SEPTEMBER 22, 2006

SEPTEMBER 22, 2006

SEPTEMBER 22, 2007

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
At 2:46 am Conroe Police were dispatched to a major accident on FM 3083 just east of IH45, in front of Cashner Funeral Home. The lone male occupant in the 2009 red Mustang was reported by witnesses to have exited the Speedy Stop parking lot going east on FM 3083 in the westbound lane. The Mustang then struck an 18-wheeler driven by 58-year-old Joe Adkins who also had his wife in the truck. Neither of them was injured but the driver of the Mustang was transported to Conroe Regional Hospital in serious condition.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015
It remains unclear what specifically prompted a controversial decision by the Montgomery County Hospital District Board of Directors following a heated discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting, but clearly, the matter is by no means settled with one board member announcing her refusal to comply with the decision. Board Member Georgette Whatley vehemently opposed the decision she says would remove MCHD employees’ ability to privately present concerns to board members without fear of retaliation. Board Member Bob Bagley agreed with Whatley and said someone was recently terminated, ostensibly as a result of being seen speaking with him. Several citizens also made their concerns known, and all of them asked the Board not to approve the resolution.

The resolution amends the Director Bylaws, adding oversight and placing restrictions on how board members obtain information by every method from talking directly with MCHD employees to requesting information from departments and services under the District’s authority.

MCHD Board Chairman Harold Posey began by saying the resolution only amended a longstanding section of the Director’s Bylaws (Article II, Sect. 3), which states;

“Board Members shall have no authority except when functioning as a member of the Board in an official meeting. No individual member of the Board may exercise authority with respect to the operation of the Health Care Assistance Program, Public Health Department and Clinic, or the Emergency Medical Service or of services Montgomery County Hospital District employees by virtue of their status as Board Members.”

Posey then began to preface the proposed change, saying, “Over the past few years, there have been instances of board members riding ambulances and…” But Mark Cole interrupted, suggesting they first read the proposed amendment, or what they referred to as the “additional language.” Posey agreed and Cole read aloud the amendment at the heart of the controversy;

b. Outside of meetings of the Board of Directors, including regular, special and committee meetings and social events, Board Members should seek and obtain permission from the Board Chair before making any requests for information or having contact with MCHD employees other than the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer or EMS Director. While the Board Chair shall seek to ensure that other Board Members are afforded a robust opportunity to obtain such information as is necessary to perform their official functions and duties as Board Members, the Board Chair retains the authority to establish guidelines as to the extent and duration of requests for information to District employees from other Board Members so as to minimize disruption in the workplace at the District and to curtail harassment as a result of multiple or vexatious requests that are found by the Board Chair to be brought in bad faith or in furtherance of matters not within the official functions or duties of the requesting Board Member.

c. Board members must follow established MCHD policies applicable to MCHD personnel at all times when on District property (whether owned or leased) and/or at a location where MCHD personnel are performing their prescribed duties, except to the extent such policies conflict with these Bylaws.

When the public weighed in on the resolution, their views mirrored those presented by Whatley and Bagley, and they had additional concerns. One woman pointed out that many MCHD employees are county residents. Therefore, restricting their ability to communicate with board members was also denying them their rightful access to elected officials. The Constitution was a recurring theme among speakers. Ginger Russell said she was “greatly concerned (item 10) is limiting free speech” actually read the First Amendment to the Board.

Adrian Heath told board members he researched the matter and found a previous opinion from the Attorney General on a similar matter that indicated the board should have “unfettered access” to employees and information. He, too, asked them to consider the controversy that could arise regarding the Constitutionality of the amendment.

Another gentleman said restricting access sounded “counterintuitive to the primary function of the board, which is oversight.”

A woman currently using a MCHD program said, “Nobody would allow commissioners court to not be able to talk to a single county employee.”

Posey said he agreed with “all the comments from the public about board members needing to get information when they request it.” But then he pointed out the portion of the amendment that states, “Members are afforded a robust opportunity to obtain such information as necessary to perform their official functions and duties as a board member…”

“I think everybody understands what “robust” means,” Posey said, “So there’s no reason that a board member would be kept away from that.”

The Chairman went on to list some incidents to support his position, with no real details such as whom, where, or when.

“Some of the problems that we have, or I have, that’s starting this addition to our bylaws is, we have a board member that shows up to an accident and our people are taking care of their clients- the victims of the accident, and they’re walking around looking at all this and a police officer says ‘would you please move over to the side’ and the board member says ‘well I don’t have to, I’m your boss.’ That’s inappropriate,” Posey said. “That’s out of line.”

“We have board members that show up at 9, 10 o’clock at night at one of our stations where there are two women by themselves, watching TV, and stays there until 10, 11, 12 o’clock,” he said. “That’s inappropriate. That’s not even inappropriate – it’s freaky.”

Posey then said some of the scenarios were recurring.

“We have a board member that requests information from hospital personnel that’s in violation of the HIPAA Act and could cause great liability and bad publicity to the district,” he said. “This is an effort to bring some of this under control – to make things better, not worse, not to hinder anyone from performing their duty.”

Posey then compared MCHD board members to school board members, saying school board members could not go into a second grade class and sit there, asking the students what the teacher is doing wrong and whether they are happy with the teacher, principal or superintendent.

“That’s kinda ridiculous,” he said.

Board Treasurer Chris Grice agreed vocally, saying it was the Board’s job to oversee, not to micromanage, adding he felt issues should be addressed by the entire board and not investigated individually.

Whatley could no longer remain silent.

“I am not in support of this at all,” she said. “How am I to be held accountable to the tax payers to get any information that they have the right to get from me as a board member when I am denied access to that information..”

Whatley went on to note the Board Chairman did not appoint her, she was elected by the citizens, and her duty was to the citizens.

“If there’s some impropriety by certain board members as has been alleged, those need to be addressed on an individual basis,” she said.

Whatley drew thunderous applause when she said “As far as my not being allowed to talk to our employees, if this policy is passed, I will tell you right now, in public, on the record, I will refuse to abide by that policy.”

She continued to explain why she was not only voting against the amendment, she was refusing to abide by it.

“Four years ago, there were some employees that had some serious concerns, and they were not petty concerns,” Whatley said. “I had to meet secretly with these people to get them to talk to me.”

The first meeting, she said, involved only three people. Five appeared for the next, and more for successive meetings. Once she laid the foundation, she invited other board members to the meetings, including Bagley.

“The employees do not trust the administration in this district and as a board member, I find that intolerable,” she said. “Our employees have to feel like they have a safe work environment. They have to feel like their jobs are not in jeopardy if they come and talk to me. If they have gone through proper chain of command, made every effort to go to their supervisor and their supervisor’s supervisor, and they’re still not getting any results from their legitimate concerns, I feel like they have the right to come to me as a board member.”

Whatley said her son was in the hospital following a grand mal seizure four or five years ago, but she still went to the board meeting to introduce the employees concerns before going to the hospital.

“As a result of those “secret meetings” a totally new administration is now in place,” she said. “With all due respect to our current administration, if we need to replace the administration again, then I am all about doing that.”

Whatley again drew applause when she said, “These people are out there saving lives. I’m not going to have them be intimidated by administration, fearing for their job if they have a conversation with me.”

Posey said he recalled the situation Whatley mentioned and that other board members knew about those meetings, so she was not handling it alone, which is what he wanted to stop. Posey further stated that since that time, and because of that very situation, an 800 line had been created, “that goes to an uninterested person, where any employee can register any complaint they have against anyone in the district.”

Whatley swiftly responded, “But I’m an interested person, and I want them to be able to call me.”

Bob Bagley then interjected that he never heard of the 800 line, nor did he think anyone else had. Whatley said it was also the first she had heard of an 800 number with such a purpose.

Cole suddenly chimed in again, saying the service existed. However, it was not up and running just yet.

Bagley also recalled the meetings Whatley mentioned, saying he too joined in.

“They trusted me – They trusted Georgette,” Bagley said. “There were very few board members that they actually trusted – ever have trusted, or would come to.”

“Part of that was because the last administration decided they should not have any contact with board personnel – no different than what we have going on here today,” Bagley said.

He then mentioned someone in the room who was said to have been terminated for talking to Bagley.

“That’s just wrong,” Bagley said, looking directly at fellow board members. “You can make your comments – you can make your faces – whatever you want to do – I’m just telling you what’s taking place.”

Bagley said he didn’t approve of some of the allegations made by Posey.

“We have a constitutional right to talk to any employee in this district that we want to, at any time, and they have the same right,” he said. “There is to be no retribution. If so, that’s a violation of their First Amendment rights, and this district is open for suit for ACLU and I would push that 100 percent (I would) give every dime I’ve got to see that take place.”

Posey responded saying he didn’t see the issue as a district matter, but a board matter.

“I don’t see that retribution has been any part of this conversation,” Posey said. “We’re not talking about our employees. We’re talking about our board members respecting the other board members before they go out on a witch hunt.”

Bagley and Whatley simultaneously said there was no “witch hunt.”

Posey said such matters could be approached in one of two ways, the first of which he called “going out by yourself and soliciting complaints,” having a conversation with himself as though he were asking an employee if they were “unhappy” about anything, and the employee seeing the question as an opportunity to right the wrong of the promotion someone received instead of them.

“That’s not serving this board correctly, and it doesn’t need to happen,” Posey said. “It has happened, and it necessitates these additions.”

He then reiterated, “We’re not changing the bylaws – we’re making additions to them.” That statement was met with laughter from the audience.

“We’re not restricting any board member’s right to talk to any employee,” Posey said. “We’re only asking that the board be made a part of it.”

“No,” Whatley shouted. “They’re not going to talk to me if everybody knows who spoke to me because they’re in fear of losing their job.”

Cole calmly responded, “You don’t have to tell us who it is, we just want to know about the complaints.”

Whatley then said if they didn’t have to know with whom she would speak or the anticipated topic of conversation, the whole issue was a moot point.

“I will not abide by this even if you pass it,” Whatley said.

She then told the board one of the concerns she was privately approached about several years ago, which was the lack of smaller baby bottles on ambulances. A paramedic nearly lost a premature infant, she said, because the bottles were too big. When the medic asked the district to supply smaller bottles, the request was denied, Whatley said.

Whatley said she was elected to serve the public and planned to do that, regardless of the board’s decision.

“I will talk to any taxpayer out there that wants to call me,” she said. “My number is posted; My Facebook has no blocks on it.”

Discussion continued for only a short time, with the only new issue being that the board previously voted to remove employees’ right to appeal termination, which Whatley said increased concerns over retaliation.

Despite the passionate pleas of citizens, Whatley and Bagley, the other members of the MCHD Board of Directors passed the resolution amending their bylaws.

Georgette Whatley later made the following statement:

“I will stop short of accusing my fellow board members with Open Meetings violations, but I question why (HOW) all 5 of the other board members voted for this “gag” order without questioning why it was necessary. Granted, AT LEAST one board member (Harold Posey) felt this amendment was necessary for reasons he cited in open session – basically related to alleged “misconduct” by another board member, which, for the most part, were denied by the accused board member — but were his few sentences at the meeting enough to convince four board members to support this travesty without their having information prior to the board meeting about the necessity of this amendment?

Even after having heard his allegations against a board member allegedly crossing the line, I was not convinced that this amendment was necessary. As board members, we are entitled to every minute detail of everything that happens at the governmental entity that we were elected to manage and control. If a board member acts inappropriately, the board can address it; however, it is up to the voters, and ONLY the voters, to remove that person from office.

An amendment denying other board members access to employees and information is just wrong and I will NOT abide by the amendment.

Let the voters decide if I am right or wrong. I think I’m right. I think the voters will agree. To deny me, or ANY board member, access to employees or information is tantamount to denying the citizens access to information to which they are legally entitled and causes me, as a board member, to surrender my ability to govern and be accountable to the taxpayers.”

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016
Just after 1030pm Thursday, Cleveland Police made a traffic stop. The vehicle stopped and then fled from officers. The pursuit went into Montgomery County. A Montgomery County Deputy attempted to set spikes up on South Walker Road. As he did the driver of the fleeing vehicle attempted to run over the deputy. The deputy fired several shots. The vehicle continued north on North Walker Road to the 3000 block where the driver turned into a private drive. The drive continued to the back of the property, ran through a fence and crashed into the tree line with the Ford F150. The male driver and female passenger fled into the woods. A K-9 was deployed and the male was taken into custody. The female was not located. The truck was stolen out of Montgomery County.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

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