Court of record is no more

Bryon Garrison

The city council voted against the advice of council, to get rid of the Court of Record. Councilman Fitzgerald was the only vote to preserve the court.

Councilman Castelli did not attend the meeting. The motion was brought by Councilman Bermudas whose argument has been that the city is spending too much to maintain the status.

Citizens pointed out that the court could pay for itself through the collection of fines and that if the court had been administered properly, it would not have been such a burden on the city. The court did not have authority over its staff until late 2013 and early 2014. Allegations of embezzlement and theft linger as the city waits for the Municipal Court's audit.

Cleaning up corruption is hard work. The Alpine City Council believes that they "are moving in the right direction," and give high praise to city employees for their "professional jobs."

Consider which employees and advisors have been dismissed during this "clean up period" and what they all have in common. The most recent target was Judge Rebecca Schlosser. Judge Schlosser was allegedly poised to announce that certain city bureaucrats, whom she could name, had been collecting money from tickets paid and skimming off the top. The discrepancies between what was collected and what was deposited may have lead her to expose more theivery from city employees. Getting rid of the court of record, according to the city attorney, will again allow most citizens the ability to get out of almost every ticket. The  audit of the municipal court should shed some light on whether these allegations are true.

Remember former finance director Deborah Pattison? She was dismissed after revealing that loans made to city employees were not paid back, but rather were made to look like they were through accounting sleight of hand. According to Pattison, no receipts have ever been produced to prove that funds were paid back to the city. Pattison's assistant was the first to expose the discrepancies and provided evidence to the Texas Rangers, FBI and news outlets.

And then there was John Armstrong, the former city attorney. He is currently suing the City of Alpine for firing him in retaliation for reports to authorities about the alleged financial crimes of the city employees and officials, which is required of him by law. The discovery phase of this case could be a very embarrassing ordeal for the city since Armstrong knows where all the skeletons are buried. Can someone say "quick settlement." Armstrong knows they won't go to trial. 

Then there was a former city manager, Mr. Harrington, who was forced out of town after an alleged set-up by political operatives in the Chavez camp, after he started closing off city coffers. That didn't sit well with those who once had easy access to the interest free, no payment due, loans.

What is the common denominator in all these firings, dismissals and resignations? They were all willing to expose the truth about the financial crimes against the City of Alpine.  The city council has managed to get rid of each and every public servant, while not one city employee related to former finance director, Ricky Chavez, has ever been questioned. No one has pointed out the connections that many of these bureaucrats have to Ricky Chavez. So, let us be the first to point out the obvious. Nepotism = theft, abuse of power and thuggery.

Citizens of Alpine have a right to be outraged at the mismanagement of their city by those elected, and employed, to oversee the business of city government. The city has done nothing to clean house, to flush out the rats that have left the city's finances in a shambles, fumigate the city to rid the city of the stench of nepotism. If bad actors are rewarded constantly with praise by elected leaders it is hard to take seriously their claims that the city coffers will never again be used as a private slush fund by city officials. At this point it looks like elected leaders are going to wait for the FBI to do their job for them.

Just a reminder, because of all the corruption the city still has streets that are sub par, there is no court of record and the quiet zone is a distant memory.

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