Hays County Troubles

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 19, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Several members of the Hays County Commissioners' Court have gotten themselves into a terrible and embarrassing political and legal bind this past year over the Heatherwood subdivision near Dripping Springs. And they're trying desperately to maneuver out of the quagmire they created by supporting this scandalous development. Their behavior concerning Heatherwood has been so harmful to the public interest that their future political careers depend on how well they cover up what they have done.
   County Judge Jim Powers and Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Molenaar have, at great cost to taxpayers, consistently supported the nefarious Heatherwood subdivision of their avowed developer friends Paul Watkins and Rex Baker. In May, after creating turmoil in commissioners’ court, Powers encouraged his developer friends to sue the county. They did.
   When a competent outside attorney, hired to defend the county against the lawsuit Powers had invited, told commissioners she could win the case and recover all legal fees from the developers, Powers and Molenaar caused her to resign. Instead of requiring the developers to pay for their frivolous suit, Powers and Molenaar engineered a "settlement" wherein county taxpayers will pay legal fees for both the county and developer in a suit Powers helped to create and encouraged his developer friends to file.
   In a clumsy and transparent attempt to cover up their mess, Molenaar and Powers called for Hays County District Attorney Mike Wenk to appoint a special investigator to probe "leaked executive session information that may have damaged the County’s interest" and then accused others of the offense they had already committed themselves.
   Wenk has shown that he will play ball with Powers and Molenaar by appointing an investigator Wenk claims is "absolutely qualified" but won’t identify, or explain the jurisdiction, authority, and responsibility involved. In other words, we now have "secret police" in Hays County.
   The irony is that while Commissioner Carter and HaysCAN have worked tirelessly to protect the public interest, Powers and Molenaar have been keeping their Heatherwood developer friends up to date and working tirelessly for them in commissioners' court.
   HaysCAN sees a witch hunt on the way to cover up the mischief of Powers and Molenaar. Citizens should call and write to these two officials to demand an accounting and an independent outside investigator such as the Texas Rangers, whose responsibility it is to carry out these kinds of investigations. That’s exactly what Powers, Molenaar, and others in Hays County government fear.
Charles O'Dell
Director, HaysCAN
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