Citizen kicked out of meeting

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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A citizen perceived to be unruly during a Wise County commissioners meeting Tuesday was removed from the room.

Ken Bateman, who lives outside Rhome in Strawberry Estates, stood to speak during community forum and was interrupted by County Judge J.D. Clark.

“Same issue, sir?” Clark asked, referencing Bateman’s two previous appearances at commissioners meetings. Bateman founded Wise County Citizens for Cleanup (WCCC), and he’s on a campaign to clear junk from private property and feels county officials are not doing enough to help.

Bateman did not answer Clark and instead continued talking.

“Sir, answer my question. Same issue we’ve discussed?” Clark asked again.

Bateman said it was the same issue but the discussion wasn’t complete. He wanted to talk Tuesday about the death of a 14-year-old boy in a 2014 house fire on a property outside Chico.

Bateman continued to stand and to attempt to talk over the judge, at which point Sheriff Lane Akin stood and approached Bateman. Chief Deputy Craig Johnson, who was sitting next to Bateman also rose, as well as a uniformed deputy also in the room.

“Are you guys coming to apologize to me for slandering me?” Bateman said, referencing Akin’s comment about Bateman’s property in a Dec. 23 Messenger story.

Akin said he was preparing to take Bateman out of the room.

“You can not interrupt a meeting like this,” Akin said. “We’d be glad for you to sit and be quiet.”

Bateman did not sit down and was removed from the meeting room.

“What’s happening here, ladies and gentleman, undercuts everything the United States of America is about,” he called out as he was shuffled from the room. “You can’t stop citizens from addressing a governmental body.”

As defined on the commissioners meeting agenda, there is a three-minute time limit for speakers during community forum, and large groups interested in the same topic should select a spokesperson. Clark said since Bateman’s concerns had already been submitted to commissioners through a previous community forum for study and response, he did not need to go over the same information again.

Bateman sent a press release Tuesday afternoon to the Messenger and Metroplex TV station KTVT stating: “Today’s incident in the county courthouse again indicates that some people in county government are hell-bent on conducting law enforcement in a bizarre laissez faire manner, no matter how much decent people’s lives are affected negatively. I think some people here are convinced they are the law regardless of what the law says.”

The press release says “plans are now being formulated for the upcoming Feb. 12 meeting of the Wise County commissioners court.” WCCC also launched a direct mail campaign today to certain parts of Wise County, according to the release.

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