Family Injustice

Highway6landfill

If you don’t want to see a 17-story tall tower of smelly, nasty garbage rising along a beautiful stretch of Highway 6 near Hempstead, now is your chance to say NO.

The Texas Commissioner on Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing Tuesday night on the proposed Pintail garbage dump. If you are wondering why this hearing is even happening, the answer is simple.

Apparently holding secret meetings with government officials, throwing away critical evidence, and getting the engineering wrong doesn’t mean much to the Texas Government bureaucrats paid to protect communities from bad landfills.

Green Group was accused of doing all of those things and more, and their first application for a garbage dump on Highway 6 was strongly rejected. That also doesn’t seem to matter in Texas.

Green Group got to submit another landfill application, even though both the City of Hempstead and Waller County have landfill ordinances in place that make it impossible to put the garbage dump there.

The Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead has spent more than 1 million dollars fighting the dump. The city of Hempstead has spent hundreds of thousands more. The TCEQ knows Green Group didn’t play by the rules.

So what message is Governor Abbott sending to the Citizens of Waller County?

Struggle to spend your life savings to fight an unwanted garbage dump that threatens the environment of a beautiful county. Expose political corruption. Secret meetings. Prove the landfill will damage the water supply.

Do all that and be told none of that mattered.

That is wrong. The TCEQ should have the guts to say to Green Group, sorry, but you’ve lost your chance. We are teaching the good people in Waller County that all that matters are having former TCEQ Officials on the payroll, have friends in high places. Follow the fight on exposegreengroup.com.

And give the TCEQ a piece of your mind. 7 pm. Hempstead High School, 801 Donoho Street

One “NO” just wasn’t enough for Green Group, and now, folks in Hempstead are gearing up for round 2.

It looks like we can’t get the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to do the right thing.

The first of the public meetings on the “new” landfill permit begin on Tuesday, October 25th at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to make comments and ask questions during Informal Discussion and Formal Comment Periods. The TCEQ says a written response will be sent to each person who submits a formal comment.

What is it going to take for these guys to finally say, “Enough already, we surrender!”?

This summer, residents learned that despite their efforts and a permit denial from the TCEQ, the Georgia based garbage company had exercised their option to purchase property near Highway 6. The company has since filed a new application with the TCEQ for the same land, and the same purpose: to build a gigantic tower of trash right next to the City of Hempstead.

The new application calls for an even taller landfill – nearly 100 feet taller – for a total elevation of over 500 feet above ground. That’s almost 2 football fields tall, and the capacity has increased too. Green Group wants to add more than 19 million more cubic yards to the capacity, and put the bottom of the landfill nearly 23 feet deeper than originally planned. The new landfill would be large enough to hold 4 and a half Empire State buildings. Green Group also expects the landfill to be in operation for 67 years!

And isn’t it funny that those same experts who were found to have spoiled the evidence of the first permit application, are the same experts who have filed the new permit application. Hopefully this time, they’ve held on to that crucial soil sample evidence.

Since the TCEQ and Green Group don’t appear to have heard us yet, let’s pump up the volume.

Follow the fight against Green Group on ExposeGreenGroup.com.

A new website will keep tracks on the growing battles across Texas to stop the invasion of towers of trash, courtesy of Green Group.

Exposegreengroup.com will detail the community battles against the Georgia Garbage company and their highly-connected lobbyists, and the growing backlash against Green Group nationwide.

The battles already rage in two Texas counties.

Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead have spent nearly $1 million dollars fighting plans for a Green Group garbage dump on Highway 6. The TCEQ has rejected one permit application, but Green Group simply won’t quit.

In Caldwell County, residents are battling a planned Green Group dump along Highway 130 near Lockhart. So far politicians there have opposed the landfill, and exposegreengroup.com will remind them of the political consequences of selling out.

The site will also detail, for the first time, audio recordings of Waller County Officials, interviewed during an investigation by the Texas Rangers. The local District Attorney has broken his public promises to continue the investigation, even though a jury slapped former public officials for violations of Texas transparency laws.

Exposegreengroup.com will also detail the history of the fight underway in Alabama against a coal cash facility run by Green Group. Residents there have paid the price for trying to stand up to the assault on their environment.

The site will detail the lobbyists being used by the company to influence Texas Public Officials and will update the fights through the TCEQ and State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Visit Exposegreengroup.com – because the public has a right to know!

The Caldwell County District Attorney should apologize to taxpayers.

On November 3rd, Dolcefino Consulting filed a request under state law to look at e-mail and phone records of Caldwell County Commissioners. Our mission was simple, examine when Caldwell County officials found out about the proposed Green Group tower of trash.

We substantially narrowed the request after the DA asked, we waived the rules to give them more time to respond, and we offered to pay reasonable costs to produce the records. We told them to withhold confidential information. We even agreed to delay production until after Christmas.

In January, DA Fred Weber notified us they were going to ask the law firm of Allison Bass to respond to our requests. The law firm had been retained in December despite our agreement with the DA.

We have history with Allison Bass.

In Waller County, Allison Bass charged taxpayers close to $90,000 to fight release of public records for months, finally producing documents that helped unravel the secret meetings between Green Group and politicians there.

So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Allison Bass charged Caldwell County taxpayers $13,853 dollars for less than 8 weeks’ work, $210 dollars an hour to travel and review documents, even though phone records can be reviewed for free by public officials.

The contract with Allison Bass requires them to submit monthly billing, yet the bill for work in January and February wasn’t delivered to Caldwell County until July 6th.

This is a giant waste of money, money that could be used to fight Green Group.

DOCUMENTS
Allison Bass invoice #1497 received 07062016
Allison Bass invoice #1675 received 07062016
Retainer Agreement – Open Records

Some folks just don’t take no for an answer.

Today, Waller County residents learned the Georgia garbage giant Green Group has now bought hundreds of acres along Highway 6, a signal the garbage peddlers still want to build a 17 story tower of trash in the beautiful stretch of farm land right next to the City of Hempstead.

The news comes nearly 5 years to the day of the beginning of the Highway 6 landfill fight, when residents first learned of plans for the landfill. Since then, a million dollar fight has been waged, and folks thought it might be over when the TCEQ threw out the landfill application earlier this year.

Green Group had an option on the 700 plus acreage since 2011, and had run out of options to either buy the land or move on. Despite the state ruling against Green Group, the company has gone ahead and bought the land, a clear signal the fight is far from over.

Green Group may still be fighting, but the Waller County Politicians who kept the deal secret from voters paid the price at the polls. A Waller county jury punished the county for violations of transparency laws.

The Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis may also feel the heat. He claimed he would investigate possible wrongdoing in the wake of the testimony in the civil trial, but a year and a half after getting documents from the Special Prosecutors, Mathis appears to have done nothing.

If early documents are accurate, Green Group likely paid up to 9 million dollars in total for the property. The previous landowners may be eligible for a royalty on every ton of trash put in the site.

Of course, Green Group has to start all over again. The question is how? Green Group would need to sue the state, or try to get a new permit on a slightly different location on the land they own.

“Green Group has bought a bunch of former TCEQ bureaucrats as lobbyists, who will likely try to slip this garbage through the legislature as well,” says Wayne Dolcefino, a consultant for a Waller County landowner. “In case they don’t already know, they have a fight on their hands. If they want to raise cows on that land, god bless. If they want to bring in garbage, get ready for another dose of whoop ass.”

There is new evidence the people of Waller County were systematically cheated by a shoddy criminal investigation into the backroom deals behind the proposed Highway 6 landfill.

Until now we only knew that a Texas Ranger had testified to a Waller County Grand Jury in October of 2013, right before the panel chose not to pursue the case.

The record of the Ranger testimony is now missing, or was never recorded in the first place as it should have been. We also knew in January that none of the details of the Ranger Investigation, or audio tapes of interviews conducted were put into the files of the Special Prosecutor. We also knew that in the fourteen months since the landfill civil trial, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis had made no attempt to see if the Rangers records existed, despite claiming he wanted to reopen the case.

We have the records now, and the Rangers have a lot of explaining to do.

It now appears Texas Ranger Shane Ellison testified to the grand jury before finishing his written report on the investigation. In fact, some of the reports detailing key interviews were not even written until late January of this year, two and a half years after those interviews with County Officials.

The reports were created after Dolcefino Consulting filed a formal request for the documents under the Texas Public Information Act. That is wrong.

The Inspector General of the Texas Department of Public Safety should begin an immediate investigation. Ranger Ellison may have a good memory, but failing to write reports for two and a half years is shoddy work. Worse is that his Supervisor Kip Westmoreland signs off on the badly delinquent reports.

I was intrigued to see I was listed as witness in the Ranger investigation. While Dolcefino Consulting did file a formal complaint about violations of state transparency laws, I never spent a second talking to a Texas Ranger. Part of that search for the truth?

I wasn’t surprised to see the Texas Rangers did not seek a sworn affidavit from a single testifying witness, and didn’t even interview Green Group Garbage Boss Ernest Kaufman, or properly follow up allegations made against former Waller County Commissioner Odis Styers.

We now know that the Rangers were conducting a “bribery” investigation, focusing almost exclusively on the secret trip taken to the landfill by Styers and Waller County Engineer Orval Rhoads months before the public found out about the plan to put a 15 -story smelly landfill right along the Highway.

Odis Styers told the Texas Rangers his visit to the landfill lasted just a few hours, he was there and back in the same day. He provided the credit card receipt showing the trip was paid for. Maybe it is a minor point, but that plane record suggests Styers didn’t come back in one day, but stayed overnight. Of course, that is a glaring discrepancy the Texas Rangers would have followed up on as part of the dogged search for truth for the people of Waller County. Right? Guess not. In my view, these reports are a testimonial to what happens when you don’t really want to conduct an independent, critical investigation into the way public officials deceived taxpayers. But that’s me.

On January 20, 2014, Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office forwarded Ranger Ellison a copy of a news release sent out by Dolcefino Consulting. “Special Prosecutors Have Some Explaining to do.”

“They’re coming down on your investigation” Cantrell wrote. Actually, the release was an attack on the laughable work of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office. Now I am coming down on the Rangers. They deserve it.

The Inspector General of the Texas Department of Public Safety should open an investigation. Writing reports two years after an interview with a public corruption witness has to be a violation of policy. If it is not, it should be.

We now know not a single Waller County Public Official or Green Group employee was ever put under oath. The Fort Bend District Attorney John Healy fought for months to keep his prosecutors work secret. The Texas Rangers testimony to the grand jury is missing. Now we know they sought to create records to clean up the mess they left.

As a courtesy, Dolcefino Consulting provided all the Ranger reports, exhibits, and audio tapes to Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. You may remember that Mathis got all defensive after Dolcefino Consulting gave you our view that Mathis never has any intention of reopening the landfill investigation, especially in light of allegations of perjury at the civil trial.

That was in January; April Fool’s Day is here. What will be the excuse this month?

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