Metts corruption abounds: secret effort to hide sexual harassment settlement just like Congress

Metts corruption abounds: secret effort to hide sexual harassment settlement just like Congress

New Caney, December 6 – The corruption of Montgomery County Precinct 4 JP James Metts is rampant, as he has become the symbol of the sexual harassment of County employees that the political establishment condones. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, has discovered a substantial effort to cover up Metts’ sexual harassment settlement with former County government employee Delonna Snow against whom Metts made several sexual advances in his JP Office, as found by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The cover-up of Metts’ sexual harassment settlement that cost taxpayers $45,000

In response to a formal Employment Discrimination Charge which JP employee Delonna Snow filed against Montgomery County and James Metts, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Metts terminated Snow in November, 2006, in retaliation for Snow’s rejection of Metts’ sexual advances. The EEOC made the following findings:
  • Since May 2004, Snow “was subjected to harassment of a sexual nature by her immediate supervisor [Metts].”
  • “Among other things, the supervisor [Metts] discussed his sex life in…[Snow’s] presence and told jokes of a sexual nature.”
  • After Snow “complained of the harassment and continued to reject the advances of her immediate supervisor [Metts], he began systematically retaliating against her, ultimately terminating her employment.”
  • In 2004, Metts initially asked Snow “for dates, offered her gifts and money and created the impression among other staff that he and…[Snow] were romantically involved.”
  • Snow alleged that on the occasion when she “rejected his advances and refused his offer of money, he threatened to hit her.”
  • “The harassment stopped for a period after she complained, but started up again and intensified in August and September 2006.”
  • Metts “created a sexually hostile work environment by discussing his sex life in the presence of…[Snow], as well as other staff, and telling jokes of a sexual nature.”
  • Snow would tell Metts “that his comments were more information then [sic] she needed to know, refuse to participate in those discussions or leave the area.”
  • “Documentary evidence obtained during the investigation shows that Respondent [Montgomery County] failed to follow policy when…[Snow] was issued a Third Level disciplinary action and subjected to immediate termination of employment…” because Snow never received First or Second level disciplinary actions, a violation of the Montgomery County Employment Policy in place at the time.
  • Montgomery County admitted to EEOC that “the termination of…[Snow] was initiated and carried out by” Metts.
  • “Therefore, based on the analysis of the evidence, the Commission concludes that the evidence obtained during the investigation establishes that Respondent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended with respect to Delonna Snow’s allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation.”
  • “Therefore, based on the analysis of the evidence, the Commission concludes that the evidence obtained during the investigation establishes that Respondent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended with respect to Delonna Snow’s allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation.” – United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On October 19, 2012, Snow filed a lawsuit Complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas under Case 4:12-CV-03130, Delonna Snow versus Montgomery County, Texas. 
After two years of litigation where Montgomery County taxpayers had to bear the expense, Montgomery County and Metts settled with Snow in a secret settlement under which the taxpayers had to pay Snow $45,000 for Metts’ sexual misconduct.
The County Commissioners Court held a special meeting to discuss the Metts-Snow settlement and other County business on August 4, 2014. Neither the meeting agenda nor the Commissioners Court minutes mention anything about Metts, sexual harassment, or even employment discrimination. The minutes, however, do reflect some bizarre behavior in the Commissioners Court.
August 4, 2014, Commissioners Court minutes.

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador made a motion and then-Precinct 2 County Commissioner Craig Doyal (now County Judge) seconded the motion, to force the taxpayers of Montgomery County to pay $45,000 to former County government employee Delonna Snow to obtain a full release from her of her claims. There was no mention of Metts in the Commissioners Court minutes.

Although quite bizarre, Meador and Doyal suggested paying Metts out of the County’s “contingency” fund, a single-line budget item with no restrictions, limitations, or conditions. The Commissioners Court – Doyal, Meador, former County Judge Alan Sadler, former County Commissioner Ed Rinehart, and County Commissioner James Noack – approved the motion unanimously.

A few minutes later in the meeting, however, things changed when Meador made another motion concerning the same settlement. On that occasion, Sadler seconded the motion.

August 4, 2014, Commissioners Court minutes.

Once again, there was no mention of Metts in the Commissioners Court minutes. Even more bizarre, however, was the funding of the settlement from “Risk Management,” meaning the Risk Management County Department. What’s so strange about funding a lawsuit settlement from the Risk Management Department is that, even though that Department oversees the defense of claims against the County government along with the County Attorney, there was no fund under Risk Management’s control that would pay such a settlement.

To be fair, the Risk Management does oversee the County’s “self-insurance.” When a lawsuit or claim is made against Montgomery County’s government, the taxpayers must foot the bill for the first $100,000 of settlement or defense expenses. After that first $100,000, the County has general liability insurance which covers settlements and defenses costs from $100,000 to $1,000,000. Beyond $1,000,000, the Montgomery County government manages a self-insurance excess liability fund under the Risk Management Department.

The question one might ask then is: wasn’t the Metts sexual harassment settlement funded out of some fund that covers the first $100,000 under a claim?

The Commissioners Court minutes of the August 14, 2014, meeting don’t provide much of an answer. The Commissioners Court did attach an “Order and Resolution” authorizing the payment of the funds to Snow for her suffering sexual harassment at the hands of Metts. Even that Order and Resolution, however, failed to identify from the funds to pay the settlement came.

That’s where the situation gets even more bizarre, because, at the bottom of the Order and Resolution, there’s a handwritten note “risk management will name a funding source.” In other words, the Commissioners Court didn’t even provide any direction about from where the $45,000 Metts sexual harassment settlement funds would come. It just left that problem up to a County bureaucratic department that has no accountability to the citizens who were footing the bill for Metts’ sexual misconduct.

Therefore, there is only one more place where someone could try to find the account from which the County government paid the Metts sexual harassment settlement in 2014: the County government’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (“CAFR”), which should be an audited financial statement detailing all of the County’s financial transactions for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.

As one might expect in a County government where “more secrecy” is the slogan, the CAFR contained absolutely no reference whatsoever to the Metts settlement or any settlement whatsoever in the amount of the Metts settlement. The CAFR showed settlements of other types of claims but there was no claim for sexual harassment or employment discrimination listed anywhere in the detailed report.

The CAFR specifically addressed the Risk Management Department’s spending of funds between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014. There is no budget category which could include a settlement of any sort in the Risk Management Department’s expenditures. That finding is particularly disconcerting, because the Commissioners Court minutes explicitly required payment of the Metts sexual harassment settlement out of “Risk Management” as the “funding source.”

It’s obvious that the County government and Metts worked very hard to cover up the sexual misconduct settlement. There remains no mention of the settlement or its source of funds in the audited financial records of the County government.

Comparison to Congress’ secret Office of Compliance fund

The rate of spending growth of the Montgomery County government greatly exceeds the rate of spending growth of the federal government, so it’s probably not fair to the United States of America to compare its terrible spending practices to those of the far more roguish Montgomery County government.

Nevertheless, there is one comparison between Montgomery County and the United States Congress: they’ve both worked very hard to hide sexual harassment settlements.

That fact surfaced five days ago when the settlement of United States Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas came to public light. Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle his sexual harassment claim that his former spokeswoman Lauren Greene had brought against him. Like Metts, Farenthold settled with Greene in the 2014 time frame.

Also similar to the Montgomery County government and Metts, it turns out that the Congress utilizes a secretive office, known as the Office of Compliance, that has paid out $360,000 to resolve complaints against members of the United States House of Representatives just in the past four years.

Like Metts, the media covered up the sexual harassment scandal. There was almost no reporting of Farenthold’s sexual harassment settlement. Similarly, even though there was a Commissioners Court meeting about payment of the Metts sexual harassment settlement, the “establishment”-run Courier blog never reported the story and still hasn’t reported the story to date, even though The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper has confirmed the Courier blog knows about the sexual harassment scandal.

Metts and Farenthold have a lot in common. They both made the taxpayers pay for their sexual misconduct. They both tried to hide their use of taxpayer money from the citizens. They both made sexual advances in their government offices against government employees.

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