By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Flash Today
While they were scant in number, emails released by Jerry Warren following a public information request reveal the councilman attempted to blackmail his fellow council members and restrict their right to free speech.
A public information request made by The Flash Today for all emails Warren sent to .gov email addresses in the past 180 days was honored with only six emails — all of which seem to defend Warren’s recent public actions. Warren, who until recently was using a personal email address rather than one provided by the city, did not provide the city of Stephenville with copies of the emails he released.
The “blackmail” email was subject lined “Russell Huffman” a The Flash Today reporter, who was writing the series of articles. One of which called out Warren in regard to whether or not the city had considered Judy Miller for the executive director’s position with the Stephenville Economic Development Authority (SEDA).
“I have not answered the last 25 or so messages from Huffman simply because he is engaged in yellow journalism. That’s the reason he said I lied in my interview with Mike Ross. He, Huffman, is the liar. I don’t know who is forwarding the inter-council emails to Huffman. Apparently a council member or Pat (Bridges) with the objective of tearing up the positive chances of the council moving forward in a positive way with the communities blessing.”
Warren wraps up his email rather ironically if he is seeking a “positive way” of doing things.
“So here’s the deal. The next time this email forwarding thing happens, I will motor out to the Empire-Tribune with Pat Bridges cut Senior Center Etc email in hand and will go public.”
Warren has been on a bit of a public tear after City Administrator Pat Bridges used a mutual separation agreement to let go of the city’s Director of Planning and Building Services Judy Horn-Miller. Warren’s anger and disappointment over the council not being consulted was publicly apparent.
While he was attempting to restrict his fellow council members’ right to free speech, Warren was speaking by purchasing an advertisement in the local newspaper focusing on his disapproval and lack of blame in Miller’s being let go.
Even through Miller was no longer employed by the city, the local rumor mill got hot with stories she was being considered in some type of roll to head SEDA. It was a question Warren answered with a simple, “No” in a newspaper interview, but there was information to the contrary as Miller’s name had indeed come up in “brain-storming” sessions.
Numerous attempts were made for clarification from Warren and even a promise to publish an unedited response from him went unanswered.
Instead, Warren turned to avenues such as Facebook and the highly popular Erath County Breaking News page, twice making posts accusing The Flash Today of practicing “yellow journalism.” Many people asked Warren to qualify his statements and he did not respond. Warren later deleted the posts.
It was more than a month before Warren publicly lashed out again, doing so at the most recent city council meeting when he threw mud at Mayor Kenny Weldon and Bridges over budget cuts at the Stephenville Senior Citizen’s Center. The only problem – Warren knew about the cuts at least a month before, but only “helped” reveal the information after being forced to.
It was Councilman Boyd Waggoner who questioned the minutes of a prior meeting concerning the city budget saying, “No reductions was not entirely accurate,” and the senior center’s budget had indeed been cut.
Warren knew about budget cuts at the senior center at the time Mayor Weldon spoke about “no reductions in city services,” and didn’t say a word. But why didn’t Warren mention the cuts if he knew they existed?
Up until Waggoner’s statement about budget cuts, it appears Warren thought he had “leverage” over the council by threatening to expose cuts, but quickly had to change tactics when he no longer has anything to “expose.”
“First time, back in mid-August, at Mr. (Michael) Ross’ request, I did an interview with the Empire-Tribune and gave him straight forward answers. Then sometime later, on social media, I was called dishonest by Russell Huffman,” Warren said. “One conversation I recall with Zachery, Rhett, You (Mayor Weldon), me and the Wallaces were in attendance. And I asked you if you had told Russell Huffman if I gave straight answers and you said, ‘yes’.”
Warren continued his statement, “He took it upon himself to print, after this, that I was dishonest. Criticism comes with the job, but being called a liar not so much,” Warren added in reference to the disputed meeting minutes. “It wasn’t me that lied and I want that on the record.”
Warren has been side stepping all questions from the media since granting his newspaper interview, but did publish another advertisement that took yet another swipe at Mayor Weldon and Bridges.
“The recently approved budget most definitely cut services to the Senior Center Etc. although it was said by the city administrator and mayor at a council meeting no services were cut. This was pointed out at a recent council meeting by Boyd Waggoner.”
Warren also wanted it on the record he was not the one “who lied,” but instead it was Mayor Weldon and Bridges he blamed at the most recent council meeting in his closing statements.
Warren has been made aware The Flash Today knows there are additional emails he has not released to the public as required by law. A request has been made for a particular email in which Warren is reported to have asked City Attorney Randy Thomas “who jerked his chain” in regard to an opinion regarding executive sessions. As a matter of professional courtesy, The Flash Today did provide the released emails to the city of Stephenville when it was learned Warren did not provide the city with copies.
So where are Jerry Warren’s other emails? It seems highly improbable Warren only sent six emails in six months. Two of the emails are a “thank you” and the other a response he will be attending a meeting. Warren’s own writings back up the belief there are more emails as he makes reference to “inter-council emails” in the email threat he sent to the entire council. Warren also posted his latest advertisement on Facebook. There was one comment of thanks — from Judy Horn-Miller.