When did Crooks turn against economic growth?

Published 11:08 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh


Last year, Dean Crooks appeared on the political scene as he spoke out against the hospital district and the taxes it would bring.

He then threw in his hat to run for Orange County Judge. A seat he holds now as he defeated Stephen Brint Carlton in the Republican Primaries and the Democrat candidate withdrew his name after being arrested.

Carlton, knowing he would need to find new employment by the end of the year, started searching.

Unexpectedly, he found a new position and chose to relocate before his term was complete. Dean Crooks was appointed Interim County Judge.

And that is when things really get interesting.

Crooks temporary Administrative Assistant was Jean Parker. Parker is a retired Orange County employee who was not happy with the changes the court made to retiree benefits.

Parker has spoken against Carlton several times on the Facebook page Orange County Retirees and Concerned Citizens.

So, one should question if selecting Parker as an administrative assistant was really in the best interest for the County Judge’s office. And now it has been brought to my attention, Bailey Aaron, the person who was hired as Crooks Administrative Assistant, is Parker’s niece.

If you attended the Abatement Policy Workshop held on Oct. 30, 2018, Aaron is the one who stated the reason “We are having a Public Hearing” is because “a commissioner is benefiting from being on the EDC Board and another future commissioner is hostile and rude to county employees.”

So, who is running the County Judge Office?? Is it Parker? Or Parker’s niece, Aaron? Because with that statement, on the record, we need to ask what does Aaron mean by We? Who called for the meeting? Aaron or Crooks?

The meeting and can be viewed on Youtube – Just go to the Orange County website, click on Commissioners Court, click on Minutes and then search for the date of the meeting you wish to view and then click Video.

Since Crooks has been in office, one by one, changes made by the court while Carlton was Judge have been overturned, changed or attempted to change. Including the retiree benefits mentioned earlier.

Now the target appears to be the Orange County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Jessica Hill.

The Orange County Economic Development Board hired Hill while Carlton was in office.

Carlton did not hire her. He was, however, a member of the board that did.

So why target Hill? Why approve membership with an organization only to turn around and attempt to dismantle it? While the court must approve items on an agenda, Crooks, as county judge, can have the items added to the agenda.

Questions are rising and answers are not forthcoming at this time. But these are questions citizens should be asking.

Including the purpose of discussing the county’s Abatement Policy as if it was in dire need of change and instead of a tool in attracting new business to the area.

Crooks began the meeting stating infrastructure needed to be in place such as drainage, a favorite word of his since he took office.

My own first thought was “why are we moving backward on plans for economic growth?”

As Commissioner Barry Burton said, “I am glad we are moving forward and providing the tools to the EDC it needs to be able to compete.”

What did the court approve on the abatement policy? To update the date so it no longer read 2013.

So, over an hour of a public workshop and then further discussion in weekly Commissioners Court meeting, to change a date. Sounds like good use of my tax dollars. No, it does not!


Dawn Burleigh is editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com