The recall election for Hearne City Councilwoman Maxine Vaughn ends on Tuesday, and the local political machine wants everyone to know that the negroes are trying to take over the city government. Hide your women and children!
Dennis Phillips, the publisher and editor of the Robertson County News, published a libelous column on Thursday, falsely claiming that when Councilwomen Hazel Embra, Joyce Rattler, and Lashunda White were running for office last Spring, they came to his office along with local activist William Foster and outlined a “plan to unseat the current city government and take over Hearne.”
Not one to be subtle, Dennis connects William Foster to Quannell X, the black radical from Houston, and implies that the three councilwomen – all of whom are black – are trying to impose something radical and racial on the city. He even lists the city officials whom the councilwomen supposedly said they intended to fire. The problem? Dennis fabricated the story. Why? As explained below, Dennis has a serious conflict of interest now that he and his employer have accepted a taxpayer-funded loan from the political machine.
I spoke with Dr. Foster, as well as Councilwomen Embra and White, and they had a radically different account of the meeting with Dennis. For starters, Ms. White did not attend the meeting. Ms. Embra and Ms. Rattler went to Dennis’s office at his invitation, but nothing was said about firing anybody, much less taking over the city government.
Instead, according to Dr. Foster and Ms. Embra, Dennis spoke about how he disliked Ms. Vaughn – the very councilwoman whom he is now defending – and how he would never publish anything about then-Councilman Matt Gomez because Gomez had assaulted one of Dennis’s friends. (You may recall that Gomez, the son of Mayor Ruben Gomez, made local headlines for multiple alleged assaults, then he made national headlines for posting a racist rap video on Youtube). According to Ms. Embra, Dennis even showed them a photo on his computer screen of the injury allegedly inflicted by Gomez.
This comports with my own experience. Not content to report the news, Dennis wants to make the news. He wants you to know that he is a player and a kingmaker. He also has a tendency to pin medals on his own chest. In his Thursday column, for example, he touted himself as a “business owner.” Unless something has changed very recently, however, Dennis is an employee of the Robertson County News, not the owner. This makes me wonder whether Dennis has gone on any helicopter rides in Iraq with former NBC News anchor Brian Williams.
But I digress. With respect to race-baiting, the city’s economic development director, Kent Brunette, was even less subtle than Dennis. In his column in the Robertson County News, Kent wrote that the three council members and former Mayor Milton Johnson (all of whom are my clients) wanted Vaughn off the council because they were“[a]ngered that someone of their own race didn’t support their political agenda.”
So why are these white boys lying, race-baiting, and otherwise playing so dirty? To understand that, you need to read BoogerCountyMafia.com. Kent is an ally of the Booger County Mafia, Dennis is a wannabe member, and Councilwoman Vaughn is a tool (Josef Stalin would have referred to her as a “useful idiot”). If she loses the recall election, the mafia loses control of city government, city finances get audited, and the results get sent to the grand jury. Surely that makes Kent nervous.
The recall election is not about race, you see, it’s about money. Specifically, it’s about taxpayer money that ends up in the pockets of the mafia and its allies. Vaughn served on the 4B Sales Tax Board, which awards taxpayer money to economic development projects, and the three councilwomen as well as Mayor Johnson have been asking some very inconvenient questions about where the money is going.
For starters, let’s consider the fact that Dennis Phillips and the Robertson County News received more than $30,000 in taxpayer funds for the purposes of upgrading the newspaper’s offices. If Dennis had a shred of journalistic integrity or professional ethics training, he would have known that this creates an appearance of impropriety. Specifically, it creates the appearance that he and the newspaper have been bought off.
After all, it’s hard to miss the fact that Dennis has become such a staunch defender of the status quo on the sales tax board. He may have disliked Maxine Vaughn before, but now he is now an avid supporter. It’s also obvious that he refuses to print any negative information about the board, that he never asks where the money is going, and that he ignores (or maligns) the people who do try to ask those questions.
Several weeks ago, a former tax board member told me that nobody keeps track of the money after it is awarded by the tax boards. The funds are awarded as loans which can be forgiven if the recipient meets certain conditions, but apparently no one monitors the loans to determine whether the recipients have actually met the conditions.
I have to wonder if that’s because so much of the money has gone to the Booger County Mafia and its allies. A hotel that is partially owned by City Attorney Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, Jr. received two loans of $75,000.00 each, a restaurant owned by the sister of Mayor Ruben Gomez received two loans of $40,000.00 each, and an RV park owned by Councilman Michael Werlinger and his mother received an $85,000 loan. [UPDATE: After posting this story, Councilwoman Embra informed me that Councilman Werlinger’s mother received a second loan for $85,000.00. Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, I had requested all documents pertaining to the loans. So why wasn’t I provided a copy of the second loan?]
For some reason yet unexplained, the city was unable to provide signed copies of the loan agreements awarding funds to the hotel and the restaurant. And apparently those loans already have been forgiven, even though there are no documents indicating whether the hotel and the restaurant owners complied with their loan agreements.
So where is Kent Brunette in all of this? As economic development director, it’s his job to support the work of the sales tax boards, so it seems that he should shoulder the responsibility for monitoring compliance with the terms of the loans. Apparently that is not happening, so Kent needs useful idiots on the city council to provide him with political cover. I guess it should come as no surprise that in his February 23, 2015 letter to the Bryan-College Station Eagle opposing the recall election, Kent praised Vaughn for – of all things – her service on the sales tax board.
According to Councilwoman Embra, Kent gets paid $4,260 per month, but he doesn’t seem to spend much time at work. So what is he doing? The city’s economic development corporation does not even have a website (neither does the City of Hearne, for that matter), and that makes a pretty poor impression when you’re trying to attract new businesses. If you’re in the mafia, it seems that you get paid just for being in the mafia, regardless of whether you’re actually doing your job.
Mayor Gomez, for example, has worked out a nice little scam with City Manager Pee Wee Drake (yes, his real name is “Pee Wee”) to convert the unpaid job of mayor into a paying position. Pee Wee doesn’t work on Fridays, so Gomez gets paid to serve as acting city manager.
Rusty Russ, meanwhile, makes about $4,700 per month for serving part-time as city attorney, plus $150 per hour for any work on litigation. That is at least twice as much and perhaps three times as much as the average pay for city attorneys in municipalities of similar size, so it is little wonder that he fought so hard to block the recall election. Like Kent, he doesn’t want to get thrown off the gravy train.
Robertson County has made some major strides against the mafia since 2012, when the drunk and corrupt District Attorney John Paschall was voted out of office. The county made further progress against the mafia in November, when County Judge Jan Roe was voted out of office, and again in January, when Paschall was indicted by a special grand jury (but that didn’t keep Councilwoman Vaughn from hiring Paschall to try to block the recall election).
If you want to get the mafia out of Hearne, then vote to recall Maxine Vaughn on Tuesday. If you like all the sleaze and corruption, then by all means vote to keep her.
On Thursday, two people sent me copies of a flyer written by Mayor Johnson, and he has given me permission to post it on this blog. I don’t have personal knowledge of everything in the letter, but I am well aware of some of the issues that he raises. He is asking some questions that should have been asked – and answered – a long time ago.