A new candidate for public office may not be an expert on the Texas law requiring campaign finance reports.
However, it is a crime to not file on time.
Hoppy Haden is the new Commissioner in Caldwell County. He’s leading the move to cut a deal with Green Group Holdings for a host agreement for a big tower of trash outside of town, even though the TCEQ is a long way from granting them the final permit.
Of course, the smell, the traffic, and possible environmental threat to the flood plain won’t be in Haden’s district, it will be in Lytton Springs, in Commissioner Joe Roland’s Precinct. Roland is vexed that political courtesy is being thrown out the door. Even in Harris County, hardly a bastion of political ethics, you would never see a Commissioner ignored like this. The same thing happened in Waller County when Green Group was involved.
We went to the Caldwell County Elections Office to look up Mr. Haden’s campaign finance reports. We know his campaign treasurer knows to file, because there are reports through October 20, 2016.
The final report, the one with the money raised and spent by Haden during those final critical days, it is not filed. It is about two months late.
That’s against the law, but we are sure the local District Attorney Fred Weber is way ahead of us. Right?
Do you have a special anniversary this month?
Waller County did, and it is evidence they just don’t care about who’s keeping track of guns at the Sheriff’s Office.
Ah…how time flies.
It was Christmas 2015 when Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith claimed a bunch of weapons were stolen from his marked truck outside a restaurant, including a nasty machine gun.
The Sheriff must have been ready for a fight when he went to the Salt Grass Steakhouse.
Looks like those guns went poof, unless there is an update the Sheriff hasn’t shared.
But back to the anniversary.
It was February 2016 when Commissioner Russell Klecka demanded an audit of the Sheriff’s weapons, after Dolcefino Consulting found lots of discrepancies in the records. The commissioners wanted an outside investigation, but agreed to let County Auditor Alan Younts do it.
Just a reminder. It’s been a year guys! Still no report. Now that’s action.
Glad the public didn’t hold their breath.
You got to love Waller County.
Dolcefino Consulting has confirmed a new round of grand jury subpoenas have been issued in a widening federal investigation of possible fraud by the 911 ambulance service Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services.
The news comes as CCEMS is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees in the last few years, much of it in lawsuits against Dolcefino Consulting for seeking records from the tax supported ambulance service. The money is likely coming from medical bill money that could be used to buy medical supplies.
You wouldn’t know there was all this trouble if you have been to a recent meeting of the ESD #11 Commissioners, elected to watchdog the CCEMS 911 contract. There is disturbing new evidence that could explain why.
New e-mails obtained by Dolcefino Consulting detail the efforts of CCEMS employees to help orchestrate the defeat of ESD Commissioners who were asking lots of question about money. The e-mails details efforts to get 3 new Commissioners elected.
The election in 2016 was an ugly one. Two ESD # 11 Commissioners, Robert Berleth and Kevin Brost were demanding explanations for questionable spending, including the big entertainment bills of CCEMS Ambulance Boss Brad England. CCEMS was also being sued by a former medical billing company for alleged bid rigging.
The new e-mails expose efforts by CCEMS employees to create a dossier of possible dirty information on one of the incumbent commissioners, providing material to favored candidates for use in the campaign.
In one e-mail, CCEMS PR guy Norm Uhl prepared a cliff notes version of the dirt for candidates, writing folks may be too lazy to read it all.
In another, the CCEMS IT guy boasts about deleting negative social media posts.
Under federal law, a 501c3 charitable organization like CCEMS is directly prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign.
The three candidates favored by CCEMS in the e-mails won the election. Only about 4,000 of 400,000 registered voters showed up at the polls.
Another ESD #11 Commissioner, Fred Grundemeyer claimed he didn’t have any e-mails when we asked under state law. Turns out he must have deleted at least one, where he congratulates the election winners, calling the vote a devastating defeat for Wayne Dolcefino and the candidates he supported.
“It is pretty simple. Dolcefino Consulting supports any political candidates who fights for transparency,” says President Wayne Dolcefino. “Don’t worry Fred, I am doing just fine. It’s the taxpayers that got played.”
Karen Plummer got the most votes for re-election, despite records showing CCEMS Ambulance money that could have been used to buy were used to entertain her instead.
A few weeks ago, Plummer got an e-mail from CCEMS Boss Brad England. The message was simple, Miss ya!
Justice for the poor folks in Uniontown, Alabama.
The garbage giant Green Group has dismissed its libel lawsuit against the Black Belt Citizens, the group that has been outspoken on Facebook about the garbage company and what coal ash has done to their town.
The Citizens claim the Arrowhead landfill in Uniontown is causing major health problems to residents. They fought against even allowing the landfill to be built, and in 2008 when it began accepting coal ash, they took their fight to court, and took those concerns to the media.
In July of last year, they got punished by Green Group with a lawsuit accusing the Citizens of libel and slander and demanded $30 million dollars in damages. That’s when the ACLU stepped in to represent the Citizens in their fight against Green Group’s lawsuit.
Guess Green Group doesn’t like bad pub.
Texans should watch what happened in Uniontown. Green Group is now suing the State of Texas, still trying to put a tower of trash near Hempstead.
The company has been criticized for having secret meetings with politician, and getting rid of records on the soil they tested.
That’s why attention is on Lockhart, where the politicians are thinking about doing a deal with Green Group, after spending tens of thousands of dollars fighting them, and the release of public records.
That child molester from the Brenham area will spend many years behind bars.
23-year old Eric Alcala has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison by State District Judge Reva Toslee-Corbett.
Alcala pled guilty to the 1st degree aggravated sexual assault of a child in November and asked the judge for punishment.
Alcala’s arrest in February 2015 was widely covered. He was accused of continuous sexual assault of a child under 14.
Police say the acts continued over a two month period.
New court documents allege money was laundered to help David Fuentes win a seat on the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court.
The legal papers, filed Wednesday morning by Houston Attorney Cris Feldman, accuse Weslaco Personal Injury lawyer Ezequiel Reyna Jr. of laundering cold cash through Fuentes’ personal checking account in his 2016 Commissioners Court. Reyna is Fuentes’ uncle.
A.C. Cuellar was Hidalgo County Commissioner from 2012 through 2016 until David Fuentes won a hard-fought Democratic primary in March. Fuentes loaned his own campaign $400,000, but there is evidence the money was illegally funneled to Fuentes.
“This is sadly the latest chapter in a sordid history of unscrupulous campaign tactics in the history of Rio Grande Valley politics”, says Houston Attorney Cris Feldman. “The buck literally stops here with today’s court filing.”
The new lawsuit accuses Fuentes of failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures, part of his scheme to violate Texas election law. Reyna has been joined as a Defendant in the uncle/nephew conspiracy to secretly influence the March 1, 2016 Democratic Primary.Plaintiff's First Amended Petition and Request for Disclosure
Residents surrounding the noisy 5-acre outdoor White Oak music “mosh pit” are calling on Mayor Sylvester Turner to put the nuisance on the agenda of next week’s City Council Meeting.
In early January, Mayor Turner promised “a deep dive” to see if White Oak had violated terms of the agreement with the City of Houston. Since then White Oak has declared the City Sound Ordinance unenforceable, with their own expert stating HPD lacks the training to measure noise violations.
“It is time for City Council to act. We want Mayor Turner to detail what his investigation has shown, and what the City plans to do to protect Houstonians from noise polluters,” says Cris Feldman, Attorney for the residents. “Taxpayer’s deserve transparency and full disclosure next week.”
Wednesday, State District Judge Kristen Hawkins issued a temporary injunction against the controversial outdoor concert hall, agreeing the noise was interfering with the people living in three Houston neighborhoods.
The trial produced evidence White Oak Developers grossly misrepresented their outdoor concert plans. It also confirmed Houston City Hall approved the deal when the White Oak developers had a 2014 sound study which promised there would be lots of noise complaints if the White Oak mosh pit was approved.
“It is time the City of Houston release the names of all the developers of this ill-fated plan, and take action to stop the construction of a permanent outdoor stage,” says Feldman.
An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting and the news website San Angelo Live have finally sparked politicians in San Angelo to ask the questions they should have asked nearly three years ago!
Did Republic waste ever provide the 6.3 million dollars in promised refunds for overcharging 2,000 business customers in San Angelo?
After public records prove the City never completed an audit of the overcharging as they promised taxpayers, we now know no one from the City ever asked for the proof of refunds. Late Wednesday, San Angelo’s City Attorney’s Office confirms they have finally asked Republic for the information.
You know what Republic said! It’s confidential.
Can you imagine? San Angelo gave Republic a contract that could earn them 260 million dollars over ten years, but Republic doesn’t have to tell them if they ever refunded the money they promised to give back.
Republic cites ongoing litigation as one of the reasons they are clamming up.
The City of San Angelo is also admitting tonight they haven’t been able to find any other checks proving taxpayers ever got the money Republic had cheated from City Departments, about $100,000. Checks for only a fraction of the money can be accounted for after months of asking.
The Republic controversy is now a political issue in the Mayor’s race.
Brenda Gunter, a San Angelo businesswoman running for the office called the recent disclosures on Republic shocking, promising accountability if she wins the office and a review of the lucrative garbage deal.
“It was a contentious fight. I am shocked and I don’t understand why someone would not follow up. They gave the citizens a nod and then closed the door.” “Did we do right by the citizens and the business community. If the answer is no. We must correct it to yes.”
Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer, a supporter of the Republic deal declined to comment citing “litigation” and claimed she hadn’t seen the records we have seen.
“I informed Ms. Farmer that the records we obtained were public records, and as a City Councilwoman she had the opportunity to get the records herself, or ask the questions she apparently never bothered to ask,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Houston based Investigative Communications firm Dolcefino Consulting.
The Mayor and City Manager have been silent, refusing to answer questions from Dolcefino Consulting.
Dolcefino Consulting has been forced to file a formal criminal complaint to the Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, seeking phone records from five Houston School Board Members.
“Since March of 2016, we have repeatedly asked H.I.S.D Board Members to follow the same rules as elected officials all over the State of Texas,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
Detailed phone records of their governmental communications are clearly public records. Sadly, the HISD Board Members have refused to act as elected officials all across the state of Texas. That refusal now requires Dolcefino Consulting to pursue enforcement of the Texas Public Information Act by the newly elected District Attorney.
Texas law requires the complaint of intentional withholding to be filed against the custodians of public records at H.I.S.D, in this case Attorneys representing H.I.S.D, but Dolcefino Consulting has identified the public officials who refuse to provide the detailed records from their providers. The H.I.S.D. Board Members claim they are not required to get the records.
The Houston School Board Members identified in the complaint are Rhonda Skillern Jones, Manuel Rodriguez, Jolanda Jones, Wanda Adams, and Diane Davila.
In recent months, Dolcefino Consulting has represented neighborhoods fighting the renaming of public schools and the former Auditor of H.I.S.D, Richard Patton. Patton was fired after reporting possible illegal activities to School Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It is important to know that H.I.S.D. School Board Member Mike Lunceford voluntarily provided phone records to Dolcefino Consulting.
The investigation of that controversial County Road 79 road deal in Colorado County is exposing new potential conflicts of interest.
Dolcefino Consulting’s investigation has already helped spark a probe by the Texas Rangers of County Judge Ty Prause. He was the swing vote when Colorado County Commissioners moved to take historic private property for a county road.
Landowner Lesley Carey took the Commissioners to court, and now hearing the latest news, has filed new court papers, questioning the Judge’s conduct. Carey hired Dolcefino Consulting to get to the bottom of the road shenanigans. While searching real estate records, we uncovered another land deal that deserves some ‘splaining.
In June of 2014, Colorado County Commissioner Doug Wessels bought some property near the coast in Matagorda, Texas. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the seller was John Faltisek, owner of Faltisek paving, who gets lots of business from Colorado County. Three months before the real estate deal with Wessels family, Faltisek got a lucrative county contract. Over the next 2 and a half years, Faltisek was awarded more paving contracts worth three quarters of a million dollars.
Wessels wouldn’t tell us how much he paid for the property, except that it was more than the appraised value of $30,000. He also claims the property wasn’t for sale, until he called Faltisek to ask.
Sounds like something a County Commissioner might want to disclose, in public, so folks would know.
Did either John Faltisek or Commissioner Wessels ever reveal their real estate deal to taxpayers?
Nope. Wait, it gets better.
Wessels admits he did wonder about a potential conflict, but got the OK to vote anyway, and not mention it to taxpayers.
We figured Wessels probably asked the County Attorney, after all, that would be the guy elected to answer those questions and, after all, he is also the local District Attorney, you know, the guy who prosecutes ethics violations.
So did Wessels talk to Jay Johannes? Nope. Wessels asked his frequent phone pal Judge Ty Prause for conflict advice. The same guy now under scrutiny for his possible conflicts of interest.
Who knows what will happen to the Rangers probe, but it is safe to say Colorado County Commissioners have some ‘splaining to do.
They should start with a new vote, changing their mind on the road deal that’s now covered with mud.