It’s time for another update on the merry antics of former mayor Julie Tandy.
Last May, longtime Keller resident Jack Brock published an ad in the Keller Citizen which bore Mayor Julie Tandy’s signature, but was dated in the year 1999–four years before she became mayor. Julie Tandy is now suing Mr. Brock for defamation regarding this ad. (Note: In my opinion the best explanation for the date discrepancy is that it’s a simple mistake.)
Ms. Tandy secured the legal services of Shauna Wright, who at the time was a member of Keller’s Planning & Zoning Commission. (She did not reapply for 2008.) One of the first actions taken by Ms. Wright was to file an Open Records Request at City Hall for all documents relating to communication between Jack Brock and me, and all documents relating to communication between my personal attorney and me. Here’s a link to my post on that episode: Gone Fishin’
I replied to the Open Records Request with a simple message that I do not have any documents under the Public Information Act that would satisfy her request. This apparently angered Ms. Tandy, since she had personal knowledge that invoices from my attorney had been sent to my attention at Town Hall. These bills were routinely left for me, unopened, in my mailbox in the administration wing.
Undeterred by my refusal to release my private documents, Ms. Wright tried to subpeona these documents as discovery in the defamation suit against Mr. Brock. My attorney and I responded to the subpeona with copies of the invoices with descriptions of services rendered redacted. In other words, all she got was dates and amounts billed (and I thought that was more than she had a right to, but I didn’t fight it.)
Dissatisfied with redacted invoices, Ms. Tandy proceeded to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General of Texas, stating that I and/or the City of Keller failed to disclose public information as required by law. The AG’s office sent her a reply stating that complaints of noncompliance must be filed within 90 days of the original request.
Like a dog with a bone, Julie Tandy refiled her Open Records Request with the City Secretary. I replied in the same way, and she went right back to the Attorney General with a new complaint. In her complaint, she said:
The reason for my request was to verify that Councilman Carson had a direct conflict of interest, when he retained Mr. Foster, due to the fact that Mr. Foster was representing an individual who was involved in a lawsuit against the City of Keller. I believe Mr. Carson not only had a conflict of interest, which he failed to declare, but I believe he may have given privileged information to Mr. Foster, regarding the lawsuit which was discussed during executive sessions.
Mr. Carson never made known to the city council, city attorney, or city staff any relationship with attorney Ross Foster, except through a blog which he authors and maintains.
Here Julie Tandy has taken a single known fact—Ross Foster sent me a bill—and combined it with an active imagination, and deduced that I probably committed a crime. Talk about defamation! The fact is, I DID mention in executive session that I had a relationship with Mr. Foster, though I don’t remember how I described it. No privileged information was shared because 1) I’m pretty sure I didn’t even have any, and 2) Ross and I never discussed the case.
In late January, Ms. Wright deposed me, as is her right in the matter of Tandy v. Brock. In addition to the usual accusatory “what did you know and when did you know it” kind of questions, she managed to ask plenty of nosy questions that had absolutely nothing to do with Tandy v. Brock.
So anyway, in the meantime, the Attorney General’s office replied as they always do to Open Records complaints, “Send us the documents and we’ll decide if they meet the definitions in the Public Information Act.” My response to the AG was the politest ‘No’ I could manage.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Hopefully many of you recognize that passage as the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Public Information Act of the State of Texas says that cities must send to the AG for review documents which the city possesses, controls, or has right of access to. But these documents are NOT the City of Keller’s documents—these are MY documents, and the government does not have the right to “review” them.
In the end, the AG’s representative agreed with me, and suggested that the City of Keller should reply to Ms. Tandy that it neither possesses, controls or has right of access to any documents meeting her request.
So we’ll see what happens on the legal front—Tandy’s ‘torney may have another avenue of attack. I don’t know and I don’t care.
The political front is another matter entirely. She has now laid the predicate that Councilman Carson has something to hide. Never mind the fact that she never even had the right to ask—in the sound-byte world of politics, all that matters is “Carson refused to release documents.”
But the truth is I have nothing to hide, and there’s an election coming up. So now I’ve released these documents—not to Julie Tandy, but to the press. I’ve copied every last scrap of communication between me and my lawyer—whether email, fax, printed, whatever—and delivered them to the editors of the Star-Telegram and Keller Citizen. I have encouraged them to print anything they find newsworthy. Mike Norman and Bill Lewis are men of integrity who have criticized me in the past. I believe that if there’s anything of public interest, they’ll let you know.
As far as I’m concerned, the only thing newsworthy in those documents is the fact that a city councilman has spent over $2,000 just trying to be a more effective councilman (a job that pays nothing, by the way.) And these communications with my attorney demonstrate that nearly every time I questioned the “professionals” that I’m so thoroughly accused of disrespecting, I was right and they were wrong.
So anyway, I’m tired of this whole thing. The next time you bemoan the fact that there are hardly any good men and women serving in politics, thank Julie Tandy. She—and others like her—ran them off.