Thursday, July 22, 2010




  Mayor fires police chief
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–Seven Points police chief Brad McConahay is no longer with the department.
Mayor Joe Dobbs terminated his employment July 17 “for no confidence.” McConahay suffered a broken foot in the line of duty in April. He has been on light duty since then.
Former Dallas police officer Jeffery “Jack” Nelson is currently serving as police chief.
According to the Texas Commisison on Law Enforcement Officer Standards-Education, Nelson’s employment with the Dallas PD ended in March, 2008. He was a senior corporal.
His fellow officers accused him and two others of misconduct. The news of the “blue-on-blue” accusations appeared in the Dallas Morning News March 21, 2007.
According to TCLEOSE records, Nelson hasn’t worked as a police officer since March 28, 2008. (See article from Brad McConahay’s viewpoint on page 4A.)
Monday was Nelson’s first day on the job as city police chief, and he was reviewing the files of the city’s officers.
Mike Tayem was hired over the weekend as a police lieutenant.
“I’m impressed with the people here and feel their achievements have been under-documented,” Nelson told The Monitor.
The employment of long-time city secretary Debbie Mosley was terminated June 22. Her termination letter states the reason as “just cause, due to repeated violations of the Cities (sic) personnel policies.”
Mosley told The Monitor that she immediately asked Dobbs what repeated violations she had committed. Mosely said she was told to put her request in writing, and she would get a response in a timely manner.
Mosley delivered the written request, along with her intent to appeal the firing to Dobbs the next day, she said.
As of presstime late Tuesday, Mosley has not received a reply, nor has her request to be put on the council’s agenda to air her appeal answered.
The city’s employee policy describes a three-step employee grievance process, and allows those terminated from city employment the opportunity to appeal such termination to the council.
Under former mayor Gerald Taylor, at least two employees appealed to the council in recent years. The council heard their appeals in executive sessions, Taylor told The Monitor.
“Taylor never fired people without talking to council members individually of his concerns,” councilman Hank Laywell told The Monitor.
Taylor told The Monitor he gave things like firing someone lengthy consideration, and consulted with the council about such situations as they arose.
When he did fire an individual, Taylor said he referred the matter back to the council as an agenda item, to ratify or overturn his actions.
“I will not put on the agenda anything limiting the mayor’s powers or bringing back an ex-employee,” Dobbs told The Monitor. “We’re not going back to a Gerald Taylor way of doing business.”
At the first city council meeting following the election May 14, and prior to administering the oath of office to Dobbs, the council considered an agenda item placed there by then mayor pro-tem Tommy Taylor.
The item read “discuss and approve the city council as ‘administrative board’ form of government. The full city council approves all purchases and other administrative details, and department heads report directly to the council at every regular meeting.”
The council chamber was full of noisy people with a festive and rowdy atmosphere May 14.
Council members Cheryl Jones and Laywell told The Monitor that twice during the meeting, two audience members shouted out taunts at them, asking “Are you scared yet? You should be!”
A disorderly and raucous discussion between the council and the audience followed, with Thompson twice ordering the crowd to settle down.
Laywell told The Monitor that he had questioned the necessity of putting that item on the agenda, because the city already had a “strong council” form of government.
“Tommy Taylor insisted that it be on the agenda,” Laywell said. “I can only assume it was done in order to give the mayor special power.”
Tommy Taylor made a motion amending the item to add “authorize the new mayor to suspend employees before council approval.” The motion was defeated 3-2.
“The mayor was not authorized to suspend employment,” Jones pointed out.
Laywell told The Monitor that at the time he (Laywell) specifically said, “It’s been rumored that wholesale firing of everybody at city hall was going to happen when Dobbs took over (as mayor). Do we need to do something more to ensure that doesn’t happen? (Tommy) Taylor responded with some sarcastic remark, and moved the meeting along to the next item on the agenda.”
Fourteen days after being sworn into office, Dobbs put Mosley on suspension. He handed her a letter putting her on a three-day suspension immediately after the May 28 called meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum.
Dobbs, McConahay and another officer entered Mosley’s office around 7:10 p.m. to deliver the letter to her. Just outside, a crowd of people gathered from the aborted meeting.
“I feel that Joe waited until he had the presence of the news media and about 50 citizens to take action against me,” Mosley said in a written statement about the incident.
The timing of this action and the presence of two police officers was not a disciplinary action, “but an act of intimidation, abuse of official authority and misconduct, intending to cause me public ridicule, embarrassment and undue stress and to show his voters he was fulfilling his campaign promise to fire me,” Mosley wrote, “even though the council denied him the authority to suspend an employee before coming to the council first for approval.”
Editor’s note: A second article recounting the events leading up to Dobbs suspending Mosley and ultimately dismissing her June 22 will appear in the Sunday, July 25, issue of The Monitor.

ESD wins protest
Judge backs ESD No. 4/Tool fire department in dispute over Tool property tax revenues
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–Henderson County Emergency Services District No. 4 received a favorable ruling from the Henderson County Appraisal District Monday.
ESD No. 4 filed a protest of the appraisal district’s removal of property within the City of Tool from the ESD’s tax roll, and won.
All seven appraisal board directors voted in favor of the protest, and agreed to return the properties within the city to the ESD No. 4’s tax roll.
ESD No. 4 built a new fire station with a $240,000 loan backed by the 3-cent property tax.
The advocate for the city argued that under rules pertaining to Rural Fire Prevention Districts created under Section 776.052 of Chapter 776 of the Texas Health And Safety Code, the city has the right to withdraw from the district.
The appraisal district’s attorney sided with the city’s argument.
ESD No. 4 attorney Gary Jackson argued that 776 did not apply, because all fire prevention districts were converted to emergency services districts under Chapter 775. And at no time has the Henderson County ESD No. 4 operated under 776, or been governed by that statute.
ESD treasurer Larry Moran testified that two-thirds of the ESD’s funding came from the 3-cent per $100 valuation tax on property within the city limits.
He added that the minimum the ESD required to operate was $10,000 a year, and that the annual payment on the loan comes to nearly $20,000.
He said the tax collected annually totals between $80,000 and $85,000.
Moran estimated that without taxes on properties within the city, the ESD would collect about $28,500.
The ESD serves an area of 35 square miles, Moran said.
On May 12, 2003, the Henderson County Commissioners canvassed the votes of the May 3, 2003, election to form a rural fire protection district. Voters in the City of Tool favored the proposal 100-21, and in the rural areas 20-8.
That same year, the Texas Legislature converted all existing rural fire prevention districts to emergency services districts under Section 775.026 of Chapter 775 of the Texas Health And Safety Code. That increased the powers of the newly named districts and those to be created by voters in the future.
The City of Tool and the ESD No. 4 are involved in a suit over the attempt of the city to withdraw from the ESD. They are to meet in mediation in Tyler Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Sharp-dressed men

PokerRunZZTop.jpg (85719 bytes)

Courtesy Photo
Mike Wilmoth and Chris Morrison make an appearance

as ZZ Top during the Parrot Head Club's annual Poker Run
around Cedar Creek Lake Saturday.

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