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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 111467
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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It is out there publicly there are problems between the

Customer Question

It is out there publicly there are problems between the City, City Council, Chamber, Police Department and previous questionable activity...
When we looked at opening a store here, the mayor and City members took us to lunch and drove us around looking at possible properties. My partner suggested the town could use code enforcement to get some of the dilapidated properties up to code. I mentioned to one of your economic board persons that the City should seek retirees to move here.
We were encouraged by the fact the City hired an inspector and became a "certified retirement community." We purchased a building downtown, and even a house later, and moved here anticipating the City truly was headed in the right direction. Over the next ten months there were no noticeable improvements downtown. Our Chamber ribbon cutting happened the same day as McKay's Restaurant -- because they moved from one location to another -- and coincidentally, funds Anthony asked Bonnie Hunter about and was told were not available to us, were used to fund McKay's building loan by the CEDC (see my statement to that Board). Poor public relations.
These events started when I wrote the Chamber about who to contact to get anything done downtown -- the state of downtown hurts our business and the community. I had set a meeting with Bonnie Hunter back in February, she canceled; and even though I sent several emails trying to reschedule with her, she never responded. Poor public relations.
The deluge of rain caused water damage at Fine Finds. I set the soaked cleanup items outside the back door. I drove around back an hour later to pick them up -- they were gone -- stolen. The next day I went to the Police Station to fill out a theft report. Officers were sitting in plain view having coffee and an egg breakfast, but it took 15 minutes before I was given the blank report to fill out. I felt treated as a suspect, and he called my partner to question him prior to my even finishing the report. Since there, I mentioned that numerous times our alley is blocked by service trucks to another business. The officer said that's okay, only building owners in that block are affected, and the City wouldn't want to block part of a street for deliveries. After the fact, I emailed the Chief of Police about this inappropriate encounter -- not so much as a reply email, phone call, etc. Poor public relations.
My partner delved more into the workings of the City and Boards and found a number of things he thought may be criminal. I wasn't sure if they would rise to the level of criminal, but that's what police departments are for, to make that decision.
We went to the City Manager and he confirmed the CEDC loan to McKay's and stated probably the bank employee should have recused herself from that process. He stated the City didn't use that money for downtown sidewalks as that was only $40,000 compared to a sidewalk estimate of $414,000 and that the City had no funds for a sidewalk. He said he would put us on the agenda of both the City Council meeting and the CEDC meeting so we could have our concerns addressed. We also contacted the interim City secretary and requested to be on the agenda of both.
Anthony went to the police chief to discuss whether there was criminal goings on here.
The Chief told him to write up a statement and take it directly to the Chief. Anthony wrote part of the statement, and I wrote part of the statement. We took it to the Police Chief together, and he indicated he was taking it to Mr. Walker, D.A, that same day. To our surprise, Anthony got wind later that day that the Chief had leaked it to the City members involved! To me, this is a serious offense.
The Mayor resigned, City manager resigned, finance manager resigned, all coincidentally. I discovered the upcoming CEDC meeting. No notice was given to us. So I contacted the interim City secretary to be sure we were on the Agenda for both meetings. No reply until the City sent the Chief of Police to Fine Finds to inform us we would not be allowed on the agenda. That is intimidating. He also stated he had felt obligated to disclose our complaint letter to the City.
We showed up at the CEDC meeting for three minutes speaking time afforded to the public. I presented my written statement. I still wonder why a board member would say their only concern is industry; the downtown will take care of itself once industry moves in. Poor public relations.
The very next day we received a letter by mail from your City Attorney "Re: Correspondence regarding Commerce Economic Development Corporation.," which was actually the written statement to the Chief of Police! It was a cease and desist letter, threatening action against us, written prior to our meeting with the CEDC but after the Chief of Police passed along our private letter to him as Chief. Do we have any action against the City, the Chief or the City Attorney?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You can have an action under the Texas Anti-SLAPP law, which is a law designed to protect the public from threats of suit to deny their rights to participate in public matters. Of course, you will need a local attorney from outside of your hick city to represent you, as an attorney is required for these suits and upon winning you can recover attorney's fees as part of your damages.
You would sue the chief and city attorney and the city for making threats against you to stop you from speaking out in public meetings to avail yourself of your rights, thus denying you your first amendment rights which is contrary to the Texas Citizens Participation Act (see: http://slappedintexas.com/primer/).

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