Betty Yarter was first to address the court with concerns about the process the county uses in setting budgets and adhering to them once they are set.
Betty Yarter presented forms that she said would be helpful – a line item transfer amendment request, and another form to be used in the case of an emergency budget amendment.
“Budget amendments that have been done thus far, do not qualify as a grave public necessity,” Betty Yarter said. “Y’all need to be aware that a suit can be brought against the county to have a court determine what meets a grave public necessity.”
Betty Yarter encouraged the court to put their reasons for making an emergency budget amendment in writing, and on file with the county clerk’s office.
Maurice Yarter was next to speak to the court and expressed concerns about a recent statement made by the county judge admitting that commissioners never see some bills that are paid by the county.
“That, as reported in the newspaper, verbatim, is an admission of guilt,” Maurice Yarter said. “That is a violation of the Open Meetings Act and by your comments, have been doing that for some time. I would like to ask the sheriff’s office to begin an immediate investigation into those activities.
Maurice Yarter then spoke out against what he characterized as defamatory statements made County Judge Barbara Shaw.
“Your continued slander and defaming of current and former residents of this county continues,” Maurice Yarter said. “You have slandered me, and my wife, Betty, as being evil, and the list goes on. You continue to demean others but what you really do is demean the citizens of this county that elected you and you demean the office that you hold.”
Maurice Yarter said that County Commissioner Pete Jauer has been used by the judge to intimidate family members of other elected officials, or at least try to do so.
“I don’t believe that any place in your job description that that exists,” Maurice Yarter said, addressing his comments to Commissioner Jauer.
Returning his comments to Judge Shaw, Maurice Yarter said, “I was told by an elected official of this county, recently, that you are despised, not disliked, by most people in this county. You stated that you can not be gotten rid of. That is absolutely untrue. You can be removed.”
Maria Mohr was next to speak to the court concerning an agenda item authored by Juan Morales and Alex Caballero concerning the perceived racial profiling of juvenile probation children.
Mohr said that judging from the language in the agenda item, she guessed that this was about recent discussion regarding moving the county extension office to the juvenile probation building.
“I did hear – myself personally – I did hear one of the gentlemen standing behind a county employee last week when we were standing at the back of the room since there was no chairs, and he was constantly standing there saying that this was a race issue.” Mohr said. “I even attempted at that time to tell him this was nothing about race. If you review the videos, nothing in the videos say anything about race. This had nothing to do with any type of racial profiling regarding the move.”
“I think it is a tragedy that race has been brought into this.” Mohr said. “This was a taxpayer issue. Paying for that move should not have had to happen because it was not considered an emergency. It had nothing to do with racial profiling of anyone and I think it is a true tragedy that that is how it is interpreted.”
Courtney Hodges was next to speak about the same agenda item referred to by Mohr.
Hodges read the definition of racial profiling to the court, noting that the practice is typically a discriminatory act carried out by law enforcement officers.
“Racial profiling refers to discriminatory practices,” Hodges said. “The juvenile probationers have not suffered the effect of discriminatory practices because I questioned the safety and surroundings of my children, as well as county tax dollars being spent on a non-emergency move of the judge’s office.”
“Racial profiling typically involves practices of law enforcement, or those acting in a policing capacity,” Hodges said. “I am neither one. What I am is a parent who certainly has the right to question the decisions that will affect the environment of my children. I am a taxpayer who is entitled to question the decision by my county government and I am a parent and a taxpayer who sees the issues of racial profiling on today’s agenda as a way to shift the focus away from the reckless decision and the financial irresponsibility of the judge’s office.”
Later in the meeting, the agenda item addressed by Mohr and Hodges was brought forward by Juan Morales.
Morales said he was present at a recent meeting of Commissioners Court when the issue of moving the county judge’s office and the extension service office was discussed.
“I did not hear anyone in this court even defend the children,” Morales said. “No one defended the children that are in the juvenile delinquency program.”
“They are there for a reason and I understand that they are there for a reason,” Morales said. “They messed up and they are paying the price for what they did. Just because they are there, doesn’t mean that there can be abuse from us adults by putting them in a bind by saying, ‘They are the reason we are not going to do this,’ or ‘They are the reason we don’t want to go into there,’”
Morales said the children are under control when at the juvenile detention center.
“They are under control. They are not wandering around. They are not going to pick a fight with anybody who happens to be in the area there, but I did not hear any body defend them,” Morales said.
Morales said that when he asked to speak with Commissioner James Rosales, Rosales then asked a security officer to remove him from the meeting.
Commissioner Rosales then responded to Morales’ comments.
“You speak to me with respect, when you speak to me,” Rosales said. “When you don’t, I will have you removed.”
Morales said he was just seeking an explanation and after the meeting learned that the situation was different than what he first perceived while listening from the back of the room.
“The children are not to blame for anything that we adults do,” Morales said.
Commissioner Rosales said that he would never disrespect someone speaking to the court, but what happened during the meeting required him to ask the officer to remove Morales from the room.
“You called me a racist,” Rosales said. “I’m not here to fight with you.”
“When you come over to me, in my court, and call me a racist, or say that I am racist against Mexicans – those were your exact words – … Mr. Rene Pena was there and Pete Jauer was there. I would never talk about these children.”
“I would never be racist against anybody,” Rosales said. “I don’t even see colors until somebody mentions it to me. The only reason that I did get upset, and I did get upset, I am going to be honest with you. I did and I apologize for that, but don’t ever come into my court and call me a racist.”
“I did not say ‘racist’ – I said the situation was lending itself to be presented that way,” Morales responded. “That’s all I said and if you misinterpreted it, fine, then both of us are in error.”
“I’m not in error,” Rosales said.
“I said it can be led or perceived to that situation that we are racists, and I don’t think anybody here is, anymore. It was just a matter of clarifying.”
Morales apologized for any misunderstanding that may have happened during the discussion.
“We are clear, sir,” Rosales said, as he stood and shook hands with Morales as discussion on the agenda item came to a close.
Commission Jauer said that the children in the juvenile probation program have always been respectful to him whenever he came into contact with them.
“In defense, maybe I should have got up and said that in court, but I didn’t,” Jauer said.