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2011-01-20

Another suit in sight?

Letters to the Editor

I read with interest the in the Courier about Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District's most recent attempt to circumvent the Texas Open Meeting Act.

Jim Chastain still doesn't get it. He can't get away with re-writing Texas law no matter how many law enforcement officers he calls to have people removed from a public meeting.
I have seen Chastain's dog and pony show first hand.
In 2002, for months, I had requested a subject be put on the agenda of the water board. Claiming to be at fault, Chastain explained he had just forgotten to put it on the agenda prior. Accordingly, then-secretary Susan Queen called me and invited me to the water board meeting on Sept. 5, 2002, to speak about the subject I had requested.
Queen said for me to be sure and be there.
Chastain re-arranged the agenda so he could speak before me. He read a copy of a letter I had sent him complaining of the prior meeting when he had instructed Ms. Queen to call the police and have Jim Hannah removed from the meeting.
Hannah had apparently pointed out the directors were trying to insert and pass a rule containing "substantially changed language" that had been suggested by Judge Richard Evans without a public hearing on the "new" rule.
Later, after listening to the board's own recordings of the meeting, Office of the Texas Attorney General noted there had been no mention of the added language in the prior meeting. In the AG's words: "This begs the question: how did those eventual changes come about?" I ask: did it occur in a secret meeting?
Chastain began to read portions of my letter. Since it was inaccurate, I tried to correct him by raising my hand. He told me, "You may not speak, I've heard enough."
After telling him I didn't have to sit there and listen to untrue statements, I attempted to leave.
Chastain then verbally harassed me all the way to the door, saying prior meetings had been stopped to remove me - which was a lie. I told him he didn't know whom he had removed from the last meeting and I left.
Just before midnight, Constable Phil Tobin called me saying there was an arrest warrant from the city for me and I needed to meet him at my front gate.
He said that after I was magistrated at the county jail, I would be allowed to return to my home. I proceeded to my front gate and was arrested for disrupting a public meeting.
However, the supposed magistrate, Phil's brother, Tim Tobin, who was at that time, the municipal judge, was not at the jail. I was forced to spend the night there.
This charge against me was later dropped because former County Attorney Kerry Schneider said she could not prove the charge.
I would suggest Mr. Chastain review the results of the last time he had someone removed from his little show at the water district and arrested.
This should push any further thoughts of bullying the public who attends the meetings from his mind.
Under Texas law, recordings - video and-or audio - are allowed and, no, Chastain has no legal way to stop it or to demand copies of the recordings.
Be careful, Mr. Chastain, or you may be sued again. People are becoming increasingly tired of arrogance in their elected officials who are supposed to be serving them.

Roger Sullivan
Pipe Creek