The Good Ole Boy System is alive and well at city hall!

by Lenny Leatherman

Waymon Hamilton

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Craig Swancy

While attending the Weatherford City Council meeting December 14, 2010, I watched in disgust the manner in which council members Craig Swancy and Waymon Hmilton conducted themselves and the willful disrespect they displayed toward fellow council members Jerry Clinton and Eric Matthews.

During a discussion to consider an appointment to the Weatherford Municipal Utility Board, Matthews asked if there were more applicants than the individual for whom a vote was about to be cast.  Swancy  and Hamilton said there were other applications.  Clinton and Matthews both asked to be given an opportunity to review the additional applications.  Clinton and Matthews both stated in public that they had not been given an opportunity to review all the applications.

Swancy and Hamilton appeared to have been totally overwhelmed by the simple task of ensuring ALL council members actually received all applications for selection to the utility board – incredible!

Then in what appeared to be an act of blatant and deliberate disrespect to Clinton and Matthews, the decision was made to proceed with the vote – what an insult!  Clinton and Matthews were not objecting to the ‘chosen’ individual. They were simply asking to be given a reasonable opportunity to review all applications before being asked to vote.

If it is common practice to send applications for appointment via email, how difficult is it to request an email receipt to show the intended recipient actually received and opened the email AFTER the deadline for submitting applications has passed?

Why was this vote so urgent that it could not be tabled until ALL council members could have an opportunity to review all applications? I see no problem with the person who was selected, but the process by which the vote was taken points to much larger issues, and that is insolence, arrogance and incompetence by two members of the council – and a flagrant example of poor judgment by the mayor.

Were Swancy and Hamilton insinuating that Clinton and Matthews were lying when they stated openly that they had not been given an opportunity to review all applications?  Or, were they saying by their actions that they hold Clinton and Matthews in such low regard that they simply ignore their concerns because they know they can count on the ‘go-along’ mayor to vote with them?

May I suggest to Weatherford tax paying voters that your best interest may not be paramount in the hearts and minds of a couple of the “public servants” you elected to the city council.  If you do not care what happens to your tax dollars and the reputation of your little city, then forget your read this.  However, if you are as concerned as I am about the future of our community, I urge you to at least pay attention to what is going on at city hall, and be mindful of the incompetence of some of the people you elected to city council!

17 responses

  1. The city has long had an established sub-committee of council members chosen by the council itself who do the extra work of interviewing volunteers and forwarding recommendations to the council. That sub-committee is currently composed of Waymon Hamilton and Craig Swancy. They were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing.

    Any/all council members have access to the applications of volunteers. I’ll cut Eric some slack because he’s fresh and may be still getting up to speed, but Jerry Clinton has no excuse – he knows this already. The agenda is posted 15 calendar days ahead of time and he could have gotten this information at any time.

    Pointless grandstanding and stoking the fires of acrimony for no real reason, in my opinion.

    1. Brad,
      The Attoney General’s opinion, Williams v San Antonio, 2008 Open Meetings handbook pg 16 par D, says a sub committee of less than aquorm, appointed by an elected body, such as a city council, with the purpose to “vet” memebrs to a appointed office, such as board/committie members, in an closed meeting is a violation of Texas Open Meeting. The current city council is aware of these and continues to carry on as usual.

      1. Sid, I have no reason to expect that what you say above is untrue. If the council is breaking the law then that’s a separate issue than what’s being discussed here. It can be remedied by appropriate action (if found to have merit).

        With that said, it sidesteps my point – the information requested could have been already accessed. The issue was avoidable and therefore pointless.

        Making waves should be saved for appropriate times, otherwise you get “cry wolf” syndrome.

    2. Brad – The agenda for the Council Meetings are not posted 15 calendar days ahead of time.

      Matter of fact I sent the City Secretary an email on December 7th at 5:01 p.m. inquiring about getting a copy of the agenda for the December 14th Council Meeting. Her reply back to to me on December 8th at 8:27 a.m. was “agendas are normally not complete until the Friday before the Tuesday meetings.” I can forward you a copy of this email conversation if needed.

      Councilman Clinton had a legitimate concern as did I regarding giving all the persons that applied a fair opportunity to be reviewed and discussed before a final decision was made on the most qualified candidate.

      Councilman Swancey and Councilman Hamilton never made any recommendations known to Councilman Clinton or myself per their responsibility as members of the subcommittee you mentioned in your statement above. If they sent them to Councilman Clinton and myself via email we never received them. Hence our statement we never received their emails.

      Now, I was sent applications of people who had applied as of November 19th. The City Secretary forwarded these to me via email only because I requested the information from her not because Councilman Swancey or Hamilton sent that information to me. The last email I received from her was on November 19th at 8:11 a.m. There were a few citizens who had approached me personally after that date and stated they were submitting applications to the City for the position.
      Hence my statement in the Council Meeting…I received emails of applicants for the position but did not know if there were anymore out there to be reviewed. I assumed all applicants would have been discussed publically in the December 14th Council Meeting considering the fact that recent appointments to the Historic Preservation Commission had been done in that manner.

      Bottom line the appropriateness of vetting members to an appointed public office via email in my opinion is unfair to those who would be subjected to such a process, is not exercising transparency, and does violate the spirit of the Open Meetings Act.

      The solution here is for the Council to publically discuss the board appointment process in a future Council Meeting and redefine the guidelines for that process. Once those guidelines have been determined then they need to be posted on the City Website and in public buildings operated by the City.

      1. Did you make a request of the subcommittee member(s) that you desired information that they have not historically been requested to provide prior to recommendation in open council?

        The Texas Open Meetings Act requires that agendas for scheduled meetings be posted at least 15 calendar days prior to the event. The council members are provided a courtesy hard copy typically the week before the meeting, but the agenda was still set and published.

        I agree with your closing statement, Eric. That is indeed the appropriate resolution path, and one that I opine should have been followed first. The appointment process (within the bounds of applicable law) is what the council decides it is.

        Ambushing council members who are performing the designated job in the expected way are not helpful to this city or the council regardless of the policy issue at hand.

  2. Sid, your point is precisely the issue. The process by which appointments are made is the issue – the ‘good ole boy’ behind closed doors ‘vetting’ of applicants. With all due respect to my dear friend Brad, there are many of us out here who believe you can no longer be objective because you have become part of the problem. We miss the analytical and objective thinker who worked tirelessly with us for years to ensure government SERVED it’s master – we the people. That disgusting council meeting the other night was little more than a “Mac Dobbs re-run”.

    1. Sorry you feel that way, Lenny. I call ’em like I see ’em, and I believe that you do as well. I’m not going to be untrue to myself or my beliefs, and that cuts both ways. In no way am I defending something illegal, but your post was only partly the truth. 😦

  3. Transparency in everything! This council needs to begin cooperating with each other. Weatherford deserves a great city council.

  4. There are two things that have surfaced in my thinking(as restricted as that is) #Who would have an agenda to advance from these actions? AND, What would be the results of that agenda? Got a reasonable person appointed and followed the existing procedure ( legal or not ) .

  5. Brad,
    This city council sub committee is NOT a long standing established sub committee. It was established less than 10 years ago, during the terms of Mayor Joe Tison, Council members Waymond Hamilton, Johnny Herbert, Clem Smith, and Jan Barton, to keep discussion out of sight of the residents/taxpayers and those who had interest in what was going on within our city government and to keep the council meeting short as possible so they could get home.
    The point is not that it is an established committee, but it is a sub committee that is not premitted under the Texas Open Meeting Act and an opinion issued by the Attirney General on a simular sub committee, All of this can be found on the Texas Attorney Gerneral’s website. His opinion is “law” until overturned by court action.
    It is not my job, a member of the public, but that of the City Attorney to make the council members aware they are NOT permitted to do this.
    And Brad, No I do not have to go to court to enforce this, thier are other options. Stay tunned.

  6. In reference to the Weatherford City Council sub committee to”vet” appointments for boards and committees.
    The Texas Municipal Code gives Home Rule cities all the same power as executive and legislative of the State of TEXAS except where prohibited by stature. The Attorney General’s opinions establish prohisbitions established within the statures.

  7. The applications for consideration of appointment to committees and boards MUST be filed with the City Secretary. She has them and forwards copies to those asking for and have need of them.
    Questions on this application are inappropriate and could not be asked on employment applications.
    A BIG question, “when did the appointed members of committees and boards by residents who would like to volunteer to serve their city becomes so cumbersome they must we “vetted” or scrutinize as to their ability to serve. I think our city charter requires members of committees and boards be qualified voters of Weatherford. I know for a fact, in the recent past this has not always been followed.
    If you would like to see a copy of the “Board, Commission, or Committee Candidate Application” go on line to the city website or call Laura Simmons, the City Sec at 817-598-4202 for a copy.

  8. Eric Matthews

    Dear Weatherford Citizens,

    I am ashamed at how yesterday evening’s Council Meeting turned out. The business of the people was not done. That is evident by Councilman Hamilton and Councilman Swancy’s behavior. They were only interested in appointing folks they wanted on boards. It was epecially shameful by the difficult position it placed Mayor Hooks in as Chair of the Council.

    My intent in making my recommendations of applicants to the various boards for appointment yesterday evening was to ensure all our applicants that had applied could be put on a board and particularly one they were interested in serving on.

    This ran contrary to the methodolgy utilized by Councilman Swancy and Councilman Hamilton. Some folks who had applied for positions on our boards were not appointed because Councilman Hamilton and Councilman Swancey based their appointments on their personal likes versus qualifications for the position.

    I offer up my sincere apologies to those applicants who had applied for positions on our boards and were not appointed due to the political circus that went on at City Hall last night. I can promise you that I will keep fighting for you to ensure the people’s work is done.

    If you are as appalled as I am about how the business of the people was handeled yesterday evening I encourage you to call City Hall at (817)598-4201 and let Councilman Hamilton and Councilman Swancy know how you feel.

  9. Citizens of Weatherford – Good News!!! We now have more transparency at City Hall. Archived Audio recordings of boards, commissions, and city council meeting are now available on our online website. The link is

    http://www.weatherfordtx.gov/media/

    You also have the capabilty to listen live to any meeting as it occurs at the same link location.

    I invite you to listen to the archived audio recording of last night’s city council meeting and I will let you be the judge of whether the business of the people was conducted to your satisfaction.

    FYI. There are archived audio recordings of meetings available back to March 25, 2010.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Matthews
    Councilman Place 2

  10. For future reference….we are planning on adding live video as well as audio streaming to all our meetings so you can watch any meeting live or by going to our online archived file via the net at anytime 24/7 and don’t have to worry about taking off from work to attend a meeting. Video capability will probably not be available until our new fiscal year budget comes out for 2012 in Oct of this year. Stay tuned for further updates.

    1. Internet video is excellent news, and an excellent idea. I only hope it proves to be a cost-conscious one as well.

  11. So if we tie this article in with what happened at city hall recently- can we really say that Mayor Swancey’ s way of doing business has changed? I’m just sorry it has taken the citizens this long to take note here and become involved in their city government.

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