UPDATED July 24 with a response from Judge Blackburn.
Flouting a new policy that allows only U.S. and Texas flags on county buildings, Bell County Commissioner Louie Minor is displaying two rainbow flags in his courthouse office windows, where they are visible to the public.
The flags mimic the state and national flags.
Yet as Bell County resident and U.S. Army veteran Jeff Howard noted in a letter to commissioners court members on Thursday, the fake flags do not meet the county policy’s specifications.
Minor, the first openly gay elected official in Bell County, stirred controversy in the community last month by hanging a “Progress Pride” flag in his office window.
He had to remove that flag after commissioners approved a new policy for county facilities that allows only the United States and Texas flags to be displayed on exterior or interior areas that are within public view.
Minor’s latest display is “a clear violation” of the new policy, Howard told commissioners in his letter.
Howard included statutory descriptions of the U.S. and Texas flags, both of which specify red and white horizontal stripes.
He said it was “appalling” that Minor would violate the flag policy “in an attempt to further a political agenda, to further divide the Court and the people of Bell County, purely for his own political gain.”
“His actions indicate that he is not representing all of the people in Precinct 4; instead, he is playing to a vocal minority,” Howard wrote. “Actions like this are a violation of law, unbecoming of an elected official, and violate the dignity of the Commissioners Court.”
Residents can contact commissioners about Minor’s flag policy violation.
County Judge David Blackburn told Texas Scorecard that he is engaging with legal counsel, but remedies available to the county “appear to be limited.”
I have previously advised Commissioner Minor that his actions are in violation of our policies relating to the use of county property (that it not be used for personal political use) and asked him to relocate the flags accordingly.
He has demonstrated that he will not comply and we are now left with how to deal with a non-compliant elected official’s actions. If it were an employee of the County, we would terminate their employment. However, since Commissioner Minor is an elected official neither I nor the Commissioners Court have the authority to fire him.
“Ultimately, it may well be a matter that the voters of Precinct 4 need to address,” Blackburn said.