In a lifetime most of us have seen enough corruption to have experienced a pattern that happens among public officials when they have been found out. The pattern goes something like this: First, ignore the accusations as if they go unheard. Second, if someone comes forward and gives a public voice to what was said privately, belittle or attack the messenger and hide behind the authority voters have given them or their constitutional rights. Third, if forced to reveal the facts, blame someone else.
District Attorney Mike Little and Liberty County Sheriff Henry Patterson could both be in stage three concerning allegations of them misusing the seized assets their respective have been the steward of. Both have ignored rather than responded to an outcry for openness concerning thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars worth of assets.
Little eventually disclosed how much was still in the fund. But that seems to be some kind of gesture to pacify people or some kind of political ploy when one considers what the crux of the matter is. Since Little should know the allegations are about how the funds have been used or spent, why would he suddenly reveal how much is left in the fund if it isn’t to try and appease his accusers?
Or is Little like Sheriff Patterson and his re-election squad? Patterson and his team seem to have reacted to Liberty Dispatch asking the Sheriff the same question he enjoyed us asking the D.A. by firing off comments to us asking us who “the hell” we think we are? They also communicated and indicating that the public couldn’t care less about holding them accountable.
So if they are true to form, the next reaction we will get from the D.A. and the Sheriff after they spend time railing on us will be to assign blame. We say that because if every one on the commissioners’ court is too timid to pursue this, it will still be pursued. The assets that are confiscated are not the personal property of the Mike Little or Henry Patterson. They can holler “politics”, or they can try and put the blame on someone they don’t like, but the public deserves accountability from its public officials.
Mike Little has had three decades in the office of District Attorney and it is shocking to think the huge money that is that has been spent outside the county budget. Will he blame former County Attorney Jack Hartel? Hartel served as the County Attorney most of those years. Or will the longtime Democrat D.A. blame our new Republican County Attorney Wes Hinch?
Of course, if Little and Patterson want to see some fair and balanced reporting by Liberty Dispatch and show they are guilty of nothing, they will skip stage three of what corrupt public officials routinely do and they will disclose to the public how they have spent their slush fund money and allow the paper trail to be examined.
Liberty County will have a new District Attorney in less than twelve months and it is our hope that if we have not been able to shake Little and Patterson loose from records on this matter that the new D.A. will make the information public, and if assets have been stolen Little and/or Patterson will be treated like anyone else.
There is a pattern concerning what is usually done to public officials who misuse county assets and get caught. It is called a jury trial and a sentence of time in the slammer and a large fine. Hopefully we are just seeing a stinginess of cooperation and soon we will see commissioners’ court act and we will see everything is in order. But we are off to a slow start if that ends up being true.