Hearne City Attorney resigns abruptly. Good riddance.

Hearne City Attorney George Hyde and his assistant, Sarah Griffin, abruptly resigned this afternoon just hours after I sent them an email asking inconvenient questions about a recall petition for my client, Councilman Rodrick Jackson.

george-hydeMr. Hyde also serves as the managing partner for Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal Hyde & Zech, P.C., a law firm headquartered in Austin, and in his resignation letter he suggested that his firm was withdrawing because of all the discord and dysfunction in the city. What he failed to mention was his firm’s outsized role in creating the discord and dysfunction.

For months, Mr. Jackson and my other clients, Councilwomen Shirley Harris and Martha Castilleja, have accused Mr. Hyde and Ms. Griffin of representing the interests of the Booger County Mafia, particularly Interim City Manager John “Boy Wonder” Naron, over the interests of the city council.  In my November 2, 2016 blog post, I suggested that Mr. Hyde and his firm may have formed an unholy alliance with Boy Wonder wherein the firm received outrageous fees in exchange for representing the interests of Boy Wonder against the council. Consider this excerpt:

In a two-month period, the city’s new law firm billed more than $29,000.00 in legal fees.  That’s far more than the outrageous fees that Rusty Russ charged when he was city attorney. The city council was not provided an itemized bill for the charges, so Mr. Jackson, Ms. Harris, and Ms. Castilleja tried to block the expenditure until details were provided.  According to Mr. Jackson, however, Asst. City Attorney Sarah Griffin informed them that the bill had already been paid by Mr. Naron, and she said the city charter gave him the authority to make the payment without council approval.

If Ms. Griffin’s firm was deeply involved in major litigation on behalf of the city, I might be able to understand a $29,000.00 bill.  But Mr. Jackson said he is not aware of the firm’s involvement in any civil litigation.  So what were the charges for? I suspect Boy Wonder has been running up legal bills for his own projects.

In the November 2 post, I included a link to a November 1, 2016 letter that I sent to Mr. Hyde and Ms. Griffin regarding their suspicious behavior, and you can read that letter by clicking here.  On the following day, they sent me a snarky response, implying that only they had the right to represent Mr. Jackson, Ms. Harris, and Ms. Castilleja. In other words, they suggested that my clients had no right to use another attorney besides them. … Read more

Alcohol sold illegally at Texas convention of liquor cops

Oh, the irony. The executive director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission allowed illegal alcohol sales at a regional conference of state liquor cops in Austin,  according to a retired TABC supervisor,  and that could lead to criminal charges against the director and one of Sherry Cookher cronies.  The agency also paid its deputy executive director more than $12,000 per month to attend a police academy full-time at government expense, even though his job does not involve any law enforcement duties (more on that below).

Darryl Darnell, a retired TABC supervisor who now works as a deputy constable, filed a complaint on November 7, 2016 against Executive Director Sherry Cook because the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators sold alcohol without a permit during its September conference.  That might not be a big deal but for two things: (1) as chairwoman of NCSLA’s southern region, Ms. Cook presumably was in charge of the conference; and (2) Ms. Cook’s agency sends regular people to jail for selling alcohol without a permit.

And then there’s what happened after Mr. Darnell filed his complaint. On Monday, TABC Captain Andy Pena called to speak with Williamson County Pct. 2 Constable Rick Coffman (Mr. Darnell’s current employer), but he was routed to Sgt. Leo Enriquez.  I spoke with Sgt. Enriquez yesterday, and he told me that Captain Pena said he was calling as a “professional courtesy” to let Constable Coffman know that Mr. Darnell had filed a complaint against Ms. Cook, whom he identified as the TABC executive director.

That phone call might be a felony.  According to Texas Penal Code § 39.06(b), “[a] public servant commits an offense if with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he discloses or uses information for a nongovernmental purpose that: (1) he has access to by means of his office or employment; and (2) has not been made public.” Mr. Darnell filed his complaint against Ms. Cook solely as a private citizen, and he made no mention of the fact that he worked for the constable. … Read more