When Wes Hinch was elected as the first Republic Liberty County County Attorney since the post reconstruction era after the Civil War, Liberty Dispatch had high hopes he would be an excellent County Attorney and reaffirm to voters that voting for Republicans can benefit the county (despite Hinch’s earlier participation in an unsuccessful scheme to take water rights from landowners in Liberty County). But we bit our lip for too long as we hoped that what seemed to be a pattern by the new County Attorney were just rookie mistakes. Now we are sorry to report Hinch has once again disappointed Liberty County. Because of a pattern of behavior like we will outline below, we have coined a new term amongst us. It is called “hinched”. “Hinched” is when an elected official makes an unusual decision that can only be explained by the fact that instead of doing what is best for the taxpayer, the official is either a pitiful decision maker or their own agenda is more important to them than what the taxpayer thinks. See if you agree:
The local news has reported the late Odell McDuffie Jr.’s family has filed a lawsuit against Liberty County for gross negligence in maintaining the vehicle involved in this tragedy. The lawsuit alleges Liberty County should be held accountable for Deputy McDuffie’s death to the tune of $25 million dollars.
Liberty Dispatch has known for weeks a lawsuit was being considered, but the sadness and the shock of losing such a young husband and father and friend in this community was bound to delay any decisions by the family. After Odell’s insurance benefits were cut off to the family so abruptly and when the effects of losing the main breadwinner in the family hit his wife and children month after month, there was little doubt an investigation into the rumors of poor maintenance would be brought to an attorney.
What has surprised Liberty Dispatch, and what we think should alarm taxpayers, is the County Attorney’s response to Odell McDuffie, Jr.’s widow’s lawsuit. Rather than sympathize with the family of a fallen veteran law enforcer’s family, County Attorney Wes Hinch appears to have gone out of his way to appear antagonistic towards them. He has also gone out of his way to make certain Liberty County taxpayers will lose. We explain below.
Despite having an expert lawyer in this area provided for free by the county’s insurance (Traveler’s Insurance), Liberty County Commissioners met in regular session Monday and approved hiring local attorney Ed Norwood to represent the county in the lawsuit filed by the family of Odell McDuffie Jr. County Attorney. Wes Hinch has publicly expressed his confidence that the McDuffie family’s lawsuit is merely an attempt to cash in, this is an outrage. Hinch seems almost chomping at the bits to get at their claims but he has also said publicly this week that though the staff of his office was “more than qualified to defend the county”, it was a time factor that concerned him. There is no doubt there are competent individuals in his office who could defend this suit, him excluded.
If the County Attorney is a sensitive caring business-minded advocate for the county, he would allow Traveler’s Insurance to do the work taxpayers paid them for when the policies’ premiums were paid through the years. Their lawyer is likely to have handled many more of these cases than Ed Norwood (a local attorney known more for oil and gas law). The last thing Hinch should do is pit the taxpayers and their oil and gas attorney against a grieving widow and the family and their Houston plaintiff’s attorney in a case that could involve millions of dollars. The Liberty County taxpayers have been shifted by Hinch and the commissioners from a no lose situation to one in which we will either lose millions or we will be symbolically sitting on the front row to witness a the widow of a local hero leave the courtroom with no undetermined rightful compensation.
Why? Why would Wes Hinch make this kind of decision! It is simple if you know some of his other stunts over the last few months. We are being “hinched”. Ask the County Attorney why he is doing this and you will hear the same kind of sales pitch he was peddling a few short years ago when he was trying to talk Liberty County landowners into giving up their rights to the groundwater underneath their property.
Hinch either is a poor decision maker or perhaps he has “hooked up” in some form or fashion with Ed Norwood. Add to the questions about this the continuing question about Hinch’s commitment to the Republican Party as Liberty County Attorney Ed Norwood is infamous among some for his historical hatred of Republicans over the years. The only poised winner in the upcoming events will be Ed Norwood.
Regardless of what has happened on this matter thus far, Liberty Dispatch is sickened at the prospect of the large retainer fee taxpayers are footing to hire Ed Norwood. And the estimated $300 an hour we will continue to pay as he prepares to demolish the McDuffie’s in court.
Liberty County, get ready to be “Hinched” - again…