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Claiming that a 2013 resolution laying the ground rules for the appointment of select committee members does not exist, Pearsall city councilors have named seven new members of their own choosing to the municipal ethics board.
The resolution for establishing civilian panels reviewing complaints and matters related to personnel and elected officials’ behavior has been implemented a number of times since 2013, despite never having been given its witness signatures.
The absence of those attesting signatures, according to some councilors this month, means that the resolution has been void since it was written.
While some of today’s city councilors were in office seven years ago and voted in favor of the resolution that would dictate how committee members are nominated and vetted, those councilors are now bringing their personal selections to the ethics board.
“It was never formally executed,” City Manager Fred Reyes said of the 2013 resolution on Tuesday, July 14. “The minutes show that the resolution was approved; the resolution was just never signed.”
An executed copy of the 2013 resolution is not on file at City Hall.
Section 10.11 of the Home Rule Charter outlines the purpose, membership and terms, procedures and city council action for the ethics commission. However, the process in which a citizen can apply or be appointed to the board is not specified.
A June 4, 2014, policy and procedure order for boards and commissions sets parameters for interested applicants. A person must be a qualified voter, reside in Pearsall for at least six months, not be arrears in the payment of taxes, not serve on the board with immediate family members, or be a regular full-time city employee.
“Most fairest way is to appoint a member to the ethics board, excluding the mayor because she is not a voting member,” Councilor Roland Segovia said. “It is the most fairest way if you want to pass this ordinance.”
The seven-person board serves as an advisory panel that hears claims of council and administration misconduct.
The 2014 document requires that applications for the board are due by July 31 and the appointment of qualified individuals occurs during the first regular meeting in September.
“This is what I was trying to convey to them [councilors],” the city manager said. “We need to establish a resolution or an ordinance to have valid rules.”
During a July 8, 2014, council meeting, councilors voted 5-1 to approve amending certain sections of the required application for those interested in serving on an advisory board. Citizens had voiced concerns to councilors about being required to list their social security numbers on the application; additional concerns about the city’s request for their financial background were also expressed.
“I believe that we should remove the social security number, add the driver’s license, check yes or no if they are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor,” Davina Rodriguez, mayor at the time, said. “We won’t run credit; I don’t agree with that.”
Rodriguez is presently on the city council.
Councilors have appointed Belinda Gonzales, Lisa Chavana, Cheryl Benavides Castillo, Gaelan Fraizer, Ramiro Trevino, Maria Trevino and Richard Youngblood to serve on the board.