“It’s all personalities; it’s all politics; they’re all whores; and you can’t change the world…” – words of wisdom from a well-known waterfront Don.
SHERIFF’S OFFICE ORDERED TO DETAIL INFO LABOR CHARGES
Six Shooter Junction – Though members of the “mainstream” media get details on crimes and investigation that reflects today’s news today, social media outlets must wade through the swampy rigamarole of endless bureaucratic hassles for the same information.
The truth is, truth as reflected in public records of public offices is held hostage by officials who refuse to acknowledge the fact that the records are merely under their custody. They don’t own the information. The records belong to We The People Of The State of Texas. When at long last the information is released, it usually has official claw marks all over it.
A case in point is as follows.
A mole in the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office has provided many items of public record previously unknown to outsiders that make clear the degree and severity of disaffection between the two top lawmen – Sheriff Parnell McNamara and former Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon, a retired Texas Ranger – that led to Cawthon’s seemingly sudden resignation at the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.
It has come to we of The Legendary that precisely the same information has been provided to other media outlets whose editors simply choose to ignore their contents in favor of more managed news releases provided them by law enforcement simply because of their status as broadcasters and publishers who are supported by merchants who buy advertising space, and public officials who control the flow of information between elections.
Details of previously unknown information received anonymously were corroborated through public information requests, but not without a struggle. At length, through a series of eight simultaneously submitted requests, a pattern of administrative intimidation and harrassment became clear, a pattern of complaints handled through transfers, threatened resignations, and re-hiring in different capacities at similar pay grades. Though in all cases the papers received from the anonymous source are identical to those released by request, it didn’t come easily.
After Records Supervisor Tamma Willis obtained the records from various departments, charged $60 for labor, then turned the records over to a private attorney for legal review, Legendary Reporter R.S. Gates drafted a complaint to newly-elected Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The gist of his complaint is that his request made on January 1, 2015 was answered 4 days later on January 9 with the intelligence that she had turned all the information over to a private atorney:
“I don’t think it is a stretch that the information was gathered and sent to the attorney (Mike Dixon) to circumvent the Texas Public Information Act by delaying access to public information…”
The complaint details the fact that though there were eight requests in all, the response was treated as if there only one, that many records were duplicated, and that though the original “ransome” of $136 was later lowered to $60, nevertheless the office did not follow request procedures detailed in the public information handbook published by the AG’s office.
“If a governmental body estimates that charges will exceed $40.00, the governmental body is required to provide the requestor with a written itemized statement of estimated charges before any work is undertaken. (Pg 53 Sec. d)”
The complaint requests the Office of the Attorney General to determine if the Sheriff should pay back the “extortion” money charged as “ransome,” and if so, that it be paid to the McLennan County Sheriff’s Officers Association because “the Sheriff failed to comply with the notification requirements of the act related to providing an estimate prior to the work being performed.”
BUSY WORK LEADS TO MORE BUSY WORK – WITHIN 10 DAYS
The AG’s office ordered Willis to comply within 10 days with its requirements listed on March 6. They are:
How did the Sheriff’s Office determine it required four hours of labor to produce the requested information? Please describe the process in a step by step manner, stating the time each step took…
Where is the information physically located? If the information is located in two or more separate buildings, please provide a simple map showing the location of the buildings…
For the 760 paper copies noted in the cost estimate, please state how many of these copies are responsive to each of the eight requests for information.
For the 40 paper copies provided to the requestor, please state how many of the copies are responsive to each of the eight requests for information.
Did the Sheriff’s Office provide the cost estimate to the requestor before or after locating, compiling and copying the requested information?
To compare and contrast, it appears that the decisions made in these regards are by and large a function of community standards and political context.
The seizure of a 2011 BMW seized after a drug user died in the bathtub at a mansion located just up the road from Sheriff Parnell McNamara’s home place on Rock Creek Road, Bosqueville, was allegedly based on an interview between Lt. Mike Gates and the homeowner regarding the probable cause of one gram or less of heroin, a Schedule 1 Narcotic.
A public records request gleaned this fact from a probable cause affidavit filed in support of a warrant of search and arrest:
Click image for original size
Willis refused, and in an appeal requested a ruling from the AG’s Office due to her allegation the matter involves an ongoing investigation. The AG’s office upheld her judgment on the matter, though she is neither a peace officer, nor a criminal prosecutor.
By comparison, extensive requests by members of Open Carry Texas for video and audio recordings involving an internal investigation of a Houston Police Officer accused of improper treatment of a suspect detained for carrying a loaded rifle on a city street were granted over police objections. The AG’s holding is that the recordings are part of an investigation that is eligible for public scrutiny.
C’est la guerre…