New Precinct 5 Constable Beth Villarreal got off to a shaky start this week, failing to answer any questions on Tuesday during her inaugural press conference as her supporters shouted down reporters. Let’s hope Villarreal doesn’t get off to an even shakier start with the LGBT community by hiring a known homophobe to serve as her chief deputy in the county’s most heavily gay constable precinct.
Villarreal was appointed to replace Jaime Cortes, who stepped down amid allegations of corruption. Villarreal defeated Cortes in the Democratic Primary and has no Republican opponent, so she would have taken office at the end of the year anyway. But she began her new job about six months early this week following Cortes’ resignation.
Villarreal has a gay son and championed herself as a PFLAG mom during the primary campaign to woo LGBT support. And apparently it worked, as she handily won the county’s most heavily gay precincts despite the fact that Cortes had been endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.
Given Villarreal’s strong LGBT backing — she also had a gay campaign co-manager — it’s baffling that she would even consider hiring former Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Ramirez as her chief deputy in the constable’s office. But according to The Dallas Morning News, Villarreal might already have hired Ramirez if it weren’t for his pending lawsuit against the county:
And she [Villarreal] is considering hiring Mike Ramirez, a retired sheriff’s deputy, as her chief deputy. That could be a problem, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said earlier, since Ramirez has a suit pending against the county. He and two others claim they were given unfavorable assignments by Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, after they backed her Republican opponent in the 2008 election. The commissioners adopted a policy this year prohibiting the hiring of anyone who has a lawsuit pending against the county.
Ramirez was given his “unfavorable assignment” at the sheriff’s department after he not only backed Valdez’s Republican opponent, but also spearheaded a vicious anti-gay political attack against the openly lesbian sheriff. A few weeks before the November 2008 election, Ramirez went to The Morning News with allegations that Valdez was “trying to promote the gay lifestyle” because she had implemented sexual-orientation diversity training in the sheriff’s department. And The DMN ran with the story, despite the fact that this same training had been used by the Dallas Police Department for decades.
The DMN published the story on the front Page of its Metro Section in September 2008, under the headline “Sexuality survey draws complaints from Dallas deputies.” Here are a few excerpts:
But Deputy Mike Ramirez, vice president of the Dallas chapter of the Latino Peace Officers Association, said some deputies felt obligated to fill it out.
“They felt the department was trying to promote the gay lifestyle,” he said. …
Deputy Ramirez did not take the class but said he also took offense to the questionnaire after reading it.
“I have a problem when you bring the Bible into this,” Deputy Ramirez said. “Who are we to question the Bible?” …
Deputy Ramirez said the employees were concerned that the class was geared more toward gays and lesbians and didn’t include enough discussions about blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups.
“If you want to be gay or lesbian, that’s your business,” he said. “The way it was brought to the department, we don’t think it was right.”
We later did our own story and interviewed Ramirez, who denied that he was acting on behalf of Valdez’s opponent. In retrospect, Ramirez’s denial was a blatant lie given that he served as VP of the Latino Peace Officers Association, which had endorsed Lowell Cannaday. We can’t find the link to our story right now on this crack new website, but here’s what Ramirez told us:
“Some of the people felt they [department officials] were trying to push the gay agenda onto them,” Ramirez said. “It was not politically motivated.”