Bill O’Sullivan, Guest Editorialist
Last week I did something out of character for me. I called for the resignation of Stephanne Davenport from the Office of County Treasurer. I usually discuss issues only and not people. In fact, though I have disagreed with Judge Doyal on numerous occasions, when he was suspended without pay when indicted because he was a “Judge”, I defended him in open Commissioners Court and called for his reinstatement along with the payment of the pay taken away from him. He was not the “judge” in the law where suspension for indictment was mandatory and also had declined those judicial powers when he was sworn in over three years ago. In fact, in the last two weeks I found out his pay was reinstated because I was ready to argue to restore it if it hadn’t been.
The resignation request was driven by the release of the confidential information reportedly on 79 employees. That is serious enough. However, the County Treasurer had just gone through a piece of Kabuki Theater self-righteously saying that the information in the Procedures Manual was “sooo” sensitive that it had to be protected even to the point of apparently requesting the County sue the Attorney General of the State of Texas to prevent the Treasurer’s “Procedures Manual” from public scrutiny.
This “dance” went on from December till just past the Primary Election which may have been the purpose. The Texas Attorney General confirmed the decision previously made by our County Attorney that the Manual needed to be released subject to the removal of the ordinary and necessary redactions for personal information of County Employees and Elected Officials such as home addresses, Social Security Numbers, etc. At the time, I called this an “unforced error” by the Treasurer based on prior corporate knowledge of the contents of Procedures Manuals and why truly Confidential Information would never appear in one but be segregated. During this roughly 90 Day Period a competent Treasurer would have made sure that any redactions that would have to be made should the Texas Attorney General order the release as was likely.
The likely became the reality. The Treasurer apparently never did the necessary careful screening of the Procedures Manual for necessary redactions and so it was released without those redactions exposing 79 past and present County Employees and Elected Officials to problems because of that release. This has caused the County and the 79 victims serious harm. I have been advised that this release could be an indictable offense should a complaint be made. In hopes of getting all of this expeditiously cleaned up, I signed a letter with others requesting the Treasurer’s resignation. If this is in fact an indictable offense, I hope this resignation would forego that process.