Courthouse intrigue mounts

Potter County commissioners went into closed session this week to discuss a complaint about County Judge Arthur Ware. They came back out and said there would be no action taken.

End of story, yes? No.

Ware’s tale is getting very strange. He suffered a stroke in 2010 and has been unable to communicate verbally effectively ever since. He hasn’t handled mental health cases. The county has been paying for outside assistance to aid in the performance of the judge’s other duties, such as probate hearings.

The judge’s longtime administrative assistant, Nancy Tanner, announced her desire to run for county judge and then got fired summarily by Ware, who subsequently announced he wouldn’t seek re-election and endorsed former Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt, who plans to run for the office. Tanner will decide soon whether to run.

What’s missing here? By my lights, its any kind of explanation as to the complaint that was filed against Ware.

State law allows the commissioners to scurry behind closed doors to talk about matters such as these in private. However, it does not require them to do so. The open meetings exemption relating to personnel matters usually pertains to paid staff. If some non-elected individual on the payroll faces disciplinary action, commissioners certainly can claim the personnel exemption and meet in private.

An elected official is a different case. Arthur Ware is the county’s presiding elected official. He chairs the Commissioners Court. I’m not suggesting that his colleagues spill all the beans, but there needs to be some notion made public as to the nature of the complaint.

It likely won’t occur.

Meanwhile, the intrigue over what looks like a fascinating county election in 2014 keeps building.

This is going to be one wild ride.