"County Commissioner Karen Ford was elected to represent the interests of her constituency. Does attempting to shut down, cite or impede a legally-compliant event putting $18,000 in the hands of a "Dripping Springs resident in need" accomplish that?"
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Update, Wednesday Nov. 11 -- Just got a call from Commissioner Ford. She said "every problem in the world is about (mis)communication . . . He (Farr) has been led to believe that I'm out to get him and I'm not." It appears there have been several miscues in this dust up – probably the biggest over whether Ford actually contacted Sheriff Tommy Ratliff and demanded enforcement action against Nutty Brown for a mass gathering permit violation.
Ford says she made no such demand: "(County special counsel) Mark Kennedy called me and said we had citizens bring up some potential violations of mass gatherings at Nutty Brown Café. (Someone anonymously sent it to him and we know who it is). I asked what does it look like and how do we look at it even if we wanted to do anything about it . . . we should let Mike know and give him an opportunity to comply. I did call Tommy about it and asked if the sheriff could enforce it and how they would go about doing that. But never did I tell him I wanted him to do anything. We were just exploring what that mass gathering violation would mean. I called Tommy back (after talking to Mike Farr) and asked, did anything I say lead you to believe I wanted to shut down Nutty Brown Cafe and he said absolutely not."
Ford says Nutty Brown has been legally compliant going back at least three years when she and two sheriff's office representatives checked the outdoor concert noise levels and found them to be within the legal limit. "I came away from that meeting feeling that Mike was fully compliant and actually exceeding compliance in some issues." What does Ford tell neighbors who complain (constantly) about the loud noise? "There is nothing we can do. They are compliant within the current laws and end of story as far as what the county can do."
Ford says she wants to bury the hatchet with Farr. "Mike Farr is a generous member of our community . . . I reached out to him with an e-mail today . . . the truth is I do not have a vendetta against him and I am not working with disgruntled neighbors."
Editor's Note: We spoke with Mike Farr today about his open letter, below, wherein he raises some high decibel charges against Pct. 4 County Commissioner Karen Ford. Mr. Farr is general partner of the popular restaurant and outdoor entertainment venue Nutty Brown Café on Hwy 290, east of Dripping Springs. He was pretty animated in insisting that he stands by what he says and will not back down to political harassment. We've sent an e-mail to Commissioner Ford for a response. There's a long back story to this little flareup that could probably use some clear & open airing. We hope to report on it in upcoming posts.
Nutty Brown Café & Amphitheatre
Last night, on November 6, 2009 Nutty Brown Café & Amphitheatre and Randy Rogers Band combined efforts to host the "My Breath of Life Benefit" for Amberlyn Fett. Amberlyn Fett is a young lady from Dripping Springs who has suffered from the physical, emotional and financial effects of Cystic Fibrosis her entire 20 years of life. I have known Amberlyn and her mom (Deb) for quite some time. Amberlyn has always been a big fan of Randy Rogers Band and back in August, I introduced the two backstage at Nutty Brown. They hit it off immediately and soon Randy Rogers was asking me what we could do to help Amberlyn and her family with their ever increasing medical bills.
From there our benefit was born. Just a few weeks before we were to have our benefit, a match was found from an organ donor and Amberlyn finally received a new pair of lungs. Amberlyn is presently recovering in a hospital in San Antonio. Our prayers and thoughts are with her.
I am writing to let everyone in Hays County know that the benefit we had for Amberlyn Fett was a huge success with just under $18,000 raised for Amberlyn. I also want to let as many Hays County residents as possible know that this success was in spite of County Commissioner Karen Ford's inquiries with local officials about having Nutty Brown cited and/or possibly having the benefit shut-down for lack of a Mass Gathering Permit.
Mass Gathering Permits are typically required for any type of promoted event held outside the jurisdiction of a municipality where 2,500 people or more are expected to attend. The problem with Ms. Ford's desire to see me fined, jailed and/or the benefit shut-down was Nutty Brown didn't need a "Mass Gathering Permit" as we are in the Austin Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction and our benefit was a fully legal and fully compliant event. When I first heard of Ms. Ford's interest in having me jailed, fined and/or the benefit shut-down I honestly couldn't believe it. Is it possible that a County Commissioner would place her own ego and her own misguided political will over the health and welfare of a young lady lying in a hospital bed in San Antonio recovering from a lung transplant she has literally waited her entire life for? How could that be.
To that end, I reached out to Ms. Ford via telephone last night to have her confirm or deny her interest in seeing our legally-compliant benefit impeded or shut-down. After leaving Ms. Ford a message, she called me back an hour or so later and I asked her point-blank if she had spoken to any local or state officials about having Nutty Brown cited and/or the benefit we had scheduled shut-down over "Mass Gathering Permit" issues. She quickly assured me she had not spoken to any officials about this matter save for County Attorney Mark Kennedy. I then asked her if one of her subordinates or perhaps the County Attorney had inquired on her behalf in this matter. Again she immediately assured me none had done so.
This conversation went on for a bit as I attempted to rephrase the question a few times to possibly eliminate some of the wiggle-room I felt Ms. Ford was clinging to in order to avoid acknowledging her role in seeing myself and the benefit punished and/or halted. Gradually, I shared with her more and more of the sources from which I was informed of her efforts ... each time inviting her to tell me the truth about her role. Each time she denied having personally spoken to anyone at anytime about this matter.
Finally, with all the wiggle-room gone in the face of the mounting list of credible witnesses I had spoken with Ms. Ford "remembered" that she had, in fact, spoken to officials (including the Hays County Sheriff's Office) about the benefit concert we were hosting and whether or not we could be cited and/or shut-down for violating the "Mass Gathering Permit" requirements. I am not making this up ... she suddenly "remembered."
At 7 minutes and 7 seconds into a phone call discussing one single topic ... 7 minutes and 7 seconds of repeated denials that any inquiry/attempts had been made by her ... 7 minutes and 7 seconds OF REPEATED LIES she conveniently "remembered."
When I pointed out that she had lied to me for the past 7 minutes and 7 seconds about trying to impede or shut-down a charity event benefiting a Dripping Springs resident afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis, Ms. Ford refused to acknowledge lying. She said she had only failed to "remember" her actions even though they had happened THAT DAY and even though it was the singular topic of the first 7 minutes and 7 seconds of our conversation. I told her that she had lied to me ... period.
I told her that I knew she had lied and that she knew she had lied and that the classic politician's claim of not "remembering" was an unacceptable response to the matter. After a few more repeated denials of lying to me I offered to drop the whole thing on the spot if she would just acknowledge that she had lied about her role. I offered to keep this whole affair to myself and never mention it again if she would just do the right thing and admit she had lied to me ... I told her I didn't even need an apology for the lie ... just an admission that she had lied. Again, she refused to do so.
I told Ms. Ford I would make it a point to tell anyone and everyone I knew about her attempts to impede a benefit concert for a local resident and the lies she told in the cover-up those efforts. Ms. Ford warned me "to not go down that road with her." Again, I am quoting, she said "YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO DOWN THAT ROAD WITH ME, MIKE FARR." Alas, the bullying had begun.
In many ways she is right. It is probably not the smartest thing to "go down that road with her" right now in the face of the recent protest filed against the renewal of Nutty Brown's permit to sell alcohol. Though I am completely confident we will prevail in that matter, the last thing I need right now is the County Commissioner looking to settle political scores against me and/or my business. Particularly a County Commissioner clearly comfortable abusing her power and operating in a world of lies, intimidation, deceit and poor memory function. But I simply can not remain silent on this matter. I refuse to be bullied by County Commissioner Ford regardless of my present situation. So I am writing this letter to anyone and everyone that cares to hear about this grievous example of an elected official attempting to run roughshod over their constituents.
County Commissioner Karen Ford was elected to represent the interests of her constituency. Does attempting to shut down, cite or impede a legally-compliant event putting $18,000 in the hands of a "Dripping Springs resident in need" accomplish that? Does repeatedly lying to one of her constituents serve that purpose? Does threatening and bullying a constituent represent the high standard of her elected office?
I am hopeful the electorate of Hays County will answer these questions next fall.
Nutty Brown Enterprises, LP 12225
Highway 290 West Austin, Texas 78737