RANGERS RIDE IN QUERY INTO PREGNANT WOMAN’S TRIP TO LA CASA DE CALABOOSE, SEIZURE OF HER CHILD AT PARENTS’ HOME
Quinlan, TX – Mayor Donnie Brock walked out of a sprinkling rain where he’d been helping two public works employees flush out a water line.
He mopped his sweaty body with his damp t-shirt, dried his buzz cut with it, and sprayed deodorant liberally before pulling on a polo shirt with the city seal and his name – no title – D. Brock, embroidered.
He’s wanting some answers, he says. And then he launches into an account of just how and why he has become a question box turned over, working days at an exotic game ranch caring for and feeding lions, tigers, giraffes and zebras rescued by the ranch’s owner. He pursued a career in computers and internet service provision following schooling at East Texas State in Commerce before he transferred to Baylor, only to learn, “This is the same thing, only with more kids in my class…”
Rapid fire repartee studded with witty references to that which is commonly known by other words follows where the man pumps it, sotto voce, out of the side of his mouth. His chatter is as relentless as a hot box short stop kibbitzing a long, slow summer pitcher’s duel.
Conventional wisdom in the dialect of high glaze flows freely: “Texas DOT is the biggest economic development corporation in the world. They do it right, brother. They’re always broke,” he quips. True story, the roads that get built first just happen to be the ones that are built when landowners donate the right of way. They do it everywhere – everywhere! Cow pastures, swamps, prairies, deserts, hills, dales and any other place.
At present, the 1.3 square miles of Mother Earth known as Quinlan is handling four lanes of traffic coming out of the Rockwall west and four lanes headed east toward the sprawling shores of Lake Tawakoni. “That kind of leaves us in the middle, he said, glancing out the picture window of his office overlooking the town’s main drag at a frenetic moment in rush hour.
“We’re funneling 12 lanes of traffic into my two lanes.”
It’s a situation reminiscent of the roadbuilding politics of the “Kingfish,” Huey P. Long of Louisiana, who often built roads up to one side of towns where unfriendly legislators and local officials held sway, then played out in swampland surrounding the pariah city state, only to take up a mile or two on the other side of the hapless burg.
But nothing tops the culture shock of taking over from a consultant manager who ran things before his tenure as hizzoner began two years ago. What did he find in his office?
A hard drive wiped clean and a “server that had just had a lobotomy, remembers. Other than that, “There were six lawn and leaf bags filled with shredded documents.” Ouch! An eight-page forensic audit by an Addison outfit tells the rest of the story so neatly summed up in Brock’s emphatic statement. The man worked for so $15 an hour and his checks would be be in the neighborhood of $3,000 – but then when you totaled up as many as 11 different expense checks, that figure came in at seven grand?” Something added up, all right.
In the dry language of the forensic accountant, between 2004 and 2006, “the city of Quinlan paid Consultant Green for 7,068 miles, invoiced by Consultant (Billy) Green as mileage reimbursement with no supporting documentation, no trip reports, no travel logs, no dates of travel, no reason for travel, or destination, and with no agreement.” According to the audit, Green, whose pay grade advanced to $25 per hour in ’06, misappropriated $60,365.60 “for his benefit,” and in addition, $32,152.60 of it was not reported to the IRS.
“I told them, ‘Look, y’all, for 50 years, we’ve been robbed every time a mayor leaves office.” He lets that sink in for a moment, then gestures toward the Hunt county seat, Greenville, which dwarfs the town of Quinlan, saying, “There’s more people like us than there are like them…” His voice trails into a lopsided grin from beneath the floppy brim of an exaggerated black cowboy hat, eyes blazing over half frames.
Did we mention that Mayor Brock is an original TEA Party hand who watch-dogged small cities all over the local map of east Texas before his election to his present post?
Moving right along toward a big part of tonight’s agenda in the City Council meeting, he labeled Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) as “the biggest human trafficking outfit in the world.” He gestures expansively.
His cousin, Deanna Jo Robinson, went down fighting when two Hunt County Deputies elbowed into her elderly parents’ family home after she asked for a chance to read a court order. They and a pair of CPS investigators had flashed a folder at her, but refused to let her read it. She fought hard to slam the door, but wound up bent over a kitchen cabinet resisting handcuffs where a security camera on a laptop caught one of the cops striking her with a closed fist.
As of today, 1.5 million YouTube viewers in 221 countries have witnessed the beating she took that night while her 18-month-old boy watched.
Six days after her six day stint in jail – nude – in an isolation cell, she gave birth after 38 weeks of pregnancy, and a CPS worker took that child, too.
All this brings up an executive session on tonight’s agenda. Quinlan police will be quizzed in private about what information they have forthcoming from the arrest. What in the way of an offense or arrest report, a probable cause affidavit, or an affidavit of warrantless arrest do their records show?
A 23-year-old patrolman, Corporal Daniel Catalan from the Quinlan PD, accompanied the Sheriff’s Officers and stood by while the arrest took place. The question, did he file any report, complaint, statement, affidavit?
Following a droning discussion of a planned joint venture in a hand-fishing tourney to be staged by Quinlan and West Tawakoni and an interlocal agreement between the Quinlan police and the Quinlan Independent School District police, the Mayor invoked the law regarding executive sessions to discuss personnel, litigation or threats of it, real estate sales, purchases or contracts, and he, the five councilmen, and the city administrator filed into a private meeting room where they stayed for only a few minutes.
The truth is, there is no information available, as all agreed when they emerged. The matter is under investigation by Texas Ranger James Hicks, and that’s that.
Something in the air suggests they all want to know why. What happened? Everyone knows, but no one wants to discuss it in public. Done deal, for now. They voted to adjourn.
And, then, something spooky as all hell happened. A curly-haired woman wearing stylish jeans and a grim expression burst into tears and told The Legendary, “I can’t talk here, but I want to tell you something.”
It turns out that her father died from a gunshot wound he suffered in 1983 at the city police department offices just down the corridor. He was alone in his duties, and it’s still an open case, she insists, looking around warily.”Picture a six-year-old little girl having to walk back-and-forth to school every day, back-and-forth to the local corner store … a little girl sees a bullet hold on the outside wall of the Police Department in which her father was murdered in every day until she could not bear it anymore. I moved away at the age of 15. Not to mention above the bullethole they had a sign that said Bill Smelly counseling center. Spelled exactly the way I wrote they never had the decency to even spell my father’s name correctly; his name is Billy Smelley. She sobs. She is sure someone murdered her father, said Jacquelyn Smelley.
“I’ve known Deanna Joe all my life,” she added tearfully. “You just never know how someone will turn out.” She wants to tell her story, a story about a complete lack of information when something bad happens to a loved one. It’s an every day thing here, she says. We promise to stay in touch, and we head one direction, she in another, fleeing the cop shop and all the misery that passes through it for another day, another time.
One may watch a brief video of the Quinlan City Council meeting’s rapid denoument following their learning of a need to wait – wait for “the whole investigation,” as termed by Mayor Donnie Brock: