McLennan County commissioners have agreed to fork over almost $600k of your money to settle a discrimination lawsuit against Sheriff Parnell McNamara.
The suit stems from McNamara's reorganization after he took office a couple years ago. The total settlement is $2 million with taxpayers picking up about $575k that insurance won't cover.
Nine former employees said they were fired or demoted for supporting McNamara's primary opponent. He says it was just normal restructuring and his proof was that he kept and even promoted some people in the department who supported his opponent.
The law says you can't fire someone based solely on their political activities. I understand the intent of the law: protecting everyone's first amendment rights and ability to engage in the political process. Fine.
But you might remember how acrimonious the sheriff's primary was. Supporters on both sides made it clear they thought the other guy wasn't qualified for the job. The Randy Plemons camp even had a kid playing dress up like a Sheriff suggesting Parnell wasn't a real lawman and was unfit to lead the county's law enforcement.
Now, if you eventually end up winning, why should you have to keep people who don't think you're qualified to do your job? Sheriff McNamara had every right to get rid of people he didn't think would be loyal to him.
I'm sure there's more to this settlement and I'm sure the insurance company and lawyers put the screws to the county and Sheriff to get them to settle (without acknowledging wrongdoing).
But I am disappointed in both the Sheriff and county commissioners.
Perhaps it would have been more costly to go to trial. Perhaps this was the right financial move in the long run and it's good to be done with it. But no matter what this agreement means legally, the perception when you agree to settle is that you were wrong or at the minimum there was some element of truth in what the plaintiffs were alleging.
Sheriff McNamara will be on the show this week to update us. I hope he can convince me this was the right move.