Check Out This Gift

Share this story:

The gifts keep on coming in Dickinson: A fight to recall the Mayor, illegal secrecy, and now another public official steps down after accepting a “nice gift” from a city contractor.

The last time we saw Melissa Skipworth, she had just shot the bird on the steps of city hall, at one of her husband’s biggest critics.

It was a nasty exchange on both sides.

But hey, this is Dickinson, a town imploding in political upheaval.

“I’m disgusted by what’s going on in this town,” said resident David Lehmann.

Dickinson City Council r ejected a recall petition against the mayor, even though it had more than enough signatures. But the fight about that is far from over.

We’ve learned a new recall will likely begin after Easter, since this divisive mayor simply won’t step down.

We’ve learned the battlefield is now expanding beyond Dickinson City Hall, here to the College of the Mainland.

“It’s about supporting the students and celebrating the students,” said Trustee Melissa Skipworth.

Melissa Skipworth is a trustee on the elected board of trustees, Hubby Sean a tenured professor of political science.

“We want to welcome you to this evening’s candidate forum for the College of the Mainland Board of Trustees.”

At the next meeting of COM trustees, expect critics of the mayor to be there, arguing he should have resigned his tenure professor job when he got elected mayor, that he can’t legally collect money at the same time from both government entities under the Texas constitution.

Resident David Lehmann argues that Councilwoman Jenna Simsen, for example, she can’t get paid as a councilwoman either, because she works for the Dickinson school district and sits on city council at the same time.

Simsen voted against the recall.

“I’ve never seen such disrespectful, unkind, and straight up ugly things that people have said to and about one another and me as well,” said Councilwoman Jenna Simsen at a meeting last month.

Nghiem Doan is one of Dickinson’s newest employees, but already a central figure in the city’s illegal secrecy.         

“Better advice should have been given,” said League City Mayor Nick Long.

Doan was fired from League City, but he’s clearly become the mayor’s new attack dog as Dickinson City Attorney.

He responded to Lehmann that he doesn’t know the law.

It’s all part of a campaign to pressure the mayor’s supporters on council to stop protecting him or face the possibility of a much bigger recall.

“Because if you want to recall me, I mean you’ve put together a pretty good case,” said City Councilman Jessie Brantley.

Councilman Jessie Brantley has resigned now from the city’s economic development board, just days after admitting he helped his company ProSource secure city contracts.

“The relationship between the company I work for and the city began truly because I wanted to help. Albeit naïve, I never considered how it would look,” Brantley said.

Public Works Director Alexis Santiago resigned after admitting he got this stretch of driveway at his house totally free. A housewarming gift, he said, from a local contractor Branch Construction.

Santiago claimed the investigation against him was retaliation by the City Manager’s Office. We’ve heard that before.

But it’s a development that’s cast a large cloud over that planned, new park project across from city hall.

Last month, the EDC announced they had avoided public bidding when they gave Branch Construction up to a $2.2 million contract to bring this 3-acre park space to life.

In recent days, Dickinson city officials have ignored our questions about Branch Construction, and whether other city officials have accepted items of value from the company.

Branch Construction ignored us too.

“If a corporation is doing that and awarding one driveway, there’s many driveways or carports or garages or additions done,” said resident David Lehmann.

“Or trips,” said Wayne Dolcefino.

“Yeah, or trips. Anything is, is on the table,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann showed up at a specially-called meeting of the EDC on Monday.

So did we, because the agenda required to be posted under state law didn’t even say why they were meeting in executive session with their lawyer.

“I’ve gone back over two years of your agendas and your minutes. I can find an illegality in almost every meeting that’s been held,” Dolcefino said at the EDC meeting.

“I appreciate the input from Mr. Dolcefino. One wonders where he went to law school,” Doan said.

“I didn’t go to law school, Mr. Doan. I went to journalism school, so I could expose guys like you,” Dolcefino said. “And you know what? I can read, even Supreme Court decisions.”

Cox versus Board of Trustees. “The advance notice… should specifically disclose the subjects to be considered at the upcoming meeting.”

But I think I know why you didn’t want to say what you were talking about behind closed doors.

“I move to cease negotiations with Branch Construction,” Sean Skipworth said at the recent EDC meeting.

The EDC canceled the Branch Construction park job.

“I think that this Branch Construction thing may be a blessing in disguise,” said EDC President Collin Coker.

“Because they had egg on their face,” Lehmann said.

But the EDC President promised answers soon about where all your tax money is going, teasing an announcement of a 60-acre development on the city’s east side. Stay tuned.

Keep up with us on social media: