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Ethics probe centers on sovereign immunity ruling

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Timing is everything in politics, which is why we’re glad Midlothian City Councilman Ken Chambers has another year before standing for re-election.

Chambers, whom this newspaper described as a "best friend" of taxpayers for his fight against the erosion of property rights and defense of individual liberties, is the central focus of an ethics probe by Mayor Boyce Whatley for numerous "infractions" Chambers’ council colleagues are hesitant to act on.

Whatley, to his credit, has always been forthright with this paper, always calls when there are issues to be clarified and is one of those figures that truly has the best interests of his community when making decisions.

There are always exceptions.

Earlier this year, Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Greg Wilhelm, a Republican from Midlothian, ruled against the cities of Waxahachie and Midlothian in their claim that sovereign immunity protected them against lawsuits by construction contractor Ken Halverson for work being done on the two cities’ shared airport, Mid-Way.

Halverson sued both entities for approving "illegal contracts" to the Nay Company to build airport hangars at the joint Mid-Way Airport in west-central Ellis County; problem (still) is, those hangars are potential liabilities; drainage pipes and drains won’t connect properly, causing water to seep, spill and possibly electrocute anyone near the dangling electrical wires that are spotted by local pilots.

The illegality of the situation comes in the form of the Nay’s still-open construction process from 2002. Halverson’s high-priced construction lawyers told The Ellis County Press local governments cannot award bids to the same companies for projects they still have not completed.

Halverson is a pilot himself, and true, he lost a bid to construct the hangars, but his fight was falling on deaf ears until two things happened: (a) pilots sent videos this newspaper posted on the video-sharing site YouTube and (b) Ken Chambers listened to his concerns.

Chambers, in fact, is still the only councilman to address these concerns publicly.

He can’t act in an official capacity on decision-making unless he’s seated with his colleagues, but nothing prevents Chambers from listening, looking and asking questions – probing questions.

The type of questions that have launched Mid-Way Airport in a cloud of controversy.

The ethics probe Whatley launched comes at an interesting time in Midlothian; when the public focus is on annexation and Chambers’ stance against it, we tend to believe it has more to do with the behind-the-scenes airport problems.

Halverson has sued the entities three times now; first two suits were thrown out on little word technicalities.

The YouTube videos show Mayor Whatley telling then-Waxahachie finance director Carl Wessels "we usually don’t [do contracts] like this."

Then Midlothian’s council – sans Chambers – approves the contracts.

There are also issues of what Chambers puts on his Web site, KenChambers.net. Whatley said it embarrasses city staff.

We think it’s an embarrassment to keep Mid-Way Airport manager Cam Fearis employed, collecting taxpayer funds in the form of a salary, with all of the construction problems taking place at Mid-Way.

We think it’s embarrassing that the only elected official who will listen to taxpayers’ concerns and actually vote the right way every time is walking the plank.

Mayor, it’s time to end the fishing expedition and take care of the problems we’re addressing.

True leadership requires action and there’s too much protection of certain individuals going on.

That’s not leadership. That’s a cover-up.

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Nelson Propane

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