Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Judges express 'no confidence' in Bexar probation chief

While Bexar County District Judges will have the final say, a majority of misdemeanor court judges issued a no-confidence vote yesterday for Bexar probation director Bill Fitzgerald. Reported the San Antonio Express News ("Misdemeanor judges vote to fire probation chief," Aug. 12):

The majority of Bexar County's 10 court-at-law judges voted to terminate Chief Probation Officer Bill Fitzgerald three days before a public hearing on the department's proposed budget.

In Tuesday's secret ballot, six judges voted to not retain Fitzgerald, who is an at-will employee. Two voted to retain him, while two others abstained.

The vote, however, is not the final say in Fitzgerald's fate at the Bexar County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. The nine felony judges in the criminal district courts have not yet decided whether to retain Fitzgerald, and they had no immediate plans on whether to take a vote of confidence, officials said. ...

Fitzgerald, who earns $139,000 annually, was unaware of the vote before a reporter contacted him Tuesday.

“I'm shocked, but I still have confidence in myself and my abilities,” he said.

In other news from the story, I found it odd that "The DA's office has given Fitzgerald and Cline until Aug. 18 to turn over the findings of their bribery investigation." Given that Fitzgerald had previously concealed this alleged crime, why give that much time before making them produce evidence? Why doesn't the District Attorney just get a search warrant and go look for herself, just like they'd do in the face of any other criminal allegation?

Looking back in the future, we'll probably see this last month as a key turning point for Fitzgerald. Between a slew of employee lawsuits, the launching of the DA's bribery investigation and a no-confidence vote by so many of the judges he serves, it's hard to see how this fellow lasts in that slot too much longer.



R. Shackleford said...

I find it deeply reprehensible that so much slack is cut for this scoundrel. In a state where a law abiding citizen can blow a 0.0 and find himself in jail for dui, this douchebag continues to poop all over the laws he's sworn to uphold with impunity. He ought to be living in the crowbar hotel as we speak, instead of living free and easy.

Anonymous said...

Well, Fitzgerald how does it feel to be threaten that you are at will. The she appears to be on teh other foot now. By teh way I hear you were looking for support. Have you asked Slik, racist, and space invader for support. Afer all I bet they wioll give you support, but i must worn you they will turn on a dime watch your back.

Anonymous said...

Oh for gods' sake, get it together people!

Anonymous said...

Wow, let's give a round of applause to the county court of law judges for taking the initiative to can Bill Fitzgerald for totally screwing up the Bexar Co. probation department. And just think, it all started because Billy got his panties in a wad and made everyone reapply for their jobs just days before Christmas because the people actually doing the work criticized the immense pay raise he planned to give himself. I find it interesting Mr. Payback didn't even know that a vote to oust him was underway. Fitgerald's two county court judge supporters obviously held their cards close to the vest because Billy only heard the news when he was ambushed by a reporter. Now, the chief power abuser finds himself in a lonely, isolated place. His top level staff are throwing him under the bus by revealing all his dirty secrets while the people he has done wrong pile on the lawsuits. The felony district judges had better follow the lead of the county judges because Fitzgerald is now their retention negligence liability.

Anonymous said...

If the vote was by secret ballot how can we be sure of the information provided by the Express News. If the vote was six to fire, then this is about an even split. There is a protection against secret meetings by government officials. It is called the OPEN MEETINGS ACT.

I believe the county court judges are not allowed by law to meet separately from the district court judges. All of the judges form a committeethat decides probation matters. There was not even an agenda posted to announce the meeting location, time, and topics of discussion. There is a mention of a meeting to be held on 8-14-09, this meeting was properly announced to the public.

The meeting on 8-14-09 will concern the next Bexar County Community Supervision and Corrections Department budget. The decisions made in this meeting will impact the department for years. The public may not know, but there is a real crisis concerning the department's ability to maintain it's current services to the public safety.

The proposed budget outlines the affects of a new policy adopted by all county court judges. This policy changed the priority of allocating monies paid by people on probation. The new policy makes court costs the first priority. The remainder of the monies paid are split evenly among other costs including supervisory fees. The result of this new policy will eliminate eleven positions, a hiring freeze, manager/administration furlough days, and higher caseloads.

The new policy became effective on 5-13-09 and was monitored for thirty days by Bexar County Auditor Tommy Tompkins. He then provided an assessment of the new policy to Bexar County Court judges. In a letter dated 6-22-09 to the judges Tommy Tompkins is critical of the new policy He states "Based upon the months analysis I am requesting that the County Court at Law Judges go back to the previous collections priority immediately until further analysis and discussions between the Judges, the County Auditor, and CSCD may take place." There are many reasons collections of supervisory fees may be low, but Mr. Tompkins atributes at least half of the loss to the new policy.

Supervisory fees are an important contribution to the budget of all the probation departments in Texas. The departments also rely on judges to assess the fee and assist in it's collection. It seems the county court judges have elected to ignore their budget responsibilities and rely on district court judges to pay for probation in Bexar County.

One county court judge in particular has neglected his fiscal responsibility. Texas law allows for probation fees to be assessed at between $25-$60 monthly. Judge Paul Canales routinely assesses a monthly fee well below $25. As a reference his court collected $9,422.96 in JUne 2009 as compared to the highest court collection of $27,145.43.

I realize judges will make budget decisions that will not please all employees. I certainly would not want to make a decision in a public hearing attended by many probation officers. Probation Officers will certainly remember the judges which consider the department so trivial they will not even attend the meeting. The judges voting to continue the new policy will no doubt be unpopular. If the policy remains in effect the judges will own this decision and the consequences.


Anonymous said...

The decision to retain or terminate Chief Fitzgerald is not determined by the public and, therefore, is not subject to open meeting protocol. Judges (and lawyers for that matter) are part of a secret society that cuts deals in smoke filled backrooms. If you want to be part of that process, you have to be juiced in by the good ole boys.

Anonymous said...

Wow, budget director glad that is all off your mind now!

Stop the open meeting garbage.

Lets make a deal. The misdemeanor judges explain the open meeting rules to you. Then you explain all the laws that Cline and Fitzgerald violated to us. Never mind the DA will soon enough!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we can all believe in JUSTICE in Bexar again soon. Bravo, 6 brave great judges, Bravo.

To the 2 who want to keep Fitz. You may not vote Fitz out but in 2010 we will vote you out!!!!

To the abstainers ...weak...weak...judges stand for justice not hide.

To the District Courts.....warm up the car, McRae....Angelini needs an AA meeting....why else make those statements unless you were drinking.

One night there was a gathering of officers. The officers thought maybe these judges just need to hear our side and understand what is really going on in the department. They could learn about the Hocus Pocus with the budget, they would learn Fitz never came to work ( now he does.. lawsuits will do that to you), that Fitz does not understand probation, that he smells of alcohol when did come to work, you would hear his lusting of females and other stories( not going into that), you would learn if you ask a question get ready to be fired, they would learn he can't read an MTR, they would learn he spews whatever he heard last and never makes a decision. They would learn what we use to be and what we were now. Forget public safety and fairness for the probationer, Fitzgerald did. It was obvious to us officers, that there were problems but...How could these smart judges not understand. A few brave soles told the judges what was going on. Only to be scorned back at the office. Then if you told you were scorned that would really be it.

A group of us at the gathering started to say let's send an anonymous letter to the judges and explain so they will see what we are saying. Then one wise officer from the back said "Angelini will only read his if we wrap it around a bottle of booze". The next morning from that gathering guess who was arrested for a DWI....Angelini. Now, judges we know you all and like some of you and some we don't. Everyone has friends and enemies. This is about public safety and working conditions. At this point with this chief there is no sober or sane reason to keep FITZGERALD.
No pleading, no cries, just look at the facts of job performance and lawsuits and your decision should be made.

The story about Angelini is just proof of how we feel ....that he cares so little for us as a department as he does for his bench and himself. His statements in the article is to paint Fitzgerald as a victim as he must feel he is. At this point in the road, I hope you do not fire Fitzgerald. He needs to be brought to justice before he goes. So many wrongs will buy him some charges. Reed is no fool and will do her job!!!!!

Fitzgerald needs to be at his desk in 2010 so the opponent's for Alonzo, Guerro and Angelini can point and show what each of these judges support in public safety. You will never hear us call those 3 judges' ...judge. Judges are fair, impartial , listen to both sides and make a decision. Those 3 have waged some crazy notion that only one side is right. Without ever hearing the other side. My friends that is not 3 judges it is 3 dictators.

Anonymous said...

As a Bexar County Probation Officer I have attended all the public meetings announced by judges to decide probation matters. Never in any of these previous meetings did all ten county court judges attend. There were always some of the county court judges and didtrict judges not present. Some of the meetings could not even be held because there was not a quorum. All of these meetings were announced weeks ahead of time as required by the Open Meetings Law. SO how did the county court judges manage to get all county judges to appear earlier this week in a meeting.

I guess most county court judges will only appear for a meeting when the public is prohibited from attending. And even then the judges vote with a secret ballot. They are afraid to even let each other know what they vote for.

Why would county court judges meet separately from district judges? What were the county court judges attempting to hide from district judges? It would appear there is a major difference of opinion of how probation is managed in Bexar County. It is no wonder why Chief Fitzgerald is having so many problems. His nineteen bosses can't even agree on anything.

We will see on 8-14-09 which judges are serious enough about there job to show up and vote. Will it be another secret ballot?Will the judges earn there pay or hide in their office?


Anonymous said...

Why would judges attend a no win situation. They learned how to count before they went to law school. The difference is the judges meetings are regulary scheduled not after plans have already been made to do something else or having other committments when only given a couple of days notice.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes and it was so important to the probation department that the notice of the meeting given to the Judges is for Saturday.

Anonymous said...


If the notice for the meeting is a day off? Don't pass that crap budget. It stands to reason, if Fitz doesn't know his dates...then How in the hell can he do a budget!!!!!

Show but Vote No!!!

Anonymous said...

Please, budget director you have been there a year only. I see more mistakes in the budget than wrongdoings by your upper two bosses.

Gang unit TWO people....???? Tell the East side that?

Doc Doedoe Abott at 60,000 a year for one day a week.

70% entry level officers with no pay scale???

Still front loading??? Check felony.

We could go on but sick of caring.
The way I see it the officers have cried out long and hard. When the HELL will some judges break western on us and help the cause.
The place is a hostile work enviroment and not only does Fitz need to go but his whole crew needs to go.

Thanks Misdemeanor Judges the proud six. We will remember you....if only we knew what 6 you were. Stop the secret stuff...stop hiding Guerro!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Everyone should know at least 3 of the 8. The ones who from day one have tried to hold the chief accountable --and get very little support and are continually punished for it.

Anonymous said...

In this article it is posted "Judges express no confidence in Bexar probation chief." If a secret ballot can be trusted then this is correct but some information is missing.

All of the judges in Bexar County make up a committee that is established by Texas Law. The committee is charged with among other things to vote on a budget and to hire a chief probation officer. Each Texas county has this committee to decide probation matters. As it is created by law it it required to follow the state law of Open Meetings Act.

There are ten county court judges and nine district court judges in Bexar County that place people on probation. The probation office serves all of these courts.

The article does not inform readers that the entire committee,all judges, is required to vote on any issue.

It does state all ten county court judges met and voted. The result was 6 to fire the chief, two to retain the chief, and two did not vote at all. The article goes further to state the chief needs to be fired. I really do not care if he stays or leaves but you fail to bring up important issues.

The total number of judges on this committee is nineteen. Six votes to fire the chief is not even a third of the committee. In what country and in what committee does a less than one third vote get to decide anything.

Many people also blame the district court judges for keeping the chief in his job. If the county court judges really want the chief out as many people claim, there are enough county court judge votes to do just this. As it stands the chief does have support in the county court judges.

I was glad to see the county court judges reverse their previous policy of allocating monies collected from people on probation. This occurred at the meeting on 8-14-09. Judge Merry acted as the county court judge spokesperson in this meeting.

Grits you do a lot of good by posting articles and fighting for justice, but I think you missed something. Would you want a less than one third vote to decide all matter of government? Would you want government committees to meet in secret and vote with secret ballots? Would you want portions of committes to meet to decide matters when this meeting are against the Open Meetings Act?


Anonymous said...

Does not matter he is resigning? Some of us that blog are CSO's and we read people very well. We have known for a while he wanted to resign. The criminal charges are getting closer and closer to him and Deputy Dog. The only way for him to stop/or cool down the criminal pursuit is to leave now.....right away. We know who you are last blogger and I dont think you know all at hand. Your tone is much kinder than you get credit for. These judges understand the open meeting rules and are judges. Your missing the inside scoop on the two that did not vote and the two that voted for him. Hello, some knew he was leaving and did not vote him out because of that reason.

Did you look around the room on Friday? PD, Deputy Sheriffs, Constables, AFL-CIO, civil rights activists, judicial candidates (that would vote him out if elected, of course as any regular human on the planet would)...there was a fire storm and that is why the fire fighter leadership was there to help also.

I'm not an Association member but after that show on Friday and support, I will be on Monday. They stopped layoffs and I'm proud of my fellow officers for standing when I was scared. I will do my best to help them now.

Anonymous said...

You are in fact mistaken. If the review of the chief probation is on the agenda, and more than half of the judges attend, they can vote to keep or at-will dismiss him. NOT all judges have to be present.
An interesting note is that only 4 District Court judges were present, pretty sad state of affairs when not even half show up for a budget that may terminate the very CSO's that work for them. I have personally thanked those that have stood up for the workers and want to terminate Fitzgerald. Those judges will have my support and help during the up coming elections, the rest can be assured I will do my best to unseat them! Mr. Fitzgerald should be terminated, so that he will not be allowed to ruin a third probation deaprtment. That is of course, if he's not indicted!