Forney Voters to Face Critical Council Election
Post Managing Editor
A Post Editorial
The March 1, 2013 General Election filing deadline is quickly approaching and once again the voters of Forney will face a critical election.
In Forney’s City Council race four key positions will open to election, the Mayor’s chair and Places 2, 4 and 6. And so far, only the Place 2 Council Member, Ray Stephens, and the Place 4 Council Member, James Hatley, have filed candidate applications.
A political pond where old sharks reign supreme, these four council positions have manipulated the direction of the city for years, and because these individuals have held quorum tightly within their clutches for so long, Darren Rozell, James Hatley and Andy Parker are ultimately responsible for the current state of affairs at Forney City Hall.
Over the past few years council driven initiatives such as the sale of alcohol within Forney and then within the Spellman Amphitheater, a city-wide smoking ban, increases in water, sewer and tax rates, increasing downtown revitalization expenditures, and the questionable management practices of City Manager Brooks, have all plagued the citizens of Forney.
Always paying attention and willing to voice their opposition when necessary, many, many times the citizens of Forney have turned out in mass, at Council meetings, work shops and public hearings.
Unfortunately, only on the rarest of occasions has citizen opposition fazed Council intentions, therefore the citizens of Forney will need to educate themselves and then vote accordingly.
Starting with the longest reigning shark in the pond, the voters of Forney have re-elected James Hatley to the Forney City Council six times. Each time Hatley has run for re-election he has run unopposed. He has never mounted a campaign, put out campaign signs or even asked the voters of Forney to elect him.
In October 2012, The Forney Post reported that Mayor Pro-tem, James Hatley, has for many years now been receiving monthly payments for print jobs contracted through Forney City Manager, Brian Brooks.
Although Hatley has remained silent regarding his employment with J C Graphics, it has recently been confirmed that City Manager Brooks is continuing to supply Hatley with city contracted print jobs.
Voters will quickly discover from the invoices below that in November and December 2012, J C Graphics was paid $1,199.00 per month to print and mail out the Forney city newsletter.
Establishing himself a steady stream of income, James Hatley, a full time employee of J C Graphics and a long seated member of the Forney City Council, is being paid monthly to print and distribute the city’s monthly newsletter.
Doing just the simple math, Hatley’s employer, J C Graphics, has averaged between ten and twenty thousand dollars per year since 2006, and now, by virtue of City Manager Brooks, James Hatley, is continuing to financially profit from serving on the Forney City Council.
Continuing to follow the money, The Forney Post very recently confirmed with county authorities that Forney city attorneys have attempted to justify the dealings of Hatley and Brooks to state authorities.
City attorney’s, Brown & Hoffmeister, claim that the city need not adhere to the state required bidding process because these print jobs are under the $50k bid requirement.
Bid requirement laws do not clearly define if this $50k bid minimum is per year, or if it’s a cumulative amount, therefore city attorneys are insisting that Hatley and Brooks are technically not breaking the law.
However, these same attorney’s make no justification for the fact that the Texas Government Code and the Forney City Charter both very clearly state that an elected official may not do business with the municipal they serve, period.
State authorities are declining to prosecute Mayor Pro-tem James Hatley for multiple misdemeanors resulting from his sweet deal because ‘it would not be an easy case to prosecute’.
Apparently, Hatley and Brooks are manipulating a “loop hole” within the law and prosecuting them to prevent their continued misuse of city funds would be costly and possibly futile for the taxpayers of Forney.
The taxpayers of Forney would have to foot the bill to have the courts system force a correct interpretation of the law, and in turn, city attorneys would use city funds to legally defend the actions of Hatley and Brooks.
Because a costly challenge to the law would result, state authorities are advising the citizens of Forney to save their tax dollars and simply not re-elect James Hatley to the Forney City Council.
The simple and provable facts are that James Hatley discovered a loop hole within the law. He has exploited this loop hole for at least six years and he has financially benefited from its exploitation. And now, he would like the citizens of Forney to accept his sweet deal, allow him to continue profiting from his Council position, and then be gullible enough to re-elect him to a seventh term in office.
Mayor Darren Rozell and Council Member, Andy Parker, are also up for re-election although neither politician has officially announced his intent to seek re-election.
Darren Rozell has been on the City Council since 2006 and became Mayor of Forney in 2009. Already unofficially campaigning for re-election, the biggest re-election issue facing Mayor Rozell is the fact that he is individually being sued by Pate Transportation Partners and Forney Road Builders.
Pate Transportation Partners and Forney Road Builders have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the City of Forney, Darren Rozell and Brian Brooks, for accounting errors in connection with the Forney Pass-through Toll Project.
The Pate lawsuit is scheduled to go to court on February 26, 2013. As of Tuesday evening February 19, 2013, the Council and City Manager Brooks were feverishly working to settle this lawsuit in order to prevent case specifics from becoming public.