The gloves are off! At the Caldwell County Commissioners Court meeting on August 25, 2014, Brent Ryan, attorney for Green Group Holdings, in less than five minutes removed the company’s façade of “we support Caldwell County” and “we’re one of you” when he issued an unveiled threat of a lawsuit against Caldwell County and its residents if they [Green Group Holdings] do not get their dump.
This revealing of Green Group’s true nature was something we had been anticipating.
So what caused this desperate act and 180° tactic reversal? Could it be the pressure of seeing more than 800 “No Landfill” signs appearing around the county in front of homes and businesses? Could it be that our BumpTheDumpCC website is one of the most frequently viewed websites in the county with almost 24,000 hits? Or could it be that Green Group underestimated our county commissioners who have not buckled under the pressure to sign the Host Agreement? One can only surmise.
For four and one-half minutes, Mr. Ryan issued a scathing public rebuke of County Commissioner Joe Roland. In his speech, he belittled, insulted, accused the commissioner of illegal activity and called Commissioner Roland “pathetic.” Mr. Ryan stated, “…the sight of Commissioner Roland begging the [CAPCOG] committee was one of the most unseemly and pathetic things I have ever seen at a public meeting.”
I was at the above-referenced CAPCOG meeting (which was actually not a CAPCOG meeting, Mr. Ryan, but a SWAC (Solid Waste Advisory Committee) meeting) and Commissioner Roland did in fact tell the committee that he was begging them to vote against the 130 Environmental Park.
Why did Mr. Ryan find that pathetic? Well, consider this from Mr. Ryan’s perspective – an attorney working for a multi-billion dollar corporation. The sight of a grown man humbly pleading with a panel of people who could not care less about the plight of Caldwell County citizens in defeating a landfill in their county and the overwhelming futility of it all… Commissioner Roland did the only thing he could do… try to appeal to their consciences.
Wait… conscience? It’s beginning to make sense to me now. In Mr. Ryan’s world where at the end of the day it’s all about making money (and lots of it), listening to one’s conscience can be rather uncomfortable… especially since we must all look at ourselves in the mirror sometime.
Mr. Ryan has a predicament – as do his fellow Green Groupees. After all, it can’t be easy trying to justify in one’s own mind that it is okay to dump 175’ feet of garbage at a location right across the street from people’s homes – the largest financial investment most of us will ever make. One hundred and seventy-five feet of trash situated at a site surrounded by a floodplain. A piece of property that sits on the shelf of the Leona Aquifer that funnels precious water into the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer thereby providing life-giving water to thousands of people, their livestock and crops. A mountain of trash that would sit at the gateway to Lockhart thereby turning businesses away and preventing Lockhart from experiencing any real positive growth.
Who in good conscience could promote this scheme knowing full well that this landfill would be the death knell for all of Caldwell County and its residents? Now I am beginning to understand how Mr. Ryan could perceive Commissioner Roland’s “begging” as pathetic.
But if we want to talk about pathetic, I was shocked to watch Mr. Ryan’s unprofessional conduct at the Commissioner Court’s meeting. It was really quite a performance. Three times Mr. Ryan sarcastically stated, “Commissioner Roland needs your help” as if appealing to the commission to save Commissioner Roland from his constituents and himself.
Mr. Ryan also stated, “Today Commissioner Roland brings you yet another ill-conceived attempt to derail the 130 Environmental Park project. A set of drastic, unnecessary and illegal revisions to your development ordinance.”
He went on to insult Commissioner Roland by calling him a “pawn in a scheme to protect the interests of a handful of people by taking actions that are illegal, that are not in the county’s best interests and will result in the county spending tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation that it will lose.”
Wait of a minute… did Mr. Ryan say “a handful of people?” That’s laughable! How could he miss the more than 800 “No Landfill” signs boldly displayed in front of homes and businesses throughout the county. Hardly a “handful!”
And then three times Mr. Ryan accused Commissioner Roland of engaging in illegal activities. However, Mr. Ryan at no time presented any evidence to back up what illegal activity he was suggesting Commissioner Roland was engaged in.
Now, I’m not an attorney like Mr. Ryan, but even I know that if one is going to make accusations toward an individual of illegal activities – and in a public, recorded forum no less – and particularly toward an elected official, you had better have concrete facts to back it up with or it is called “slander”.
And what was Judge Bonn’s reaction to Mr. Ryan’s baseless tirade? He sat by and allowed Mr. Ryan to finish and even gave him thirty seconds beyond the allotted four minutes. That’s fine… freedom of speech. I get it.
But now… fast forward to the Commissioner’s Court meeting on September 8, 2014.
There were several residents who took to the mic to speak out against Mr. Ryan’s unprofessionalism at the commissioner’s court meeting and in defense of Commissioner Roland. When my opportunity came to express my opinion on the topic, I was interrupted twice by Judge Bonn. And when my four minutes were up and I requested an additional minute, Judge Bonn refused and said I could finish speaking at the end of the meeting – which I declined to do.
After the meeting, Judge Bonn approached me and explained why he interrupted me twice. He assured me that he didn’t “have a pony in this show” and that his job is to “be objective.” He also agreed with me that Mr. Ryan’s conduct was “unprofessional.”
So the obvious question is, why the double-standard? Why allow Green Group’s attorney to insult and threaten Commissioner Roland for doing his job – which is to be the voice on behalf of his constituents – but not let a Caldwell County resident or even fellow commissioner to speak out in his defense?
Mr. Ryan finished his dialogue by stating, “It’s time to let him [Commissioner Roland] go tell whoever needs to know that he tried, but Commissioners Court will not go along. Otherwise, you and Caldwell County will be sued, and you and Caldwell County will lose. Thank you.”
Immediately thereafter, Commissioner Madrigal engaged Mr. Ryan as follows:
Commissioner Madrigal: “Question for you… was that a threat?”
Mr. Ryan: “No sir – it’s not a threat, I just thought that… that…”
Judge Bonn: Commissioner, we’re not supposed to engage…”
Commissioner Madrigal: “No, I just had a question.”
Judge Bonn: “Well, we’re not supposed to have questions of the speakers. Thank you.”
Now wait just a minute! If the same courtesy had been extended to me that had been extended to Mr. Ryan – no interruption, no engagement – then I might have been able to finish my dialogue. Especially if I’d been allowed to speak an additional thirty seconds like Mr. Ryan. But sobeit.
In any event, I want to thank Green Group for exposing so early on who they really are; a Georgia-based corporation that cares nothing about the citizens of Caldwell County and is chomping at the bit to sue us.
Green Group entered Caldwell County in stealth mode and invited key individuals within the community who held strategically important positions to help them manipulate the masses and to cover their backs. When Green Group’s pawns were in place, they made their presence known to the community and then started throwing their money around while telling people they wanted to support our community and that they are one of us. Only you see… they’re not.
Green Group is a multi-billion dollar corporation from Georgia that makes their billions by doing elsewhere precisely what they’re doing in Caldwell County… executing their fine-tuned tactics against the citizens of Caldwell County whom they perceived were easy targets – easily manipulated and easily bought. Only as it has turned out… we are not easily manipulated and we cannot be bought!
In conclusion, Mr. Ryan made it abundantly clear that if the Commissioners stood in their way, Green Group would sue. We must understand that this threat is designed to scare our commissioners into signing the Host Agreement – a document that is designed to protect Green Group at our county’s expense. Without the Host Agreement, Green Group won’t have the backing of Caldwell County and this entire landfill thing becomes abundantly less appealing to them. So you can only imagine the pressure they are putting on our commissioners.
As elected officials, our commissioners have accepted the responsibility of keeping watch over our county… to put the welfare of their constituents before their own. For posterity, the commissioner court minutes will reflect whether our commissioners fought a good fight to defeat the landfill and thereby protect our county’s citizens and natural resources, or whether they buckled under the pressure exerted by Green Group. I encourage you to write or call your county commissioner today with a word of encouragement and thanks for standing strong! (For contact information, click on the “Speak Up!” link at the top of this page.)
You know, I don’t believe Green Group’s intention was to remove their “good guy” façade so early on, but I’m glad they did. But be forewarned. Every day that passes and another “No Landfill” sign is posted, another commissioners court meeting is held and still no signed Host Agreement, as more truth is brought to light about Green Group Holdings, LLC, we will begin to see more of the true Green Group come to the surface.
You know, the use of “green” in their name is obviously meant to relate them to a clean, green environment when nothing could be further from the truth, so perhaps a small revision is in order. How’s this: Green[back] Group Holdings, LLC. Yeah. That’s better!
To watch the video recording of the August 25, 2014 Commissioners Court meeting, go to:
Under the August 25 meeting index, click on item No. 4, Citizen’s Comments. The third speaker (about four minutes into the eight-minute item) is Green Group lawyer, Brent Ryan.