Morales claims persecution, harassment and discrimination

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Apr 28, 2014 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

Judy Morales

Judy Morales

WBDaily has obtained a long undated memo, ostensibly written by former Temple, Texas city councilwoman Judy Morales in which she claims that certain citizens and officials were out to get her – and that she was a victim of media harassment by the Temple Daily Telegram.

The memo, written as a detailed timeline of Morales’ problems with the City of Temple, TX and Bell County, TX pulls no punches. In the memo, Morales states, “I feel I have been treated differently…” She states that there was an intention to remove her from her council seat because “I was always promoting for the budget to be used in the blighted parts of our city and did not always agree with some of their proposals.”

She goes to to say: “I feel I have been under duress and have been persecuted, discriminated against, harassed and a victim of oppression.” She accused reporter Geoff West of the Temple Daily Telegram of “twisting” stories, and maintains that she discussed what to do about emails with employee Mari Paul only because of fear of harassment from West. The emails in question had to do with possible use of county facilities for electioneering. “I did clean out some old emails,” she writes, “and some did include some documents and campaign information.” She goes on to say that she did not stop to think that this was illegal.

The memo fixes blame for Morales’ problems in several places. Not only did the other city council members want her gone due to her views on how the budget should be used, but others were also out to get her including county employee Mari Paul. Paul provided Bell County HR Director Steve Cook with a recorded telephone conversation in which Morales and Paul had discussed the incriminating emails. “This is when I discovered that Mari Paul had purposefully set me up and was recording our conversation without my knowledge,” she wrote.

In the memo, Morales also notes that Temple Mayor Danny Dunn asked her to resign in early February and that the Temple Daily Telegram “crossed the line” by publishing sidebars about other issues related to her family. Morales says her fellow council members “…publicly were very insulting and treated me with no respect” during an open workshop on March 17th.

C. J. Grisham under arrest

C. J. Grisham under arrest

She closes her memo by stating that Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols was “pressured” to file charges against her due to “city council members who were constantly calling him and the constant media coverage.” She also singles out C. J. Gresham [sic] for speaking in opposition to her before the council and notes that he “is the man who was arrested for carrying a loaded shotgun walking down the highway.” (Note: C.J. Grisham made national news when arrested and charged with interfering with a police officer’s duties, but his carrying of the rifle was not illegal.)

Here is the full text of the memo:

Judy Morales issues with Conflict of Interest while on Temple City Council:

On December 5, 2010, I was also approached by the Mayor, Bill Jones III, to consider to run for Temple City council, District 2 seat. I was at that time serving on the Temple College board of Trustees and was serving as Chairperson.

On January 10th, 2011, 1:00 p.m. before filing for Temple City council seat I went to my boss, the county Judge, Judge Jon Burrows to seek permission since I was still employed as Director of the Bell County HELP Center and to ask if there would be any conflict and ask for his support. He gave me his support for me to run for City Council.

On January 15th 4:00 p.m. I also went to Jonathan Graham, Temple City Attorney, and asked if my running would be in any conflict of interest since I was working at the HELP Center. He stated NO.

On February 3, 2011, I filed for my candidacy for Temple City Council, District 2.
I did form a Team of supporters, open a checking account and began campaigning.
I held several evening campaign meetings at County Lane Seniors with supporters.

In Saturday, May 4, 2011, 8:00 p.m. I was elected by 92% of the voters.
On May 2, 2012, 5:00 p.m. I was elected Mayor Pro-tem by the City Council members.

Conflict of Interest

( Note: I feel I have been treated differently throughout this whole situation. It appears that the whole intention was to remove me from the City Council seat because I was promoting for the budget to be used in the blighted parts of our city and did not always agree with some of their proposals ). I feel I have been under duress and have been persecuted, discriminated against, harassed and a victim of oppression.

Thursday, August 15th , 3:00 p.m. 2013 –Workshop- Conflict of Interest
Jonathan Graham presented a workshop on Conflicts of Interest. (This charter was written in 1922 and this section has not been updated.) He gave an overview and a few examples of conflicts. It was at this point that he discussed the City Charter and reviewed Section 4.9 – Conflict of Interest: “ No Councilmember shall, during his term of office, hold any other public office or employment, compensation for which is paid out of public funds”. Another section stated “ Any knowing or willful violation of this section shall constitute malfeasance in office, and any elected or appointed official, or any employee of the City, guilty thereof shall thereby forfeit his office or position.”
Comment: When he mentioned this, I thought “ could that be me? But thought again, if so Jonathan Graham would have told me so when I went to him in 2011”

September 6, 2013- 3:00 p.m. Jonathan Graham called me and asked to meet with him and the city manager, David Blackburn. It was at that time he reviewed the city charter policy and said he had researched this part and it appeared that I could be in conflict. When I asked why he had not said this before, he stated he did not realize that I worked for the County. It was puzzling to me since I have worked for Bell County for 20 years and I always say Bell County HELP Center as my position. Mr. Graham & Mr. Blackburn told me since this had been discovered that I could either resign my position on the Council or quit my job in order to stay to serve on the City council. I was asked not to return on the City council meetings until this situation was resolved.

On Thursday, September 12, 2013 I visited with city Attorney, Jonathan Graham and suggested that if I quit my employment with Bell County and serve as a contractor to the HELP Center that would take care of the conflict of interest.

On Tuesday, September 17, , 2013, Jonathan Graham and I went to visit with Judge Jon Burrows, my boss and the County Auditor, Donna Eakin, to explain the situation and to discuss options. The discussion was either I could resign my employment with Bell County or resign from the city council. It so happened that I was eligible to retire from Bell County in September 2013. It was also explained that if offered that I could become a independent consultant and under contact with Bell County continue to offer my services until a new person was hired and trained at the Bell County HELP Center. Mr. Graham stated that would be acceptable under the charter policies because I was not a “employee” of the county. I would lose all benefits but could remain at the HELP Center. Judge Burrows agreed and was going to have the county attorney to draw a contract.

September 19th – the City Council met at their regular meeting time, however I did not attend since I had not yet resigned from the County.

September 27. 2013, 1:15 p.m. I went to HR and signed the papers to officially retire from Bell county. ( I had served 21 years at MHMR as Director of the HELP Center and 20 years under Bell County auspice for 20 years at Director of the HELP center ( total 41 years)
After prayer and deep consideration I felt that it was time for me to retire within a few years and maybe this was the time to retire instead of waiting. I also felt that I could make more impact in my community serving on City Council, especially since we have be seeing gains in East Temple and was on the brink of adopting a Master Plan for East Temple, which was one of my goals so we could see positive changes in this blighted area of the city. My effective date to retire from the County was October 1, 2013.

Oct. 1, 2013- I officially retired from the Bell County HELP Center. I continued to volunteer at the HELP Center until in order for a smooth transition within the Center until the County could find a replacement.

Oct. 3rd, 2013- I Attended City Council meeting

October 8th, 2013- Meet with Judge Burrows and Donna Eakin, County Auditor, to discuss the terms of my contract with the county. They agreed to finalize the contract in November and for me to start December 1, 2013 as the Independent Contractor. I also agreed to continue to volunteer at the HELP Center so that there would be no interruptions in services or program.

October 17, 2013- I Attended the City council Meeting. East Temple Master Plan was adopted by City Council

Note: I had informed the Bell County HELP Center staff that I was retiring and that I would volunteer at the Center until a replacement could be found.

Email Issues:

October 31st, 2013- I was again contacted by Temple Daily Telegram reporter Geoff West.
I was called by Mr. West and was asked if I had retired from the HELP Center. I was surprised and asked why would this be news. He stated that his editor had wanted him to follow up with this information because he wanted to see if “ I had manipulated the elections so that I could run for office by knowing before about the charter policy!”

He also contacted the City Attorney, County Judge, & City Manager to get their take on this situation. The article come out on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 ( attached- front page – top section)

November 7, 2013 – Geoffy West , Temple Daily Telegram reporter, again called me and left a message that his editor wanted him to look into my campaign activities in 2011. He had also called the staff at the HELP Center and wanted to arrange to talk to staff and me on Tuesday, Nov. 12th .

November 8, 2013- 2:15 p.m.Geoffy West left a message on my cell phone stating they were going to check my emails related to my 2011 campaign
( Note: I was out of the office attending a church retreat Nov. 7 & 8th) I also received a call from Judge Burrows about 4:30 p.m. that afternoon and he stated that he had received a Public Information request to see all my computer correspondents from Mr. West.

November 8, 2013- 3:15 p.m. Received a call from County Judge John Burrows telling me that the Telegram had Filed a Public Information regarding my emails related to my 2011 campaign.

+++November 8, 2013- 4:35 p.m. – I called the Bell \County HELP Center and talked to Mari Paul who was a case worker at the HELP Center and who had volunteered to help with my campaign in 2011. I told her that the TDT would probably be calling and asked her to say “ No Comment” and explained about the Public Information request. I then told her I did not know what they were looking for except it was about the 2011 campaign and asked her if she could go back and see what was in it because I did not want more “ negative publicity” again for the City, County or anything else that may be in the emails during that time. I had already had a bad experience with the TDT regarding the Charter issue where they twisted the story so it could look like it had been a conspiracy. At that time Mari agreed to meet with me Monday, Nov. 11th at the Center so we could see the emails. I did talk about options of what we could do about the emails only because of the “ fear” of harassment from the TDT reporter. Geoff West was very aggressive during my first encounter with him and did sensationalized the City Charter story.
( note: I found out later that Geoff West, the Temple Daily Telegram reporter had been convicted for several DUI’s and also charged with “ stalking”)

I did have my laptop with me at the retreat since I was going to do some work, as time permitted, and did look to see what email I had. I usually try and clean out my computer since I am always reminder that I do not have enough space. I did clean out some ole emails and some did include some documents that had campaign information. I did not even stop to think that this was illegal, I just felt that I was under duress because of the last experience with the Charter issue the newspaper and the TDT reporter.

Monday, November 11, 2012- 2:30 p.m. – I went to the Bell County HELP Center to do some work and called Mari twice since she had not shown up at the Center. I left a message and then asked her if she could not come in to let me know and if she would give me her pass word so I could check to see the emails. Mari never returned my call. I left the center about 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013- 8:15 a.m. I went to the Bell County HELP Center, again as a Volunteer I noticed that Mari Paul was not in the office. I asked Esther Roque if Mari Paul was coming in and was told she was taking care of some business.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013- 8:30 a.m. I received a call from County Jon Burrows and he stated that something has come to his attention and that I should not go to the office today. He then asked if I could meet Him around 2:30 p.m. I left the office at 8:40 a.m.

***Nov. 12, 2013- 2:30 p.m. I went to the meet with County Judge Jon Burrows expecting to only meet with him. When I arrived I saw him in a conference room filled with people- all county commissioners, county auditor, Human resources person , county clerk and others. He told me in front of everyone that a HELP Center person had come to the office to complain that I had demanded her to delete emails and had instructed ( forced) her to assist me in my campaign. Since I did not know at the time who he was talking about or exactly what he was talking about all I said there must be some misunderstanding . I also said I do not deny I may have made some mistakes, but still not sure the whole details of what they were talking about. Steve Cook, the HR person then said, We have a recording of a conversation with Ms. Paul.
This is when I discovered that Mari Paul had purposely set me up and was recording our conversation without my knowledge.
Judge Burrows said that it be best for not if I did not go back to the center until things cool down. I stated I would like to obtain some of my items but would need a truck. Steve Cook, the HR Director, then offered to go with me since he had a truck and would assist me with the items. Before I left the center I did return my center’s keys and left my computer and other items there. He also said he would let me know when I could pick up my other items.

Nov. 13, 2013- 3:30 p.m. I received a call from the City Public Information person, Shannon Gowan, stating that they had received a call from Channel 25 because they had received a call stating that I had been “escorted out of the HELP Center ‘’
(Note: No one knew about me even being at the Center expect Esther Roque, Mari Paul’s aunt who also worked at the center and was there at the time. It appears one of them had called the media)

Nov. 14, 2013- 3:30 p.m. Channel 25 female reported came knocking on my door and asked if I had retired from the HELP Center and I had been escorted out of the HELP Center, I stated “No” and closed the door.

Nov. 15, 2013- I sent a email to county Judge Jon Burrows and HR Person, Steve Cook and informed them of the visit by Channel 25. I stated that that this was a form of harassment by they HELP Center staff, namely Mari Paul and Esther Rogue

Nov. 17, 2013- the Temple Daily Telegram had a front page article and had listed the recording conversation with Mari Paul and listed the emails discovered during the 2011 election campaign.
Note) It was later evident that Mari Paul was the one who had submitted the tape to the Telegram)
Nov. 18, 2013- I called Gonzalo Barrientos to ask advice. He referred me to an attorney Mr. Buck Wood.

Nov. 19, 2013- I called Mr. Buck Wood and explained my situation. He stated in his opinion that 1) the charter was unconstitutional (outdated) 2) there was a 2 year statue of limitations regarding the campaign complaint. He offered to talk to the city Attorney, Jonathan Graham . Later that day Mr. Wood email me and said everything should be alright, however, regarding the email situation that I should seek a local attorney.

Nov. 20, 2013- 3:15 p.m- I received the copies of the emails from Geoff West regarding Mari Paul’s statement to HR a copy of her written transcript of the emails.

Nov. 21, 2013- I called Buck Wood again sent him the copy of Mari Paul’s statement. He suggested I get a local attorney regarding the email situation.

Nov. 21, 2013- I called and made an appointment with Mr. Stephen Blythe.

Nov. 25, 2013- Met with Mr. Blythe and discussed several ways to address the situation .
His first step was to talk to talk to the County Attorney, Jim Nichols, and see if he was planning to file any charges against Judge Burrows or Me.

Nov. 29, 2013- Geoff West called and wanted another statement from me since they were going to run another story. I contact Mr. Blythe and he suggest I make no comment.
I sent in this statement “ Because of the pending review of this situation it would not be appropriate to respond at this time” .

December 1, 2013- Geoff West – TDT ran the story and inserted parts of the email conversation with Mari Paul.

December 1, 2013- I received a call from the Mayor, Danny Dunn stating that the council wanted to meet with me in executive session on December 5, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. He did not indicate what the meeting was going to be about.
I looked at the posted City Agenda which stated that they were meeting regarding the allegations that I had used county resources during my campaign.

December 3, 2013- Mr. Blythe called me to set up appointment for Dec. 4th. 12:00 p.m. noon – We agreed on requesting a temporary leave of absence on City Council.

December 5, 2013- Met with City council,( Attorney Stephen Blythe) and gave letter on the temporary leave of absence on City Council. The council agreed that I can attend functions only related to city activities, not public.

December 6, 2013 – TDT article regarding “council discuss future of Morales”

December 6, 2013- Jeff West & TDT article again regarding HELP Center, Bell County & city council. It noted that County Commissioner Richard Cortesse said that “ I was not welcome at the HELP Center” ( very insulting- no reason given)

January 9, 2014- Attended news conference for LULAC . State Chair Elia Mendoza and Miguel Ortiz, state attorney stated all allegations against local members, Rosa Hernandez, Joe Martinez Sr. Florencio Olivares and Judy Morales by Sylvia Gomez, Frances Fischer and David Martinez have been cleared of all charges. ( article)

January 21, 2014- Met with Stephen Blythe to discuss status of case. He stated no word yet. Suggested we wait to hear form Bell county.

January 27, 2014- Received a call from Becky Howard, a HELP Center employee, stated that Mari Paul walked off the job and quit suddenly because Maria Foster was appointed Office manager of both HELP centers. Maria Paul submitted a 3 page letter

January 28, 2014- 1:30 p.m. received a call from Steve Cook HR for Bell county asking me if there were any issues between Mari Paul and Maria Foster because Mari Paul was accusing MF of something ( he did not say) ..I told him I had always been able to work with Maria Foster for the last 20 years without any major issues..

February 6, 2014- Editorial article by Mari Paul defending herself and accusations towards me.

February 11, 2014- TDT- article regarding investigation complete by County Attorney

February 12, 2014- TDT article statements and allegation by Mari Paul about me and about her issue in not getting job at HELP Center.

February 13, 2014- TDT article statements from Judge Jon Burrows regarding the emails

February 13, 2014- Received a call from Mayor Danny Dunn . He stated that he would not support me due to the emails situation and asked me to resign. Told him I would consider, however, my concern was that they were working on the City Budget for next year and I knew they would leave District 2 unrepresented and would not include East Temple in the Budget.

*** February 15, 2014- TDT news article about the City and the City Charter issue and why was I being signaled out when there were at least one other city council person who had worked for a public entity and they allowed her to remain on the council

February 20, 2014- I filed for re-election for District 2 position on City Council.

February 21, 2014- TDT front page article (Geoff Osborne) new article about me rejoining council- had written statement from me regarding why I returned

February 25, 2014- Met with Stephen Blythe and he informed me that the County Attorney had asked for an outside investigator to review my case.

February 26, 2014- TDT regarding email costs ( $50,000) for Watchdog wire.com and investigation

February 28, 2014- City Election filing closed- I had no opponent.

February 28, 2014- City Secretary , Lacy Bergeson, called and stated that Francis Fischer had visited the office and had asked for a copy of the City Charter.

March 1, 2014- TDT- Editorial by Sandra Horn – negative comments about me

March 4, 2014- TDT article about Recall election & me

March 5 , 2014- TDT article about recall, Schneider, me and council

March 6, 2014- TDT article about me returning to Council against Mayor’s wishes & recall

March 7, 2014- TDT article regarding me and the investigation & LULAC

***March 7 2014- TDT article about recall and council & me

March 6, 2014- TDT article about city and emails & me

March 8, 2014, Tuesday, 1:00 pm. attorney Steven Blythe called me and stated they were going to charge me the next day, March 12th and they would place a warrant for my arrest. Suggested that I go ahead and go in the place bond the next day.
March 9, Wednesday, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. I went into Bell County and posted Bond ( $1,500 bond- paid $45)
I was charge with a misdemeanor offense of Destruction/removal/alter of Public information”
The intent was to avoid negative publicity and not to impair its availability as evidence.

March 12, 2014- TDT article about recall and Judy Morales

March 12- 2014 TDT front page article about Judy Morales being “ arrested” ( note: I was not arrested but had volunteered to go in and surrender.)

March 13, 2014- TDT article about “ If I would resign” & MGS
Note) The telegram crossed the line by publishing other issues that was happening within my family.

March 13, 2014- TDT Editorial by Roscoe Harrison –positive comments about me

March 14, 2014- Belton Journal article about me being charged

March 15, 2014- TDT picture of Francis Fischer with Tee Shirt “ I will not delete”

***March 15, 2014- TDT article about previous council members may not have been eligible to run because of conflict of interest in charter ( Martha Tyroch, served as Mayor Pro-tem in several years and worked for the VA Hospital) She was not asked to resign. (Note: The same city Manager and City attorney were employed by the city at that time as they are now.)

March 15, 2014- TDT article regarding charter Schneider & Me & council

March 17, 2014- 3:00 p.m. City Council had a special meeting called. It was going to be a executive meeting with me again, but decided to keep it open. At the meeting each of the City Council men stated why they would not support me and asked me to step down or they would vote me out. They publicly were very insulting and treated me with no respect. I told them that I would consider it, but the reason I have stayed on the council was mainly because District 2 needed to be represented and the voters in district 2 have stated they voted me in as their city council representative and that they should be the ones to decide who represents them, not other district representatives.

March 19, 2014- TDT article regarding Mari Paul Recall and Tea Party & me.

March 20, 2014- TDT article regarding council considering to remove me from seat

March 20, 2014 , 11:00 a.m. I held a News conference and announced that I was resigning as District 2 because the city council had already decided they were going to vote me out for ”Just Cause” but never did say what the “ Just Cause” was. I did request that at least they would honor the budget which had been passed for East Temple last year be honored and gave them a copy of the budget & projects approved in October 2013 for 2014.

March 21, 2014 – TDT front page regarding my stepping down from council

March 21, 2014- TDT article regarding “ what is next” for District 2

March 22, 2014- TDT article on Recall election, and me & comments by Sue Hamby

March 25, 2014= TDT article about voting count and repeat about me & Mari Paul.

March 26, 2014- TDT article on recall status, election & me

April 4, 2014- Francis Fisher spoke at City Council- stated they should investigate me with Texas Rangers, FBI , Etc

April 6, 2014- TDT letter to Editor by Francis Fisher stating that I should not be allowed to serve on council.

April 9, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. I appeared in Court. I was given – Deferred adjudication, a $750 fine, 9 month probation and 24 hours community service.
Judge Mischitan did say that once completed the probation that there will be no record of my conviction.

( Note: I feel that the County Attorney had been pressured to file charges due to the city council members who were constantly calling him and the constant Media coverage)

April 17, 2014- Chris Coleman and CJ Gresham spoke at City Council stated I should not be allowed to serve new term because of the misdemeanor and that the City council failed to do their duty by not forcing me to resign early on. Francis Fisher came to City Council bus to late to speak.

Note: I am still being harassed by the LULAC Council members’ of 4746 and disgruntled citizens who have joined in with Mari Paul, Francis Fisher, Sylvia Gomez. CJ Gresham is the man who was arrested for carrying a loaded shotgun walking down the highway. They are publicly making negative statements to give the impression that I am not trustworthy.

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