Tuesday night’s council agenda was published on Friday afternoon, and on that agenda, Councilmember Place 2 George Baroody has requested that two lightning-rod issues be discussed:
- Discussion, review and possible action regarding the City Council decision to constructively remove councilmember George Baroody from office at the special meeting called on November 8, 2018. Requested by and presented by Councilmember Baroody and Attorney Roger Gordon.
- Presentation clarifying status of City of Kerrville debt supported by ad valorem taxes. Requested by and presented by Councilmember Baroody.
These two items could be characterized as a politicization of one of the last two council meetings held before early voting begins on April 22. Each of these politically-charged issues have been front-and-center in the campaign for city council.
George Baroody has served as City Councilmember Place 2 since May 2017. He claimed that chair after running unopposed in the 2017 election (having been defeated in contested elections each of the two prior years). His first term expires this year, and he’s seeking election to Place 1, facing off against local real estate businessman Gary Cochrane. The election will be held on May 4, following early voting between April 22-30.
Potential Baroody vs. City of Kerrville Lawsuit?
During the campaign, Baroody hired attorney Roger Gordon, the same attorney that represented Bonnie White in some of her previous legal dealings with the City of Kerrville. Gordon delivered a letter to city attorney Mike Hayes that was perceived as a threat of legal action against the city following Mr. Baroody’s sanctioning that was imposed by council in November 2018.
What led to Baroody’s sanctions? Disregarding the advice of counsel, Mr. Baroody approached the plaintiff’s attorney in a lawsuit brought against the city by a sober living home. Against legal advice, Mr. Baroody attempted to make contact with the opposing counsel, and was subsequently barred from all future deliberations about the suit, and was also stripped of his “Mayor Pro Tem” title.
Baroody’s attorney sent a letter to City Attorney Mike Hayes asking questions about the removal and the events surrounding that November 2018 action. That letter was widely seen as a not-so-veiled threat of a lawsuit against the city and/or the council.
Now Mr. Baroody will use Tuesday night’s council meeting to revisit this matter with his attorney present. We will be watching to find out answers to a few questions we have…
- Can (or will) the city or the council even discuss this matter in open session since it may result in a future lawsuit brought by Mr. Baroody against the city?
- What new information will be presented that hasn’t already been discussed at length in the November meeting or subsequent meetings? What new action will be taken?
- Will Baroody’s attorney expressly or implicitly threaten legal action once again? Will the attorney request any action by the council or by staff?
- Will the discussion be useful, or will the topic be used as a political soapbox less than two weeks prior to early voting?
Debt & Taxes Presentation by Baroody
Although it’s not clear exactly what the second agenda item will entail specifically, we predict that Baroody will use this topic to address claims and counter-claims regarding the city’s debt position and how it relates to ad valorem property taxes. As you’ve read on this site in recent days, Baroody’s running-mate Mario Garcia published a misleading advertisement in the Kerrville Daily Times on Saturday, March 30, in which he implied that Kerrville’s financial situation is dire and that debt levels have risen to dangerous levels. We debunked many of those claims in our most recent posting, and we will have more information coming in the very near future (stay tuned).
According to the agenda item, it seems that Mr. Baroody will make his own presentation regarding the debt and how it relates to property taxes. We have a few questions for Mr. Baroody ahead of this presentation…
- Is this presentation simply a political opportunity to campaign from the council dais, or do you have relevant new information that the public has not already seen?
- The timing might look suspicious, given that the meeting takes place less than two weeks prior to early voting. Is there a reason you’ve chosen to address this topic now, nearly two years into your first term in office, and not sooner?
- What resources have you used to prepare this presentation? Have you relied upon staff, outside experts, or have you come to your conclusions on your own?
- According to our tally, Mr. Baroody has voted to increase the city’s debt by about $30 million during his term in office. Will you now disavow those previous votes as you attempt to make the city’s financial position (a financial position that you helped create and shape) a central element of your campaign?
Takeaways & Commentary
- Baroody is at risk of appearing to politicize the city council meeting held less than two weeks before early voting begins, as voters will decide whether to continue with Baroody or elect Cochrane.
- By bringing his attorney to participate in the discussion, Mr. Baroody once again makes moves that can be construed as an implicit legal threat against the city he is campaigning to lead.
- Lecturing the council, staff, and public about the debt positions and tax implications of the city’s complicated financial situation seems to be on-par with Baroody’s tendency to lead by looking backward instead of forward. This type of presentation adds to the perception that Mr. Baroody considers himself to be “the smartest man in the room” at all times.
- Regardless of Baroody’s conclusions on debt, Standard & Poor’s continues to rate the City of Kerrville with an “AA” rating, giving the city high marks for a strong financial and credit position. And, notably, the city has not raised taxes in over nine years while continuing to pursue valuable investments in infrastructure, quality of life, and economic development.
Live Stream the Meeting: http://player.frontlayer.com/live/fl518492
Authored by Aaron Yates, Kerrville United founder