Commissioners adopt new rules in advance of November 18 meeting

The Kerr County Commissioners Court will hold a “workshop” meeting on Monday, November 18, at 6:00 PM, at the county’s Youth Exhibition Center facility on State Highway 27 in Kerrville. The topics of that meeting include a presentation on the reasoning behind the changes in policies at the animal shelter, a discussion of coordinating with a nonprofit for adoption-related services, and public input related to these topics. During Tuesday’s regular Commissioners Court meeting, the body adopted new rules for decorum and public participation for all meetings, including the November 18 meeting.

The previous rules that were in effect since 1999 allowed each member of the public up to five minutes of time to address the court on an agenda topic, even though, for many years, the court has been restricting the public to a three-minute limit, although even that limit was rarely enforced. The new rules adopted Tuesday will limit the public input to three minutes per person. Judge Rob Kelly stated that the reasoning for the shorter time limit was, “to try to give more people an opportunity to offer input to the Court.” He mentioned that the change was specifically brought up to keep order at the upcoming November 18 meeting, and to make the agendas consistent with the court orders on the books.

The motion to change the rules passed unanimously. (Ref.: Minutes from November 12)

Explanation of rules of decorum for future Commissioners Court meetings and workshops.

For comparison purposes, the City of Kerrville also places a limit on public input — four minutes.

Workshop on November 18 Agenda Topics

Monday night’s agenda is limited to these three topics, plus adjournment. The meeting is limited to just two hours — 6 PM to 8 PM. Items 1 and 2 do not have a specified duration, so the amount of time left for public comment is unknown at this time.

Ref.: Agenda for November 18

Video Recordings

Kerrville United plans to attend and video record the meeting on Monday evening. The recording will be made available to the public as soon as possible after the conclusion of the meeting.

Kerr County has encouraged our taping of this meeting, and have stated that they will also make the video available on their public website.

Kerrville United continues to encourage the county to implement a video recording/streaming system for all of their meetings, and we have opened a petition to that effect. Please consider signing and sharing.

Petition: http://chng.it/tQTcz5tL

City approves settlement on Lotus Peer Recovery lawsuit

Following the Executive Session portion of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, councilmembers heard a short statement from City Attorney Mike Hayes and then voted unanimously to approve a settlement agreement for the Lotus Peer Recovery, LLC, lawsuit. This agreement will completely settle the matter that started with a suit filed against the city in September 2018.

Background

On September 6, 2018, Lotus Peer Recovery, LLC, along with named plaintiffs Kacey Paige Williams, Christian Jane Rivers, and Madelyn Rebecca Clark filed a civil action against the City of Kerrville in federal court, claiming that the City discriminated against them on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Their suit claimed that the city’s zoning ordinance, which required spacing of one-half mile between sober living homes, intentionally discriminated against disabled persons — persons in recovery.

Baroody sanctions

In late October 2018, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Mr. Patrick O’Fiel, notified City Attorney Mike Hayes that George Baroody, at the time Council Member Place 2, “paid a visit” to his office to discuss the case. This so alarmed Mr. O’Fiel that he felt obligated to inform the other parties in the case.

Subsequently, Baroody was removed as Mayor Pro Tem and was sanctioned to keep him away from all future discussions of the case. After that City Council meeting, Baroody was seen outside City Hall discussing the matter with the plaintiffs in the case.

Baroody later hired an attorney who threatened a lawsuit against the city for removing him from those discussions.

Lawsuit Progresses

As reported by the Kerrville Daily Times, a bench trial was set for October 21, 2019. Other recovery home operators spoke out about the lawsuit in another Times article published in April.

Settlement Agreement

An agenda item on the November 12 meeting of City Council stated that council would convene in Executive Session to discuss the lawsuit.

Agenda for November 12, 2019

Following Executive Session, City Attorney Mike Hayes made a short statement and concluded by saying that he advises the council to approve a settlement agreement that would dismiss the suit.

Council voted unanimously to enter into the settlement agreement. According to the city’s press release, “The settlement agreement essentially provides that Lotus Peer Recovery will immediately dismiss its lawsuit, that each party releases all claims it may have against the other party, that each party is responsible for its own costs, and that Lotus Peer Recovery may not be involved in another similar facility within the City for three years.”

Full Text of Press Release on November 14

Kerrville City Council on Tuesday voted to authorize Mayor Bill Blackburn to approve a settlement agreement between the City and Lotus Peer Recovery, LLC. Lotus Peer Recovery filed the lawsuit against the City in September 2018, claiming that the City’s boarding home regulations illegally discriminated against persons who wanted to live together in a “group home”. The City believed and continues to believe that its regulations are legal, are based upon health and safety interests, and fairly balance the interests between those owning and operating such homes, the residents of such homes, and the community.

The settlement agreement essentially provides that Lotus Peer Recovery will immediately dismiss its lawsuit, that each party releases all claims it may have against the other party, that each party is responsible for its own costs, and that Lotus Peer Recovery may not be involved in another similar facility within the City for three years.

The Lotus Peer Recovery facility that was the subject of the lawsuit has not been in operation for some time.

The City will continue seeking input into the issues raised by the recovery community and those living in group homes, primarily through the consideration and input of its Recovery Coalition Community.

This week in local government

Several local government bodies and boards will meet this week, including the Kerr County Commissioners Court, Kerrville City Council, and Kerrville Planning & Zoning Commission. Monday is Veterans’ Day, and most departments will be closed. The closure also moved the regular Commissioners Court meeting to Tuesday morning, instead of the usual Monday morning.

In addition to these regularly scheduled meetings, Kerr County Commissioner Precinct 2 Tom Moser will host a town hall meeting to discuss a rock crushing company’s application for permit change for their quarry along Highway 27.

Here are some of the items on the agenda for this week.

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Notes confirm that Commissioners may have violated Open Meetings Act

New documentation has been received by Kerrville United via a public records request that seems to confirm that Commissioners potentially violated the Open Meetings Act by discussing matters in Executive Session that should have been discussed in open session. Commissioners have repeatedly denied that anything improper occurred during the October 15 meeting, during which they voted to close the Animal Shelter on Saturdays, to adjust operating hours on the other days of the week, and to institute new volunteer policies that make it more difficult for volunteers to serve at the shelter. The records released to us this week show that commissioners entered into executive session to discuss “personnel matters” but in fact discussed general shelter policies, and those subjects are not covered by the Open Meetings Act authorization for the Court to deliberate in secret.

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Post-Election Updates – 11/07/19 – KU Podcast Episode 3

Marty Lenard and Aaron Yates co-host the first “real” commentary episode of the Kerrville United Podcast. Help us design future episodes by letting us know what you think and what content you’d like to hear on future episodes.

Topics:

  • “Growth in Kerrville Newsletter” by Comanche Trace
  • Charter Amendment Election Results
  • Kerr County Animal Services
  • KISD Projects
  • EIC Projects

FINAL RESULTS: City of Kerrville Charter Amendments

The final results of the Charter Amendment Election have been posted. Approximately 2,750 voters cast a ballot either by mail, in early voting, or on election day — a turnout of approximately 18% of registered city voters (compared with approximately 20% turnout for the May citywide election).

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A history of Kerr County’s flirtation with video technology

As we continue to circulate our online petition asking the Kerr County Commissioners Court to reconsider implementing video technology to better engage and inform their constituents, we pause to reflect on the history of the county’s flirtations with this technology and to recount some of the discussions that have transpired in recent years.

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EIC Meeting – 10/28/19 – KU Podcast Episode 2

This episode brings you the full audio from Monday, October 28’s Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC) meeting at City Hall.

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