Commissioner Carlos Salazar Jr, said, “...Obviously Mr. DeWitt isn’t taking responsibility... isn’t acknowledging that this occurred.
Click here for a transcript of Susan Stasny's comments during the meeting Click here for a transcript of Carlos Salazar Jr.'s motion as approved by commissioners.
“We have people, citizens in the community that came forward, filed complaints — I certainly believe that they deserve an apology at least by this court, a least by this court member.”
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, who had seconded Salazar’s motion, said, “I think that is all these individuals were looking for from the get-go — an apology.
“If they would have gotten that, none of this would have followed.”
DeWitt retired Thursday afternoon from his position, saying in his retirement letter to County Judge David Silva, “The reason for my retirement is to alleviate the creation of obstacles in my political campaign for commissioner (of) Precinct 2...
“The current Bee County commissioners have created a hostile work environment...
“The taxpayers of Bee County deserve better of their commissioners than to allow them to expend taxpayer dollars and countless hours of Bee County staff time in an effort to intimidate, harass and retaliate against a county employee who fairly defeated an incumbent commissioner in a political contest.”
DeWitt won the Republican nomination for commissioner of Precinct 2, defeating incumbent Susan Stasny. He does not have a Democratic opponent in November.
Because DeWitt is no longer a county employee, commissioners could take no other action against him.
Stasny, in a statement made after the commissioners voted, said, “Under oath, Mr. Dennis DeWitt failed to deny making the racial remarks reported by Amanda Gonzales and her sister Lori Keller or Brian Cushing and his business partner Willie Gonzales in their separate complaints.
“Under oath, seven times Mr. DeWitt said, ‘not to my recollection’ to relevant questions during his interview with the investigator, David Morgan.”
Morgan, emergency management coordinator, was asked by commissioners previously to take statements from those making the allegations along with witnesses and provide that to the court.
Stasny, who brought the allegations to the court’s attention earlier this year, said that she knew the risks of bringing up the allegations during an election.
“I knew that I could lose votes by revealing the complaints about Mr. DeWitt; however, who better than me to risk four years of public office to inform the public,” she said.
“I fully accept the decision of the voters. On Dec. 31, I will leave the office of commissioner, Precinct 2, with dignity, self-respect and a clear conscience.”
Commissioner Salazar made the motion to sustain, or confirm that they had sufficient, credible proof that the allegations were true and that DeWitt was guilty. Commissioner Rodriguez offered a second to the motion.
Salazar, in his motion to the court, said, “1. That Dennis DeWitt violated the Bee County code of personnel conduct by failing to ‘respect the dignity of every individual’ with each of the complaints when Mr. DeWitt used the racial slurs ‘wetback and/or Mexican/meskin.’
“2. That Dennis DeWitt violated the Bee County personnel policies by ‘unauthorized use of official information’ and ‘unauthorized or abuse of official authority’ when Mr. DeWitt informed Mr. Gonzales that he owed taxes. The notification of delinquent taxes and the determination of tax payment deadlines are not in the job description of the community affairs director.
“3. That Dennis DeWitt violated the Bee County personnel policies by ‘unauthorized or abuse of official authority’ when Mr. DeWitt repeatedly informed Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Cushing on Jan. 16, 2009, of his status as a deputy and stated that he could arrest them when discussing an unauthorized landfill on Mr. Gonzales’ land after Gonzales and Cushing had removed the debris to a certified landfill prior to the Jan. 16, 2009, meeting in DeWitt’s office and prior to the 30-day deadline to clear the debris stated in DeWitt’s certified letter to Gonzales and Cushing dated Jan. 14, 2009.
“4. That Dennis DeWitt violated the Bee County personnel policies by ‘unauthorized or abuse of official authority’ when Mr. DeWitt subsequently submitted an agenda item dated April 29, 2010, for ‘discussion and action concerning unauthorized landfill and state jail felony dumping, including detailed discussion of complaints, investigation, certified letters and final action’ with copies of pictures dated Jan. 22, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2008, more than a year after the unauthorized landfill site had been properly cleared by Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Cushing in January 2009.”
While all four commissioners, including Stasny, voted in favor of the motion, Judge Silva abstained.
“Mr. DeWitt has retired,” Silva said just prior to the vote. “I understand we have to bring closure to this...
“Maybe we have gone a little too far on this. The court will rule on this, not me.”
With their vote, commissioners authorized that the following be placed in DeWitt’s personnel file with the county: the original complaints against Mr. DeWitt by Amanda Gonzales and her sister Lori Keller and by Brian Cushing and his business partner, Willie Gonzales; a copy of the commissioners court motion to sustain the issued of the previous motion; copies of letters of apology to each of the complainants from the commissioners court.
In other news, commissioners also:
• Promoted Ron Fritz to director of Community Affairs Office to replace DeWitt. Commissioners also approved posting notices that they are looking to replace Oscar Toliver Jr., who is retiring at the end of July.
• Appointed Michael Silvas Sr. to the Bee Development Authority board of directors. Silvas is replacing Dr. J.R. Castillo, who resigned the board.
• Continued discussion of moving the district attorney staff to offices in the Justice Building.
• Approved Petra Morales to continue providing mental health services for the Head Start Program.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.