False argument

September 12, 2018

We have heard talk around town to the effect that the recall petition (of the mayor) being circulated will not be effective even if the required number of signatures are collected.

The theory is that the petition will not be submitted until after the deadline for placing items on the November election.

The city charter required council to pass a recall ordinance back when the charter was approved by the voters.

Council did pass the recall ordinance (number 008066 ) on June 5, 1984.

It reads:

“If the petition shall be found sufficient, the City Clerk shall submit the petition to the City Council without delay, and the City Council, in the event the officer fails to resign, shall order that the recall election be held at the next permitted election date under the laws of Texas.”

If the petition does not make it in before the cutoff for the November election then it will have to be considered at the next election date.

The next “Texas uniform election date” after the November election  will be the first Saturday in May, 2019.

We deserve better

Brutus


The bond election can be revoked!

August 22, 2018

We have been searching to see if there is a way to negate the quality of life bond election.

Here it is:

CHAPTER 1252. REVOCATION OF AUTHORITY TO ISSUE BONDS


Sec. 1252.001. ELECTION TO REVOKE AUTHORITY. The commissioners court of a county or the governing body of a municipality may order an election to determine whether to revoke the authority to issue bonds that:

(1) compose all or part of an issue authorized by an earlier election; and

(2) have not as of the date of the order been sold or delivered.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 227, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 1252.002. ELECTION PROCEDURE. (a) An election to revoke bonds under this chapter shall be held in the same manner as the election originally authorizing the bonds.

(b) In an election held under Subsection (a), the ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: “The revocation of bonds.”

(c) If a revocation election covers bonds of more than one voted issue, there shall be a separate proposition for each voted issue.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 227, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

You can read the entire law here.

We deserve better

Brutus


Charging us to use our own property

August 13, 2018

This slide from a city of Austin lawyer’s presentation to city council explains what franchise fees are all about:

El Paso is a home rule city.

City council is thinking about charging the city owned sanitation department a $4 per month franchise fee for each residential customer.

They want to charge us a fee to allow a city department to use streets that we already own.

This is a tax.

We deserve better

Brutus


Who should the planners be?

July 11, 2018

This came in from Max Grossman:

Dear Friends,

The Texas Attorney General is a busy man. He just announced that he is seeking to remove 8 of 13 members of the Planning Commission of Austin for being “directly or indirectly connected to real estate and land development,” in violation of the Austin City Charter.

QUESTION: Do we in El Paso have any folks on our Historic Landmark Commission, City Plan Commission or El Paso County Historical Commission who are connected to real estate and land development? Absolutely yes! Anyone on City Council? Yes. Are there any entangling connections between the real estate/development community and our City Government?

Mr. Paxton, please come to El Paso and help us break out of this death grip…

**************************************************************************

Our city charter does not have a provision like this.

Should it?

We deserve better

Brutus

 


Forming up sides

June 19, 2018

Yikes!

Even our state legislative delegation is upset over the rush job EPISD is trying to pull relative to the school closings.

How do we know that the schools that they have chosen are the right ones?

Part of what the legislators wrote to the school board is printed below.

They are not only concerned with the lack of time for public input but they point out that the district’s published budget numbers don’t make sense.

When one group of politicians gets on the wrong side of another group there is always a price to pay.

We deserve better

Brutus


Setting us up for failure

May 24, 2018

According to news reports our Mayor has signed a separation agreement with our soon to be departed city attorney.

We don’t know what the final version of the agreement looks like.

KTSM has evidently requested a copy under the Texas Public Information Act.  The city has yet to produce it even though the act reads:

Sec. 552.221. APPLICATION FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION; PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) An officer for public information of a governmental body shall promptly produce public information for inspection, duplication, or both on application by any person to the officer. In this subsection, “promptly” means as soon as possible under the circumstances, that is, within a reasonable time, without delay.

As soon as possible does not mean waiting the maximum amount of time that they can.  What it means is that if they have the document they should copy it as soon a a copy machine is available and turn it over to the requester.   Unfortunately the Act does not make this kind of stalling illegal.  We have learned that many of our public officials are willing to do things that are wrong if they know that they are not illegal.

The version that KTSM has received might not be the final one, however the one they got has this in it:

The person signing this Agreement on behalf of the City certifies that the person has full authority and approval to bind the City to this Agreement.

The mayor cannot agree to contracts without prior city council approval.

We deserve better

Brutus


Developers have special needs

May 23, 2018

The city is proposing the creation of some new Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ).

Basically when the city creates a TIRZ they allow a special fund to be setup that takes the increase in property taxes that occurs over time and dedicates the increased money to projects within the boundaries of the TIRZ.

Out on the westside of El Paso there is a 3,900 acre area of land that is undeveloped.  I believe that the city currently owns the land and as a result it generates no tax revenue.

If the city creates the TIRZ and then sells the land any increase in property tax revenue could be set aside to be spent on improving the land, the money would not go into the city general fund to help pay for city services.

From the Texas Tax Code chapter 31:

Sec. 311.005. CRITERIA FOR REINVESTMENT ZONE.

(a) To be designated as a reinvestment zone, an area must:

(1) substantially arrest or impair the sound growth of the municipality or county designating the zone, retard the provision of housing accommodations, or constitute an economic or social liability and be a menace to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare in its present condition and use because of the presence of:

(A) a substantial number of substandard, slum, deteriorated, or deteriorating structures;

(B) the predominance of defective or inadequate sidewalk or street layout;

(C) faulty lot layout in relation to size, adequacy, accessibility, or usefulness;

(D) unsanitary or unsafe conditions;

(E) the deterioration of site or other improvements;

(F) tax or special assessment delinquency exceeding the fair value of the land;

(G) defective or unusual conditions of title;

(H) conditions that endanger life or property by fire or other cause; or

(I) structures, other than single-family residential structures, less than 10 percent of the square footage of which has been used for commercial, industrial, or residential purposes during the preceding 12 years, if the municipality has a population of 100,000 or more;

(2) be predominantly open or undeveloped and, because of obsolete platting, deterioration of structures or site improvements, or other factors, substantially impair or arrest the sound growth of the municipality or county;

(3) be in a federally assisted new community located in the municipality or county or in an area immediately adjacent to a federally assisted new community; or

(4) be an area described in a petition requesting that the area be designated as a reinvestment zone, if the petition is submitted to the governing body of the municipality or county by the owners of property constituting at least 50 percent of the appraised value of the property in the area according to the most recent certified appraisal roll for the county in which the area is located.

The undeveloped land is not blighted.

This is simply a giveaway to the people who buy and develop the properties.

We deserve better

Brutus


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