Posts Tagged ‘Deborah Jones’

Ethics: City of Bastrop Test Case

Ethics Reform, Not Deform

Our commentary below is in today’s Bastrop Advertiser and is an important update on the battles over the Ethics Ordinance in the City of Bastrop. Please read and share it, and post a comment if so moved.

We hereby urge your attendance at Tuesday’s City Council meeting starting at 6:30 pm at Bastrop City Hall, especially if you are a city resident.

The significance of the ethics battles in the City of Bastrop is beyond the city’s borders. It matters to everyone living in Bastrop County because what the city does impacts on the quality of life and cost of living of all.

The Bastrop Ethics Ordinance could also become a great test case for citizens working to rein in local government from the “good ole’ boys” — aka cronyism that taxpayers can no longer afford. This is especially true in cities and counties experiencing fast growth like Bastrop and struggling to meet the infrastructure demands (roads, water, schools, etc.) for new residents. Bastrop has the extra added asset (and pressure) of an aquifer currently under the eye of private marketers and municipalities as far away as San Antonio.

In 2012, to its credit, the city of Bastrop passed a very good ethics ordinance. It wasn’t perfect — no new ordinances are. Only one complaint has ever been filed under the ordinance. The complaint was  filed last October by then Council member Kay McAnally against two other members of the Council — Gary Schiff and Deborah Jones.

It seemed to us that McAnally’s complaint was a “no brainer” test of the ordinance. Anyone who follows any city hall in Texas knows that when members go into Executive Session to discuss litigation against the city, members are not to share that information with people who are suing the city. Both members did so claiming they had permission to do so. When the Ethics Commission deliberated it was presented with a dated Attorney General opinion and a set of facts. The Commission decided to call it a draw.

What happened after that is of most concern today as the Bastrop City Council proceeds with revamping the ordinance. Jones and Schiff have been quite vocal about weakening the ordinance, along with City Attorney David Bragg. Bragg has clear ties to the “good ole boys” in Bastrop who have been ethically challenged for years — some of them even attending Council meetings under the influence.

If you cannot make the meeting on Tuesday, please consider calling or emailing the Mayor and Council membersclick here for all their information. It’s a simple ask.  Ask them to please not weaken the ethics ordinance and to make sure that the Ethics Commission’s independent authority to police — and even to recommend removal of Council members — stays in place.

Here’s our commentary — enjoy:

Commentary: Bastrop Should Tread Cautiously in Rewriting Ethics Rules

Click here for the redlined comparison between the original Ethics Ordinance and the changes released earlier this week.

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Nip it in the Bud, Bastrop

Nip it in the bud, Bastrop!

Is the Bastrop City Council fast tracking a major revamp the city’s Ethics Ordinance?

We sure hope we’re wrong, but that is what it feels like to us. A  “final draft proposal” is on the agenda of the full Council meeting tomorrow night. It starts at 6:30 pm at Bastrop City Hall. You can also watch it on the city’s Facebook page.

At the last Council Ethics Workshop held on July 11th, City Attorney David Bragg brought up two important issues. In laying out one of them he said, “I’ve never encountered the ‘good ol’ boys’”. Mr. Bragg proceeded with a suggestion that the statute of limitations for filing an ethics complaint be reduced from 1 year to just 6 months.

We’re here to tell you that Mr. Bragg has apparently never looked in the mirror. Everyone in town knows he’s a poker buddy of former Mayor Ken Kesselus.

We’re considering bringing a very important proposal to be added to the Ethics Ordinance tomorrow night. Don’t you think that Council members who come drunk to meetings should be subject to ethics sanctions? Those of us who have witnessed this for the last few years know exactly what I’m writing about.

The remainder of this is background for you…and a little entertainment.

Soon the city is going to ask an attorney to rewrite the ordinance. We already asked that the city not spend money cutting up a perfectly good ordinance and only pay for review and “tweaks”.

The good news is this. Citizens still have the option to do a petition drive to put a citizen’s ethics ordinance before the voters. We here at Independent Texans will help make this happen, if necessary.

Unfortunately, we got an uncomfortable feeling about this at the Ethics Workshop held on June 13th when Councilmember Deborah Jones called the ethics complaint against her (the first in the city’s history) “a fiasco”. Excuse us, but when a member of the Council shares with the opposing side of litigation that the city is engaged in, information learned in an Executive Session, this is clear grounds for an ethics complaint. Moreover, the Ethics Commission ruled it a draw – nothing close to a “fiasco”. That the complainant was not present made Jones’ rant, in my mind at least, just one more ethical breach.

Then came Councilmember Gary Schiff who repeatedly complained about not being allowed to share information from Executive Session with others. Why would the City Council hold an Executive Session if not to protect the city when it is facing litigation? Folks, this is a no-brainer for anyone who observes any city hall in Texas. And, please do not forget that last September Schiff tried to access over $100,000 in Bastrop Economic Development Corporation funds, that was in our view a MAJOR ethics violation. He pulled it back due to citizen outcry.

You gotta hand it to the GOBN — at least they’re entertaining.

Nip it in the bud, Bastrop! Share this message and we’ll be back with a report soon.

Submitted by Linda Curtis

 

 

 

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Watch Tonight! Bastrop Council to make big decisions!

magnifying_glass_fingerprint_lg_clrTonight the Bastrop City Council will make some important decisions at a Special Meeting starting at 6:30 pm. No public comments will be taken, therefore you can easily watch from home:

Watch online at BTXN.TV or on
Time Warner Channel 10, AT&T U-verse Ch. 99
please do and help spead the word — come to City Hall if you have trouble watching!
Tonight’s Agenda Here

►The Council will take a second and final vote to place our ballot measure for petition reform on the November ballot. We believe we have clarified a concern raised last week by the Interim City Attorney, David Bragg, followed by some mistatements by Councilwoman Jones. We’ll be watching tonight to see how this is handled and hope everyone will settle in. The Mayor was very measured last week, which we noticed and appreciated.

►On another equally important note is the XS Ranch water deal for the City of Bastrop. A pivotal vote could be taken tonight affecting the water picture for the entire County and even Lee County because Bastrop and Lee counties share the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District.

►Last week’s Lost Pines GCD’s hearing on End Op, L.P. resulted in the Board delaying action until their September meeting. They were criticized by a number of supporters of the district — landowners and residents — for bending too far for End Op. Stay tuned.

We apologize for the lateness of this message. If you get this too late, we will fill you in, in short order.

We’ve been quite busy doing open records requests and doing our homework. We’re looking forward to sharing that with you soon!

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Bastop Needs to Get this Election Right

April 25th Bastrop City Council Debate sponsored by Independent Texans PAC

April 25th Bastrop City Council Debate sponsored by Independent Texans PAC

As we see it, this election is about how the city of Bastrop is going to handle growth from the folks fleeing Austin’s affordability crisis. We don’t have to repeat Austin’s mistakes. Bastrop — the city and county — are also far more vulnerable to an affordability crisis, which is why it’s so important that everyone plays fair and by the same set of rules.

We thank the four candidates running in two contested Bastrop city council seat elections for their participation in our candidate forum on Monday night.

They are Place 1 candidates, Bill Peterson and Herb Goldsmith and Place 5 candidates, Kelly Gilleland and Deborah Jones.

Early voting is underway and continues through next Tuesday, May 3rd, Election Day is Saturday, May 7th.

To watch the forum click on the video window above, then scroll down to the second forum — April 25th.

Here’s a short article in the Statesman about the Place 5 race (Gilleland v. Jones).

Here’s a short articles in the Statesman about the Place 1 race (Goldsmith v. Peterson).

Please share this with your Bastrop voting friends by forwarding this message or through our Facebook page here.

We at Independent Texans are not endorsing in this race as we think the process for this election — so far — has been open and fair.

Moreover, we think you can figure this one out for yourselves, but DO watch the tape and talk to your neighbors.

Gracias, y’all.

PS We wish to sincerely thank the City of Bastrop for allowing us to use City Hall and their streaming facilities (BTXN.TV) for this event.

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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

Sign it, if you live in Austin

Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

[signature]

Why don't you share this with your friends, please:

Make Growth Pay for Itself

No Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose

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