LA MARQUE — The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and the La Marque Police Association are calling for the resignation of a La Marque councilwoman, accusing her of making racist comments. The groups have also asked the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate possible racist policies within the city.

The allegations, including audio recordings, were laid out Friday afternoon. As a result, a special meeting of the La Marque City Council is scheduled for Monday.

Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said his organization turned over sworn affidavits and audio recordings from former council candidate Deanna Bethea and her husband, James Bethea, to the U.S. attorney.

The two allege Councilwoman Connie Trube, as well as a member of the city’s planning and zoning board, and other residents made disparaging and racist remarks toward African-Americans. 

The group posted some of the recordings on its website. According to an affidavit, James Bethea made the recordings.

The recordings include people making racist jokes and discussing policy on zoning requests.

 

Trube recorded

In one recording, a woman who is clearly Trube is heard talking about La Marque school board member Annie Burton, saying: “I hate to say this, but she really turned black.” She also says that Burton helped “gang up” with others on the school board.

“That is why the school district went to hell,” Trube is recorded as saying.

In that same recording, Trube compares Burton to former Mayor Geraldine Sam, who she called “stupid.” Sam, who was ousted from office in a recall election, is African-American.

She and Trube routinely bickered during Sam’s term as mayor.

In her affidavit, Deanna Bethea said she heard Trube say in regard to the library that “no one uses it but the damn (N-word)” and that the librarian Telishia Long, who is African American, was incompetent. According to Bethea’s affidavit, Trube said the city was wasting money by supporting the library. However, those alleged remarks were not in any the recordings released Friday.

 

Beyond hate speech

Wilkison said the Betheas did the right thing by turning over the information to local police officers. But while Wilkison said the comments were “extremely troubling,” there was nothing police could do about them and that was why the information was being turned over to the federal government. 

“When hate language goes beyond words and actually becomes a basis for public policy, that has the effect of denying people their civil rights,” Wilkison said. 

Wilkison pointed to comments about the library and to comments made about Section 8 housing in one of the audio files posted online as being “way past hate speech.”

Wilkison said Trube and officials making the racist comments should resign. If they refuse to step down, the mayor and council should force them to resign, he said.

 

Councilwoman denies allegations

Trube said she is not planning on resigning. 

“I have no idea what they are talking about,” Trube said of the allegations brought up by the associations. 

She said the last time she recalled talking about cutting the library budget was two years ago in the midst of a budget crunch. 

Asked if she had used racist language Trube said, “I’ve never done that.”

The alleged statements and recordings were made in the City Hall parking lot during the early voting period and on Election Day in May, according to the affidavits. 

 

Racist jokes

In one recording, a man who claims to be a member of the city’s planning and zoning board said: “I am not a politically correct person when it comes to black people” during a discussion about Section 8 vouchers and apartment complexes.

The same man, who could not be positively identified from the audio, in another recording makes a joke involving the Ku Klux Klan and uses the N-word.

In the recording about apartments, Trube said she is not for “special housing” in the city.

Wilkinson said there were other recordings and a video. The group did not release those.

Bethea, who had the endorsement of the La Marque Police Association, challenged City Councilman James Osteen and candidate Chris Lane in the city election race. Osteen and Lane drew the most votes and face each other a runoff.

P&Z member accused

One of the allegations claims that Chris Colombo, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, used a racial slur to refer to Lane.

Attempts to reach Colombo were unsuccessful. 

All of the people mentioned in the affidavits are supporters of Osteen and spent much of their time outside city hall with the councilman during the election.

Osteen said he doesn’t recall ever hearing any of the racially charged or racist comments.

 

Special meeting

La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking said he called a special meeting of the La Marque City Council on Monday to discuss the allegations.

He had not heard any recordings. 

“It is extremely difficult to base our discussions based on the affidavits,” Hocking said. “We need to have copies of the audio.”

Without commenting on whether he believes the allegations, Hocking said: “The city of La Marque will not tolerate racism on any level of any entity at any time.”

CLEAT officials said they took the material to the U.S. attorney’s office, alleging that the racist comments show a pattern of racist policies in the city.

Angela Dodd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston said that the office does not comment on the existence or nonexistence of an investigation.

Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Trube is a member of the P&Z Board. The allegations are against Trube and a member of that board.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com

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(13) comments

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

"In her affidavit, Deanna Bethea said she heard La Marque Councilwoman Connie Trube say in regard to the library “no one uses it but the damn (N-word)” and that the librarian Telishia Long, who is African American, was incompetent".

"The alleged statements attributed to Trube were not on the recordings released by the organizations but were included in Deanna Bethea’s affidavit".

HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED......

Produce the tapes of the ACTUAL tapes of the conversation that Mrs.Trube SUPPOSEDLY said or this is NOTHING more than a ploy to get a seat on city council by default because the voters already told Deanna Bethea "NO" the first go round.

Then take a look at the supporters who were at the meeting from LMISD like Daniels, Benford, Washington and that group and that should tell you this is nothing more than dirty politics and a ploy to destroy city hall like they did our school district byand putting their friends in there.

And, so tell us again exactly what services were cut to African American children as to the REAL reason this meeting was called or was it just a backdoor meeting that only certain people were privy to know about in advance??? [angry]

Tamala Robinson

Missionary Man has anyone ever brought to your attention that you are nothing but a racist yourself! You think you are so smart on everything and everytime you post your 1940 and 50s way of thinking, it shows just how white you really want the world to be! You and Connie Trube should just move to Vidor. It's not Buttermilk Junction anymore.

J. Shaffer

What happened to the library issue? Or was it just to get people there and then spring the real reason for the press conference?

Why wasn't the person on the Zoning and Planning Commission identified along with Trube?

While racist jokes in the parking lot are not funny (I tend to just clear my throat and walk away from the conversation) it's a much bigger step to prove that racism exists within the city's decisions. What proof is offered of racism in the library programs or any other event or service the city provides?

Given the support the community gets from the police, notably a nice story last week about disputing neighbors and how they all tried to help, wouldn't it be better to work together on these issues rather than using them to become more divisive?

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

"Given the support the community gets from the police, notably a nice story last week about disputing neighbors and how they all tried to help, wouldn't it be better to work together on these issues rather than using them to become more divisive"?

Bingo! Give NurseJayne a box of chocolates!

JackieM

MissionaryMan : Did you move back to LM

Robert Buckner

I'll withhold any judgement or statements until AFTER the investigation.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Jackie, LM is my home, I work on contract out of town.

Does that take away anything from truth that I have knowledge of no matter what day of the week I happen to be at home?

CHUCK HUGHES

Hmmm . Not suprised. The ghosts of LaMarque's ole guard.

Gary Miller

Is Bethea's word good enough to believe anything she adds to an afadavit?
She said is just hearsay unless there is proof.
Makes me wonder if LM still has some liberals.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

An affidavit is only as good as a person's word.

Seeing how someone purposefully hid his cell phone from someone else in an attempt to catch them on tape just goes to show what type of person your dealing with.

Now Mr. Bethea has to prove to the AG's office that his taping of other people without their knowledge wasn't done so with a criminal intent, otherwise he can possibly face criminal charges himself.

This will no doubt be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the end.....[wink]

Randy Chapman

Comments about Section 8? So what!! No one wants to live next to a ghetto, including lots of folks that live there and have no choice!

Then there are the generational Section 8'ers. They are the cause for the bad reputation of Section 8.

Leonard T. Payne

Got to agree with Missionary Man's post 1457.

Mr. Bethea has dug a hole he may not be able to crawl out of.

I think he was set-up to do this by the La Marque Police Association members at the polls that day.


Bradsiam

I am in the Metroplex and haven't lived in La Marque in many years so I am not intimately and personally familiar with the situation that has recently
arisen in my hometown.
I have read the article and the letters to the editor in the GDN. This includes the first letter by Missionary Man and several who indicate agreement with his idiocy. I have also seen the video where the city council member attacks members of the School Board for mistakes she thinks they make because of the color of their skin.
I despise racism and the attitude of racists with a passion. About one hundred and fifty years ago the United States fought and won a treasonous uprising by the Southern states of this nation. We killed approximately 750,000 men, women and children. It included about fifty thousand civilians and also one of our greatest Presidents lost his life by assassination. This President said in a speech shortly before his death, "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
The City Council of La Marque and the La Marque Independent School District are governments and they make mistakes in judgment but not because the
color of their skins. This is 2014 and some individuals have still not learned what Lincoln meant at Gettysburg.
When can we hope that this ignorance and hate for our fellow individuals will leave our state and other states? When will they put aside their xenophobia?
This ignorant attitude puts roadblocks up for successful management of organizations. We can only hope that they will experience an epiphany not unlike
Saint Paul on his travel to Damascus and learn a simple platitude expressed by Jesus. "Love your neighbor as yourself."
We can only hope.

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