County's Maurine Dickey Wants Bruce Sherbet Running Elections Again -- As a Consultant

Categories: Politics
Maurine_Dickey_Graham.jpg
Mark Graham
Maurine Dickey
Take a look at the formal agenda for tomorrow's meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. On Page 7 you'll find Court Order 34, which reads, simply:
Approving by a voice vote of the Commissioners Court that Mr. Bruce Sherbet be approved for this agreement and a two (2) year employment agreement, effective February 8, 2011 through February 7, 2013.
That was put on there by Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, who wants to make public the so-far mostly private debate over the reason Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins called for a first-time-in-more-than-two-decades meeting of the County Election Commission on January 28, which led to the resignation of Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet. Sherbet, of course, has said he felt pushed out by Jenkins and John Wiley Price, who wanted to replace Sherbet with Toni Pippins-Poole, the county's longtime assistant elections administrator who Price "convinced" Sherbet to hire long ago. The commission made Pippins-Poole Sherbet's interim replacement.

Dickey says she doesn't know Pippins-Poole -- "wouldn't recognize her if I saw her." But, Dickey tells Unfair Park: "I do know this much -- she doesn't have the confidence of a lot of people, judging by the deluge of concerns that have come to our office over the last two weeks."

Which is why Dickey will ask the commissioners tomorrow to vote on giving Sherbet a two-yer personal services contract, which would more or less turn the now-former elections administrator into a consultant for the county.

"The court has the ability to appoint a consultant, so why doesn't the court hire a consultant and pay him for two years to consult on the election administration department and look at how to make it more efficient?" she says. "It probably doesn't need to exist as a full-blown department anyway. Elections are only in May and November, unless there's a special election or a run-off, so that may be eight weeks' of work. There's no reasons to pay pensions and benefits.

She continues: "It costs us $5.3 million a year to fund that department. Before 1987, they were run by the Dallas County Tax Assessor's office a county clerk. And in '87 Bruce was hired and started the elections department, but Bruce knows all the efficiencies and inefficiencies and could still oversee the elections. No one has more experience than he does, so hire him on a consulting basis."

Dickey insists the commissioners court doesn't need to abide by the vote of the County Election Commission. She says she spent the better part of the weekend studying the elections code and says the commission doesn't exist to give performance reviews, per Clay Jenkins's explanation, only to provide up-and-down in-or-out votes or replace someone who's resigning.

She also insists: Only the county commissioners can sign off on Pippins-Poole, since, of course, the commissioners are the ones who will ultimately decide whether to approve her and how much to pay her.

"They can name Howdy Doody to be the elections administrator, but unless it's funded by the county commissioners, they can't fund that job," she says. "It always bothers me when I see entities with authority but no accountability."

At last week's meeting, Dickey tried to bring up Sherbet's ouster -- by asking Price if Pippins-Poole was one of his political protégés. Jenkins muzzled that conversation real fast, insisting it wasn't on the agenda.

Well, it is tomorrow. And it should get interesting.

"I am going to bring up the court order and then ask for a voice vote," she says. "And the commissioners can say what we want to. The commissioners were not involved in this, were not told about it, and yet we're expected to fund it? It's like an unfunded mandate. ... Do the commissioners want Toni Pippens-Poole? They're gonna have a chance tomorrow to give a voice vote on how they feel about it. The question is: Do they want to hire Bruce as a consultant? The crowd will be there, as I understand, for Bruce, and the commissioners will have to answer to them. ...

"There are two things needed in an elections administrator -- someone with the ability and knowledge to do it, and someone who has the public's confidence. Toni's been tied in, right or wrong, with Commissioner Price, and a lot of people don't want Commissioner Price having a hand in their elections.

"Nobody has put Toni on the court agenda. But she will come up March 1, when Bruce is officially out of office. As we know, he's been told not to step on county property. But in order for us to fund Toni, we have to vote to fund her and vote on her salary. And the public needs to be heard from. It's not my intention to make tomorrow's meeting more interesting, but it may be a result."

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Just the facts, ma'am
Just the facts, ma'am

What should be answered for now:1. John Warren's editorial in today's DMN was so self serving. Consider that County Clerk Warren (vice chair of the Commission) and Ames have been in office now for more than 4 years, and as members of the Elections Commission have never questioned the system or the the way the process works before now. Neither ever raised any issues concerning Sherbet's preformance or the need for reviews and transparency.2. Elections Commission's job is allegedly to hire and fire the elections administrator. Where does the prerformance review process fit in? Isn't it a failure of the Commission to have not done this before yet seek to fire someone without due process?3. Unless the Commission is truly bi-partisan or independent, how can it give any type of qualified and impartial performance appraisal?4. Citizens will never have faith in the system and the electoral process until they see the process in the light of day. The ousting of Sherbet has been a travesty - one that none of the parties involved with the upending have been answerable for. Let's see: Price has a meeting with Sherbet and hands him a letter of resignation to sign. Jenkins claims he knew nothing about any of this, but that they needed to review Sherbet's performance. Sherbet is cornered and attacked outside of public scrutiny and chooses to resign with his dignity and on his own terms. Who wouldn't do as he did? The way that this has been handled smacks of process that looks to be a page out of Putin's playbook.5. If Sherbet is not able to be retained, then conduct a legitimate national search NOW and openly post and define the criteria of what is needed and evaluate real candidates for the position.6. The Election Commission should be made up of truly independent members, but should be balanced by a representative of each political Party. Funny, but it is the three members: Jenkins, Warren, and Ames that have been politicized. Ames and Warren had 4 years to get Foster to be political, but since he wasn't, the D's ran him off. Certainly if we had Judge Duncan this recent power grab would not have been possible. Ditto County Judge Emmert. Ironically, it is Neerman and Ewing have been in lock step with their support for Sherbet - because they have seen just how fair he has been. That alone speaks volumes. 7. Dallas County should look at other County models and rethink the Elections Commission structure. Clearly it has failed in its duty. Changes should be made NOW. Warren and Ames have no business being Commission members. They are elected paid employees too. Elections commissioners should not be sitting elected officials. Overseeing a process that you benefit from is already rife with conflict. The Commissioner's court should be fully accountable for how they manage our County and its resources. Dallas County citizens deserve nothing less.8. The public should be fully informed about how our Elections are conducted and evaluated.9. County officials who are in violation of elections code should be sanctioned. Jenkins voted in elections in two different counties in violation of the law. He personally should not be allowed to sit on an Elections Commission nor be given the right to evaluate the performance of an Elections Administrator. Moreover, once upon a time, Jenkins sued Sherbet. Basic ethics dictates that he should have recused himself due to direct conflicts.

Catbird
Catbird

I fear that the Dems will do to Dallas what they have done to Detroit - suck it dry with graft and drive out everyone who has a choice with "SALT"-like demands for "equity" from our esteemed elected officials.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong but I doubt it.

Garland Guy
Garland Guy

Look at the people who continue to come out of the woodwork to support Sherbet. How can you folks call yourselves progressives and maintain your support for him? I make it a rule to NEVER trust anyone that people like Dickey, Neerman, Tea-Partiers, etc. endorse.

cp
cp

You again?

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

There are many democrats down there.Many Black Pct.Chair persons are not there because , John Price the Bully will take away their right to hold election. Commissioner appoints election Judges.

Justice
Justice

Great job Maurene. You are on the right track, but I'm afraid that you'll get derailed Tuesday morning. Looks like Elba is going to vote with Price & Jenkins.

FrontRowSeat
FrontRowSeat

I am amazed that no one has brought up the race issue (at least that I have seen). Had a white official pressured a black employee to resign (without cause) in favor of another white employee we would be witnessing marches on City Hall, articles in the DMN and probably national coverage.

Nunya
Nunya

Did I miss something? Was there not a group at city hall protesting and articles in the DMN? Reason being, white people don't have a history of being discriminated against.. Did you take a history lesson ever?

DallasDem80
DallasDem80

Great work Commissioner Dickey. Keep up the pressure.

Montemalone
Montemalone

$5.3 million a year? What do they do for that kind of cash? It had been run forever by the Clerk before that.The more this gets press, the more I wonder what the fuck is going on.

Truthforlibs
Truthforlibs

Thanks to the Dallas Observer for staying on top of this critical issue. The concern of the public and apparently of County Commissioner Dickey is one thing: Voter Fraud. Ramrodding a well liked and respected 24-year employee out of his job is never right especially when done without due process or visibility to the public.

cp
cp

Unfortunately I can see the vote going 3-2 against it. Nice try, though. I know Maureen Dicky personally and I think she's great.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I enjoy Maureen Dickey, especially calling Clay Jenkins "Howdy Doody" in a not-so-subtle way...I guess i'll be buying my BBQ sammiches from her husbands restaurant again as well, as shes taking a stand for whats right in this city..

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...