Last Wednesday afternoon, June 22, after your weekly edition appeared, you told me you were urged by a couple members of our community to check on the appearance of a Kendall County Sheriff’s Deputy on my ranch last April, almost three months ago. I will address the reasons for this and the people behind it at a later date.
You diligently interviewed the relevant law enforcement agencies in your rush to uncover this fast breaking news, although you did not think it necessary to interview me before publishing in your Public Records section yesterday that there was an allegation against me in Kendall County regarding a riding lawn mower that I had purchased from someone who, as it turned out, did not have the right to sell it.
Even though you do not normally publish public records information outside Blanco County, you chose to publish the fact that, even though I was the victim in this case, the Kendall County authorities decided, at the urging of some people, who I will also deal with at a later date, that they needed to bring me to trial for the felony theft of a lawn mower.
You have every right, and even the obligation, to make your readers aware of public records information. However, I am surprised and disappointed that you would chose to do this without making them aware of the other side of the story and that you would do this without even asking me for any comments I would care to make. Instead, without any regard for the human element, and without any regard for the effect on my family, my health and my reputation, you let fly and damn the consequences. Did you have the right to do this? Absolutely. Was this the most professional or humane way to meet your obligations to me and to our community? Absolutely not.
As you know, I have been in business in Blanco for more than fifty years. I have lived here all my life, more than 73 years, and I have never been charged with any kind of crime. I am a past president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club, was a County Commissioner and a member of the School Board, and I have worked with many civic and charitable organizations. I value my reputation and I will not allow it to be tarnished this way. I deserved from you the common and professional courtesy of at least letting your readers know my version of what happened at the same time you published the public records information.
Even common sense would suggest that there might be more to this story than just a felony theft indictment and that were I to plan to steal a lawn mower I would not do it in broad daylight, off a ranch where my company had been doing some plumbing work that day and the previous day, put it on my trailer and leave it parked in front of my warehouse and then haul it up to my house and leave it there in plain sight for the Kendall County Deputy to find the next day.
I thought I had purchased the mower from the ranch hand in good faith and I paid $1500 to this man who was working at her ranch house, more than a mile off the highway, who told me his name was Lee Roy Edwards, and who said he had the authority to make the sale and to sign the receipt. I went to Blanco to get my trailer and the money for the purchase, returned, got a signed receipt for the money, and loaded the lawn mower on my trailer. I passed a lie detector test on all of these questions and the signature on the receipt was analyzed by a forensics expert who determined that I had not forged it. There is no evidence I intended to steal anything. Nonetheless, the District Attorney in Kendall County is determined to pursue this. I was asked to admit to some lesser crime, which I will not do, since I have committed no crime whatsoever. I’m ready to go to trial on this and then I will deal with the causes and the people behind it.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to publicly comment on the way you handled what to you was a minor public records item but to me is a vital and ongoing threat to me and my family and I will not deal with it lightly.
Dorsey L. Smith