‘You’ll sit there and be quiet,’ Tarrant County judge tells commissioner during exchange

Tempers flared Tuesday between County Judge Tim O’Hare and commissioner Alisa Simmons over a contract between the judge and a political consultant.

O’Hare said the $5,000 contract with political consultant Noah Betz would replace a soon to be vacated communications position in his office.

Betz is the principal of Bluestone Creatives, a Metroplex-based political marketing, communications and design firm. He also serves as executive director of Huffines Liberty Foundation, a think-tank that describes itself as advancing liberty and prosperity across Texas.

Before leading the foundation and Bluestone, Betz worked as a campaign consultant for candidates and organizations. Betz served on Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s re-election team and oversaw marketing and communications for Republican state Sen. Don Huffines.

The argument between O’Hare and Simmons came after six people spoke to oppose the contract. The speakers cited Betz’s conservative political record, calling it an ethical violation and misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Simmons then shared her own concerns with the contract.

That prompted Simmons and O’Hare to bicker about their X accounts being political.

At the peak of the argument O’Hare lashed out at Simmons and said, “I’m the one talking now, so you’ll sit there and be quiet and listen to me talk.”

“Don’t tell me when and when not to talk,” Simmons responded. “This is my court too.”

The contract passed with a 3-2 vote along party lines, with Simmons and fellow Democrat Roy Brooks voting against the contract.

O’Hare downplayed the the concerns brought up in public comment.

“I would never do anything illegal, I would never put myself and my freedom in jeopardy,” O’Hare said. “I have a wife and children. Some of this stuff is just simply nonsense and repeated talking points over and over.”

Republican Commissioner Manny Ramirez said he thought the contract was efficient and that O’Hare was “doing more with less” by opting to contract with Betz instead of hiring a full time employee to fill the role.

At the close of the public portion of the meeting, Kennedy Jones, pastor of Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church in Arlington, condemned O’Hare’s behavior toward Simmons.

Jones described O’Hare’s outburst as demeaning and offensive.

“Those words hearken back to a time when women could not vote, to a time when they were virtually owned by their husband,” Jones said. “Those words came with a sting and a bite that was offensive, not just to the commissioner, but to everyone that’s sitting in this room.”