A heated meeting of the Parker County commissioners Monday morning resulted in the termination of the county's IT director, the public resignation of another IT employee and a request by one commissioner to look into the possible leak of private information.
Commissioners, in a 3-2 split, voted to terminate County IT Director Tricia Radford following executive session.
Parker County Judge Pat Deen made the motion, saying he was disappointed that it had come to this, but that he had given it a lot of thought after what he called "grandstanding, disrespectful comments and a smokescreen from what has really happened" earlier in Monday's meeting.
Commissioners George Conley and Steve Dugan joined Deen in voting for the termination, with Commissioners Craig Peacock and Larry Walden voting against.
Walden said he plans to contact the sheriff's office to request an investigation into an email that contained information that had been discussed previously in executive session.
The email contained information regarding Radford and her department, and addressed the ransomware attack from October that impacted numerous county offices and software.
Radford gave commissioners an update on her department's progress since the incident, and said she and her staff had been subjected to constant political demands and harassment by some in the county through text messages and emails.
Radford addressed the email, sent out by Mike Olcott of the Parker County Conservatives group, which stated, among other things, that she would be on Monday's agenda.
"The agenda had not even been posted yet — this was sent out at 4:18 [p.m.] Tuesday — and I'd like to know how he knew I was going to be on the agenda," Radford said.
Radford called the email's content a bunch of "blatant lies, half truths and slanderous statements" about her and and her office, and said it was "one of the lowest attacks" she has seen in her 30-year career with the county.
"This email was sent out to destroy my reputation and the reputation of my office," Radford said. "And it's all because two members of this court want me gone: Judge [Pat] Deen and Commissioner [George] Conley."
Radford accused the two of wanting Jay Hamilton — owner of Presage Solutions, which has been contracted by the county for IT support following the cyber security incident — in her seat as IT director.
"I feel like I'm being retaliated against because I refuse to use Presage Solutions any longer," she told the court. "There have been security issues when he has had access to our network so I stopped it."
Radford said she also wanted to clarify that she had traveled out of the country prior to the attack and did not "leave in the middle of a crisis and leave my office stranded."
She also cited a conversation referenced in the email between herself and Deen.
"I just have one question about one outright lie: did Mike Olcott make up the lies about a conversation between the two of us or did you," Radford asked Deen. "Because that conversation never took place."
Walden asked if anyone else on the court had received the email besides him. Dugan said a copy of the email was forwarded to him by another elected official.
"There were items contained in that email that came directly from executive session. Someone leaked that information out of executive session so that it could be distributed and I want to know who that is," Walden said. "It's a violation of the law to give information out from executive session."
Walden questioned Parker County Attorney John Forrest on how they could determine where that leak occurred and how it got out.
Forrest said the sheriff's office could launch an investigation upon request as well as the Texas Rangers.
"When it came to IT security and a certain audit that was done, only myself and Crickett Miller had access to that information," Radford said. "I do know Judge Deen had a copy of that and he must have gotten that from the elections administrator. He is the only one that had a copy when you brought me into executive session."
Deen said the copy was distributed to all of the commissioners.
"As far as the email goes, I was made aware of it just by word of mouth," he said. "I had not seen it initially, then I got a copy of it."
Following executive session, Olcott spoke before commissioners, saying he wanted to address two items.
"No. 1, one commissioner made an insinuation that the email I sent out was using sources from members of commissioners court," he said. "I want to say I did not get or receive any information from anyone on this court. It came from three difference sources and none of them were on this court."
Walden maintained that specific information contained in Olcott's email came from discussion in executive session.
"The fact that that information got to you needs to be known how that occurred because somebody that was in that room told somebody that told you," he said.
"Do you actually think y'all are the only ones that know about that information?" Olcott asked Walden. "Whoever briefed you about this executive session, do you really think that's the only person that knows in the county?"
Walden said the information was never discussed in open session, nor had he discussed it with any one person.
"Just because the information in my email was disclosed to you in executive session doesn't mean that's the only source of information," Olcott argued. "There were sources that gave it to you in executive session, right? So there's other people that know about it.
"I just think it's unfair of you to be pointing at other [commissioners court] members and saying they're squealing or leaking information."
Monday's meeting also resulted in the public resignation of IT administrator Xantheus Lawrence, who said the past couple of months had been very difficult for everyone, and that he got a glimpse of what it was like to be IT director for a couple of weeks when Radford was away.
"The problem with that chair is that you are no longer an IT professional, you are a politician," Lawrence said. "I never wanted to get into politics. I'm not here for that. This is my announcement of resignation.
"My official last day will be Jan. 8 and I will do my job until then and get us back to complete functionality before I leave."
Radford said that since the attack, 18 servers had been put back online, with the exception of Constable Precinct 1 and Special Crimes. About 480 PCs and laptops were also examined — 125 of them were wiped clean and the others were scanned and put back into use. The department is still working to set up printers, file shares and various other things.
To improve security, Lawrence has also rebuilt an entire new network, Radford said.
An invoice from Presage Solutions for services rendered from Oct. 17 through Nov. 13 in the amount of $35,217 was also submitted to the court.
"This whole process has been stressful and my staff has done an amazing job," Radford said. "I'd like to thank all the many employees, elected officials that have been very patient and appreciative of all the hard work and long hours that my staff has put in.
"I have a wonderful and hardworking staff and through the middle of the worst crisis to affect our office, politics and constant complaints and unappreciation has destroyed the morale of every single one of us."