Goliad County commissioners' meeting is all talk, no action
April 10, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.
GOLIAD - After more than three hours behind closed doors, the Goliad County Commissioners Court ended Thursday without a decision over a 2-week-old issue.
On March 27, the medical directors for Goliad County Emergency Medical Service sent a letter to the commissioners, the county judge and county attorney, offering an ultimatum: Either the Goliad County EMS administrator, Peggy Fonseca, needed to go, or they would. But at least one commissioner did not receive the letter, and when he did, it had been tampered with.
In the letter to County Attorney Rob Baiamonte, Drs. Mark Heard and Claire Zengerle said they recently found "discrepencies and inconsistencies with the protocols" for Goliad ambulances that if discovered by the Texas Department of State Health Services would result in fines or the loss of Goliad County's EMS license.
After receiving the letter, three commissioners called for a special meeting. But as the commissioners began an executive session, or closed meeting, Thursday, the county attorney was kept out.
"He doesn't get to make that call," Baiamonte said of County Judge David Bowman's decision to exclude him from the meeting.
The commissioners and Fonseca were represented in the session by the same attorney with the Texas Association of Counties.
It is not unusual for commissioners to receive legal council from the association on this sort of issue, Bowman said. Baiamonte has been the county attorney for 14 years and has never been excluded from an executive session, Baiamonte said. For commissioners to be represented by an attorney other than the county attorney, a majority of the commissioners has to approve it, he said.
A vote to use the association's attorney did not occur.
Neither Heard nor Zengerle would comment about the closed-door meeting or their letter. Before Thursday's meeting, Bowman had already added items to the agenda for Monday's meeting to discuss and/or take action to accept the resignation of the medical directors and to discuss and/or take action to approve Dr. Sharon Malone as the county's new medical director.
"Sometimes, things are put on the agenda, and we don't take action on them," Bowman said about the agenda items.
A closed discussion about Fonseca will continue Monday after the commissioners court meeting, Bowman said.
After Thursday's meeting, Precinct 4 Commissioner Ted Long filed a complaint with the sheriff's office about mail tampering.
Two weeks ago, Zengerle told Long to expect a letter March 31 delivered to the same post office box where the judge also gets his mail, Long said.
Long did not receive a letter, but Bowman did March 31.
On April 2, Long was told he received a letter. When Long collected the letter, he found that it had been taken out of an envelope and attached to two documents: a letter from the Department of State Health Services stating that the agency had done a surprise inspection of Goliad County EMS in December and a copy of the inspection report.
The documents indicated that no discrepancies were found, Long said.
Long called the inspector on the DSHS report and asked him about the thoroughness of the inspection. He was told that the inspection was cursory, he said.
"My mail was opened and tampered with. It's very disturbing," Long said Thursday.
Zengerle met with the EMS administrator and the EMS crew March 24 to explain the protocol discrepancies, according to the letter from Zengerle and Heard.
"I did not receive an explanation from the EMS administrator that was acceptable or even believable," the letter said.
"I'm confident we'll find a resolution to this," Fonseca said after Thursday's meeting was dismissed.