NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
PELICAN BAY — Pelican Bay City Council member Robin Finstad alleges that she was arrested after questioning the community’s ballooning municipal budget.
Finstad asked Mayor Clifford Tynes some tough questions regarding the budget back in March:
- Why did city expenses more than double last year?
- Who approved the purchase of new police cars?
- What about the upgraded furnishings at City Hall?
After the meeting and a two-block drive home, Finstad said she was arrested and jailed. The technical reason given was driving with a suspended license.
The Council member, however, maintains it was her pointed questions that prompted the arrest.
“I pulled into my driveway and they pulled behind me like I was some sort of a bank robber,” she said. “They knew I just came out of the budget meeting.”
Then, last month — just days after Finstad won re-election — another warrant was issued for her arrest. According to police, she allegedly fled from officers following her initial arrest, and was being charged again.
Mike Ware, Finstad's attorney, said the alleged abuse has gone too far. He charged that the mayor and City Attorney Cass Calloway are behind it.
Calloway denied the accusations; the mayor declined to comment.
"Armed, uniformed police officers are being used by the powers that be in Pelican Bay for whatever reasons –– political reasons, personal reasons –– to harass, arrest, and even incarcerate one of its citizens," Ware said, adding he may file a civil rights lawsuit.
Gilbert Towns, the former police chief of this small town nestled 17 miles northwest of Fort Worth, also says the mistreatment of its residents is out of hand.
"It's the same course of conduct with everybody,” Towns said. “If you don't do what they ask of you, they will fire you and then try to get you arrested. Mr. Calloway tried to get me arrested several times."
Towns said Mayor Tynes fired him last year without Council approval. He argued that Calloway lied to state officials and tried to ruin his career in law enforcement.
Last April, when News 8 asked Calloway about the allegations of abuse of his position, he had no comment.
“No, I’m not aware of any specific allegations; they change every week," he said.
Reached by phone last week, Calloway denied targeting anyone or abusing his position. He said all he has ever tried to do is to protect the city.
As for Mayor Tynes and the allegations that he is abusing his power, he also declined to comment.
This breezy town of 1,583 people –– where the winds and serene views of neighboring Eagle Mountain Lake evoke the image of a resort –– has seen increasing unrest at City Hall. Last Friday, Mayor Tynes suspended the police chief for alleged insubordination.
On Saturday, the chief resigned.
Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled Council meeting was canceled.