In August, I noticed that, although Chet Edwards declined to have a town hall meeting which would invite everyone in Somervell County, he did make arrangements, in advance, without publicity, to go to both Glen Rose Medical Center and to the high school. There was no notice in the paper that he was going to be at either place. I was curious how far in advance his staff had made arrangements; ie, was it that he, on the spur of the moment, was coming to Glen Rose or did he have adequate time to prepare a town hall meeting, with newpaper notification. I did an open records request back in August, 2009 to find out if there were communications that showed that there was enough time for him to have included everybody. And there was.
However, I didn't get all the pertinent records (emails) about Chet Edward's visit. The reason was that the private cell phone numbers of the Somervell County sheriff and deputy sheriff were included in at least one email, and GRISD asked the Attorney General if they could withhold the document due to the phone numbers. The AG ruled that if the phone was private and not government funded, it doesn't have to be shown, otherwise it does. I asked GRISD what the status of this was about a week or so ago without reply and finally decided to call up the attorney GRISD uses and ask about the disposition. The attorney sent me the email and other documens, with the phone numbers redacted (as they should be) and I am posting the record HERE. (right click to save to your hard drive to view).
The question of whether Edwards had enough time for a town hall meeting is now definitively answered. I do wonder, however about the cell phone numbers of the sheriff and deputy sheriff being given out. Why are the numbers private numbers? Or, said another way, why don't the sheriff and deputy sheriff, since apparently need exists for this, have a public governmental cell phone number that could be given out to EVERY citizen?
Victoria Sykes, on August 14, 2009 asked Wayne Rotan via email
Could you please pass along any emergency contact cell numbers that you have? I believe you mentioned that you had the deputy chief's cell, could we please have that for extra staff we'll have on hand, in the event something happens we want to have emergency numbers.
And then, in response, Wayne Rotan sent, on Sunday, August 15, 2009, the cell phone numbers of Greg Doyle and Darrell McCravey.
I asked the Somervell County treasurer about who funds the cell phones. Barbara Hutson explained to me that sometime in the near past, there had been a budget decision to no longer fund governmental cell phones (I think I remember that meeting, will have to look for it-I think it may be on this audio.) and that only if an entity required a cell phone should he or she come before the commissioners court to ask for and justify it. That, of course, saves the public money from any and all cell phones that might be used for other purposes or by others. And I seem to recall from previous meetings that if someone truly needed to have the cell phone for emergency reasons, he or she would, and, because it was being funded by taxpayer money, all bills would be available for persusal to be sure the cell phone was not being abused.
On the other hand.... Seems to me that the sheriff and the deputy sheriff ought to have a publicly funded cell phone number AND that that number not be private only to some. Why and to whom is Mr Doyle and Mr McCravey giving out private phone numbers? I don't believe a publicly elected and funded official nor one who is hired and takes taxpayer money ought to be using a private cell phone for communications. Why, for example, should Chet Edwards or Mr Rotan get an extra special line to the law that other citizens do not.
Ms Hutson did tell me that the decision to de fund the cell phones was not unanimous and I suspect it may be, at least in part, for these reasons.