What amounts to the equivalent of a speeding ticket is being made out to be like the famed gunfight at the OK Corral.
Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) Commissioner Tommy Moore and I had a verbal altercation during a recess at the Sept. 7 ACND meeting.
I had just finished talking to ACND Harbor Master Keith Barrett, and ACND Chairman Malcolm Dieckow when Moore, out of the blue, made at least two comments intended to intimidate me.
I asked Moore to provide examples of what he was talking about. When he chose not to do so, I told him he is characterized by such behavior, and I continued to demand he give examples based on his offhand remarks.
Moore got up to leave the meeting (commissioners were in recess between the regular meeting and entering executive session), and I followed him into the entry area, and with a raised voice, continued to demand he provide examples.
But Moore never could provide one.
A short time after the initial verbal altercation came to an end, Moore returned to the ACND chambers and I turned to leave.
As Moore sat down, and as I was leaving, Moore said words to the effect that he should give me a whooping. I’m editing what he said because this is a family newspaper.
I turned around, walked into the ACND meeting chambers, and asked Moore what he just said.
The verbal altercation ended shortly after that exchange with me leaving the building, and Moore and his fellow commissioners going into executive session.
(Note: This is not the first verbal altercation between Moore and me. I have never instigated any of the altercations, but have never backed down.)
Moore sent me an email the next day saying he “was surprised” by my reaction to his comments, adding, “We have discussed your one-sided reporting before,” coupled with implied threats, including third degree felony charges.
He also wrote that since the incident was witnessed by the public, “a public apology at the next (ACND) meeting will go a long way.”
Dieckow was copied on the email.
The ACND chairman called me the day Moore sent the email and told me the ACND does not have issues with my reporting, and said he saw no need for me to make a public apology.
I did not apologize at the ACND’s Sept. 20 meeting, nor have I addressed the situation in The Pilot.
We rarely publish stories about Class C misdemeanors.
This was just another verbal altercation with Moore.
With his demand of a public apology not met, and after Moore was the subject of a podcast interview, in which Moore seemed surprised at my reaction to his comments, he filed a bogus complaint against me for assault-physical contact.
I was issued a citation (Class C misdemeanor) on Sept. 22 by the Rockport Police Department, which is standard procedure.
The physical contact part of the citation is based on Moore’s claim that I poked or otherwise touched him during the incident.
I have no recollection of ever touching him, but I do recall him saying something like “do not touch me” and me telling him I wasn’t touching him.
Moore has video of the incident, but it is not known if said video contains everything from the beginning, when Moore made his initial comments, to the end, when Moore threatened me with physical harm.
I have covered some aspect of local government for more than 30 years.
As can be expected, there have been disagreements with public officials and the newspaper through the years, but only one elected official – Moore – has consistently been an antagonist, or a bully.
Moore did not like this newspaper’s reporting prior to when I started covering the district.
I will make corrections regarding facts when warranted because a newspaper’s credibility is everything.
I will also not back down to bullies like Moore.
As a matter of record, I do not have contentious relationships with elected officials, at any level, except Moore.
That is not, and never has been my choice.
This incident occurred during a break in a public meeting, and I’m pretty sure Moore was not expecting me to stand up to him.
To save face, Moore filed the complaint to which I will plead not guilty, and ask for a jury trial in municipal court.
This incident never should have gone this far, but it has.
Any elected official or other public figure that makes real or implied threats will not intimidate me or anyone else at The Pilot. We owe that to our readers and to Aransas County.
Mike Probst can be reached at email@example.com.