Bud Kennedy

In North Richland Hills, a Tea Party’s manners are questioned

City officials warned a Tea Party group not to insult an NRH Centre worker.
City officials warned a Tea Party group not to insult an NRH Centre worker. Courtesy photo

The NE Tarrant Tea Party is really sorry for whatever happened in North Richland Hills.

That much we know. We don’t know exactly what one meeting attendee said about a young Muslim city employee’s hijab, only that city supervisors described the remark as “hateful” and “derogatory.”

Oh: We also know the Grapevine-based group was warned not to let it happen again, and sent profuse apologies, but then claimed the offender only meant to “share her faith.”

In an online newsletter, Tea Party President Julie White McCarty, an adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, called the city employee a “lost soul” who should “learn about Jesus.”

“She’s in America now,” McCarty wrote.

The employee is a native born in Fort Worth.

North Richland Hills City Manager Mark Hindman’s staff is investigating the June 8 exchange.

“My understanding is the comment was something derogatory” about the hijab, he said Friday, expaining that the city must consider employees’ workplace rights with patrons’ freedom of speech.

He defended the employee as “the type we enjoy having — customer-service friendly, accommodating and efficient.”

In an email obtained through an information request, NRH Centre Grand Hall supervisor Dianne Hughes warned McCarty that a woman attendee said “hateful things to one of my staff … This cannot happen in our facility.”

The employee did not return a message Friday.

In a June 10 Facebook post with no names or location, she wrote that she “experienced one of the worst forms of bigotry at my workplace”: “I was alone with a person who had so much hatred toward me because of my headscarf.”

She didn’t tell her boss, she wrote, but was gratified later when co-workers stuck up for her. She called the emailed Tea Party apologies “heartwarming.”

The Tea Party group rents NRH Centre for $500, Hindman said.

The group has moved often across Northeast Tarrant County, gathering lately in a Southlake private school and a Hurst meeting hall.

(For months, the group met in a Lutheran church in Bedford. But that ended about the time McCarty wrote on social media that voters should support Southern Baptists but not United Methodists.)

Hindman said he will review the NE Tarrant Tea Party’s security plan before a July 13 meeting featuring Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who stirred worshippers of Islam there by opposing an all-male Islamic mediation panel using Shariah in disputes.

In one email to city staff, McCarty warned that Van Duyne is “receiving death threats … Let’s talk about security before then!”

Hindman said Friday: “Security for an individual event is their responsibility. When the governor shows up, he brings his own security detail.”

North Richland Hills might be more secure without this Tea Party.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy