Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

Concerned Parent’s Open Letter to Grapevine Colleyville ISD Trustees

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To Mindy McClure and Becky St. John;

I am writing to you as a concerned parent and grandparent in the GCISD school system.  I have been involved as a PTA board member, active member of the PTA and proud supporter of my local public schools, teachers and fellow parents in efforts to make GCISD the best. But I am now seeing something happening within the schools that disturbs me. I have spoken about it on the website “GCISD Parents for Strong Schools” and asked for your response but have gotten no response from either of you.
The district decided to initiate something called ‘Culture of Voting Resolution”  (COV) The supporters of this resolution for “culture of voting” claim that it is simply a “get out the vote” measure and that it is nonpartisan in nature. “We just want people to vote. What could be wrong with that I was asked? Are they unaware of the right to vote?  I think they are aware. I find most of them do, in fact, have an opinion on candidates. For example,in this last election cycle, I stopped by the school office to ask when the kids would see the coverage of the inauguration. Typically the schools have covered the inauguration ceremonies at some point during the day. The office staff and the Vice Principal wouldn’t look at me as they told me the decision had been made not to cover any of the inauguration at school. These are folks I know, that I support in large and small ways. I asked why the inauguration wouldn’t be covered. The Vice Principal responded that the decision was made at the district level and apologized as I left the office to do my “volunteer duty”. Later I called the district office and they told me that the decision was made at each individual school. Which is the truth? I don’t know. But it does spark a question in my mind: “have I been supporting the school all this time and simply assuming that they are supporting me as well?” Are there other ways in which the schools are pursuing their own agenda and using well-intentioned, though maybe naive parents to push their political platform? I recall during the bond election that the PTA board was presented with the proposals of the bond. The Principal stated that she cannot present her own political views on it. It is against official policy. But we, as PTA board members, can pass along the information and encourage fellow citizens to vote for these “needed” items (that quite honestly come at a huge cost and some of which will be obsolete before we’ve finished paying for it). Even so, we supported it and it passed.
Why do I go into such detail about something seemingly unrelated? Because it is not unrelated. I’ve realized  that there is a process and a method to their ways: first sell the plan to the most visible stakeholders within the school: the most involved families and the teachers. Then take it to the polls and vote it in. I see now there is a definite problem with the way these issues are handled. The “Culture of Voting” resolution is the latest example of the lack of transparency and
accountability on the part of the school board and administration. While the public messaging states they are simply encouraging the act of voting, they fail to mention that the teachers who sign on to this resolution are then pointed to an Austin based web site which claims the title of a parent PAC. This web site specifically states that they have vetted the candidates running to find out in advance who will support their political agenda and they have contributed monetarily to those candidates. It also specifically states “they will vote out” those candidates who don’t meet their criteria. When the teachers sign this resolution, they are given purple wrist bands and sign an oath to support the candidates that this Austin based PAC is supporting. Just encouraging voting? No. The purpose of the wrist band alone is to pressure those teachers who feel like they are damned if they do sign on to the platform or damned if they don’t. “Do I vote my personal beliefs and convictions and risk alienation from the teachers and co-workers who support it? What will that do to the quality of my work life AND my personal life, because naturally many of my closest friends are my fellow teachers.” Then the purpose of the oath is to lock them into voting for the candidates that have been vetted and chosen by Austin. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that legally, as you both know, electioneering such as described above is illegal. Teachers, administrators, school board members and students cannot use public funds to accomplish political agendas. I could point you to all of these links for you to read for yourself, but I’m pretty certain you already know its illegal, thus the efforts at reframing what “Culture of Voting” is about. On January 17, 2018, Ken Paxton, at the request of Texas Public Policy Foundation, issued an Attorney General Opinion that the “Culture of Voting Resolution” recently adopted by a number of Texas Independent School Districts would likely violate the Texas Constitution.
Along with this COV resolution, GCISD has presented scripted talking points. I see it over and over in the messaging: “we just want people to vote” and “if you don’t have a child in public school, then you shouldn’t have a voice in what goes on here.” (Need I mention that parents who send their children to private school or “homeschool”  still pay property taxes that go to support our GCISD and that those parents struggle to pay private school tuition while still supporting public school efforts?). Further, it is even inferred (by supporters of the COV–some of whom do not have students in the district and seemed to have links only to Austin) that if you aren’t willing to go along with the scripted talking points, you must be in favor of vouchers and wrecking the public school system. Well, I’m not in favor of wrecking the public school system. But I am in favor of accountability and transparency in all school related finance issues and I am most definitely against those in Austin who would seek to pit teachers and school board trustees against the very parents that have supported the Trustees and GCISD. I’m asking you both, as my elected school board Trustees,to stand up against this publicly. I am asking GCISD administration to do the same. The political powers in Austin who are pushing to turn Grapevine and Colleyville “blue” don’t live here. You do. Stand up for the citizens of GCISD instead of the politicians in Austin.
Respectfully,
Janet Hoffman Yeaney

Update: The Residency Game

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Direct Action Texas (DAT) has now filed an official election complaint with the Texas Secretary of State (SoS) concerning Jay Harris of Denton County. DAT recently reported on his problematic application for Precinct Chair of precinct 4006. On his application Harris lists his address as 900 Bluebonnet, but Harris actually lives in precinct 1015, at 2221 Hollyhill.

Not only are the two precincts on opposites sides of the city, they also have different representation. For instance, while Harris should be voting in Senate District 12, he will be voting in Senate District 30, potentially illegally. The people he currently represents are not his neighbors. He doesn’t live in their community. He has to drive almost 20 minutes to get there from his actual residence.

He could run against the current precinct chair in 1015, but that would unseat his daughter, Jennifer Harris, who lives with her parents. Jay Harris’s wife and daughter are both registered to vote at 2221 Hollyhill. His driver license even says he lives at 2221 Hollyhill. Are the voters to believe he lives separately from his family and just hasn’t had time to update his license? Doubtful.

As of today, it is up to the SoS to decide if they will refer the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for investigation. DAT has alleged two violations: Penal Code 37.10, tampering with a governmental record, and Election Code 64.012, illegal voting.

Even if the SoS and OAG fail to act, the voters of precinct 4006 should. Find someone to run for Precinct Chair in 2020. Find someone that truly represents your neighborhood, not someone misrepresenting himself to gain a title.

 

READ FULL COPY OF THE COMPLAINT HERE.

BREAKING NEWS — Tarrant County Judge Forges Dozens of Signatures – UPDATED!

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In a strange turn of events, Justice of the Peace Russ Casey, is now under scrutiny for having potentially forged dozens, if not over hundred, signatures on his petitions for ballot access. If true, this would be a felony transgression.

To appear on the ballot in Texas for judicial positions, candidates must secure petition signatures from registered voters. For a Justice of the Peace that number is 250 signatures.

Incumbent Judge Russ Casey, who is no stranger to controversy having been reprimanded by the State Board on Judicial Conduct last year for requiring sexual favors from his court coordinator, has challenged the signatures of his two challengers on a technicality.  Doing so caused one of his challengers to review Casey’s signatures. Last Friday candidate Lenny Lopez contacted Direct Action Texas with what appeared to be forged signatures.

Over the next 48 hours DAT, along with a team, went door to door talking to voters and securing affidavits from the voters stating the signatures are not theirs. Earlier today Lenny Lopez filed a challenge to 67 of Russ Casey’s petition signatures. 55 are needed to be removed in order to disqualify Casey from being on the ballot. That’s the first issue, however multiple counts of forgery constitutes a felony offense. DAT will hand over our evidence and affidavits to the proper authorities soon. Based upon our analysis there are between 93 to 130 signatures  which appear to be forged on Casey’s petitions.

It took Lopez and DAT no time to suspect something. Here is one page from Casey’s petitions:

 

You’ll notice on each, all the signatures have the same hand writing. The first example, you’ll notice all the voters are on Thorncrest Court in North Richland Hills, that is where Judge Casey lives. His neighbors signed affidavits stating these are not their signatures. Not only that, notice the the “R”s in the voter’s signatures and compare that to Russ Casey’s signature at the bottom of the form – the Rs are the same.

This story will continue to unfold – stay tuned to DirectActionTX.com for updates.

We want to thank the entire team who went door to door on a rainy Sunday afternoon:

Matt Spano, Judge Alex Kim, Lenny Lopez, Crystal Lopez, Joel Starnes, Terri Gallagher, Judge Patricia Baca Bennett, Judge Deborah Nekhom, and Christine Welborn.

 

UPDATE::

Judge Russ Casey submitted a letter withdrawing himself from race. As a result the Tarrant County GOP accepted Lenny Lopez’s contest to the signatures and disqualified the signatures and has removed Russ Casey from the race.

Hill County – What Happened?

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Direct Action Texas has obtained a copy of a letter from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) summarizing the results of their investigation into the Hill County 2016 Republican Primary. “In short, we found that a series of negligent errors on the part of election officials caused the skewed ballot count.” It goes on to state “This case highlights that inadequate safeguards exist to prevent such errors in future elections.” The full letter can be read HERE.

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You Had One Job Tarrant County GOP

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The results of the race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 could be determined by the failures of a County Chair and his staff. A judge will now decide which of the candidates in this race will remain on the ballot.

Precinct 3 incumbent, Justice of the Peace Russell Casey, filed suit against Tarrant County Republican Chairman Tim O’Hare, claiming O’Hare violated Election Law when he denied Casey’s petition to have his challengers removed from the ballot. According to Casey, the Tarrant County GOP (TCGOP) did not properly complete William “Bill” Brandt’s and Leonard “Lenny” Lopez’s petition signature paperwork for ballot access.

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