CACHH-22

The arts council director departs after accusations of board conflicts

Moran reacted with a letter to Mayor Brown calling for Dabney's resignation, not realizing she had already submitted it. "CACHH is for the people of Houston, and [funds] should be distributed on a fair and equitable basis," wrote Moran. "The organization should not be run by bureaucrats, establishing board alliances and criticizing the mayor's office and the mayor's liaison."

In her resignation letter, Dabney touted her accomplishments and advertised her future plans to be a consultant to groups such as CACHH. She also made a veiled reference to her conflicts with the Brown administration.

"I regret my inability to articulate a convincing case to leadership of the need to build CACHH's capacity to effectively serve the community," wrote Dabney. "I also wish we had been able to broaden and significantly diversify our funding base…."

When Motapa didn't get a grant and complained,  CACHH officials  went to "hostile environment" status.
Deron Neblett
When Motapa didn't get a grant and complained, CACHH officials went to "hostile environment" status.

Brown's new chief of staff, Jordy Tollett, heads the convention center and is a nonvoting liaison to the CACHH board. He says Dabney's criticism of the mayor about arts funding doesn't make financial sense.

He points out that Brown has increased CACHH funding 77 percent since he took office. According to Tollett, Dabney's letter "upset some board members, who said, 'What the heck can you be wanting?' "

Asked whether Dabney's comments angered the mayor, Tollett replied that the matter was taken care of before it got to that level.

CACHH board member Gertrude Barnstone, a sculptor and former HISD board member, says she remains mystified about the motives for Dabney's resignation. The board has formed a committee to conduct a national search for a new executive director.

Moran says he has served on other community boards, and none compares with CACHH. "If I had not been exposed to all this, I would have never known the organization was so disorganized," he says. "It's time to make some changes."

Shoe on the Other Foot

In 1996 Fort Bend County Assistant District Attorney Mike Elliott vigorously prosecuted ex-Oiler quarterback Warren Moonfor the alleged assault of his wife, Felicia, despite Mrs. Moon's refusal to file charges.

After a jury acquitted Moon, Elliott told the media, "I make no apologies for prosecuting this. I did the right thing." Moon attorney Rusty Hardin countered, "This was a case that should never have been brought."

Fast-forward to early last month, when the voice on the call to a 911 operator was that of Andrea Elliott, the prosecutor's wife. They were in the middle of a domestic quarrel, and she apparently felt threatened enough to seek outside help. Mrs. Elliott then hung up.

The operator called back, and after listening to the couple continuing to yell at each other, summoned the police. When a patrolman arrived at the Elliott home, the wife refused to file a complaint, à la Felicia Moon. Both parties claimed there had been no violence, only heated words. There were no outside witnesses to the incident.

Ten days later Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey Jr., the official who made the decision to file charges against Moon, decided to appoint a special prosecutor. He chose veteran Houston defense attorney Robert C. Bennett to investigate whether charges against Elliott were warranted. Bennett concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to base a charge of assault with bodily injury against the prosecutor. The case was then closed.

Elliott did not return an Insider inquiry as to whether his own domestic altercation had changed his attitude about the way he handled the Moon case.

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