Texas open meetings

March 11, 2019

The Times published an editorial the other day that I agreed with.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals evidently invalidated the portion of the Texas Open Meetings Act that specified criminal penalties for members of government boards that arrange meetings with less than a quorum in order to avoid the requirement to make the meeting open to the public.

The Times editorial told us that our Texas Governor has written a letter to state board appointees and state agency chiefs telling them to “continue to follow the spirit” of the Texas Open Meetings Act without regard to the appeals court ruling.

Unfortunately our local governments are now free to meet in private and discuss public business as long as they do not have a quorum present.

We hope that our Texas legislature will take action soon to shore up the Open Meetings Act.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD disappoints again

February 19, 2019

The EPISD school board president just resigned.

He evidently told the Times that he no longer lives within the district.

From the district’s policy manual:

A person elected or appointed to serve as a board member must
remain a resident of the district throughout the term of office. A
board member who ceases to reside in the district vacates the office.

Tex. Const., Art. XVI, Sec. 14;

Prince v. Inman, 280 S.W.2d 779 (Tex. Civ. App.—Beaumont 1955, no writ);

Whitmarsh v. Buckley, 324 S.W.2d 298 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston 1959, no writ)

It appears that the Texas constitution, Texas statutes, and local board policy make are clear.

Question

When did the trustee move out of the district that he represented?

Did he participate in decisions that he had no right to be involved in?

We deserve better

Brutus


Executive session participants

February 12, 2019

Rich Wright over at elchuqueno.com wrote the other day about the city’s continuing use of executive session.

I don’t attend many city council meetings so I don’t know who goes into the executive sessions.

For those of you who do attend be on the lookout for who goes in.

Texas law only gives city council members the right to attend executive sessions.  The city attorney must also be present.

Note that the city council members have the right to attend and cannot be kept out unless the issue is about them.

On the other hand city council has the right to request the presence of any of the city officers or employees as long as their presence “is necessary to the matter under consideration”.

In other words the city officers and employees should only be in the meeting as long as it takes to discuss the particular subject that they are involved with.

We deserve better

Brutus

 


Traffic investigations

February 3, 2019

We had another tragic event on I-10 last week.

A young man lost his life.

Our condolences go out to the family.

Unfortunately the accident is another example of where the authorities need to rethink their procedures for handling such events.

I-10 was blocked off in both directions for more than three hours.  I’m not familiar with the procedures that the authorities follow in order to investigate and document in these cases.

What I do know is that they take too long.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD sells bonds and doesn’t need voter approval

January 23, 2019

A loyal reader sent this to our attention:

EPISD previously created a public facility corporation under Texas law.

They did this to pay for the new central office facilities.

The way it works is that the public facility corporation can authorize and sell bonds without voter approval.  They simply place notices in the local newspaper (how many people subscribe to the newspaper, and of those who do how many ever even look at the classifieds?).  If a voter petition that objects to the issuance does not get filed within 60 days they can issue the bonds.  The petition must bear the signature of 5 percent of the registered voters in the district.

After all you didn’t complain did you?

From there the public facility corporation builds the building and leases it to the school district.

Nifty huh?

We deserve better

Brutus


City manager’s legal expenses

January 20, 2019

A reader sent this in:

For your call to open topics, I wanted to point out  that the recent decision by City Council to retroactively pay for Tommy Gonzalez’s attorneys’ fees (from past ethics claims and his defense thereof) violates Texas law.   The Texas Constitution prohibits retroactive payments for past services to public employees, meaning City employees.  For support of this concept, see this web site and the sources it cites to https://fmx.cpa.texas.gov/fm/pubs/paypol/general_provisions2/index.php?section=retroactive&page=retroactive.
When City Council recently decided to go back in time and pay Mr. Gonzalez for something in the past that was not previously agreed upon in regards to his past defense of ethics charges, they made a retroactive payment of the type prohibited by law.   The lone City Rep who was alleged to have leaked this deal was doing the public a favor, but no one seemed to notice that the payment was prohibited by law.   Not even the new City Attorney.  Just food for thought.

Property tax cap

January 18, 2019
This came in the other day:
Brutus.
     [P]  Here is another website you might consider adding to your list — since in this ongoing Texas Legislative Session — legislators will be looking at reducing the property roll back cap trigger down from it’s current trigger level of 8-percent  to a 2-percent trigger cap.  See — https://www.gregabbott.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PropertyTaxReform.pdf
     [P]  Our local legislative delegation members will fight against lowering the cap — and Sunday night on the KVIA TV News Extra program — Senator Rodriguez indicated he is against it.  As he goes, the other members of the delegation will follow.  In addition, the city, county, UMC and school districthired lobbyists — will also raise objections and fight against any lowering of the cap.  The reality is — individual voters’ and property taxpayers — do not have hired lobbyists and others fighting for their interests.  Bottom line — that’s where your blog can create an impact!
     [P]  The 2-percent level is most likely too low — so that cap trigger level may possibly be only a negotiating point — so legislators can compromise at a 4 or 5-percent trigger cap.
     [P]  Since many of your faithful blog followers’ and creatively blunt posters — are pissed about always rising local property taxes, plus associated stupid spending — here’s a chance for them to get their ‘oars in the water — and let those state legislators outside El Paso who are pushing this issue — know there are El Paso voters’ and property taxpayers — who approve, plus appreciate and support their efforts.
————————————  Old Fart.
POST SCRIPT:  Since you keep your blog updated each day — with a fresh topic for public thought and discussion — it is certainly better than the stale blogs of David K, Max Powers, Zorro and some of the others.  Therefore, it certainly seems you have a daily opportunity — to make your blog an action site — by posting interactive web links as you have just started to do.
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He is of course right.
We need to speak up and let the legislators know how we feel.
We deserve better
Brutus

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