Lavaca County's Marie Day has long been concerned about how her tax money is being spent.
With that in mind she requested an audio copy of the minutes of the June meeting of the Lavaca County Central Appraisal District during which the organization's upcoming budget was to be discussed. While listening to the recording, during a discussion of a proposed building site for a new appraisal district office building, Day was disturbed by what she heard. The phrases "across the tracks" and "in a bad neighborhood" were used to describe the location. One board member also said the property needed to be in a "marketable" area.
"That perked my ears up," Day told me in an interview in her home late last month. "I could not believe what I heard."
Deeming the comments as racist slurs, Day took action. Within days she wrote the taxing entities that appoint the members to the board asking that the one director whose voice she recognized making one of the statements be removed, that the board chair who let the comments go on without reprimand be removed and that chief appraiser Pam Lathrop be removed. Lathop, on the recording, mentions a section of town where a shooting occurred.
Day also sent the same letter to the newspapers in Lavaca County which was printed as a letter to the editor.
In addition to requesting that action be taken, Day also wrote, "These are intolerant behaviors showing a callous disregard for individuals in our communities. As a whole, we are a better community than what this board is portraying...there is simply no room for this casual disregard of our neighbors."
We encourage you to listen to the portion of the June 13 meeting in question and decide for yourself if the statements are racial in nature.
The appraisal district's attorney Jim Evans of Austin issued a statement that read, in part, "We found no comments during the discussion that, in our opinion, could be construed by a reasonable person as racially offensive. The board of directors and district staff value the diversity in the communities in Lavaca County and strive to treat all residents fairly."
The LCCAD board, during its July meeting, did discuss the issue during executive session, but took no action. During a public discussion following the executive session, Evans and Day engaged in a lively debate concerning her interpretation of the comments from the previous meeting.
We also encourage you to listen to that discussion.
Day's concerns not only revolve around the statements themselves that she deemed racial slurs, but also the fact that they occurred in a public meeting of a tax-supported entity.
Were the statements made in the June meeting racial slurs? Listen to them closely and you decide.
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