Several employees of Cypress Creek EMS have now testified before a federal grand jury probing the ambulance “charity” that provides 911 service for 600,000 people in northwest Harris County.
You would think the investigation into possible fraud would have the elected members of ESD#11 demanding answers. They were elected to protect your 911 tax money.
Instead your watchdogs are fighting the release of federal grand jury subpoenas that will tell taxpayers what the feds have been investigating for two years.
Cypress Creek EMS started as a volunteer service but is now one of the swollen bureaucracies of fire and ems services spread across Harris County. CCEMS alone has a budget of over 20 million dollars.
News of this major development in the two year-long federal investigation follows another sex harassment scandal involving, CCEMS executive director, Brad England and comes just weeks before two incumbents on the ESD board, Fred Grundemeyer and Josh Fetner, seek re-election.
In the last two years the ESD board has sat silent while CCEMS has refused to tell taxpayers who is on their payroll or justify questionable overtime.
CCEMS has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills, mostly fighting our attempts to get financial records, records the ESD commissioners apparently don’t care to see. CCEMS is facing trial on criminal charges of withholding charity records from the public.
Our investigation began with discoveries regarding the CCEMS boss was running up huge tabs with ambulance billing money at an expensive steakhouse. ESD#11 taxpayers currently pay more than nine million dollars in taxes to help subsidize the 911 service. CCEMS is actually allowed to collect all the insurance payments for the government 911 service and keep it all. Then they hit taxpayers up for the rest of what they want.
“Instead of protecting taxpayers, the majority of the ESD#11 board took a pledge of allegiance never to replace CCEMS with another company. Really? The feds have the tape,” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting.
“They have attacked us for daring to ask to see the records, instead of worrying what they will show. Any public official who takes a pledge to a contractor should be thrown out of office.“
ESD#11 has asked the Texas attorney general to now hide the contents of their grand jury subpoenas, even though the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI don’t object to their release. We do know, ESD commissioner campaign records are among the documents handed over after evidence surfaced that CCEMS’ employees helped run the campaigns of three ESD board members who are elected to police CCEMS.
“If that isn’t the fox guarding the henhouse, I am not sure what you call it. Some of the ESD members used to be on the CCEMS board and now police their buddies. Insane,” says Dolcefino.
“If Harris County commissioners want to find money to pay for needed flood control, they should start by dismantling these little empires that sprang up from good intentions,” says Dolcefino. “we have one sheriff’s department, but I bet no one has a clue just how many, so called “volunteer” fire departments and ambulance services we have. Makes for one hell of a lot of chiefs doesn’t it?”
The election for two new ESD commissioners who police Cypress Creek ems is just a few weeks away. For information on polling locations go to the ESD#11 website. In the last election, less than 1 percent of voters showed up.
You get what you vote for folks.
While you are on the website, look at the public agenda and minutes. See if they even ask about the investigations in their public meetings, or if they demand answers and if they tell you what the government is investigating, regardless of the outcome.
At the last ESD#11 meeting the commissioners did talk about the PR firm they have now hired to help them combat bad publicity, to tell the truth they say.
To save you money, dolcefino consulting offered to conduct an unedited interview with ESD#11 president, Tommy Ripley. We would put a copy on dolcefino.com and we would give them a copy. Wouldn’t charge them a dime of your money.
So far crickets. And I’ll do one better. I will open the offer to Josh Fetner and Fred Grundemeyer too. All of you. Let’s have a roundtable broadcast live on Facebook for all the folks to watch.
They will make it hard for a lot of you to protect your money. The election day is different than the runoffs, and a few hundred thousand folks will have to go to a fire station to vote on that, and then another place to vote on 911 officials.
“They like it when you stay home,” says Dolcefino. “I say don’t vote if you like paying all those taxes.”