To my knowledge, Iíve never met Jerry Lee. If he ran over me on a skateboard I wouldnít be able to identify the culprit, and since my personal financial statement is highlighted by a few golf clubs, 2-3 pounds of hair and a used, but much loved, cat, Iíve had no professional dealings with his office.
Most of what I know about Mr. Lee Iíve gleaned from the pages of this August publication and that is, after 23 years of apparent satisfactory service as head of the tax appraiserís office, he has come under fire from a shadowy coalition of disgruntled taxpayers who have banded together to oust him. His main supporters have been the various taxing entities he serves and, it appears, the general public. The only charge I have ever seen levied against Mr. Lee is that his bedside manner could use a little tweaking. Not one accusation of misuse of office or malfeasance has been made against him. So why is he getting the bumís rush? And why have the members of the lynch party chosen to stay anonymous?
The vigilantesí mouthpiece claims he has a petition with over 100 signatures but it has, to my knowledge, never been presented to any of the taxing entities. Until it is, itís just a rumor, and if it ever is, it becomes public record and the signers will no longer be veiled by anonymity. I suspect that ainít gonna happen. Why the secrecy? I donít know, maybe somebody read in The Art of War that itís easier to attack from concealment.
This whole proceeding has been shady from the start and The Texas Open Meetings Act has taken a beating it may never recover from. Since my jurisprudence studies were done at Selden Junior College, Iím really under qualified to wax eloquent on most areas of the law but due to my tenure at The Dublin Progress, I do know something about the Texas Open Meetings Act. The statute was created to prevent people charged with the public trust to conduct business in the open and not in some smoky back room - or the front booth at Peacockís. All an elected body can discuss behind closed doors is pending litigation, personnel problems and acquisition and divestiture of property. Thatís it, nothing more. No contract renewals, bogus petitions or bad manners; the results of those discussions have to be made public immediately. Since Mr. Lee is not employed by any of the countyís taxing entities, none of those governing officials can legally meet behind closed doors to discuss his situation.
I donít know anyone who is happy with his or her tax situation; itís just the nature of the beast. In the 20-plus years Mr. Lee has been top dog at the Central Appraisal District I seriously doubt anyone rushed into his office to thank him for the latest evaluation increase. I have heard some real horror stories regarding local evaluations - a residential lot going from $6,000 to $36,000 in a year, etc., but Iím sure thatís true of any taxing jurisdiction. But thatís all irrelevant if existing statues and regulations were adhered to and there is no evidence to the contrary.
Another curiosity is the reported $160,000 Lee was offered to quietly go away. If he is unfit for the job why is he being paid for getting the axe? Is it to keep him from getting a top tier lawyer and suing somebody Ďtil their lungs pop? Sure would like to know.
Even though the cadre of the disenchanted chooses to stay in the background, the identity of many of them is an open secret. I find it amusing that one of the ringleaders of the ouster movement has suckled at the government teat with such vigor and efficiency that he has amassed a fortune in the tens of millions of dollars. Iím curious why he would ever complain about taxes since taxpayer dollars are the source of most of his wealth.
The list of people I would like to see lose their employment is very short and Mr. Lee is not on it and he wonít be until somebody presents a factual accounting of his, so far mythical, misdeeds or he runs me down on a skateboard.
To the editor,
I would like to start by saying that it is a sad world we live in when a parent has to appeal to the coach of an opposing team to do the right thing during a sporting event. Any coach or community that has a philosophy to destroy the will and humiliate another set of young boys says a lot about the character of that coach, as well as the community as a whole. Any coach who is ahead 15-fold at halftime and still chooses to play his starting team in the second half needs a reality check. As a coach and I would assume a teacher as well, donít you have a higher responsibility than to impose your will on another, just because you are able? What kind of world would this be if we all lived our lives on a daily basis in that manner just because we could? What has happened to having a little compassion and humility in this world! This is not the world that we grew up in as kids not so long ago. We see examples so often in the news, where
events transpire between parents, coaches and even kids due to a situation getting out of control. I would think that such things would at least be on the minds of all individuals, especially coaches and educators. You have been entrusted with teaching our children such worthwhile skills as teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership. Shouldnít those things start at the top? Food for thought. Sometimes the world has its bullies, unfortunately. At times, you must be willing and prepared to stand up for whatís right and just in this world. At the very least, I hope that is a life lesson I can pass on to my children.
From a parent that shouldnít have had to say anything at all,