Not doing her job

September 4, 2019

At the August 6, 2019 meeting of city council our city attorney spoke about ethics training as well as council members having a better understanding of Roberts Rules of Order.

Then astoundingly she indicated that having a more robust understanding of Roberts Rules would help even her.

Doing her job

Unfortunately this council as well as past councils has appointed the city attorney to also be the city parliamentarian.  This job should be done by someone who is not dependent upon the good will of city council.

She should know the rules backwards and forwards.  She should see to it that council meetings are conducted using those rules since council has voted to use them.

The job of city parliamentarian has been assigned to her.  She should have learned the rules before the very next council meeting.

While we’re at it

She should also see to it that council takes no action that is illegal.  She should be completely familiar with the Texas Open Meetings Act and see to it that the act is obeyed.

Further

She should also see to it that the rules about providing backup material when items are placed on the agenda.  Too often presentations are made at council meetings without them having been made available for viewing by the public 72 hours before a meeting.

If she doesn’t have time to handle these things she might assign one of her ample staff to do them for her.

Otherwise she should resign as parliamentarian.

We deserve better

Brutus


Historic designation not voluntary

September 3, 2019

This slide came from a presentation to city council:

It appears that other people can collectively vote to take your property.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD lowering its property tax rate

August 21, 2019

Take a look at this:

The chart shows EPISD’s property tax rates for last year along with the rate they are considering for next year.

The end result is that they are considering lowering the combined tax rate from $1.31 per hundred dollars of property valuation to $1.2684 per hundred.

They are lowering the operations and maintenance rate while increasing the interest and sinking fund rate.  Remember that we allowed them to take ten cents away from the interest and sinking fund rate and add it to the operations and maintenance rate.  The effect of the change was to increase the amount that the state gives the district.

That is the other part of the news.  You can see that last year the state gave the district $5,554 per student while next year they are projecting $6,686 from the state.

This is better

Brutus


Ignoring the law

August 13, 2019

The Tuesday, August 13, 2019 city council agenda includes an executive session item (closed meeting) captioned as:

“Briefing from counsel on legal guidelines for communicating with citizens about a bond election”

Why the secrets?

What could the city attorney be telling city council in private that members of the public should not know about?  Is the plan to teach council how to lie to us or otherwise deceive us?  Could it be that the city attorney is going to tell them not to make false promises?

The Texas Open Meetings Act allows council to go into closed session for the following reasons:

  • certain specific personnel matters
  • discussions about the value or transfer of real property
  • discussions about security personnel, security services, or a security audit
  • discussions about a prospective gift or donation to a governmental body
  • discussions about potential items on tests conducted relating to licensing of individuals to engage in an activity
  • discussions of certain economic development matters
  • discussions of certain competitive matters is the city owns an electric or gas utility
  • issues relating to emergencies and disasters

Schooling the council about bond elections is not in the list.

However

Certain consultations with the city attorney are allowed.

Which ones?

Take a look at this:

It looks like the proposed closed session will not be legal.

Shouldn’t the city attorney know the laws and follow them?

We deserve better

Brutus


Simple way to resolve the arena issue

July 17, 2019

The city does not have to go through with building the multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center (commonly referred to as the arena).

In The bond election can be revoked we pointed out a state law that allows the voters the option of cancelling the authority to issue previously approved bonds.

Shouldn’t city council put the issue to a test?

If enough voters decide to revoke the bonds then the center cannot be built unless another election occurs where the voters approve it.

If there are not enough votes to revoke the bonds then the voters would have spoken and the city should build the center.

Sounds simple enough

We would also avoid the mounting costs of litigation.

The statute is found in chapter 1252 of the Texas Government Code.

Contact your city representative and ask them to vote to call the election.  You should also ask the mayor.

We deserve better

Brutus


Proud to thwart transparency

July 16, 2019

As part of the city’s 2020 budget process this slide was included to tell us what their legal department did last year:

Note that they tell us that they processed 5,469 open records requests.

They seem to be proud of the fact that they got the Texas attorney general to support denying release of information on 482 of them.

They could of told us that they handled the requests so well that on average they responded within X days, thus providing good service and promoting transparency.

Instead they focused on telling us how often they were able to deny information.

We deserve better

Brutus


Closed meetings violations

June 17, 2019

The other day we wrote about apparent open meetings violations that the city committed recently.

The next day in a regular city council meeting their agenda contained the following after showing a portion of the meeting would be in executive session:

“Discussion and action on the following:”

The agenda then listed 12 items that they planned to handle in executive session.

The problem here is that they cannot take action in executive session.  They must do it in open session, which is open to the public.

We deserve better

Brutus


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