Monday, September 16, 2013

Constable Burch did not produce time sheet for off-duty work the night he wrecked the county car

A few weeks ago I printed information from an accident report made in Tarrant County on a night when Precinct 4 Constable Tim Burch was involved in an accident near Grapevine while working an off-duty job there in a county car. The car was destroyed and so far the insurance has not paid off on it.

Burch went on a rant against me and a couple of other people on a Facebook post, calling this blog "Moments of Stupidity," and my work "creative journalism."

He suggested that I should have done some research. So I did.

I made open records requests for a number of public documents out of Burch's office. Here's what I have learned so far:

I asked for time sheets for all his off-duty work since January 1. I received copies from county offices of time sheets he turned in. They begin with one 9.5 hour stint on February 16. He shows no further off-duty work until June 1. The accident took place February 21. Was he working that night or not? I want to emphasize that the accident was not his fault. The report states that he was blocking an intersection for a construction crew, so it seems that he was working the off-duty job. So why did he not turn in a time sheet for it?

The time sheets are on report forms from Hall Investigations in Arlington. Owner is Brenda Hall. Coincidentally, records show Brenda Hall also is a county employee, working in Tim Burch's office. In accordance with the open records request for off-duty time sheets of all Precinct 4 employees, Burch turned in time sheets for himself and Deputy Barry Minoff. 

Under "job" the time sheets show TXDOT Hiway 75, McKinney. It's possible that is the physical address of the TXDOT office there. I asked for a work contract between Precinct 4 and TXDOT and didn't receive one. I looked at the Hall Investigations site and it appears that Hall has the contract and the officers work using it.

Burch's time sheets show that he worked 130.5 hours from February 16 to August 15. Most of those hours were during the night. Must have been hard to get up and go to his county job after an overnighter like that.

I also made an open records request for gasoline receipts that showed Burch and Minoff paid for their own gas to work these jobs. Five of Burch's slips, scattered throughout the 8 months time I asked for, were not legible. The others showed varying amounts of gas purchased, each with hand-written notes that he personally paid for gas, began March 18 and ended August 25. So apparently he did not pay for gas the night in February when the car was wrecked.

But the gas receipts, minus the five I couldn't read, totaled $2,909,11.

Most of the gas was purchased either from a convenience store in Roanoke or Grapevine. Some of his usage appears to have been high. On May 4 he bought $60.01 worth of gas in Roanake. The next day he bought $40.01 of gas in Grapevine. On May16, he bought $40 worth of gas in Lake Dallas. And on May 18 he bought $29 gas in Grapevine and $45 gas in Roanoke. Bear in mind the county buys the gasoline for on-duty work.

The really interesting part about that is that Burch turned in absolutely no time sheets for off-duty work in May.

I am not sure what all this means. But it is puzzling.

I have not finished going through the documents I was furnished in reply to my open records requests. I will keep you posted. And I do hope that Mr. Burch is satisfied that I am not using creative journalism but am doing research as he said I should.

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