If you thought there was any chance that the Booger County Mafia would cede power gracefully after its candidates were voted out of office last Saturday in Hearne… well, you were probably smoking meth. We all knew this would be ugly, and so far it has been. On Wednesday, City Manager Pee Wee Drake was caught shredding documents at city hall, so I sent him a cease-and-desist letter (with copies to the FBI and Texas Rangers), and District Attorney Coty Siegert also warned Mr. Drake to back off immediately.
The same day, according to Councilman-elect Rodrick Jackson, Mr. Drake cut off the electricity of about 50 Hearne residents, most of whom happened to be political supporters of Mr. Jackson and the two other reform candidates, Councilwomen-elect Martha Castilleja and Margaret Salvaggio. According to Mr. Jackson, the city manager strongly implied that the disconnections were retaliatory.
“The people have spoken,” Mr. Jackson quoted Mr. Drake as saying. “They said they wanted change, and they’re going to get it.” Another witness separately confirmed that Mr. Drake made the statement to Mr. Jackson. When Mr. Jackson told Mr. Drake that his actions were official oppression (a crime), Mr. Drake replied, “I’ll do whatever I want,” according to Mr. Jackson. I emailed Mr. Drake asking for his side of the story, but he did not respond.
I have no trouble believing the statements that Mr. Jackson attributed to Mr. Drake, because the old crook has been doing whatever he wants for as long as he has been the city manager. Fortunately, Friday was his last day on the job.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Mr. Drake is headed for a quiet retirement. He may have escaped jail time on the last criminal charge, but he may yet get charged for the games that he has played with people’s utility bills. And I’m not just talking about the stunt that he pulled on Wednesday. As I reported last week, the Mafia is scared to death of a financial audit at city hall, mainly because of the suspiciously high utility bills for enemies of the Mafia and the suspiciously low utility bills for friends and members of the Mafia. According to Mr. Jackson, not all of the records in the city dumpster were shredded, and some of the surviving records were utility records and financial records. That’s not a coincidence.
IF COUNCILWOMAN GETS INDICTED, SHE’LL SING LIKE A CANARY
On Friday morning, the Robertson County News quoted Mr. Siegert saying he plans to seek a second-degree felony indictment of outgoing City Councilwoman Joyce Rattler. Last month, the News wrote about video evidence that Ms. Rattler cast a vote on behalf of a Hearne woman without that woman’s permission. Others allegedly were involved, and Mr. Siegert told the News his investigation is ongoing.
I’m told the Booger County Mafia is terrified, and for good reason. If Ms. Rattler is indicted and convicted, she could face 2-20 years in prison for each stolen vote (and I strongly suspect more than one vote was stolen, although that still wasn’t enough to save Ms. Rattler and her corrupt colleagues from electoral defeat). If Ms. Rattler is facing prison time, you can bet she will sell out everyone else in the Mafia in order to minimize her sentence.
The Mafia already knows this, which is why I would ask for protective custody or move to Brazil if I was Ms. Rattler. There are a lot of shallow graves in Booger County, after all.
A DIRTY ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR?
Last week, I reported new evidence that Hearne City Attorney Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, Jr. tampered with petition signatures in order to keep an initiative referendum off the ballot. My clients have long suspected that Robertson County Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock was playing both sides, pretending to be supportive even as she was helping Mr. Russ sabotage the initiative, which would have imposed an audit on city hall.
I’ve come to share my clients’ suspicions. According to Ms. Hancock, Mr. Russ submitted only 59 pages of signatures on April 6, 2016, and my client, former Mayor Milton Johnson, submitted only 59 pages a few days later, even though the front page of both copies was stamped by the city secretary and clearly indicated that there were 93 pages. In an email, Ms. Hancock indicated that Mr. Russ and Mr. Johnson both omitted exactly the same pages, namely those containing signatures gathered by Councilwoman Shirley Harris and Councilwoman-elect Castilleja.
Six days after I sued Mr. Russ for stealing some of the signatures, he quietly produced them in Ms. Hancock’s office. One might expect Ms. Hancock to inform the city immediately (1) that the missing signatures had been produced (particularly since the missing signatures were reported in the local press) and (2) that there were enough signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. No such luck. According to another email that I received from Ms. Hancock, she relied on Mr. Russ’s advice that she did not need to notify the city about the newly-produced signatures. Here’s an email that I sent to Ms. Hancock on Wednesday:
Something does not add up. I’ve spoken with Mr. Johnson, and he is sure that the signatures gathered by Ms. Harris and Ms. Castilleja were submitted to your office. And it seems highly unlikely that Mr. Russ would have withheld the Harris / Castilleja signatures and Mr. Johnson would have accidentally omitted the exact same signatures.
Even if that coincidence happened, I do not understand why your office did not notify Mr. Johnson that there were less than 93 pages if (1) that was the amount of pages stamped on the front, and (2) all the local press was reporting that the petition included 517 signatures, not 318 signatures. Finally, I do not understand why your office failed to notify the city that Mr. Russ had turned in the missing pages on April 27, or why it failed to tell the city how many of the newly-produced signatures could be certified.
On April 21, Mr. Johnson sued Mr. Russ for withholding some of the signatures, and that was reported by KBTX the same day. If Mr. Russ coughed up the signatures six days later, that’s pretty compelling evidence of his guilt. Yet you remained silent and, according to your email, you relied on his advice that you did not need to send a letter to the city. Did you ask [the district attorney] for his opinion, or did you just rely on what Mr. Russ told you?
If these questions remain unanswered, I will need to take your deposition for City of Hearne v. Milton Johnson, Cause No. 16-04-19,991-CV.
Ms. Hancock has not responded, so I guess I’ll be taking her deposition. Or maybe I’ll just amend the lawsuit and name her as a defendant. I’m not inclined to show mercy toward those who collaborate with the Booger County Mafia.
MICHAEL WERLINGER IS NOT JUST A LOSER, HE’S A SORE LOSER
Outgoing Councilman Michael “Sticky Fingers” Werlinger assures us that he is not bitter about being voted off the council. It’s only the second time in one year that the voters have thrown him out of office (never mind the race for justice of the peace that he lost in 2014), so why would he be bitter? Consider his unintentionally hilarious Facebook screed against Councilwoman-elect Castilleja, the woman who will replace him on the council:
Almost 11 years I served my city. Hardly ever got one ” thank you” or ” y’all are doing a good job”. Mostly it was, ” y’all are crooks” or ” our utilities are too high”.
That’s ok. I know I did the best I could do within my abilities. The city of Hearne has 1 million in reserves. That’s 1.5 million more than when I was first thrown into the fire.
That’s right, my first meeting we voted to approve a loan for 500k just to pay bills while the city was in the red.
I have lived within the city limits and met all required stipulations to run for the offices I’ve held. That’s more than I can say for the person who ran against me. I intend to prove it… And I don’t want my position back. I was voted out, and I accept that.
But I would NEVER commit a crime such as my opponent did. She falsified a government document. Does she think she’s Hillary and can just get away with it? I put in an open records request and she used her mother’s address as the one she’s been living at for at least the last 6 months. I know that’s a lie, because I saw her moving into a house on Rose Marie just 1.5 months ago. She lived outside of town and I can prove it.
I don’t want my position back. I was voted out and I’m happy with it, but a person meeting the criteria lined out within the election code should be allowed to sit in that seat.
And I was called a crook, shake my head or smh
Spread this and don’t let Martha take a seat that she committed a crime to take.
Instead of running for city council, maybe Sticky Fingers should consider running for village idiot. The boy wonder expects us to believe that he would NEVER commit a crime. Seriously? Has he already forgotten how he earned the nickname “Sticky Fingers”? That would be because he used city funds to buy college football tickets. He only got away with it because the limitations period had already lapsed when the misappropriation was discovered.
Worse, Sticky Fingers publicly — and falsely — accused Ms. Castilleja of a crime. That’s defamation per se, and you can get sued for that, even in Booger County. Sticky Fingers probably thinks he’s safe because his mom is the court reporter for District Judge Robert M. Stem, a kingpin in the Booger County Mafia. But if a local attorney filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Castillega, and I signed on as co-counsel, then Judge Stem would have to recuse himself (he has to recuse from all of my cases) and Sticky Fingers would suddenly lose his ace in the hole.
If that happened, Sticky Fingers would have to answer questions about all kinds of unpleasant subjects, like all the money that he and his mom have received from the City of Hearne while he served on the city council. Naturally, I would post his videotaped deposition on this blog, along with any bank records, emails, or tax returns that I deemed interesting. And I always share that kind of stuff with the Rangers, the FBI, and the grand jury.
If I seem to have a bone to pick with Sticky Fingers, there’s a reason. Ms. Castilleja has lived with her elderly mother for the last four years — in the City of Hearne — as a caretaker. Her mother fell a few days ago, sustained a serious head injury, and is in the hospital. The prognosis is not good. Yesterday, while Ms. Castilleja was arranging hospice care for her mother, Sticky Fingers was posting nasty falsehoods about her on Facebook. The little twerp even posted her drivers license number on Facebook, claiming that purported drivers license information he found on a website is “proof” that she lived outside the city.
Most people would have better sense than to accuse someone of a crime based on address information pulled from the Internet, but then nobody has ever accused Michael Werlinger of being smart. Ms. Castilleja can prove that she was a legal resident of Hearne, and Mr. Werlinger’s big mouth could end up costing him a lot of money. #StickyFingers #SoreLoser #WhatMeWorry?
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Bryan F. “Trey” Russ, III is married to the sister of Michael Werlinger. Mr. Russ is married to the daughter of Marsha Rekieta, Judge Stem’s court coordinator.