|« Very sorry for technical issues||Judge jails previous opponent - and response »|
chutzpah, hutzpah [ˈxʊtspə] n Informal shameless audacity; impudence [from Yiddish]
Patricia Crigger has continued in office, trying to lead the District Clerk's Office, while under felony charges of corruption. Crigger not only refused to take a leave of absence, but instead has attempted to put on a show of there is "no problem."
Crigger's reaction to the indictment was to promote the alleged two co-conspirators and give them a raise in pay. Crigger promoted[ed.: caution, large file]:
- Rebecca Littrell from Senior Administer making $52,766 to Chief Deputy District Clerk, now receiving a salary of $64,213.
- Sherry Bell from Lead Clerk making $49,190 to Senior Administer, now receiving a salary of $51,650.
Crigger herself was given a raise by the voters after her indictment from approximately $65,000 to $110,998.
By appointing the two other top managers in the department who are under indictments, Crigger has created a vacuum of leadership. If Patricia Crigger took a leave of absence, resigns, or is convicted, there will be no senior management able to temporarily take over the District Clerk's Office. Crigger has made it difficult so there will be no senior management in place to temporarily take over the District Clerk's Office. (If the Crigger resigns or convicted, the Board of Collin County District Judges will appoint a new District Clerk.)
And last week, Patricia Crigger, Rebecca Littrell, and Sherry Bell used county money to attend a convention together in Las Vegas. According to a Open Records request, the County Auditor confirmed that the three alleged co-conspirators traveled to Vegas from July 10 to July 15, 2011 to attend the National Association of Court Management Annual Conference.
The bills are all not in yet, but the conference will cost the Collin County taxpayers several thousand dollars.
Also in April, Crigger received a county check for $1,308, and $1,208 went to Rebecca Littrell for travel reimbursement. During the entire year to date, the rest of the un-indicted staff members of the District Clerk's office have spent less than $360 on travel total.
Yes, chutzpah is one way to make crime pay.
Patricia Crigger, District Clerk
Last June, The Texas Rangers targeting the District Clerk's Office raided the Collin County Courthouse. In July, a grand jury indicted 6 employees of the District Clerk's department, including Patricia Crigger, for conspiracy and theft of more than $20,000 in government money. At that time, Patricia Crigger was the Republican nominee for District Clerk. Facing no real oppositions, Crigger was the next "Elect District Clerk", who would be sworn in on January 1, 2011.
On January 1, Patricia Crigger was sworn in as the elected District Clerk although charged with "Abuse of Office" and "Conspiracy" for allegedly stealing over $20,000 of services for the benefit of her 2010 campaign. Also indicted were alleged co-conspirators including Rebecca Littrell and Sherry Bell.
(no mug shot available)
On May 31, 2011 a Grand Jury also indicted Hannah Kunkle, the previous long-time District Clerk.
The Collin County District Attorney's Office (under John Roach, Sr.) bungled the original indictments of six District Clerk's employees. Twice the charges against the defendants were dropped, and they have been re-indicted three times now. The need to appoint a visiting Judge, and then the need to name an out-of-town special prosecutor, have created delay after delay, allowing the elected District Clerk to remain in office under a cloud for more than a year.
The visiting Judge Nelms (of Tyler) will hold a hearing on July 27 to hear motions.
The Collin County Auditor has released two audits that are critical of the financial operations of the District Clerk's Office. The audits covered the 3rd quarter and 4th quarter of 2010 during the Hannah Kunkle administration. Both audits show that the District Clerk's Office has been unable to correct the table of fees and that the department has been unable to reconcile their funds with the new Odyssey program. The auditor has shown that convicted defendants in criminal cases were not charged all the fees the District Clerk's Office is responsible to collect, nor have the cases been corrected.
Crigger did appear before the commissioners' court on May 2[ed.:video], and said that the issues were inherited, but acknowledged that they are struggling with correcting the problems. Crigger asked if the Auditor would assign an accountant to help her with Odyssey. After five months, Commissioner Duncan Webb and the commissioners' court expressed impatience with the loss of criminal fees and concern with the lack of progress. Neither the Auditor nor Crigger can determine the amount of revenue criminal fees that incorrectly may cost the county revenue. [ed.:video]The commissioners' court has asked the County Auditor to prepare a "Full Audit" of the District Clerk's Office, and to report the amount of fees that have been lost as county revenue.
Later in June, Crigger submitted a request to promote a clerk to senior clerk. Cheryl Williams expressed frustration[ed.:video] that Crigger chose to promote a clerk without financial experience. The court unanimously voted to delay the promotion, once again asking Crigger for explanation, later two weeks later, the court approved the promotion.
The District Clerk's Office is responsible for the custodial care and management of the District Courts. The department has 58 employees with a budget of over $5 million, and holds in trust more than $3 million in public funds in 5 bank accounts.[ed.: caution large linked file]
Many, including members of the Commissioners' Court, have questioned the ability of the District Clerk's Department to function effectively.
The top 3 administrators of the department are facing charges of conspiracy and corruption, while some of their own employees were whistle blowers. The Texas Rangers used at least five employees who gave sworn affidavits that were used to gain a search warrant to raid the courthouse. The defendants immediately asked the court to give them the names of the whistle blowers.
The judge refused to release the names. An informer county source has told the Collin County Observer of three of the whistle blowers: two of those employees asked the county to and received a transfer to other departments where they do not fear retribution. A third person was laid off when the commissioners' court cut the 2011 staffing budget by three people. The whistle-blower brought an attorney to the courthouse to ask the District Clerk if she really wanted to be sued for laying off someone who is allowed protection as a whistle-blower. The whistle-blower got her job back.
Source have told The Observer of a department that has low morale and lack of leadership. The District Clerk's top leaders are working under the shadow of a real possibility of being sent to prison. Some employees in the department are supporters of Crigger, some support Kunkle, and some have antipathy to both of them.
The Observer spoke to several leading Republicans who told us that the party is not in agreement that Patricia Crigger should step down, but the majority of individual Republicans we spoke to expressed a desire for Crigger to resign for the good of the taxpayers and the party.
But Crigger, like the title character in the fable about the Emperor's New Clothes, she has been unable to see herself, while that our citizens can see through her arrogance.
Personally, I wanted her found guilty so she would be forced out, but didn't think she should serve jail time. Now, as she continues to put on this show of smug invincibility, I think she does deserve jail time.
I realized that some time ago and that is the reason I'm Independent. If you will look at some of the leaders in Commissioner's Court you will see that they are not exactly Republican. Some have a strong tendency to lean toward Libertarian. For the past several elections, you could run anyone (maybe even a loon) as Republican and he/she would win.
As Rush Limbaugh keeps me sane on a national front, you are out there for me locally, and I appreciate it.
The Observer freaks out:
The Observer comments:
I'm going to disagree with you on that. I have great faith in our fine deputies and employees. In fact, the great majority of our elected officials are honest and who care about their county.
There has been corruption. It is the responsibility of the voters to keep their politicians on the narrow path. Sadly, we have a few corrupt - and they are those whom we elected, so now the legal process has to clean up after for the voters' inattention.
An honest politician is one who is watched closely, one who is held responsible for his actions, who operates in an open, transparent manner. I remember the old Pogo cartoon, when Pogo said, "We are the enemy, and he is us."
"Five departing city of Denton employees were paid a total of $200,000 by the city in exchange for their promises not to sue or criticize the city and not to discuss the severance agreements publicly, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports."
Bill... I don't think you're like Rush Limbaugh :)
Comments are closed for this post.