Posts Tagged ‘Gary Schiff’

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.

Share

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

 

 

 

Share

Don’t let them get away with this!

hooded_crook_tip_toeing_fast_lg_clrTomorrow night (Monday, Sept. 19) at 6 pm, we are urging you to be at Bastrop City Hall (1311 Chestnut) to witness a crime taking place at the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation board meeting. That’s not just a play on words. You can expect to witness yet another clear violation of Bastrop’s Ethics Ordinance now involving the Mayor’s lieutenant on the Council, Councilman Gary Schiff. Schiff, who jumped off the BEDC board last month, is now coming to the Board for money for his private development project.

Just before Schiff’s shuffling takes place, the BEDC majority will fire their attorney, Jo-Christy Brown. For what reason?

We can’t let them get away with it.

Please show up and bring others!

Share

Alert: Bastrop County & City residents, come to Bastrop City Hall on Tuesday!

Bastrop city and county residents: It is urgently important that you show up at the Bastrop Gorilla Robs Poker GameCity Council meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 pm at City Hall, 1311 Chestnut. Help us spread the word!

Last week, the Council held a closed-door meeting (Executive Session) about Bastrop’s water supply without telling the public anything about the subject of this discussion. They took no action, but more discussion about the city’s “water supply” (again unexplained) is on the Executive Session Agenda this Tuesday. And this time they might just take action, and no one knows ahead of time what it’s about.

We do have an inkling of what this is about from some statements by Councilman Willie DeLaRosa in a recent open session. He wants the city to take action with its XS Ranch water project that — based on what we, the public, know today — could be very risky to the water future of the city of Bastrop and even Bastrop County.

Who pays for this poker game? YOU — city and county residents.

We will fill you in on Tuesday — so come a few minutes early if you can.

teeth_cigar_smoking_lg_clrMeanwhile, the Council — with clenched teeth — put our measure for “Reasonable Petition Requirements” on the November ballot — they had to by law. However, they broke it up into five ballot measures, so you will have to vote “YES” five times for your petition rights in November!

On a more hilarious note is the Mayor’s reassurance that the city is now “stable” while we witness the abuse of Executive Session and foot dragging on open records requests. We filed an open records request for phone records of Council members Kesselus, Schiff and DeLaRosa and water marketer Joe Beal, who remains — for now — on the Bastrop Economic Development Board. If they do city business on a phone, the records are subject to open records requests. DeLaRosa is especially vulnerable because he refuses to use email.

We just posted a dedicated page for Bastrop residents in light of the November election. Candidate endorsements are not yet decided. Visit the Bastrop page and share it here.

Don’t miss this excellent report in the Elgin Courier on the recent Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District hearing on End Op’s 46,000 acre-feet groundwater permit resulting in a delay of action: Hearing Results in Delayed Action — until September

SAVE THIS DATE!!!
Wednesday, September 7, 7 pm, First National Bank Community Room, Main bank in Bastrop. You won’t want to miss it. More real soon.

Please spread the word for us and show up on Tuesday. Your affordability and your water are at risk and that’s no joke.

P.S. Message to the Mayor and Council: don’t play poker with our water and wallets and make the gorilla take off his costume.

Share

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

Archives
Share