Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

The Democrats Are Coming! Oh No!

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I’m told the Democrats are coming.

I hear of fancy groups like InDivisible, BLM, and others targeting Tarrant County and Texas to turn them blue.

I see that every Tarrant County elected Republican has an announced Democrat opponent (except Glen Whitley and one might argue he is their candidate).

The bell has been rung. Indeed they are coming for each and every red county and state they can get, just as we should be going after each and every blue county we can….but we aren’t.

The prize for democrats is to take back SD10, currently held by rockstar Republican Konni Burton. That’s their crowning achievement goal, but they are running candidates in all the lower ballot races as well. We might lose some of those.

Make no mistake, however, if we lose SD10 or any of the lower ballot seats it is NOT because the Democrats are coming.

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Texas Attorney General Files Amicus Brief in Pressley Case to Texas Supreme Court

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The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has filed an amicus brief before the Supreme Court of Texas in support of the petitioner – Laura Pressley. At issue in the amicus is whether all ballots, including Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs), must follow the Texas Constitution’s requirement to number each ballot.

In question is the language of the Texas Constitution Article VI, Sec. 4 which reads:  “in all elections by the people, the vote shall be by ballot, and the Legislature shall provide for the numbering of tickets and make such other regulations as may be necessary to detect and punish fraud and preserve the purity of the ballot box.”. Note that the term “tickets” here is interchangeable with ballot – in other words every ballot must be numbered. Read More

In Kaufman – It Pays To Be A Crony

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Property taxes are the largest and most onerous taxes Texans pay. But in Kaufman County, it pays to be well-connected.

Donald Trump’s election victory has been broadly viewed as retaliation by hard-working Americans to frustration with today’s political establishment and its close companion—cronyism. The politically connected receive special treatment, while the average taxpayer foots the bill for both the taxes and special interest handouts.

While we often consider cronyism to be relegated to the federal level in Washington D.C., it’s not. Cronyism is alive and well in Texas, particularly at the local level. Kaufman County provides an egregious example with inequities found in the state property tax system.

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Gary Ritchie’s Court Administrator Indicted on 7 Counts

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We first broke the story about an investigation into JP District 6, Gary Ritchie’s court, back in July. An audit of his court revealed missing cash and a slew of bad to non-existent managerial oversight of the operation of the court, a function for which Texas statute holds Judge Ritchie accountable.

On September 1st we reported that Ritchie appeared before the grand jury in Tarrant County. That jury indicted Ritchie’s court administrator Shelly Ables on 7 counts. They include: unlawfully acquiring property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, mishandling property for which she was a fiduciary, and multiple counts of making a false entry on a governmental record with intent to defraud. Read the full indictment HERE.

Mrs. Ables was let go and quit on the same day last fall. She was Judge Ritchie’s court administrator for 23 years. She served as his campaign treasurer for most of that time as well, only having been removed as campaign treasurer this year. Their relationship has been described as a close personal friends, not just employer and employee.

The audit (READ IT HERE) and Shelly’s indictment raise more questions than they answer. Under Texas statute, Judge Ritchie is liable for all activities in his court. It is clear in the audit and other documents our office reviewed, that Judge Ritchie signed off on all the bank statements and deposits. What is unknown is whether the DA’s office is also considering any charges against Judge Ritchie. What will Ables reveal in her testimony?

Time will tell on all these questions. Meanwhile I’m sure his primary challengers will be asking these same questions very publicly. Which leaves us with: Will Ritchie run?

What Happened to Victoria Neave?

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Back in June State Representative Victoria Neave – Democrat from Dallas’ District 107 – was arrested on a DWI charge. At the time of her arrest she seemed contrite and apologetic. In her official statement She promised, “I will accept the consequences of my actions and will work to make this right.”
Well, where is she now? Court records show that Ms. Neave is doing everything she can to delay those consequences and obfuscate from justice. So far Ms. Neave has postponed her day in court three times, most recently pushing it off to October.  This is a far cry from accepting responsibility and making things right.

The good news for voters is that Ms. Neave has a very viable opponent. Mrs. Deanna Maria Metzger has been campaigning hard in the district to oust Neave. This contest is heating up and observers from around the state are keeping an eye on this race. It is, after all, one of the few swing districts in Texas and if Mrs. Metzger is successful she will swing this seat back to Republican control.

Meanwhile – will Ms. Neave ever face the music and take responsibility for her DWI? Will she continue to use her position as State Rep. to delay and obfuscate? Let us hope justice, or rehab, visit her soon.

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