REGULAR MEETING —— 7:00 P.M.
Council Chambers, City Hall
203 E. Wheatland Road
(Members in attendance; Mayor David Green, Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Cannon and Council Members Don Freeman, Leslie Thomas, Janet Harris, Grady Smithey and Johnette Jameson)
Pledge of Allegiance
Recognition of Visitors / Proclamations / Presentations
Citizens Public Comment Period [Each speaker will be allowed two (2) minutes to address the council.]
Jeff Burton thanked Kent for his years of service.
Nancy Bell commented that at the last meeting a citizen spoke directly about a council member and wanted to know why it was allowed
James Hubener asked about the Public Hearing that was supposed to continue to this meeting regarding the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing cases concerning the Downtown District. He also said that we, including himself, are forgetting why we are here. That we are here to do city business and that personalities need to be taken out of it.
Items 2 and 3 were removed from the consent agenda to vote on separately at the request of Councilmember Leslie Thomas. Motion was made by Smithey and seconded by Freeman to approve items 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7. Items passed by a vote of 7-0.
2. Approval of agreement with Dallas Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) and acceptance of a grant for congregate meals and transportation program.
Thomas asked that the item be pulled so that citizens could know what a good job is doing with this project. Parks & Recreation Director Shane Gravens explained that originally the city had limited options to provide meals at the senior center. This current provider is able to provide better products that are fresher and organic. Motion made by Smithey and seconded Freeman and passed by a vote of 7-0.
3. Approval of a one-year renewal of the contract with The Paper Plate, dba Silver Meals, Inc. in the amount of $71,820 for senior meal services.
Same info as item #2. Freeman made the motion and the item passed by a 7-0 vote.
8. Consider approval of Resolution No. 201 1-1 1 1508 casting the City of Duncanville’s vote for the fourth member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas Central Appraisal District.
Smithey made a motion to cast a vote for Michael Hurt to serve as the fourth member. Freeman seconded and passed by a vote of 7-0.
9. Discuss and consider amendment to City Council Rules of Procedure to provide for acceptance of board and commission resignations.
Item was pulled to be placed on the December 6th agenda. Items 10-13 were necessary if action was taken on this item. Since no action was taken, the next four items were not necessary and the resignations were accepted.
10. Consider accepting letter of resignation from Board of Adjustment member Paul Cole.
11. Consider accepting letter of resignation from Planning & Zoning Commission member Anthony Thomas.
12. Consider accepting letter of resignation from Park & Recreation Advisory Board member Jennifer Cole.
13. Consider accepting letter of resignation from Planning & Zoning Commission appointee Sue Maze.
14. Receive Police Department Public Safety Report.
Police Chief Robert Brown gave a report on the police department. Crime is on a downward trend. Comparing the same time period as last year, crime has dropped 3%. The police department also received a grant for 100% funding of a crime victim advocate. The department was awarded the same grant last year.
15. Discuss and take appropriate action on the hiring of a City Attorney.
Thomas made a motion to split the motion into two parts, first to cancel the contract of the current firm and secondly to appoint a new firm.
Smithey seconded the motion, then made a motion to move the vote to the second meeting in January. This would give time to the council to allow meetings with the staff and boards and commissions to get their input since they are the ones that work closest with the law firm. In addition, the current citizen complaint regarding possible ethics violations by a sitting member has already been turned over to the current firm. City Manager Kent Cagle stated that the ethics complaint has been received by city staff and presented to the council and city attorney. The city attorney has fourteen days to decide if the case should be forwarded to the district attorney or other governing body. Cannon seconded the substitute motion.
Freeman questioned why they were just hearing about the ethics violations now and equated it to the Salem witch hunts and the McCarthy trials. Freeman also stated that he was unsure about allowing an attorney to conduct the investigation when there was animosity.
Smithey stated he didn’t believe that the current attorney was prejudiced and questioned if a firm that has been “wooed” by the council member under investigation would benefit from the motion to retain or fire the current attorney.
Cannon questioned why the motion was split, that this could be accomplished in a single motion.
Smithey’s motion to postpone the item until the second meeting in January was voted on and passed by a vote of 4-3 with Thomas, Harris and Jameson voting against. At that point Freeman stated that he didn’t know what they were voting on and he had misunderstood and voted the wrong way. Freeman made a motion to reconsider and Jameson seconded. After a long discussion, Freeman’s motion to reconsider carried by a vote of 4-3 with Green, Cannon and Smithey voting against.
Smithey made another motion to postpone the vote item until the second meeting in January and included in his motion this time that another attorney within the current firm by assigned the ethics case. Cannon seconded the motion, but it was defeated 3-4 with Freeman, Thomas, Harris and Jameson voting against.
Thomas then made a motion to cancel the contract with the current firm, and it was seconded by Jameson.
Smithey said that it was a sad day for the city to cancel a contract of a firm that had served over fifty years and that it was a bad move.
Cannon said that in his original campaign he promised to get the facts and make the best decision. This was a good process because it allowed the council to gather facts. He also said that a lot of people had talked about change. Cannon pointed out that the council had to rebid the official newspaper for the sake of change and it resulted in a 12.8% increase. That the city council had made it hard on the current city manager and he decided to move to another city, and that was costing the city $158,000. The city was about to consider a contract for a search firm for a city manager for about $25,000. He also said that a change in the Economic Development Director would result in an increase from $80,000 in salary to a six-figure salary. Cannon also said that the interviews for the legal firms should have been in public because none of the items discussed were priviledged in nature, and that a lot of talk about being transport was being thrown out. Cannon said that the current firm spends 75% to 90% of their time with city staff. Cannon further pointed out that one of the firms, we would be their largest client and that he was not willing to put the staff with a firm where we would be the largest client and that he felt a firm needed more experience. Cannon went on to point out that he had serious concerns about ethics issues with the firm of Brown and Hofmeister. Cannon said that during the interviews he asked specific questions about conflict of interest and suing cities that Brown & Hofmeister had represented and that had said that they hadn’t, when in fact they recently settled a case with Celina where there was a conflict of interest (see the news story here). In addition, Brown & Hofmeister represented Cedar Hill in human resources matters, and Cedar Hill had placed the firm on a do not call list because of bad information leading to the city being sued for wrongful termination. In Flower Mound the city was already over budget by $172,000 with Brown & Hofmeister as their attorney and that another city was able to reduce their budget for legal representation by 50% when they no longer used that firm.
A long discussion was had by all members centered around what was felt to be ethics issues with Brown and Hofmeister and allegations that the current firm gave bad information regarding eminent domain issues.
The public was given an opportunity to comment on the item.
Jeff Burton stated that the people needed to hear the presentations by the firms. That the council says that they want public input, but that the council didn’t let the citizens hear the presentations by the legal firms. In addition, because the city is without an Economic Development Director, a City Manger, and a City Secretary, that this was not a time to be changing the legal firms, that Duncanville needs stability. Reminded the council that while the attorney works for them, that they (the council) works for the citizens. That the council should never give the appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest and that is what is present on the council and that he believes that there is collusion and that the representative of District 5 (Jameson) should recuse herself from the vote.
Julie Fort from the firm of McKamie Krueger, LLP stated that all three firms have the qualifications that Thomas had alluded that she had personally chaired conferences for the Texas Municipal League. Also that her firm had done work for large clients, including Plano and DFW Airport. She said that she believes that all the council members want the same thing, and that was encouraging.
Robert Hager of the current city firm of Nichols, Jackson, Dillard, Hager and Smith,LLP thanked the citizens, current and former council members, and both the current and former city staff for the years of service. He also said that their firm was the premier firm in the region and would always strive to be.
Wesley Jameson stated that he had never seen such an intense focus of so few to people to maintain the status quo.
Kent Hofmeister of Brown & Hofmeister, LLP wanted to simply echo what was said by the other firms. That his firm had a peer rating of A-V but that he also believes the other firms do as well.
The motion to terminate was approved by a vote of 4-3, with Cannon, Green and Smithey voting against.
Cannon moved to name McKamie Krueger, LLP as the city attorney firm, and was seconded by Smithey.
Thomas stated that based upon the contentiousness of the council, that a firm with experience was needed.
Smithey pointed out that all three firms said that each of the others were well qualified.
The vote was taken to name McKamie Krueger, LLP as the city attorney passed by a 4-3 vote.
16. Recess into Executive Session pursuant to G.C. Section 551.074, Personnel, to deliberate the appointment, employment and duties of the City Attorney and to discuss Interim City Manager assignment pay.
17. Consider approval of Interim City Manager assignment pay.
The motion was made to increase the salary of Jeanne Fralicks, acting as Interim City Manager, by $1,800 per pay period and a 3% increase in her current base salary once a city manager was selected.
18. Receive City Council reports on 2011 National League of Cities conference attended November 9-12, 2011.
Those that attended the NLC conference gave a report.
19. Councilmember Reports — Items of community interest regarding which no action will be taken, as authorized by Section 551.0415 of the Govermnent Code.
Cannon said he appreciated Kent Cagle’s service to the city as he prepares to go to Leander, Texas and Cagle’s willingness to listen to his ideas and concerns and that he appreciated the relationship. He also mentioned the latest production at the Duncanville Community Theatre. He also mentioned the Christmas Parade and Main Street Ribbon Cutting on December 2nd and the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast this Saturday morning from 7am to 10am at the Duncanville Lions Club Building.
Smithey asked Cagle to come to the podium and be recognized. Those in attendance gave him a standing ovation in honor of his years of service.
Harris said that she appreciated the prayers for her family in the passing of her father-in-law.
Mayor Green dismissed the meeting.