“For the record, the statements I received, no one claimed any racial discrimination so that is not an issue,” said Commissioner Susan Stasny during Monday’s Commissioners Court meeting.
Following the meeting, Stasny said, “It is just totally inappropriate behavior to make racial comments while dealing with the public.”
DeWitt was recently elected to replace Stasny as commissioner.
Stasny said that the first of the complaints came to her earlier this year from an incident that occurred seven years ago.
“When the two candidates were determined for the runoff, they saw that in the paper. She came forward,” Stasny said. “Their whole intent was to let people know so that (DeWitt) wouldn’t be elected commissioner. They wanted their message out there.”
In that statement, the property owner states that she was called a “wetback” and a “Mexican.”
DeWitt said that he didn’t make any of these racial comments.
“I am not that person. Not only do I not talk that way, I do not even think that way,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt said that the accusation against him is nothing but “a 1960s political tactic.”
DeWitt added, “I know (the incident) is 2,550 days old and it only came to light during a political campaign.”
A second accusation, from January 2009, filed by a man DeWitt said was operating an “illegal” landfill, accuses him of also using the term “Mexican” in a derogatory manner. Like in the other incident, DeWitt said that he didn’t use the word.
Stasny said that she asked that the court not discuss the accusation until after the election.
“My comment when I turned in the statements is that I asked that nothing be done until after the election,” Stasny said after the meeting.
“I have done nothing to advance it. I didn’t ask for it to be on the agenda. I didn’t recruit the people to do the investigation.”
DeWitt, however, said that the property owner from the first statement read her comments as a paid political ad on a local radio station followed by comments from Stasny, who said, “I oppose racism in any form. My opponent’s racial prejudices have no place in public service.”
On Monday, Constables Abel Suniga and Gabriel Aleman were appointed to look at the statements and report back to the court in May after determining their validity.
“We really wanted an independent person... to verify the statements for truthfulness,” Stasny said.
“I think there are about three issues involved here,” Stasny said during the meeting. “I believe the court is looking for the investigators to determine the validity of the sworn statements claiming comments of racial prejudice that were made by, they allege were made by, the community affairs (director...) while executing the official duties of the job,” Stasny said during the meeting.
“There are some other issues that maybe the court can handle — whether he exceeded the authority of his job description or if he violated personnel policy.”
Stasny also requested that the constables not conduct their interviews in uniform.
“I would request this be done in a plain clothes without badges and uniforms but they should reveal their official title,” she said during the meeting.
Stasny explained later that she thought if the officers were in uniform, they might appear “intimidating.”
DeWitt said that he is asking the interviews be “recorded, transcribed and signed to ensure future verification of information and statements.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.