OUR VIEW: Election results show voters weren’t fooled

THE POINT: Here’s to Ector County voters, who elected a new Ector County GOP leadership and didn’t fall for the lies spewed by the Crow cabal.

So they did it.

Despite months of lies, twisted facts and disparaging comments by their opponents, Donna Kelm, Ronnie Lewis and the majority of their slate of candidates emerged victorious on Super Tuesday.

Tisha Crow lost her Ector County Republican Party chair seat to Kelm. In the Precinct 204 chair race, Mayor Javier Joven had his political butt kicked by Richard Pierce for a second time. And Councilwoman Denise Swanner was soundly defeated by Brenda Worthen in the Precinct 206 contest. Their good buddy Jeff Russell also lost by a significant percentage of votes in the Precinct 312 race.

Jamie Tisdale, who is behind the Odessa Accountability Project, and Russell, who publishes the website Odessa Headlines, had been shilling for their “Conservative Christian” friends every chance they got but have gone quiet since the Tuesday election results.

We sure hope they’re embarrassed and not secretly plotting their revenge against the victorious opponents of the Crow cabal. We know Crow has a thing about making enemy lists, as noted by this newspaper in previous reporting.

Oddly enough, the Odessa Accountability Project site has disappeared completely from Facebook, but we suspect Tisdale will be back.

Just before election day, Tisdale told her Facebook followers that before Swanner and Joven got into office the wealthy elite basically stole taxpayers blind to benefit themselves and their friends.

She told voters not to let “the noise from the other side get so loud you miss this. Ronnie Lewis and his people will lie, cheat and steal to unseat current leadership in an effort to put the wealthy elite back in power.”

She argued the “noise and the ugliness” and the “craziness” was only coming from the Lewis side.

It doesn’t look like the voters bought that. In fact, looks like Lewis is a hero.

When the Odessa American wrote an editorial Feb. 17 that took issue with many of the “accomplishments” Tisdale credited to Joven & Co., she quietly removed those items without explanation but continued to tout others.

It doesn’t look like the voters bought that, either.

We think a confluence of factors sunk the Crow Crew, and the Odessa Accountability Project and Odessa Headlines were two of those factors.

Simply put, the ugliness and the lies that were vomited all over these fake news sites got to be too much.

Tisdale lied about the current city council’s accomplishments and suggested time and again that millions of taxpayer dollars were missing or misappropriated and then let her followers jump on the bandwagon to spew their filth.

Not once did Tisdale ever offer one iota of evidence to back her claims. Not once did she post records obtained through the Texas Public Information Act. Not once did she quote a single reliable source for her information.

On election day, we caught Tisdale’s site in a few more lies or twisted truths.

For weeks, the site had been “reporting” about millions of dollars being found in former City Manager Michael Marrero’s office. What on earth was he planning to do with it? Tisdale wondered.

But don’t worry, Tisdale told her readers, your current city leaders made sure that money was safely deposited.

She also wrote that $700,000 in game room money is missing and that she’s on the hunt for $50 million that went missing from the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.

We already told you that a TPIA asking about the millions found in the safe yielded no results. That being the case, we reached out to City Manager John Beckmeyer and his $155,000-a-year spokeswoman, Monica McDaniel, to get some answers.

As it turns out, Marrero did not stash $3 million in a city safe or in his office, as Tisdale suggested.

Instead, Beckmeyer, who joined the city in August, said he was told officials found a $3 million check from Medical Center Hospital to the city at the bottom of a vault “while they were cleaning up for me to come in.”

Do you remember back in November 2022 when Joven demanded Medical Center Hospital repay the City the American Rescue Plan Act money it borrowed a full 22 months early?

Let’s put things into context.

MCH CEO Russell Tippin confirmed the check was issued to the City of Odessa on Nov. 16, 2022, and it cleared the hospital’s account on Jan. 13, 2023.

Marrero was canned Dec. 13, 2022.

Is it bad business that the city didn’t cash a check for two months? Absolutely. But what happened is very different than the insinuation that $3 million in cash is sitting around waiting to be misspent.

Oh, and are you wondering why Beckmeyer was told they found it while they were cleaning up pending his arrival in AUGUST and yet it was cashed the previous JANUARY?

So are we!

So, what about the game room money issue?

Even Beckmeyer doesn’t think $700,000 went into anyone’s pocket or to anyone’s pet project. He simply suspects a forensic audit scheduled for April will likely show the money ended up in the general fund instead of in the police department budget where it was supposed to go.

Again, sloppy business practices or an evil wealthy elite plot? We’re pretty sure it’s the former.

Lastly, we asked about the missing $50 million from the Parks and Recreation Department.

“I have no idea what she’s talking about there’” Beckmeyer said. “I’ll ask around. I don’t know.”

OK. So if $50 million really went missing from a city department, don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, the city manager might have been told about it? Don’t you think the Texas Rangers would be brought in to investigate? Don’t you think a forensic audit would’ve been done? At the very least, don’t you think it might’ve been mentioned at a City Council meeting?

Nope. Not a word has been said about any such thing.

Oh, and another funny thing about that $50 million.

Tisdale recently called OA reporter Kim Smith, offering to steer her toward the public records request she filed on the matter. McDaniel, she said, reached out to her because “they (the City) don’t know about it.”

We think she just made our point for us.

Again, surely someone at City Hall would know about an issue that involves millions of dollars in missing money.

Moreover, when Beckmeyer was asked if the forensic auditors would be looking at anything beyond the misplaced game room money, he said no.

So, we mentioned a confluence of factors.

How about Joven getting caught red-handed texting Police Chief Mike Gerke and making a false complaint?

And yes, we think texting the police and calling the police are the same darned thing.

Joven texted Gerke the license plate of a man reviled by Crow & Co. and said the person was “walking around in and out of houses” in Crow’s neighborhood on Dec. 18. The “suspect” was Matt Coday, and he said he was in Andrews at the time of the alleged suspicious activity.

Police subsequently determined no crime was committed. (And oh how we laughed when Tisdale tried to claim in a post on her Facebook site that Joven “misspoke.” He meant to say “driveways, not houses,” Tisdale said. Um, we’ve never heard of mis-texting before.)

Another factor we think led to Tuesday’s election results: The feeding frenzy that took place after the dustup between Kelm and her opponent, Carmen Wilhite, outside the county annex just days before election day.

The police report on the incident had not even been issued, but that did not prevent Tisdale and Russell from writing that it was Kelm who was the aggressor in the altercation. Worse yet, when Tisdale finally bothered to get the report she continued to falsely claim Wilhite was the victim when the report clearly lists both women as victims, offenders, suspects.

Russell’s fake reporting of the event was even worse, as he identified Wilhite as a campaign worker as did Crow in an official Ector County GOP news release. Wilhite was a candidate, not a campaign worker. More lies.

Tisdale also repeatedly wrote there were witnesses to back Wilhite’s version of the event, but the only witness in the police report corroborated Kelm’s version.

For the record, we are heartened by Tuesday’s result, because more local voters became engaged in the process. They took the time to pay attention to who said and did what. And they actually turned out to vote, something too few in this county have done too seldom in recent elections big and small.

Here’s another reason we found to be encouraged by the election outcome.

We can’t stand zealots — either on the left or the right of the political spectrum. You see, zealots allow their ideology to overwhelm their intellect, as well as basic manners, ethics and even decency.

We found it pathetic that the gang of incumbents constantly preached how they were fighting for strong Christian values in Ector County. Yet their behavior made a mockery of the faith they claimed to represent.

And we think enough voters saw that hypocrisy and determined yet another reason to send the group packing.

Now that the Ector County Republican Party has a new slate of precinct chairs who campaigned on unity, transparency and honesty, it’ll be interesting to see what happens between now and November, when Joven, Swanner and their friend, Councilman Mark Matta, are up for re-election.

Kelm has said she wants to go back to the days when Republicans didn’t endorse any local GOP candidate against another in party primaries or municipal elections. And that especially includes City Council elections, which, until Crow and her cronies seized power, had ALWAYS been non-partisan contests.

Yeah, the City Council is supposed to be non-partisan. You’d never know that by the looks of things in recent years.

Will the new folks be able to remain civil in the lead-up to the November election, or will the Odessa Accountability Project, Odessa Headlines and the rest of the Crow Cabal ignore the lessons they should’ve learned from Tuesday’s results and force the newbies to fight fire with fire?

We’ll be watching and reporting. And we urge everyone to remember who’s who when people run for local office in the future. Remember all those tied to the group that has made a shambles out of Odessa city government and local GOP leadership — the group that took local politics to a new filthy and vicious low. And be very wary of supporting any candidate who would be connected in any way to these “usual suspects.”

And remember: We will call out anyone who engages in lies or outrageous tactics. It’s our job.