Woodwind Lakes: County Gofers

With a lot of prompting, HCAD files a lawsuit the neighbors never did

The case dragged on for more than a year, during which Anderson obtained via subpoena the e-mails revealing HCAD's extensive communications with Merola.

Then on January 31, 2007, the Andersons filed a motion to depose Robinson under oath.

HCAD dropped its lawsuit the very next day.

Neither Peters nor McCleester responded to interview requests from the Houston Press.

Robinson tells the Press he only sued the Andersons because their house sold for market value. But Robinson notified the ARB chairman of his intent to sue more than two weeks before the sale.

"I'm not gonna make any other comment," Robinson says, "because I'm not gonna try the case in the paper."

Of course, the case was never tried at all.

Merola remains president of MUD #261, though last spring he moved away from Woodwind Lakes. The MUD gifted him a small parcel of land in the subdivision so he could remain on the board.

Merola insists he never abused his power, calling his efforts to discredit the Andersons and the plaintiffs "a service to our residents."

"Most residents don't want to align with the trial lawyers," Merola says. "Who else is going to stick up for the little guy here?"

Before ending his interview with the Press, Robinson did answer a few more questions:

Was HCAD influenced by MUD #261 to sue the Andersons?

"Oh, I wouldn't say that they necessarily influenced..." Robinson said.

Is it common for the president of a MUD board or any taxing entity to lobby HCAD over an individual homeowner's appraisal?

"It is extremely unusual," he said.

Is it ethical?

"It isn't illegal."

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