Denial In Dickinson

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We don’t know what will unfold next in Dickinson, but it’s a small town drama in Galveston county that’s capturing headlines and causing deep divisions.

“Media, get it all. Don’t edit nothing. Don’t edit nothing,” Roderick Cunningham preached.

Sorry Pastor, but we’re going to have to because the latest chapter in the ongoing drama in Dickinson took more than three hours to unfold.

“What gives me shame is how some people in this town have turned into despicable human beings,” James Owens said.

“To be frank, it’s the definition of a hot mess,” reporter Sherman Desselle said on TV.

Yes, it is.

“I’m disgusted by what’s going on in this town. What the City of Dickinson currently is and should not be, is a dictatorship,” said David Lehmann.

A full house was there for a single vote to get Dickinson City Council to approve the petition to hold a recall vote on controversial Mayor Sean Skipworth.

“Approve the recall now and let democracy run its course,” John Parker said to city council.

“Please represent the voters, we are all watching,” Susan Wilcox said.

On social media, the mayor’s biggest supporter is someone named Upset Pineapple, who called the crowd at City Hall “an unhinged mob with pitchforks and torches.”

A feel for how nasty this small-town political fight has gotten.

The mayor had brought in a city manager who had left Dayton with a financial mess.

The charter was later changed without a council vote to let him bill taxpayers when he drank with developers, and surveillance video showed he drank often.

“The citizens of Dickinson don’t want you drinking on their dime. If you’ve got a drinking problem, sir, get some help,” David Lehmann said.

Got the picture?

“We elected you. You need to let us decide if we’re going to keep you or not,” resident Chris Tucker said.

The city secretary had abruptly resigned just a few days after saying the recall petitions were invalid for a second time.

They had been signed by almost 1000 registered voters, hundreds more than needed.

But the brand-new city attorney, chosen by Mayor Skipworth, ruled they had legal flaws that couldn’t be fixed.

City Councilman Bill Schick cried B.S. and I couldn’t agree more.

“What is going to be the flimsy excuse the second time for you to deem it invalid? Can you let us know, is it the color of the paper? The size of the font? What is it? We’re reaching way out there,” Councilman Bill Schick said.

The city attorney denied pressuring the city secretary to say, “no.”

“There’s a reason why she left. “Could it have been you?” Asked Lehmann.

“Did she tell you it was?” Nghiem Doan responded.

Fresh off his firing as city attorney in League City, he was confronted in the hallway.

“We are not in a courtroom here. We are also not in a playground at an elementary school,” Doan said.

“Walk away. Walk away, please!” Lehmann told Doan.

In most small towns, the mayor is supposed to be the public relations person, working the crowd, selling the city.

But, Sean Skipworth doesn’t walk into the council chamber until a minute before he starts the meeting.

Watch when he left the room before the recall petition vote with a police guard.

But before he left, Skipworth claimed he was the real victim here, targeted by what he called the “good ole boys.”

“This recall isn’t really about any of the manufactured controversies we’ve seen in the dozens of smear videos and angry public comments,” Skipworth said.

That he was the one really leading the charge against corruption and police misconduct.

“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Everything you say bounces off to me and sticks back to you,” said Skipworth.

“We’re all here tonight for one reason: to witness the council be presented with a choice that some believe may end this season of negativity here in Dickinson,” Jenna Simsen said.

“All in favor raise your hands. All right. All those opposed raised your hands. Motion fails.”

The vote to deny the recall petition was 4-2.

“I wish nothing more than this petition would have been turned in and would have been correct from the start,” Councilman Jessie Brantley said.

The petitions had been amended as the city charter requires to fix the problems, and there was nothing stopping Councilman Jessie Brantley, or the others, from giving the required number of voters what they were clearly asking for.

((Brantley 25015 I probably got more on the line than anybody up here. Right? Because if you want to recall me, you’ve put together a pretty good case,” Brantley said.

Brantley finally confirmed he helped a private company, ProSource, get contracts in Dickinson just months after he was hired there, but says he didn’t break the law.

“The relationship between the company I work for and the city truly began because I wanted to help,” Brantley said.

Wait a second, just last April we confronted Brantley after we found invoices showing he was listed as project manager for the ProSource contracts with the city, economic development corporation, and the management district.

“Can you explain why you are listed as the project manager on those invoices?” Wayne Dolcefino asked Brantley.

“No, other than it was probably a mistake,” Brantley answered.

“Really? A mistake that was made over and over again?” Dolcefino asked.

“Probably,” Brantley said.

Reviewing early invoices helped expose overcharging to the Management District.

“They’ve overcharged the Management District by over $18,000,” said Dickinson resident, Charles Suderman.

Take a look at these three months of invoices: Ashley Price’s time is billed at $500 per hour as a level one right of way agent, not $68.75 cents.

Big difference.

ProSource has helped conceal Dickinson government real estate deals before they happen, even though it’s really no secret they are working for the city.

The ledger of the Economic Development Corporation shows ProSource has been paid $944,000 dollars in the last few years, a lot of it for land.

Brantley is a powerful member of the EDC and on city council too, so is the mayor.

“Albeit naïve, I never considered how it would look. Let me be very clear, I have gained nothing financially from my company’s relationship with the city,” Brantley said.

Sure he has.

Even if it’s just helping his new bosses make money.

He gets a paycheck doesn’t he?

But, will his admission stave off a potential recall? Unclear.

Brantley and other council members will have to live with the refusal to honor the right, of citizens, to recall the mayor.

“I ain’t got nothing against Skipworth. Our job is to do what we need to do for the city. Personally, I think we’re wasting money and we’re spending money we don’t have,” Councilman Mark Townsend said.

The city’s legal fees could keep climbing if recall organizers decide to go to court to challenge the council.

Or, they could hold another petition to recall Skipworth, who seems unwilling to resign to help end the fight and heal the city.

“There’s a lot more people that’ll sign that recall today. Where does it stop? Do we just keep going in this vicious cycle?” Asked resident Joe Wilburn.

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