Collin County Republicans Getting All Up In Each Other’s Grills

Something’s brewing in the Collin County Commissioners Court. Corbett Howard is running against Joe Jaynes for a commissioner’s seat. They are both Republicans, but it looks to me like Howard is the proven conservative, mainly because his website says he’s the proven conservative, with the underline. Well, Howard’s campaign manager, along with three other Republicans, has written a letter to the state AG claiming that they aren’t playing fair in Collin County when it comes to answering open records requests. The letter is after the jump:

January 17, 2008

The Honorable Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548

Dear Attorney General Abbott:

We are writing to express our concerns about possible violations of the Texas Public Information Act by Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes and the Collin County Public Information Office. This letter serves as our request for a formal and in-depth investigation into the incomplete responses to open records requests that we have made regarding Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes.

On November 30 and December 7, 2007, a series of open records requests pertaining to Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes were made. In each request, we believe we were ignored or provided with incomplete, inaccurate and/or misleading responses.

Based on the limited responses we have received, we have reason to believe Commissioner Joe Jaynes and the Collin County Public Information Office are not being forthright, possibly in an attempt to protect Commissioner Joe Jaynes, and in violation of the Texas Public Information Act.

While we are attaching a copy of each of our open records requests, and the subsequent responses from the Public Information Office, below is a summary of our requests and the responses provided by Collin County:

On November 30, 2007, we requested and received the following:

Our request:
“A copy of all emails from the Collin County and personal emails of Commissioner Joe Jaynes during the last 6 months.”

County response:
“I will notify you as soon as that task is completed and make those messages available to you on a CD for a nominal charge of $1. Please keep in mind that this response only involves email traffic of Mr. Jaynes maintained by the county. We do not have access nor responsibility for any personal email accounts that he may maintain.” (December 12, 2007 – via email from the Public Information Officer)

Note: We verbally informed the County that we also would like to see all email on personal computers that dealt only with county business. It is our understanding that emails dealing with county business are subject to public request even if conducted on a home or personal computer or through personal email address. Based on the partial list of emails we have received from Jaynes’ county computer, he repeatedly sends information regarding county business to his personal email and computer.

Our request:
“Any documents related to or detailing all votes or public comments by Commissioner Joe Jaynes involving property tax cuts, property tax increases or increases in County fees.”

County response:
“This request spans 10 years of public service, and the county has no sorting or indexed searching capability sophisticated enough to quickly retrieve this type of information with any certainty. However, we will make a terminal here in the old courthouse available to you, and show you how to search the agenda software for possible documents related to this request.” (December 12, 2007 – via email from the Public Information Officer)

Note: We find it difficult to accept this response. The County government is keenly aware of all votes that deal with taxing and budgetary issues as this process in the Commissioner’s Court takes place at the same time each year.

On December 7, 2007, we requested and received the following:

Our request:
“Any documents that may pertain to any Collin County employee or vendor complaints against County Commissioner Joe Jaynes during his service on the Commissioners Court.”

County response:
“Mr. Jaynes has checked his correspondence files and found nothing of that nature that may not already show up in his email correspondence files which are being released to you per your Nov. 30, 2007 public information request.” (December 20, 2007 – via fax from the Public Information Officer)

Note: We find this response perhaps to be the most ludicrous. The PIO simply asked Commissioner Jaynes if during his time of service he had ever had a complaint filed against him by a County employee or vendor. There was absolutely no research done on the part of the PIO. We know for a fact that complaints have been filed against Commissioner Jaynes as part of a federal lawsuit and to suggest that such a matter does not constitute a complaint is a mockery of the Texas Public Records Act.

Our request:
“Any documents pertaining to Collin County funds used to pay the law school tuition and books for Commissioner Joe Jaynes, including a grand total of all County funds used collectively to pay his law school tuition and books.”

County response:
“Since these files are located in our Human Resources Department, the Auditor’s office is producing these files and I will notify you as soon as we have received these copies.” (December 20, 2007 – via fax from the Public Information Officer)

Note: We have received the requested information.

Our request:
“Any documents related to or detailing all votes or public comments by Commissioner Joe Jaynes involving the final County budget.”

County response:
“This involves a 10 year span of public service, and the county has no sorting or indexed searching capabilities sophisticated enough to quickly retrieve this type of information with any certainty. However, we will make a terminal here in the old courthouse available to you, and show you the agenda software for possible documents related to this request.” (December 20, 2007 – via fax from the Public Information Officer)

Note: Again, this is a disturbing response. Even if votes or public comments by Commissioner Jaynes from 10 years ago are difficult to locate, the most recent votes should be readily available. These discussions take place around the same time each year and should be easy to locate.

Our request:
“Any documents or copies of notes that Commissioner Joe Jaynes may have utilized during his discussions over moving the extension of the North Dallas Toll Road into Denton County.”

County response:
“Other than what might be found in the Commissioner Court packet on a given day, which is available online, Mr. Jaynes does not have any other material regarding this matter.” (December 20, 2007 – via fax from the Public Information Officer)

Note: Again, we find it extremely difficult to accept this response. Commissioner Joe Jaynes passionately advocated for the County Commissioner’s Court to move a portion of the Dallas North Tollway Extension out of Collin County and into Denton County. His request for this move was denied by a 4-1 vote of his colleagues on the Commissioner’s Court. We do not accept their claim that the Commissioner did not take any notes or utilize governmental documents on this matter.

Overall, the responses provided by Commissioner Joe Jaynes and the Collin County PIO appear to be untruthful, incomplete, and not in compliance with the spirit of the Texas Public Information Act.

We find it equally troublesome that Collin County Judge Keith Self was not notified of our two formal requests. As clearly indicated on the attached copies of our requests, we included Judge Self in the list of County officials we sent the requests to. At no time in this process was Judge Self made aware of our requests.

The actions of Commissioner Joe Jaynes and the Collin County Public Information Office can hardly demonstrate transparent, open and accessible government. Individually, the responses to each request to receive County information could be considered incomplete. Collectively, their responses could be considered misleading.

Therefore, we are asking you to launch an official investigation into why Commissioner Joe Jaynes and the Collin County Public Information Office did not accurately and in detail respond to our public information requests.

Signed,

Cris Rude
Juan Quinonez
Linda Jenkins

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Comments

28 responses to “Collin County Republicans Getting All Up In Each Other’s Grills”

  1. Esther says:

    I’d sure like to see Collin County release records to the public when asked. After all, they work for us. I support sunshine laws and the enforcement of these laws here in Texas. I wonder why Joe Jaynes doesn’t support open govenment like John Cornyn? See:
    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/01/16/0116cornyn.html

    I’d also like to see a database with the county check register online so we can see what they are spending our money on. Many Texas school districts are doing this now.

    Corbett Howard seems like a stand up kind of guy. We need a positive change here in Collin County!

  2. JRE says:

    I’d vote for anyone besides Joe Jaynes. I do not trust him at all. His job is one of those that not many voters investigate, but they should! Reminds me of the old addage “If you want to know someone’s character, look at their friends!” How true. I’m upset that our tax dollars have paid for his law degree and he was going to quit the minute our taxes paid for it, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-159249730.html but now he’s changed his mind. There are too many negative stories floating around about him. Even if one of the ones I’ve heard is true, it’s too many. It’s no surprise that some of these public requests would address the rumors about him I’ve heard! Cudos to whoever had the chutzpah to get to the bottom of this! I think it’s very interesting that someone like Mr. Howard finally stands up to him and can’t get one document that should be public information. To me that proves the stories about Jaynes are true along with his good ol’ boy, Collin County cronies. Someone really needs to clean up our county. The developers and the elected officials in their pockets have gotten out of hand. It moved from “just doin’ business” to “corruption” years ago. It’s time honest people got back into politics to take our county back, not just in this election but all of them in Collin County. Goodbye Joe… you gotta go… me oh my oh!

  3. EDJ says:

    It is very disturbing to me that the Collin County Public Information Office is stonewalling Mr. Howard’s request for Public Information regarding the tenure of Commissioner Jaynes. If Mr. Jaynes has nothing to hide then why is this a problem. Conservatives should hold their elected officials accountable for their actions while they are in office and spending public money and if those elected officials have a problem with making their record public, then that should serve as a warning flag that something could be wrong. I respectfully request that the state’s Attorney General do an in-depth investigation of the Commissioner’s Court and how business is being conducted out of that office.

  4. Sandy says:

    After watching what happened with the bond election for the roads in Collin Cty, I am not surprised when someone brings up issues of corruption. Joe Jaynes was in the pocket of developers. We need to clean up politics at the local level before these guys work their way to Austin and then Wash DC. People, we have got to start doing our homework and not rely on someone else to tell us what is going on.

  5. Justin says:

    Haven’t we had enough of the good ‘ol boys that run the county government under the influence of the real estate developers that have so much to gain/lose by the decisions of the commissioner’s court? It’s time for a change!

  6. DP2008 says:

    It’s time for Joe Jaynes to take a hike (and this time not a pay hike…for once, but a permanent hike). This all sounds very suspicious…not releasing voting records? Seems like that would have been the easiest request to track down. Just what is Collin County hiding about Commish Jaynes? Whatever it is, it must be pretty bad. Sounds like Joe’s skeletons are finally gonna catch up with him. I’ll be voting for change in March.

  7. AW says:

    Isn’t Howard the candidate that is actually being sued for fraud?

  8. Neal says:

    Thanks a lot. You just reminded me of why I hate politics.

    I live in Dallas and therefore had never heard of Corbett Howard or Joe Jaynes before reading this post. So I certainly appreciate all you Corbett Howard relatives/supporters/campaign workers taking the time to write such lengthy and articulate comments! (Hint: if your blog comment or letter to the editor contains the phrase “It’s time for a change!” or “We need positive change here in Collin County!”, everyone will know you’re a campaign shill posing as a concerned citizen. I am not saying Joe Jaynes isn’t as bad as you claim — as mentioned above, I have no idea who these people are.)

    For the record, of course Collin County has an obligation to provide the requested records within a reasonable time, and no doubt the county’s initial response was less than helpful. Some of the requests, however, seem overbroad to the point of being silly:

    1. HOWARD’S REQUEST: “Any documents related to or detailing all votes or public comments by Commissioner Joe Jaynes involving property tax cuts, property tax increases or increases in County fees.”

    HOWARD’S RESPONSE TO THE COUNTY’S RESPONSE: “We find it difficult to accept this response. The County government is keenly aware of all votes that deal with taxing and budgetary issues as this process in the Commissioner’s Court takes place at the same time each year.”

    That may be true, but you didn’t just ask for voting records did you? You also requested any documents relating to his public comments relating to property tax cuts etc. Such comments could have occurred at any time, not just at the time the actual voting took place.

    2. HOWARD’S REQUEST: “Any documents related to or detailing all votes or public comments by Commissioner Joe Jaynes involving the final County budget”

    HOWARD’S RESPONSE TO THE COUNTY’S RESPONSE: “Again, this is a disturbing response. Even if votes or public comments by Commissioner Jaynes from 10 years ago are difficult to locate, the most recent votes should be readily available. These discussions take place around the same time each year and should be easy to locate.”

    Again, your reaction to the county’s response lacks good faith. Are you saying you would have accepted only the documents from the more recent years for which the documents allegedly are easier to locate? Doubt it. Also, my earlier point about his “public comments” applies here as well.

    The county offered you the use of a computer terminal to search their database for the relevant documents. Since you didn’t object specifically to the county’s offer, I am wondering what all the whining is about.

    P.S. So did the county pay for Jaynes’ law school tuition or not? Can one of you commenters help fill in the blanks?

  9. Neal says:

    DP2008 said: “It’s time for Joe Jaynes to take a hike (and this time not a pay hike…for once, but a permanent hike). This all sounds very suspicious…not releasing voting records? Seems like that would have been the easiest request to track down. Just what is Collin County hiding about Commish Jaynes? Whatever it is, it must be pretty bad. Sounds like Joe’s skeletons are finally gonna catch up with him. I’ll be voting for change in March.”

    AW said: “Isn’t Howard the candidate that is actually being sued for fraud?”

    Is there an email going around within the Howard campaign telling people to come to this site and leave comments like these? Good God. Will you clowns please go back to Plano?

  10. FUBAR says:

    I don’t know if any of these posts are faked, but I am finding two very funny things about this whole story. 1. There is an article about the guy being sued some where the lawyers “hate” to have to sue him…. – lawyers hate having to sue!! – funny stuff. 2. With all of this back and fourth banter, WHY THE HELL ARE WE PAYING SOME DUDE TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL? – Did anyone catch that? Is that even Legal?? This guy was elected to office and we have to pay for his school? I mean, if that happened – what the hell else are we paying for with these politicians?

  11. DJ says:

    As a republican in McKinney this concerns me. I don’t know either candidate and honestly don’t dig too much into local politics. However, I will not stand for corruuption at any level. If Jaynes has nothing to hide he needs to bring forth the goods. The alternative is that I’ll have to assume the claims of his adversary are true.

  12. MSM says:

    I don’t know Mr. Jaynes, don’t need to know him. I do know Mr. Howard and admire him. But to the point ANY & ALL elected officials are accountable to the electorate. This means being willing to stand by their comments, votes, communications, and decisions. What that means in this case is Mr. Jaynes should be out in front proudly providing information, ensuring his electorate has an accurate record of his positions/actions/decisions as preserved for history in communications he made in any modality. As we know, nature abhors a vacuum so if he or the county does not fill the vacuum with timely and accurate information, nature will absolutely make sure it gets filled with something.

  13. TAT says:

    I cannot believe that the public information officer cannot produce at least the budget votes from the past 3-5 years. This type of government is exactly why people have no respect for their elected officials. Sounds to me like it is time to vote for a change of leadership and elect Corbett Howard.

  14. Esther says:

    I don’t like that Joe Jaynes was at the March Melissa City Council meeting when his friend Mayor of Melissa David Dorman annexed land owned by the “Flamingo Daze” Limited Partnership. Mayor Dorman is a partner in this LP and helped himself to new roads in the November bond election compliments of Collin County taxpayers and his friend Joe Jaynes. Jayne’s friends and special interests are more important to him than being a good steward of our money. http://www.melissacards.com/MayorLandOwnership.asp

  15. the amanda says:

    Yes, taxpayers paid Joe’s tuition, on top of his salary which is in the neighborhood of 96K per year (the last time I checked the salary). Shady land deals in Collin County? Not only the LP referenced above in the transportation plan, but look also at deed records of purchases made along the Dart lines, and you will find more LP, LC, and LLC’s registered to public officials. And the airport? Land has flipped back and forth for the last 20 years between shadowy entities, incrementally increasing in value, all by insiders. Then, suddenly the airport decides it “needs” the land and can apply for federal funds not included in the master plan to acquire the land parcels, only now, thanks to the “flipping” the value is 5 to 10 THOUSAND times the value. The same handful of people are behind all of the shadow entities. They routinely sell back and forth to each other. What does this have to do with Joe? He had an opportunity several years ago to set himself apart and distance himself from the “business as usual.” Instead, he wallowed in the filth of corruption with the rest of them. I’ve seen some of the commissioners reports going back several years, and the reason they don’t want to release them is because they are ugly. For example, three or four years ago, we were stunned to see that we were paying for…the judge (Ron) was living quite well during his frequent jaunts to Austin. Taxpayers were paying for personal development courses on audio tape and CD, and lots of other very questionable things. This is systemic, not so much in Plano but in other parts of Collin County, but is RAMPANT in McKinney. I don’t know Howard or any of the other posters, but I know Joe through his actions. I don’t live in the county anymore, and don’t care personally, but anyone, especially a Republican has plenty to be embarrassed by. That’s why I abandoned my precinct delegate role. The filth will continue as long as the same people are elected and appointed by their buddies. You can count on it. I finally concluded that they don’t know how to play it straight. For those living outside of Collin County, this should be of concern, because they are soaking up a lion’s share of funds meant to be distributed state wide. Oh, and when you speak at public meetings, speak up, or try to change it, they sic the Mckinney police, constables, or sheriff on you…(me)

  16. Front Burner says:

    One of the benefits for all Collin County employees, elected officials included, is a tuition reimbursement plan. It pays state rates upon the completion of a college degree. According to the DMN Jaynes received a little over $6,000 over 3 years when he attended SMU law school. As a graduate of SMU, I know that there is no way that amount would pay for law school.

  17. the amanda says:

    I think the problem with Joe was immediately after the degree, he announced his plans to vacate the office. It was seen as taking advantage. In fairness to him, the other more questionable reimbursements made to others on the panel were significantly more, and for non-tuition related items, although the motivational tapes were under “education.” The controversy was over appearances.

  18. Front Burner says:

    Not to defend Joe–even though he is my county commissioner and I think he has done a great job–according to his website he received his law degree in 2004 and said in 2007 that he was not running. Definitely not “immediatly after the degree.” It was after the bond election that he announced that he was back in the race. Frankly, I and many other citizens of Precinct 3 are glad to have him back.

  19. the amanda says:

    immediate=next election cycle. After denying it previously. It was a problem.

  20. Carlin says:

    I read an article in the newspaper about this situation and I think it is funny that Commissioner Jaynes says that Mr. Howard is whining. Doesn’t it make sense for a campaign to want an accurate record of the voting done by their opponent? And more importantly shouldn’t the county have an easy way to produce that information. If we are paying a Public Information Officer for the county, it seems like that should be his job. I don’t think that Corbett Howard is whining — it sounds to me like he is interested in getting to the truth

  21. JRE says:

    I would vote for Corbett Howard’s mother in law if she was running opposite of Joe Jaynes. I’d never even heard of Corbett Howard until this article started making the email rounds. But I’ve heard about Jaynes’ exploits for the last 8 years that I’ve lived in Collin County. His behind the scenes life reads like tabloid trash. Don’t believe it? Find out why the person he endorsed to take his place isn’t running. Find out who has gotten roads to their properties and their ties to Jaynes. Find out if he has a “friend” that our tax dollars paid to settle with her. I could go on and on. Is it all true? I hope someone finds out and these open records requests might give us the answers. I’m voting for Corbett Howard because Jaynes give Republicans a bad name.

  22. Esther says:

    Melissa Mayor David Dorman was supposed to run for Joe Jayne’s seat, but once his Flamingo Daze activities were exposed, he bowed out to his friend Jaynes who suddenly decided to run again.

  23. sue smith says:

    The reason Dorman bowed out is he got caught in the land & road deals.. but with his buddy Jaynes back on the job, Jaynes would see that all the deals still flow Dorman’s way. We should have time limits on offices so that they do not get so corrupte. Jaynes is very shady. The only reason the Howard is being sued is because he had the lawyer kicked off the Celina case. Funny on the timming .. they sued just before the election. Go figure

  24. quiet one says:

    I had to laugh when I read this article. I can see why someone sent it to me. I work for Collin County. While all of you rant and rave over Mr. Jaynes, there are many with their hands in the cookie jar deeper than his. You can start with Kenneth Maun, several Collin County judges, several commissioners and a handful of mayors. Those are just the ones I know of. Developers have been running Collin County for decades, I can’t believe anyone is surprised. I do not know Mr. Howard, but his name has never come up at the water cooler as these other boys. I recommend to all voters who do not know who to vote for, to vote for those who are not incumbants. You will more than likely vote well and keep doing so for several elections. I agree there should be term limits.

  25. RAM says:

    TRUTH is the best weapon to be used against Joe Jaynes! It took us 7 years to meet the man and he IS our commissioner! The way we finally met him was standing in front of the Commissioner’s Court which was in session. We were addressing an issue turned in on a blue card open discussion which affected the LIVES and SAFETY of many citizens, not just ourselves. It has taken us 11 1/2 yrs. to get the issue in the process of resolution and that didn’t come until the County had to be sued!! They left us NO option. They have defended themselves against us with your and our taxpayers money! We and our neighbors have spent around $35K dollars out of our own pockets to get Collin County to honor a contract they agreed to and signed several years ago. In our opinion, Joe Jaynes has NOT been nor IS an advocate for the best interests of ALL his constituents in Collin County.

  26. K says:

    It has been a long-standing issue about Commissioner Jaynes having the County pay for his law school at SMU. Those tuition reimbursements should go to employees who need help in furthering their education — not for elected officials. It might have been “legal” but it doesn’t seem right to me.