Dumping The Dick

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We’ve learned a formal effort to recall the Mayor of Dickinson will start in early December. Flyers announcing the move to oust Sean Skipworth are all over town, and it’s time for “THE DICK OF DICKINSON” to face us and stop hiding! We’re ready anytime.

“I think our only option is a recall of Skipworth,” expressed Scott Shrader.

The state of the city in Dickinson tonight is recall. The effort is underway to remove mayor Sean Skipworth from office.

In mailers sent to Dickinson taxpayers Skipworth is accused of fiscal mismanagement, lack of transparency, dividing and destroying Dickinson.

“People in Dickinson have a lot of questions that need to be answered and they won’t answer our questions,” continued Shrader.

We know how Shrader feels, we had to sue the city after the mayor illegally withheld public records.

Now Dickinson is paying five hundred dollars an hour to Rusty Hardin’s law firm to fight us.

That’s throwing bad money after good, but it tells you an awful lot about this mayor and his problem with transparency.

The city scheduled a highly publicized state of the city address at a sponsored event loaded with Dickinson officials. We showed up and then we got kicked out.  

The city had promised to release the mayor’s speech but has since balked. The video got leaked anyway.

“He has this way of bringing out the best in people and encouraging them to be the better version of themselves,” said Melissa Skipworth.

Interesting characterization of Skipworth who first got elected after his name was pulled out of a hat to break a tie.

In just two years, the mayor and his equally controversial city manager Theo Melanson – who has left a trail of financial mismanagement behind him –  have seen more than 125 city employees leave a lot of them got fired.

We have watched the frustration boil over at council meetings.

“We had several what are frankly false, misleading, borderline defamatory YouTube videos and social media posts were published,” said Skipworth.

The mayor started attacking us after we first asked for records relating to the Water Street project that has yet to materialize on the ground.

“I mean I’m the dick of Dickinson as everybody heard on YouTube, right? That’s my moniker,” said Skipworth.

We thought he liked his nickname.

“There are a handful of people in our community that have worked hard to change the tone of local politics. What we are seeing as of late is not just criticism or anger but personal attacks and character assassination,” claimed Skipworth.

“I don’t think we’re the ones doing all the name calling. He’s calling us a bunch of clowns, dysfunctional, you know just troublemakers and he keeps reiterating that there’s only a few disgruntled people, but there’s lot of people who are unhappy here in Dickinson right now,” said Shrader.

It will take 35% of the voters who voted in the last mayor’s race to sign the petition. If it is successful Skipworth will be asked to resign or face another election.

The trail of destroyed careers in Dickinson is at the center of this recall effort.

“It seems like if you don’t agree with Theo and Skipworth they’re going to destroy you there going to kick you to the curb and come stomp on you till there done,” expressed Shrader.

The Galveston County district attorney’s office is investigating the use of a company called ProSource involved in secretive real estate deals with the city.

When we looked at the company invoices we saw a city councilman who worked at pro source was also listed as project manager for the city’s real estate dealings. A blatant conflict of interest.

Wayne Dolcefino asked, “Can you explain why you’re listed as the project manager on those invoices?”

Jesse Brantly responded, “Other than it was probably a mistake.”

Wayne said, “Really? A mistake that was made over and over again?”

We showed the invoices to two members of the Dickinson management district who cried foul.

“The whole thing just didn’t pass the smell test for me,” said Charles Suderman.

“I’m going to be voting no on anything having to do with ProSource because i have a lot of questions about it now,” said Nita Clements.

You know why some people are afraid to speak out in Dickinson?

Shortly after those criticisms, Charles and Nita got their payback.

They wanted to get reappointed to watchdog public funds for the Dickinson Management District but neither was reappointed.

Former councilman Suderman puts on the city’s Christmas lights show every year.

“Charles is a good guy tries to do what’s right for Dickinson, but if you don’t agree with Skipworth and Theo they’re going to take care of you. Promise you,” said Shrader.

The recall also cites the growing legal bills being incurred by the city and it names the controversy over the removal of hundreds of low-income residents from the Creekside Apartments late last year.

The owners have now threatened a lawsuit after discovering evidence the city targeted the complex even before they inspected it.

There is no dispute there were possible violations found at Creekside, but photos showed to the Building Standards Commission may have misrepresented the extent of the trouble.

Like these pictures of an apartment with open walls, exposed wires, Creekside owners say wasn’t even occupied.

Wayne Dolcefino asked, “Nobody was living in it?”

“No, nobody was living in it,” answered Evangelina Lucio, former property manager.

We were invited recently to look inside some of the apartments the city cited in its inspection reports.

“Like I said most of this is fabricated. It’s a big plot,” states Ahmet Kalkan.

The value of the property has plummeted, and it is now shuttered.

The controversy came up in the state of the city address that Skipworth has still not shared with taxpayers as he promised he would.

Skipworth called Creekside a case of “urban renewal.”

“The investigation and closure of Creekside was completely appropriate,” claimed Skipworth.

The mayor repeated claims the city received a new round of complaints about Creekside two months before the inspections in May of 2022.

We’ve asked to see the complaints and the city said they had no records of any of those complaints. Except for a toilet paper problem in January.  

We did find a press release dated the day before the inspections that said the city was shutting Creekside down and relocating residents even before the first inspection in a year.

Under pressure the owners say they agreed to work with the city to redevelop the area but stopped after learning what we discovered in our widening investigation of Dickinson City Hall.

The owners say city officials told Creekside renters to stop paying rent as a way to force the closure.

“Absolutely the city officials themselves the mayor himself has stopped onto my property and spoke to my residents and said look this place is so terrible right if I were you I would not pay rent don’t worry about rent don’t pay rent,” recalls Ahmet Kalkan.

The head of the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce has warned the mayor and city manager are disastrous for the Dickinson economy.

We have also raised questions about the conduct of the City Manage Theo Melanson,  he’s blames for a lot of the employee exodus.

Surveillance done by a private investigator raised questions about his invoices for alcohol that have yet to be fully explained.

Look at this. New emails we’ve uncovered show the Dickinson Economic Development Corporation planned to buy 60 acres of land on both sides of I-45 way back in November 2021.

The maps show Creekside was part of their plan.

“They did want that property I was told by people on EDC before that wanted that property. And that was back when I was on council. So was that was the property targeted by EDC? It probably was,” said Shrader.

Just weeks after those emails were sent the now former fire marshal began digging up past violations at Creekside.

Which sits on land the city sees as the perfect spot for a major development and the creation of a special tax zone, a TIRZ. It would take future increases in tax money away from other Galveston County entities as incentives for development here.

The emails we got didn’t come from the city, they are trying to keep theirs secret. They came from the College of The Mainland, who has yet to approve losing tax money so that the i-45 TIRZ can be created.

The city has said very little publicly about their TIRZ plans including what it would cost taxpayers in other parts of the city.

And the mayor, he simply refused to give us documents showing just how much the city has spent with all the companies they’ve been hiring with tax money for the TIRZ project. Including their real estate consultants.

It may force us to add more claims to our lawsuit over public records. Now Hardin’s firm wants to know what we know, sending us a huge legal request for records we have in our investigation.

“So, the request for discovery that was served by Rusty Hardin’s office in the TPIA case on file is bizarrely distant from having any even rational relationship to what’s legally permissible in a lawsuit,” explained Jeff Diamant.

Hardin not only wants to see our raw, but he wants records detailing our media investigation, including confidential sources. Not going to happen.

“It’s apparent that’s what happening in the discovery request that they’ve served is that they’re concerned about wrongdoing that they’ve done otherwise and simply want to find out what Wayne knows about it,” continued Diamant.

It’s clear the next few months will continue to raise the temperature in Dickinson and the financial cost for taxpayers for this reign of secrecy; it will go up too.  The battle lines are drawn.

The mayor has yet to explain the lack of audits of city spending. The hiding of records from the city’s own financial experts.

Dickinson has spent tens of millions of dollars on new property without a full explanation of why they bought it. Plans for big developments along Water Street have yet to materialize. 

And a fight over who’s to blame for the Creekside mess. The project is just sitting there shuttered almost a year after it was shut down.

It’s all happened under Skipworth’s watch. 

Documents show the Creekside owners offered to spend up to 750 million dollars with the city for a big redevelopment including the moving of City Hall to their site before they discovered the city may have acted in bad faith.

Did the city mistreat a family with t billion-dollar company? The Kalkan family says they had already spent more than 100,000 dollars more on development plans. That deal appears dead, at least for now.

“So, there may have been some post activity, videos on social media that you saw recently that were put out by a paid media consultant,” said Skipworth.

The mayor will continue to blame us. He once accused of hiding in trees at City Hall to do ambush interviews.

I’m serious. The Galveston Daily News, they bought that nonsense. And you can see the trees at City Hall, well they’re like three feet tall.

Trouble continuing to brew in one of the oldest settlements in the entire state of Texas.

“Are we too hard on the mayor of Dickinson,” asked Andrea Palacio.

 Scott Shrader responded, “I don’t think you are.”

“I’m sorry to say but he has not been the mayor that a lot of people thought he was going to be,” expressed Shrader.

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