An employee of the Tarrant Appraisal District was fired Aug. 25 after an internal investigation.

Cal Wood, director of information systems at TAD, was released from his position Aug. 25 after he was initially suspended. The suspension came shortly after comments from Wood surfaced where he suggested “creating a false narrative that distances the truth from the media,” according to a letter issued by the mayors of Keller, Southlake and Colleyville.

TAD said in a news release that Wood was terminated after the agency’s attorney conducted the internal investigation.

The release says the comments made in a recording of Wood are “completely unrepresentative of the values held at TAD. TAD apologizes for the confusion these statements have caused and remains committed to providing the public and members of the media with accurate and timely information.”

TAD officials did not respond to requests for additional information about the statement made by Wood.

How we got here

An additional news release states the TAD’s chief appraiser, Jeff Law, notified the appraisal district’s board of directors and launched a full investigation Aug. 21 of the circumstances surrounding the recording prior to the firing of Wood.

However, despite these actions, Law is the subject of criticism of local mayors, and the Tarrant County Commissioners passed a motion 4-0 at its Aug. 29 meeting to replace and remove Law immediately in a no-confidence vote.

“This is not condemning the good men and women that work at the Tarrant Appraisal District, of whom there are many,” Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare said during the meeting. “The buck has to stop at the top. The chief appraiser has been the common denominator throughout all of these issues and episodes, and it’s time to hold him accountable.”

Commissioners do not have the authority to remove Law, but Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks said if the appraisal district ignores this action, "they ignore it at their own peril."

Keller Mayor Armin Mizani, Southlake Mayor John Huffman, Colleyville Mayor Bobby Lindamood and O'Hare demanded that Law be removed through social media posts.

“There is a serious leadership problem at the Tarrant Appraisal District,” O’Hare said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This suspension is simply not enough. TAD needs a change in leadership to restore the public’s trust, which is currently nonexistent. How many scandals does it take?”

Mizani also shared his views on the social media platform.

“Taxpayers have lost trust in the Tarrant Appraisal District, and it’s time for the TAD board to appoint a new chief appraiser,” Mizani said on X. “At our first meeting in September, Keller will consider a resolution and a ‘vote of no confidence’ in Chief Appraiser Jeff Law.”

Mizani signed a joint letter about Law, released Aug. 24, with Huffman and Lindamood.

“Sadly this scandal is just another headline that Tarrant County taxpayers have come to expect over the last two years at the Tarrant Appraisal District,” the letter says in part.

What they’re saying

The Tarrant Appraisal District’s transparency problems stem from its leadership, Mizani said in an email. Over the last two years, taxpayers have seen “scandal after scandal” at the appraisal district, he said.

“All these scandals suggest there is a culture problem at TAD, requiring a change at the very top,” he said.

Mizani said the next chief appraiser needs to be someone who can “immediately change the culture at TAD and put an end to the scandals.”

The context

TAD has been embroiled in other controversies in recent months.

In February, Keller City Council voted unanimously to initiate the recall of Kathryn Wilemon, the board chair of the Tarrant Appraisal District. She resigned her position soon after, but she was also later recalled by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court and Keller City Council. Later, commissioners approved Vince Puente Sr. as the new chair to fill the remainder of Wilemon's term. During a Keller council discussion on the Wilemon situation in February, a lack of transparency and accountability arose as the main reasons why council members supported the move to remove the former chair.

“As public officers and elected officials, we should always strive to hit the higher benchmark when it comes to transparency,” Council Member Ross McMullin said at the Feb. 21 meeting, regarding Wilemon's recall. “I think transparency would have helped a lot with the issues at the Tarrant Appraisal District.”