I was reading the editorial in a recent edition of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and it got me to thinking. The piece was about public officials’ attempts to limit access to public information, a push to limit freedom of speech, as well as other things that I believe make up the backbone of our great country.
It made me think a little about the ongoing saga involving Aransas County District Attorney (ACDA) Kristen Barnebey and her continued targeting (there’s no other way to describe her actions) the Rockport Police Department (RPD) for what was originally, the best I can tell, “not turning over all the information required by law” under provisions of the Morton Act “every single time.”
If the tables were turned, one might question why she seems to want to limit access to information?
That seems a little ironic doesn’t it?
She is playing games with the RPD, the city, and every resident of Aransas County (crime knows no boundaries) for whatever the deep seeded reasons are, yet at the same time has a tough time promoting and encouraging the free flow of public information in the courthouse.
Never seen anything like it.
Barnebey told me in an email once that “everyone knows” I don’t run letters to the editor that “don’t fit my agenda” yet somehow former County Commissioner Charles Smith’s letter was published last week … It certainly wasn’t a love letter to Mike!
I wonder how Smith knew how to find a very particular quote from a certain court setting, and then came to the conclusion that limited information proves the RPD is guilty of wrongdoing for the past two years.
We can start getting into the how and why Barnebey was initially given the position she now holds, but that can wait for another time.
Smith (another person I had a lot of respect for when he was on the court … because he questioned a lot of things) made a judgment; based on a fraction of a court proceeding he shared in his letter, which I believe is a bit of a stretch.
It seems to me Judge Whatley was talking in general terms.
To then opine, “The selected withholding of case file documents by the RPD was clearly established, according to the Judge, for two years,” holds no water.
The statements were questions about when a case was filed.
There are no answers provided about when the information was actually filed by the RPD, where it was when the pretrial hearing mentioned took place, etc.
I also think it’s interesting recent grand jury indictments include cases by RPD personnel, but I thought Barnebey wasn’t going to prosecute any RPD cases until the RPD was audited, and the City of Rockport printed retractions of its ads.
The interesting thing about the ads is there was a line at the bottom, which asked readers to call either the city or Barnebey’s office about the information contained in the ads.
For a small Texas county that lost thousands of its residents after Harvey, at least temporarily, which sort of waters down the whole reason behind having our own ACDA, we are producing a shameful local soap opera, and the ACDA is the producer and director.
In regard to Smith’s disappointment of this newspaper’s coverage of this saga, I will admit I don’t now anyone, involved with initially getting Barnebey in her position, who approves of our reporting, much less my opinions.
Maybe, just maybe, one should chew on that thought for a bit.
This whole saga began when we published Barnebey’s announcement before Harvey about her decision not to accept RPD cases until certain demands were met. She, of course, as stated in this newspaper in the past, has every right to do so.
The news coverage of this issue has been fair.
Barnebey may not like my opinions, which are published on this page, and that’s her right, as well.
As a public service, I offer Barnebey space on this page to better explain to the public, since we are incapable of doing so, what is really going on in her office.
The pen is yours ACDA Barnebey.
The deadline for next Wednesday’s edition is noon Monday.
Until next week, have a good week.
Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.