BEEVILLE – Tony Ferguson is the county’s veterans service officer — again.
Following weeks of contention by local veterans groups questioning not only his qualifications but how the county hired the Navy veteran on Oct. 7, commissioners voted Oct. 15 to place his employment on hold.
The county doesn’t have a word for what the commissioners did. He wasn’t hired, and he wasn’t fired. The agenda item just said “other.”
At a special, and rare, evening meeting Monday night in a district courtroom (the regular courtroom’s outfitted for early voting), following a closed executive session, commissioners voted 3-2 to confirm his hiring.
During the public comment portion of the agenda, a number of veterans stressed that, while they had nothing personal against Ferguson, they questioned both his qualifications — citing his lack of experience — and his reluctance to participate in local veteran organizations.
But other veterans countered their arguments.
“Give the man a chance,” Adolfo Moreno implored commissioners. “Who is here to say he is not qualified?” he asked.
Referencing charges that Ferguson was not active in local vet organizations, Moreno told commissioners: “I’m a veteran — I do what I can to help my fellow veterans, but I don’t go to group meetings, either.”
“Everybody is missing the point,” admonished Rudy Garcia. “We just want to make sure the best person represents veterans, period.”
“If you are a veteran, you are a veteran. Belonging to an organization doesn’t make you a better veteran and not belonging to an organization doesn’t make you less of a veteran,” Jodi Huegler said. “You can’t label a person because they don’t belong to an organization.
“Folks, our county, our city is being torn apart by negativism.”
Her comments, as with Moreno’s and Garcia’s, were followed by applause from an audience of about 35.
Thirty-eight minutes after opening the meeting, the court went into closed executive session, inviting both Adriana Casarez, the county’s newly hired human resources director, and Community Affairs Officer Roy Galvan — who hired Ferguson — to attend.
Half the audience left.
Forty-three minutes later, back in open session, commissioners voted to reinstate Ferguson.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Dennis DeWitt and Precinct 4 Commissioner Kenneth Haggard voted to approve; Commissioners Carlos Salazar, Precinct 1, and Eloy Rodriguez, Precinct 3, voted against.
County Judge David Silva voted to approve.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.