty

In what could be one of the biggest prosecutorial debacles in Williamson County since the 1987 conviction of Michael Morton, Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty’s “legacy” of Cold Case prosecutions took a major blow today. Duty, who has only tried two felony cases in her career, will see both end in complete disaster. One resulted in mistrial and the other has now been “REVERSED AND ACQUITTAL RENDERED” according to the Third Court of Appeals.

In 2013, Duty tried a murder cold case against Rex Nesbitt. Nesbitt was accused of killing his estranged wife, Vicki Lynn Nisbett, even though her body was never found. The case was appealed and this morning, the Third Court of Appeals ruled:

“Having reviewed the record and the parties’ arguments, the Court holds that there was reversible error in the trial court’s judgment of conviction. Therefore, the Court reverses the trial court’s judgment of conviction and renders a judgment of acquittal. Appellant is discharged from all further liability for the offense of murder as charged in the indictment. Having concluded that the evidence is legally insufficient to support appellant’s conviction for murder, we reverse the trial court’s judgment of conviction and render a judgment of acquittal.”

Now Duty has a tough decision to make. Does she file a Petition of Discretionary Review? According to sources, Duty has not been at the DA’s office in quite some time so this would create a challenge. Then again, since she has no real knowledge of appellate law, she could pick up the phone (from wherever she is) and order her appellate attorney to do so.

A PDR is merely a petition asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to review the findings. The petition for discretionary review must be filed within 30 days after issuance of the decision or order. If no PDR is filed within the allotted time-frame, then it’s over and double jeopardy laws would bar any further actions in this case, even if new evidence surfaced against Nesbitt.

This ruling deals yet another major blow to Duty’s already questionable judgement, credibility and competency to practice law. Her entire failed 2016 re-election campaign centered around the Nesbitt conviction. Duty published campaign mail pieces touting the conviction and even wrote a lengthy essay that was published by the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association about the case titled “No body, no murder? Not necessarily”.

Duty concluded the essay stating “Sadly, we did not accomplish our main goal, which was to bring Vicki’s remains back to her family. Instead, we will just have to be satisfied with a “guilty” verdict and a 42-year sentence.” Unfortunately for the victims family, that “guilty verdict” too, has ended in failure. Duty has only 15 days left in office, and for many, January 1, 2017 can’t come quickly enough.

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Defense of Cynthia Long’s Illegal Actions: 700k And Counting

The legal bills are flowing in for the taxpayer funded representation of Commissioners Cynthia Long, Lisa Birkman and Val Covey who were found earlier this month to have violated the constitutional rights of an applicant. Brad Stutzman will the Statesman reported yesterday a new batch of bills have hit and much more is expected.

To date, the county has spent just over $400,000 in legal fees, plus another $100,000 in settlements with two other applicants who joined the suit from 2013.

Stutzman reported:

On Tuesday, officials noted the County Auditor’s office has another $200,000 in legal fees are under review.

The above $200,000 does NOT include additional legal billing from the attorneys representing Long, Birkman and Covey from November and December.

Stutzman also reported:

When asked Tuesday, County Judge Dan Gattis distanced himself from commissioners Lisa Birkman, Cynthia Long and Valerie Covey. “(The late Commissioner) Ron Morrison and I did not ask those questions,” he said.

The legal bills tax payers are on the hook for, to represent Long, Birkman and Covey’s illegal actions stand at $700,000. But it gets worse for tax payers. Gattis and Hawes said it’s possible Lloyd could ask the judge to make Williamson County pay what it cost them to take the case to court. That could reach over $500,000. Dr. Paulo Pinto and many other citizens have publicly stated their disgust. Below is from the Statesman.

Dr. Paulo Pinto, a former director for the Williamson County and Cities Health District, chastised commissioners during the citizen’s comment portion of Tuesday’s agenda.

“From what I have read in the newspapers you have been found guilty of suppressing the rights of Mr. Lloyd as he applied for a job with the county,” Pinto said. “It’s very shameful that you would do that to begin with and that you thought you have a right to do that.”

“You’re spending our money,” Pinto said, in reference to the legal bills and out-of-court settlements.”You don’t have to pay us back”.

Pinto, who said he’s lived in Williamson County for 35 years, told commissioners they should publicly apologize.

Commissioners did not comment on Pinto’s remarks. Commissioners have in the past noted they are legally prohibited from commenting on issues not specifically posted on their agenda.

Commissioners may be legally prohibited from commenting but they are not prohibited from being respectful to those addressing the Court. Judge Gattis and Commissioner Madsen were attentive while Pinto spoke. However, Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman were not. Long, who has made it clear to many in her “inner circle” she is running for County Judge in 2018, ignored and refused to look at Pinto and typed on her lap top the entire time Pinto spoke. Birkman was also very disrespectful,  shuffling papers, typing on her lap top and stared in the opposite direction while Pinto spoke.

Commissioner Cynthia Long

We now know the legal bill outstanding owed by tax payers is at $700,000. We also know the months of November and December are not included in this total which could easily add another $100,000. Now we know the tax payers could also be liable for Lloyd’s legal bills. That could easily land at $500,000.

Given this, the tax payers of Williamson County will possibly be on the hook, paying close to 1.5 million dollars for the illegal actions of Long, Birkman and Covey. A price tag many feel Long, Birkman and Covey should pay themselves.

We are working on another MAJOR breaking story and will report on that later this afternoon.

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Judge Rick Kennon: Rated Top Judge In Williamson County

 Judge Rick Kennon

For the second year in a row, 368th District Judge Rick Kennon has received the top judge rating from the Williamson County Bar Association.

Kennon is known to be one of, if not the, hardest working Judges in Williamson County. He is highly respected for his knowledge of the law and impartiality. Kennon is also described as being one of the most even-tempered Judges in not just Williamson County but all of Central Texas. One long-time litigator stated “Williamson County is very fortunate to have such a great Judge. He serves his county well.”

Judge Kennon said “I consider it a great privilege to be a Judge and I am pleased and humbled to know I’m able to make a difference. My fellow judges and I work hard for the people of Williamson County and I am honored to go to work in the 368th every day.”

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Cynthia Long Violates Policy and the Lisa Birkman Meltdown

Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long, fresh off being found to have violated the US constitution, recently violated a countywide policy she voted to institute.

The December 6, 2016 Commissioner Court agenda stated:

Discuss, consider and take appropriate action on an increase to the Commissioner Precinct Two budget for PCN #1674.

This raised red flags to several people both inside of county government and out. This issue at hand was the transferring one of Commissioner Lisa Birkman’s employees from Pct. 1 Commissioner’s Office to Pct. 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long’s office. Apparently this employee was not going to be retained by the incoming Commissioner so Lisa Birkman and Cynthia Long decided to move the employee under Cynthia Long.

This move would have taken funds from Pct 1. Commissioner’s budget, moving them to Pct. 2 Commissioner’s budget. Problem is, there was not enough funds in Pct. 2 Commissioner’s budget to cover the expenses associated with the transfer. They were $826.00 short. In order to cover the deficit, Long placed the funds transfer on the agenda, essentially removing funds from another county department, violating a policy she put in place earlier in her tenure.

Other department heads and elected officials have attempted the same procedure and were told no by the court citing the policy.

Ashlie Koeing, Wilco Budget Officer testified that transferring money from one department to another would “open up Pandora’s box”, allowing other departments to move funds around creating a nightmare scenario for auditing purposes.

Koening indicated this would also increase the budget to the tax payer next budget year. Judge Gattis said “The policy is you can’t do it and we move on”. 

Long then said:“There were other ways I could have done this which wouldn’t have been appropriate”, a statement many viewed as shocking coming from someone who was found just last week to have violated a man’s constitutional rights. Judge Gattis maintained his stance this would violate policy but Long pressed on.

Covey at one point stated “If somebody can tell me why it’s not a good idea other than it’s a county issue I don’t see it”, essentially being fine with violating the policy. The Human Resources Director then said it could create issues for the incoming commissioner.

Long then stated “Judge what would be your solution.” Gattis then said “My solution, she would have to take a pay cut”.

Lisa Birkman then slammed her hand down, scoffed, tossed her ink pen and said “that’s unacceptable”. Birkman then said “That really is, that’s not fair to someone who has been here 12 years”.

Discussion went on in length. Ultimately a decision was made to transfer the funds out of the county “contingency” fund, not only violating the countywide policy, but also increasing the county budget for next year.

Gattis then stated the motion by Cynthia Long and seconded by Birkman to move funds from the “contingency fund” to fully fund the employees transfer. Gattis went to to say “Again I’m going to tell you I’m voting against this and I will continue to do so”. 

One county employee who commented on the condition of anonymity stated: “They just violated policy, a policy they created. The same one that they always point to telling everyone else ‘no’. I’m curious, did Long post that vacant position so everyone else could apply for it? This is typical Cynthia Long; ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Not a big surprise though, she was just found to have violated the Constitution of the United States so what’s a little county policy.”

One tax payer in the private sector said: “For Lisa Birkman to throw a snit fit is ridiculous. In these hard economic times, I personally feel she and Long should just be thankful their employee still has a job, but instead did another backroom deal at my expense. I’ve had to make many tough decisions and cut few long time employees salaries much more than 826 dollars, and hard as it was, those employees were thankful to have kept their jobs. It’s hard, and I hate it, but my business has to survive. I have employees and customers who depend on me. The private sector isn’t given the same luxury as the government who thinks it’s ok to dip in to a tax payer funded slush account. This smacks of crony politics and political favoritism. While private sector employees go without yearly raises and incur massive increases to insurance, these government employees are coddled with great benefits, yearly raises and still want more. But then again, it’s not their money and attempting to minimize it by saying “it’s only 826.00″ shows just how out of touch with tax payer money they really are.”  

 

 

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Hutto Councilman Michael Smith’s 3 Million Dollar Bond Boondoggle

Councilman Michael Smith

In 2008, a 3.3 million dollar bond was approved by residents of Hutto. The final vote was 361 FOR and 340 AGAINST. The bond initiative was for several items we will detail below. Ultimately, this past July, four Hutto City Council members rammed the project through in a controversial 3-4 split vote. The approval spends the 3.3 million dollars on a project that was much different than proposed to voters in 2008/2009 and ultimately passed by voters in the 2009 November election.

In 2008, a proposed project for Fritz Park was initiated. The “Fritz Park Master Plan” project specified several key areas the 3.3 million dollars would be used for. Specific costs established in the “Master Plan” which were publicly distributed are listed below.

Phase I Cost – $900,000.00 – The first phase of the Fritz Park Master Plan construction of elements as outlined in the plan adopted by City Council December 2008. This phase will include an internal walking trail within Fritz Park, possible fitness elements along the trail, tennis courts renovation, additional irrigation and electrical as plans are designed, an additional parking lot at the end of Park Street.

Phase II Cost – $1,368,000.00 – The second phase of the Fritz Park Master Plan construction of elements as outlined in the plan adopted by City Council December 2008. This phase will include but is not limited to walking trail along Park Street to the football and Baseball/Softball fields; redesign of both the football and baseball/softball fields; addition of a concession stand/storage/restroom facility and adjacent parking lot; playground units and entry point signage.

Park land Aquisitions – $1,000,000.00 – The citizens approved funding to obtain future parkland during the November 2009 bond election. The approval gives the City Council the authority to secure future parkland once property becomes available. The funding does not include the costs for improving the parkland but helps ensure that the City has parkland secured for future generations.

The initial proposal by Parks Director Mike Hemker was approved in late 2008. According to the city website, the final proposal was approved in August of 2009 by City Council and ultimately placed on the Nov 2009 ballot.

Even though every public presentation, bond-election-pamphlet, press release and news article focused on Fritz Park and the specifics of the project, the bond initiative was vaguely worded, giving council power to appropriate the funds as they saw fit. The bond narrowly passed by 21 votes.

Fast forward seven years. In July 2016, the current City Council, now facing a fast approaching bond expiration, proposed approving the 3.3 million dollars to be spent on a project far from what was sold to residents in 2008/2009. Council members Michael Smith and Ann Cano were on the council in 2009 and ultimately approved the final projects associated with the November 2009 bond initiative.

During discussion session in the July 7, 2016 meeting, Council member Nate Killough questioned the plan in detail, opposing the updated proposal. “So at the end of the day, we are going to pay 3 million dollars, rearranging the softball fields, we’re going to move the football fields 40 yards and out of that 3 million dollars the only thing we are gaining is a rest room/concession stand?” Parks Director Mike Hemker said “and about 6,000 square feet of storage but an acceptable restroom”.

The meeting continued for an hour with much debate, heated at times. The exorbitant costs of a “grand entryway” to the fields was mentioned by council member Valdez. Valdez equated the entryway to the Roman coliseum and stated he felt this could be done at a much less expense.

As discussion went on, further scaled down versions of the original plan approved by voters were also flushed out. There will be no bleachers or seats in the new stadium, only staggered rows of concrete to sit on. Seating, gone. The playground, gone. Batting cages, gone. The parking lot, gone. The internal walking trail, gone. Restoring the tennis courts, gone. Landscaping, gone. The 1 million for future park land, gone.

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According to documents obtained from the City, in 2010, the field restorations, concession stand and restroom alone would have cost $1,368,000.00 to build. Those three alone will now cost the entire 3.3 million. At one point during discussion, it was discovered the drawings of the proposed project given to the council that night were not even a true representation of what would be built.

Council member Tom Hines also expressed his concerns of the high costs and the lack of delivering on what the residents were proposed in 2009. “If we scale this back then maybe we can put the trail in, maybe we could put the play ground in, maybe we could install bench seats in the stadium and add the parking lot.”

Councilman Michael Smith then interjected: “We’ve we’ve had seven years of input on this now. People have had seven years if they didn’t like [sic] to say hey let’s move this somewhere else.”

Council member Killough then stated: “We go back to that whole thing of spending money just because it’s there and we feel we need to spend it, that’s a terrible notion to ever look at anything and say we’ve had that money and it’s been there for nine years and we need to spend it.”

Smith: “I’m not talking about spending money to spend money we have a contract with the citizens where we told then all those years ago we were going to build them a new park.”

Killough – “What are we going to give them for three million dollars?”

Smith – “A new park”

Killough – “It’s not a new park. We could do something more with that 3 million dollars. At the end of the day what I see, it’s the same thing we have right now. It’s just prettier there’s a bow tie wrapped around it and now there’s a bathroom. Minus the bathroom and the concession stand and maybe some storage it’s the same thing. For three million dollars I want more.”

Councilman Michael Smith, visibly upset, stated: “We had tons of input, we’ve had 7 years of citizens input, I think it’s bold for the seven of us up here to say we know better than all the citizens who input all these years.”

In response to Councilman Smith’s retort, Council Member Hines stated: “I have a hard time swallowing that. We aren’t bucking that. I think what we are bucking is it’s been 7 or 8 years and over that time costs have increased and we have lost buying power.”

Smith and Cano, who approved the original project in 09, then tried to justify the delays on the “bad economy”. Smith said “things were great before Ann and I got on Council and then it tanked”. Smith said it he “reigned in all of the projects because we couldn’t afford to do them.” 

Smith’s inaccurate economic assessment and a lack of action, delaying the project, cost tax payers dearly. Construction costs actually plummeted in 2009/2010 which would have offered more buying power with the funds already in place from the Bond election. Costs remained below January 2009 levels until late 2011. Now, construction costs have increased tremendously since bottoming in 2011.

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It’s important to note the 8.5 million dollar bond for street improvements began in 2012. The 5.5 million dollar bond approved YMCA began in March 2013.

After discussion, a vote was then taken to approve the project, removing the majority of items originally voted on and approved by the public in 2009. Nate Killough, Tom Hines and Lucio Valdez voted against the updated project – Michael Smith, Bettina Jordan, Ann Cano and Doug Gaul voted to approve.

Council member Michael Smith’s attempts to justify this action with excuses ranging from “the funds will expire if we don’t spend them” and “we had a contract with the citizens” to “the economy tanked” aren’t setting well with many tax payers.

One resident stated “I was told I was paying for one thing and was given something totally different. Sure I am getting a new field with a shiny new concession stand, but I was told my tax dollars would pay for MUCH more. This is just another example of poor leadership from our politicians. They could have scrapped the project, let the bond expire, put a new initiative with true costs on the ballot and let the citizens decide.”

Now, many are laser focused on the details of the new 53 million dollar bond package being proposed. We will continue providing details on that as they become available.

We will also be reporting on another violation by Commissioner Cynthia Long recently discovered. Stay tuned.

 

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Amid New Controveries Hutto Appoints New City Manager

After years of turmoil and poor leadership at the City Manager level, Hutto City Council has appointed an experienced professional to lead the city to the next level. Odis Jones, Hutto’s new City Manager, has 20 years of executive experience in local government and Economic Development organizations in both urban and suburban communities.

Jones, a staunch conservative, brings a strong, fiscally conservative approach to city government combined with a no-nonsense leadership mentality of holding department heads accountable.

Unfortunately, his appointment was not without drama by a few on the council. One even voted against his contract. Council member Nate Killough fought hard for Jones stating he will be a “beacon of leadership this city has sorely lacked for years”. Killough said “Jones will hold people accountable, be a hawk for city budgeting which will protect our tax payers and bring a wealth of knowledge from infrastructure and job creation to managed growth and stability. I am thrilled to have him on board.”

Jones arrives just in time for his first challenge, a new 53.5 Million dollar bond package that is now on the table. A portion of that is for a swimming pool; a 6 million dollar swimming pool. Navigating the “wants” ahead of “needs” mentality from a few embedded establishment insiders will be a task for Jones.

The City Council will eventually vote on placing the bond before the voters this May. This would increase taxes around $330 a year for residents of Hutto at a time when Hutto’s taxes are already the 5th highest of all 15 cities in the county.

The last bond package the citizens of Hutto voted on in 2009 ultimately ended in controversy this past July. In 2008, past council members sold the residents a bill of goods at a 3.3 million dollar price tag. The final product was approved this past July in a split 3-4 vote by Council. The final approval delivered a product nothing close to what was proposed to residents in 2008. This controversial move will be detailed in a future article.

Based on the current issues surrounding Hutto, many residents see the arrival of Jones as perfect timing. One resident stated: “When these politicians start treating the public sector as a private business, that is when you will see real change. They simply do not see tax dollars as “real money.” When they STOP giving themselves raises every year while the private sector can’t afford to do the same for their employees, then progress will be made. 

Another said: “How anyone can propose selling the notion we need a swimming pool to the tune of 6 million dollars to tax payers is beyond me. I’d like to know which council member thinks this is economically viable at such a vital time when they should be focused on economic development. This “tax and spend” mentality is what Americans across the nation are fed up with. Then again, it’s not their money so what do they care. Pandering to a few at the expense of everyone is going to stop. We will be watching and May is right around the corner. Enough is enough!”.

The majority of tax payers in Hutto have made it clear, the fat must be trimmed. Based on Jones’ history, he will do just that by placing the “needs” of Hutto ahead of “wants” of a few.

 

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Commissioners Release Statement on Federal Judges Ruling

A federal judge ruled Friday that three Williamson County commissioners violated a man’s constitutional rights when he was asked illegal questions during interviews for a constable’s position. Commissioners Cynthia Long, Lisa Birkman and a third Commissioner violated Robert Lloyd’s 14th Amendment rights.

Jay Aldis, one of the lawyers for the commissioners, said that “while the county commissioners disagree that they in any way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights, they are glad the litigation is finally over.”

“The only thing granted to the plaintiff was the same relief Williamson County agreed at the end of the trial would be an appropriate remedy — an extremely limited injunction that only prohibits the county from asking future candidates for a constable’s position on certain narrow questions, such as their views about same-sex marriage,” Aldis said.

The ruling also stated “At this point, she (Birkman) believes gay marriage is a settled issue, and is not political. She has not asked these questions of any candidate seeking appointment since the Constable interview in 2013.”

According to Spectrum News, on April 13th, 2016, two years after the Constable interview: “A question allegedly asked by a Williamson County Commissioner at a recent candidates’ forum has some worried about the county’s hiring practices. Sources say Lisa Birkman asked candidates in the run-off election for County Court at Law 2 about same sex marriage. The question was asked at a public forum and not behind closed doors.”

Many are now questioning the use of tax payer funds to pay for the defense of these Commissioners illegal actions. One of several emails received opined if it were one of the Commissioners employees tasked with conducting interviews, and the employee was found to have violated the rights of an applicant, would the Commissioner allow their employees employment to continue? Would the Commissioner hire a private attorney for their employee and have their defense paid by tax dollars?

Another email asked “Why did the Commissioners hire outside private attorneys when they have two attorneys, who directly represent the Commissioners Court under the Courts budget, who are each paid over 100k a year? Why did the Commssioners not use the highly skilled County Attorney’s Office Civil Division attorneys who handle all county and employee related litigation?

At the end of September, prior to trial, the legal tab to the tax payer stood at $500,000.00. This does not include the cost of trial, more press releases from the private attorneys, and the plantiff’s attorney’s fees. The tax payer could ultimately be on the hook for over one million dollars based on the illegal actions of these commissioners.

Regardless of the statement “while the county commissioners disagree that they in any way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights”, reality is, they did.

 

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Statesman Reporting on Commissioner Cynthia Long Lawsuit Ruling

Commissioner Cynthia Long

The Statesman is now reporting on Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long and two other Commissioners violating a man’s constitutional rights. We emailed Long for a quote but have not received a response.

We also asked Long for a comment regarding her future political aspirations. Over the past few weeks, Long has been contacting business and political leaders around the county stating she is strongly considering a run for County Judge, asking for their support.

As of the end of September, the tax payers are $500,000.00 in the hole, defending the illegal actions of Long and the two other Commissioners. This does not include the additional costs of trial and other legal expenses which have mounted over the past month. The final tab could be well over one million dollars. We will report the final bill when it becomes available.

Below is the report from the Statesman.

Judge rules Wilco commissioners violated law in constable interview

A federal judge ruled this week that three Williamson County commissioners violated a man’s constitutional rights when he was asked illegal questions during interviews for a constable’s position.

Read full story from the Statesman here.

 

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Federal Court: Commissioner Cynthia Long Violated Rights of Applicant

Commissioner Cynthia Long

A United States Federal Judge has found that the Constitutional rights of Robert Lloyd were violated by Commissioner Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman when he was asked questions about his religious affiliation, abortion and gay marriage during an interview.

In 2013, Lloyd applied to be appointed to the Constable Pct 3 position left vacant by the resignation of Bobby Gutierrez.

During the interview, Lloyd was asked illegal questions by Commissioners Cynthia Long and Lisa Birkman regarding his views on his religious affiliation, abortion and gay marriage. Lloyd and two other applicants later filed suit in Federal court. Commissioners reached a $100,000.00 settlement with two of the plaintiffs who joined Lloyd in the suit but Lloyd did not settle and continued the suit.

Lloyd later dropped his claim seeking monetary damages against the county but refused to drop the suit seeking an injunction and action against the Commissioners for their improper behavior. On Friday, the Federal Court found in his favor and not only issued the permanent injunction but also found those Commissioners violated his civil rights.

Prior to trial, the legal tab was over $500,000.00 and may end up costing tax payers over a million dollars in legal fees before all is said and done. We will have more on the final tab the tax payers owe based on the illegal actions of Commissioner Long and Birkman when that becomes available.

Below are excerpts from the suit:

The Court finds that Commissioner Long’s questioning deprived Lloyd of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Accordingly, the Court finds that Commissioner Birkman’s questioning deprived Lloyd of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that Lloyd’s Equal Protection Rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated when he was asked questions about his views on same-sex marriage, abortion, and religious affiliation during the course of an interview for an appointment to a Williamson County Constable’s position. The Court further finds that the appropriate remedy is the imposition of the following permanent injunction: Williamson County Officials and their agents are prevented from asking any questions, written or oral, of any applicant to an appointed Constable position, regarding their views on same-sex marriage, abortion, or religious affiliation.

 

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Sheriff James Wilson Offers Excuses on Transition

The Statesman picked up on a story reported earlier today about lame duck Sheriff James Wilson.

Wilson said that to avoid disruption among employees, he has not yet invited Chody to tour the sheriff’s office and meet staff members. During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Wilson said rumors have been spreading for months among employees about who Chody was going to fire.

If Chody had toured the sheriff’s office any earlier this year, Wilson said, then employees who met him would have been nervous about their jobs.

A very odd statement from Wilson who demanded access to the Sheriff’s Office in mid 2004 shortly after his Primary election victory. Wilson was not set to take office until January 2005 but insisted on being part of the budget process in mid 2004 and was later allowed to do so. Wilson also met with several of his future senior staff members mid 2004 regarding who he would and would not retain upon taking office, one issue that lead to a law suit filed by six employees he fired or demoted. That suit was later settled.

For Wilson to say he is worried about “rumors” and “disruptions” of his employees is disingenuous after his conduct in 2004. Wilson says he does “not have a war” with Chody`but openly opposed him, indirectly mocking Chody in campaign commericials during the 2016 Republican Primary election. Wilson endorsed one of his staff members, Lt. Mike Cowie to be his successor. Cowie came in third place in a five man race mustering only 13% of the votes.

Wilson said he is holding a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to respond to Chody’s comments. Wilson who expected transparency and access in 2004 should do the same for his successor, but instead has chosen to place his own self-interests ahead of those he serves; the public.

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Sheriff James Wilson: Epic Fail

It’s apparent December 31st can’t get her fast enough for many. Between Williamson County Sheriff James Wilson and District Attorney Jana Duty, there have been more Sasquatch sightings than those two showing up to work.

This is not only a travesty to the tax payers of Williamson County but it has also created issues with a smooth transition between incoming administrations. Wilson’s salary is close to 120k a year and Duty tops 150k.

This morning, incoming Sheriff-Elect Robert Chody apparently had enough of Wilson’s failures and took to facebook.

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Robert Chody and Shawn Dick are both consummate professionals who will competently lead and rebuild their respective offices, serving those who elected them to office well.

It’s reprehensible that Wilson, who has been reported to rarely show up to work for the past 10 months, has now made the transition difficult for Chody. This not only hurts Chody’s efforts to rebuild the badly suffering agency, but also the hard working employees who keep us safe and ultimately the tax payers.

With the departure of James Wilson, Jana Duty and Lisa Birkman, Williamson County has turned the corner in ridding itself of a few career establishment politicians. The lack of leadership from establishment politicians has cost Williamson County dearly. From law suits costing tax payers millions and millions of dollars, a county now 1.4 BILLION dollars in debt (that is over 2,000.00 for every man, woman and child) constant public embarrassments and an overall self-serving establishment mentality, tax payers have had enough.

2018 is right around the corner and there a few remaining establishment career politicians, who have contributed to these problems, already on the radar to join Wilson, Birkman and Duty in “early retirement”.

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Lisa’s Legacy: A Blue Precinct 1


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 *Updated 11/13/2016 7:54pm

The 2016 election left many stunned, not only nationally, but also here at home. Donald Trump devastated Hillary Clinton nationwide in places Republicans haven’t won in 30 years. But, in traditionally strong Republican Williamson County, Trump fared poorly. A glance at the countywide average shows Trump landing at 50.93%. In 2012, countywide, Romney captured 59.22% and, in what was believed to be the biggest shocker election year Williamson County had ever seen—the “Obama 2008” wave—McCain still managed to score 55.49%.

Even though much of Williamson County maintained its strong Republican advantage, in Precinct One every Republican contested by a Democrat scored sub 50%. The biggest shock locally of the 2016 night was the loss of a Republican County Commissioner’s seat in Precinct One. That left many, early in the night, wondering what could possibly have happened. How could a Democrat in Williamson County win a seat on the Commissioners Court? Simple; Republicans were out-voted in Precinct One and out-voted “big league”. A few establishment insiders pointed fingers, made ridiculous excuses and played the blame game in attempts to justify the loss. Others, however, saw the bigger picture of what had just happened. After breaking down the numbers, it’s simple to see how this happened.

There is some good news for Republicans in Pct 1, although alarming. We originally reported all Republican candidates lost in Pct 1, but that was incorrect. Of 12 Republicans on the ballot in Pct. 1 who were contested by a Democrat, ALL 12 came in under 50%, but seven of the eleven still pulled out very slim wins. Third party candidates in 10 of the 12 actually helped those Republican candidates to a win even (minus 1 race). Tony Dale was ultimately victorious in his race 55-45 with the help of several strong Republican boxes in Pct 2 but lost Pct one 48.65 – 51.34 . (See chart below) 

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How could this have happened when 2008 was supposed to be the worst Republican showing since the county flipped Republican two decades ago? Simple—Straight Ticket Voting. In 2016, Democrats dominated straight ticket voting in Pct 1. Back in 2008, Republicans maintained a 51.85% – 48.15% straight ticket advantage in Pct. 1 even though McCain came in at 48.78% to Obama’s 51.22% in Pct. 1.

In 2016, Democrats in Pct 1 took a 52.63% – 47.37% advantage in straight ticket voting and Trump came in at 39.98%; almost ten points lower than McCain in 2008. In Pct. 1, Democrat Straight Ticket voting increased from 8,001 votes in 2012 to 12,299 votes in 2016, a whopping 4,298-vote escalation. However, Republican straight ticket voting only increased from 10,368 votes in 2012 to 11,071 votes in 2016. An anemic 703 vote increase.

To put this into context, one race nearly lost in the 2008 race was the Pct. 1 Commissioner seat. Lisa Birkman managed to squeak out a win by only 321 votes in 2008, retaining the seat by a slim 50.56% – 49.44% margin over Democrat Mike Grimes. Adjusting the numbers to 2016 levels where straight ticket voting was only 47.37% Republican (vs. 2008 51.85%), Birkman would have lost straight ticket voting by 667 votes. Now, factoring in the top of the ticket drag from McCains 48.78% to Trump’s 39.98%, Birkman would have lost many more votes, ultimately resulting in a 45.87% loss.

In the opening paragraph, we said “in traditionally strong Republican Williamson County, Trump fared poorly”. But in fact, outside of Pct 1, he did not. Pct 1 was the only precinct where Trump lost. In fact, in precincts 2, 3 and 4, Trump not only won, but Republicans comfortably outpaced Democrats in straight ticket voting.  (See charts below)

In 2014, Judge Bill Gravell spoke at the Republican Party County Convention. In what many view as a prophetic statement about the future of the Republican Party in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, Gravell said “Republicans in Williamson County, especially in Pct 1, must see the reality of what is happening and take action now or we will pay dearly later”.

Judge Gravell went a step further by challenging everyone in the room to go out and work to register new Republican voters in their precincts. In fact, Judge Gravell returned to Pct 3, and with the help of Sun City Republican leaders, they registered thousands of new Republican voters. Pct 1 did not heed his warning and are now suffering the consequences.

Given the numbers we saw on November 8, it’s apparent the Republican Party has a lot of work to do in Pct. 1. Traditionally strong Republican boxes inside of Pct. 1 turned blue this election so wishful thinking, pointing fingers, playing the blame game and hoping this election cycle was an anomaly isn’t going to cut it.

The Republican Party better face the hard reality of what happened Tuesday night and make the necessary changes that are badly needed to get the Republican train back on its tracks, especially in Pct. 1. If they do not, trending blue may soon be the “new normal” in Williamson County. But that’s not Lisa Birkman’s problem anymore. Birkman is in the process of moving to Pct 3 and has stated a future political run there is not out of the realm of possibility.

 

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Jana Duty: Let The Information Purge Begin

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First she lied about the existence of relative information in an investigation. Then she deleted information from her computer which was only discovered through a forensic exam of her hard drive. Then she called herself a “computer dumb dumb”. Then she lied under oath. No, we aren’t talking about Hillary Clinton.

Now it appears, just yesterday, embattled District Attorney Jana Duty scrubbed her political facebook page of all controversial posts relating to her removal suit. As one well respected local attorney said: “the cover-up is always worse than the crime”….

Perhaps the upcoming hearing on Sept. 7th has her rattled. Or perhaps her attorney’s have finally managed to place a muzzle on her. Either way, Duty’s purge doesn’t erase history.

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Duty’s Date With Destiny

Judge Deitz has set a hearing date for September 7th to hear from both the State and embattled District Attorney Jana Duty regarding the issuance of citation.

If a citation is issued, the district judge may temporarily suspend the Duty and may appoint another person to perform the duties of the office. County Attorney Dee Hobbs has requested Duty be suspended once citation is issued “to guard the public welfare and protect the interest of the people of Texas”. Duty, sounding more like someone appearing before a parole board seeking early release said she “does not pose a danger to public welfare.”

Duty, who rarely shows up to the office, now states she will be on “vacation” and not able to attend as most view as another stall tactic. It is unclear if the judge will move forward with the September 7th hearing based on Duty’s “vacation”. Most speculate Duty will not testify at the hearing based on a reported tandem criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers.

It is unclear how fast the judge will rule on issuance of citation after the September 7th hearing. Hobbs is asking for an expedited trial date if citation is issued.

 

 

 

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Jana Duty Attempts To Rewrite History In Latest Motion

Williamson County DA Jana Duty Mugshots

Williamson County DA Jana Duty Mugshots

Embattled District Attorney Jana Duty filed a motion to dismiss the removal suit filed against her by County Attorney Dee Hobbs. The motion, filed by Duty’s defense attorney’s, cites Duty did not withhold evidence during a Capital Murder trial and a gag order she was ruled to have violated was unconstitutional.

Duty was found guilty and incarcerated last August on five counts of violating a court order. Duty then waived her right to appeal and served a ten day sentence in the County Jail. But now Duty says she did not do anything wrong even though she was found guilty and waived her appeal. Oddly, Duty not only admitted to guilt once, but twice when she copped a plea deal with the State Bar of Texas in June again admitting to committing the offenses she now says never happened.

Duty was also found to have intentionally and willfully withheld evidence in a Capital Murder trial by a State Judge. The Third Court of Appeals just ruled on this also. But, Duty, who never tried a felony case in her life (prior to the one that landed her in jail) says everyone from a State District Judge to the Court of Criminal Appeals is wrong and she is right, even though she admitted to the wrongdoings.

Regarding withholding evidence, Duty said she did not tell the defense about key evidence in the case because “they acted so horribly to me during the first trial, that I just didn’t even want to speak to them”. She also said she failed to tell the defense about software because “after the way I was treated throughout the entire trial, I really didn’t feel very magnanimous”. 

In May, Duty negotiated and accepted a plea deal acknowledging she lied in a Capital Murder trial and violated a court order. The Evidentiary Panel and Duty agreed and concluded that the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct were violated: 4.01 (a), 3.04(d), 8.02(a), 8.04(a)(3).

  • Disciplinary Rule 4.01 (a) Truthfulness in Statements to Others
  • Disciplinary Rule 3.04 (d) Violating Court Order
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.04 (a)(3) Dishonesty, Deceit, Misrepresentation
  • Disciplinary Rule 8.02 (a). Judicial and Legal Officials (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Duty was given an 18 month probated suspension in exchange for her guilty plea.

Duty says the “gag order” she was found guilty of violating is “unconstitutional”. A State District Judge, The Third Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals disagree. Duty appealed the validity of the “gag order” to those courts in mid 2015.  All three of her appeals were shot down.

Duty is now trying to rewrite history. She was found guilty of, waived appeal, plead guilty to and served time in jail for the same issues she now shes she did not do. Bottom line, the chief law enforcement officer in Williamson County is a convicted criminal who plead guilty to “dishonesty, deceit, misrepresentation, violating a court order and truthfulness ins statements to others”.

Duty, sounding more like a person up for parole than an elected District Attorney, stated she “does not pose a danger to public welfare.” Duty plead guilty to Professional Misconduct in 2011 by the State Bar of Texas. In direct defiance to the State Bar of Texas, after the plea agreement was signed, Duty publicly stated she wears her reprimand“as a badge of honor” and if given the chance again she would “do it all over again”. Duty held true to her words and again violated the code of professional conduct and plead guilty to committing several counts of Professional Misconduct.

One long time attorney stated “We all know what would happen if a defendant in a Capital Murder trial lied under oath and tampered with evidence; Duty would have them indicted and charged. But yet she feels she is above the law and should not be held accountable. Even worse, she is now trying to rewrite history as if none of her illegal behavior ever happened. Great example for our top law enforcement official to set.”

To distort the issues even further, Duty says her actions, at worst, reflect an error in judgment in dealing with opposing counsel and responding to the court in that case.”  Then again, there’s an old saying with convicts serving time in prison; “we‘re all innocent in here”.

 

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Removal Suit Against Jana Duty Clarified

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Several media outlets are now reporting on the removal suit filed by County Attorney Dee Hobbs against District Attorney Jana Duty. We have received several emails asking for clarification to the latest legal filings.

A year ago today, Jana Duty was convicted and thrown in jail on four counts of violating a court order. She was found “intentionally and willfully” withholding evidence in a capital murder trial and also lying under oath. Duty also plead guilty to several violations ranging from withholding evidence to untruthfulness to others and was sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas for Professional Misconduct for the second time in 3 years.

June 2016, two citizens filed a suit against Jana Duty to have her removed from office based on incompetence and official misconduct.

A visiting Judge was then assigned to the case.

The visiting Judge ruled he could not issue citation until the State (County Attorney) joined the suit.

County Attorney Dee Hobbs interpreted the law that he could not join the suit until the Judge ruled to issue citation.

This led to a temporary stalemate. Hobbs filed for clarification on the law.

To end the deadlock, yesterday, Hobbs filed a separate removal suit in his personal capacity and also in his official capacity as County Attorney.

This is essentially a new suit, separate from the citizens filing. It is expected Judge Lambeth will again recuse herself and Judge Stubblefield will again appoint a visiting Judge; more than likely Judge Dietz. This should only take a few days to complete.

Judge Dietz will more than likely hold a brief hearing to determine if he will issue citation. If citation is issued, the suit moves forward.

Breaking down the new lawsuit filed by Hobbs, it is essentially the same grounds as the original petition filed by the citizens in June.

“This conduct is evidence of Defendant’s incompetency because it demonstrates her gross ignorance of her official duties and also her gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties. Further, it is evidence of Defendant’s official misconduct because it demonstrates her intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of law and/or the intentional failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”

Hobbs is also asking for the immediate suspension of Duty pending removal.

Sources at the Courthouse have said Duty is again not showing up to the DA’s office. Duty’s annual salary is $152,000.00.

Sources at the courthouse have said things are at a standstill because the DA’s office is in disarray. Cases are not moving according to sources and this has had a dramatic and costly ripple effect to taxpayers. Duty recently said the large increase in the jail population was due to the county’s growing population. Duty also blamed District Judges for the back log of cases. According to many insiders, Duty is 100% to blame and has directly led to this serious issue. According to the Statesman:

“Mike Gleason, assistant chief deputy of the Williamson County sheriff’s office, told county commissioners last week that a state of flux at the district attorney’s office is causing fewer accused felons to agree on plea deals, leading to a more crowded jail.”

Duty’s attorney’s said they will review the suit filed by Hobb’s and respond accordingly. Duty refused to comment yesterday. Duty is well known for her out of control, profanity filled texts, facebook posts and emails. However, it appears her defense lawyers have tightened the leash and are now keeping her muzzled.

We will have more as the story develops.

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs Files Suit To Remove Jana Duty Also Asks For Immediate Suspension

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs has filed a removal petition in his personal capacity and also professional capacity as County Attorney to remove convicted criminal DA Jana Duty from office.

Hobbs cited in his removal suit where Duty willfully and intentionally withheld evidence, violated a court order, was convicted and thrown in jail and also again sanctioned by the State Bar of Texas for Professional Misconduct.

“This conduct is evidence of Defendant’s incompetency because it demonstrates her gross ignorance of her official duties and also her gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties. Further, it is evidence of Defendant’s official misconduct because it demonstrates her intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of law and/or the intentional failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”

Hobbs states “Defendant was incompetent and engaged in official misconduct” in the suit.

Hobbs has also asked for her immediate suspension.

“Pursuant to Section 87.017, Texas Local Government Code, the STATE respectfully requests the temporary suspension of JANA DUTY A/K/A JANA L. HUNSICKER, Defendant, from the public office of District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas. The STATE further request that the Court appoint another qualified and competent person to perform the duties of that office during the pendency of this case.”

Sources say Duty is not showing up to the DA’s Office again and absent from her post for the past month.

Click Here To Read Petition For Removal

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County Attorney Hobbs To File Removal Suit

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County Attorney Dee Hobbs said today he will be filing his own removal suit to oust convicted criminal, District Attorney Jana Duty, to end the stalemate currently in place.

Hobbs said he hopes to have citation issued quickly so he can move forward with removing Duty from office as soon as possible.

Hobbs did not comment on when he will file his removal petition but speculation is it will be filed possibly tomorrow.

Cases are not moving according to insiders at the court house which has had a dramatic and costly ripple effect to taxpayers. Duty recently said the large increase in the jail population was due to the county’s growing population. Duty also blamed District Judges for the back log of cases. According to many insiders, Duty is 100% to blame and has directly led to this serious issue.

Duty is still not showing up to the DA’s Office on a regular basis according to several sources.

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Blessed Are The Peacemakers Sign Goes Viral

13876405_1043998588969545_1450133545131556132_n Business Leader Jim Schwertner, Hutto Community Leader Tim Jordan, Pct 1 Commissioner Candidate Landy Warren, Judge Bill Gravell, Williamson County Sheriff Elect Robert Chody, Dale Ross, Georgetown Mayor, Constable Elect Vinnie Cherrone, Round Rock Police Commander Robert Rosenbusch, Hutto Police Chief Earl Morrison and Constable Kevin Stofle.

A resident from Hutto came up with an idea and sign design that has taken Central Texas by storm. The sign campaign was featured in the Advocate Newspaper:

Georgetown and much of Williamson County will soon be awash in blue and visible support for law enforcement. A public project initiated by a Hutto resident provided the first 1000 yard signs at no cost to county residents who wish to thank law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifice. The campaign was planned previously, but after Monday’s death of Sheriff Deputy Craig Hutchinson, it comes in time to recognize the threat to police officers nationwide, sadly, as close as Round Rock.

At a press conference on the Old Courthouse steps Tuesday, Judge Bill Gravell announced signs are available to the public at a number of sites around the county. Over 100 signs were handed out at the press conference, which wasn’t announced to the public—but many arrived eager to take them for their homes and businesses.

Sign production is being made possible by donations and support by some of the County’s most prominent leaders, including businessman Jim Schwertner, Hutto community leader Tim Jordan, Precinct One Commissioner candidate Landy Warren, Sheriff-elect Robert Chody, Judge Bill Gravell, and Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross. The signs themselves, and several hundred matching stickers were printed and rushed out for distribution,

The organizer, who wished to remain anonymous said, “I may have come up with the idea and design, but the real credit goes to those, who, without hesitation, accepted the challenge and immediately provided the funding necessary to make this a reality. This isn’t about me, nor do I want any recognition. This is about men and women in law enforcement. Those on the front lines who risk their lives every time they put on that uniform. This is about those who keep us safe and protect us from the evil that wishes to do us harm. These signs are the least we can do to acknowledge our gratitude and support. These brave men and women need to know they are appreciated when they drive past by the homes and businesses they unselfishly protect.”

Prior to the press conference, several individuals posted a preview on Facebook and received hundreds of requests for signs. Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross has already raised money for another 1000 signs, which will be available Wednesday in Georgetown.

Sheriff-elect Robert Chody says this campaign proves his point from a year ago that this community supports law enforcement; “The challenge was letting law enforcement see that. The leaders see it in their daily interactions with the public, but now the beat officer will get out and will see it in the signs or with the stickers in the windows. People are tired of seeing their law enforcement being attacked…I’m proud of Williamson County residents and I’m proud of our friend in Hutto who came up with this idea.”

Judge Gravell, speaking to a visiting State Trooper, said, “We want law enforcement to know when they put on that uniform, that we, as a community, have their back and to viciously take the lives of peace officers is absolutely unacceptable. If you make the choice to do that, there will be consequences.”

Mayor Dale Ross added, “‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ is true in Georgetown because we absolutely love our first responders. They always put our citizens first and they deliver that service and safety at the highest levels. They need our support in a very vocal way.”

***Signs will be available at no cost (one per person) while supplies last. For updates on supply and future shipments, visit the sponsor pages on Facebook; Tim4Hutto, Landy4Commissioner, JudgeBillGravell, MayorDaleRoss, and AdvocateNewspaper.

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