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2014-05-29

Case involving BCRAGD board election ends

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Pictured: Karen Ripley

At a called meeting held Thursday, May 15, Bandera County River Authority General Manager Dave Mauk informed his board of directors that a case involving the election of a district director has ended.
Mauk reported to the board that a violation of the election code occurred during BCRAGD's May 2011 election. "A resident of Bandera County, Karen Brown, attempted to coerce and intimidate Director Karen Ripley to withdraw or resign from the May 2011 election," Mauk said. "Threats were made against Karen Ripley by Karen Brown in public before and during an open meeting and by email."
Brown's actions were seen to be a violation of Section 2.054 of the election code which prohibits coercion of a candidate.
After a complaint was lodged with the county attorney's office, that office filed charges against Brown.
The case was handled by mediation which concluded on Jan. 27, 2014. Two days later Brown pleaded no contest.
"As part of the court approved plea bargain, Brown was sentenced to six months deferred adjudication with probation fees of $40 a month, a fine of $150, court costs of $232, $300 restitution to Bandera County and 24 hours of community service," Mauk said.
As reported previously in The Courier, on April 4, 2011, Brown had sent a copy of a flyer charging Ripley with criminal behavior to Ripley via email in which she warned Ripley about the "significant and long-lasting...fallout from widespread circulation of such a document."
The email continued: "Citizens of this county are calling for your head. You can avert any more damage to your business and reputation by tendering your permanent resignation as Director of BCRAGD - for the remainder of this term and the next. Your resignation must be official before the start of the April 7 meeting."
The email continued, "If you decide to remain on the board, please understand that every person with whom you conduct business, all media outlets, and every taxpayer in Bandera County, will immediately be fully apprised regarding your criminal actions."
Brown then distributed a flyer in the parking lot of BCRAGD prior to an April 7, 2011, board meeting. The flyer charged Ripley, who is a licensed Realtor, with violations of real estate laws, saying "The [Texas Real Estate Commission's] lead investigator feels disciplinary action is imminent."
The TREC director of Standards and Enforcement Services however said in a phone interview that he "would be surprised that the lead investigator had made such a statement, since all the investigators do is accumulate information."
The complaint against Ripley was later found to have no basis, according to TREC.
Ripley represents the Lakehills area on the BCRAGD board and works actively toward expansion of rainwater catchment systems, establishment of emergency water storage, public water supplies for emergency services, and the protection of Medina Lake.
Concluding his report to the BCRAD board this month, Mauk said, "It is very important that we insure the integrity of and strive to protect our elections."