UPDATED: New City Council Calls Mystery Meeting for Thursday at 9AM

June 12, 2015 By:Anne Marie Kilday

Community, Local News


During a short meeting Monday, the newly elected West U City Council chose former Mayor Bob Kelly to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.

Later, Councilman Brennan Reilly asked that the council schedule a special meeting — at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 18. When Councilman Burt Ballanfant asked the purpose of that meeting, Reilly said “I would like to defer” discussion of the agenda for that meeting. So the purpose of the meeting is unknown.

The selection of Kelly as Mayor Pro Tem, who was the top vote-getter in the May 9 city election, was the only item on the new council’s agenda. Kelly was mayor of West U from 2007 to 2011. The council’s vote was unanimous.

Kelly will chair council meetings when Mayor Susan Sample cannot attend, or when she is out of town. During her last term on the council, Sample served as Mayor Pro Tem.

The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held Monday, June 22.




34 Responses to “UPDATED: New City Council Calls Mystery Meeting for Thursday at 9AM”

  1. Jim Shields Says:

    After all of the discussion above, Reilly and Ballanfant and charging forward with their secret meeting. It’s official now.

    I repeat my questions

    • What’s the urgency?
    • Has Ross done something illegal?
    • If we residents are going to spend a bunch of money to buy out Ross, what will we get in return?
    • Is there money in our budget for this?
    • If not, will you raise taxes?
    • If you don’t raise our taxes, where will you get the money?
    • Why is this being done behind closed doors?
    • Should this not be transparent?
    • Are you violating your pledge of transparency?

  2. Bob Kelly Voter Says:

    I voted for the slate. Bob Kelly told me he liked the City Manager and that the City Manager did a good job. During the campaign, Bob sent me emails every day or so, now none. I emailed him a few days ago and asked him if he was for this deal to get rid of the city manager. He has not responded. I know others from WULL board that Bob told he supported the city manager also.

    The last time I voted was for Carter. I quit after that. I voted for you Bob. Did you lie to me?

    • Brokelyn Says:

      BK Voter,
      Can you go public with your emails to/from Bob Kelly? We would all just like to know the facts, not fiction.
      Thank you.

  3. Stephen D. Says:

    Ironic! The “slate” has become the very beast they originally set out to concur.

  4. I did not vote Says:

    And I am sorry I didn’t. I think the city is run quite well and never imagined that that the group of complainers would win.

    But they did. I went back and searched the news stories, the new group’s central campaign theme was “transparency”. And so far they have been the opposite of transparent.

    One other point: The textbook job description of a city manager is “to oversee the administrative operations, and to implement the policies of the elected city council”.

    I don’t know the city manager. but presumably he did his job – he implemented the policies of the last city council. Now this new city council wants to put the city through the dysfunction and expense of hiring a new city manager without giving the city manager a chance to implement their policies.

    That is not Kosher or responsible.

  5. Ordinary Citizen Says:

    Sorry meant to say, “West U mass call system”.

  6. Ordinary Citizen Says:

    This newly elected city council during their campaigns made it very clear that significant changes were going to be made at City Hall in order to address the handling of the super block/land swap matter. The mandate that they received from our citizens by the election endorsed that cause of action. It is entirely reasonable to assume a replacement of the City Manager would be a significant change. Why do you think Ross allowed the use of the West U mass cost system during the election twice to put out a message addressing that the elections’ outcome could affect the city’s level of service. Did he realize his job was on the line?

    Our citizens have spoken with a record turnout for a city council only election. So, let the new council do the job they have been elected to do.

    • Jim Shields Says:

      Your use of the word “mandate”is a bit over the top. The vast majority of our citizens did not vote. This is to be expected because we live in a great city with great services managed by a city manager with an elected mayor and council. We have no problems.

      Bob Fry’s administration did their job. They prudently and thoughtfully followed a master plan set in place when Kelly was mayor. Kelly, by the way did a fine job back then. New sewer system, streets, lights etc. The super block was – and is – a good plan.

      A small – very small – group of tea party activists lied and screamed and made fools of themselves to get elected. And the first thing they do is go behind the voters’ backs and fire the city manager. This from a group that howled that they would be transparent.

      My questions above remain unanswered.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Bob fry and his administration did not do their job regarding the superblock Jim. It was handled so poorly I actually felt sorry for them. I was involved from day one Jim and do not recall meeting you during that fiasco. I just hope the new city council does not create a similar uproar. I am with you that the way this Ross thing is being handled concerns me. Let’s wait and see if they handle this better going forward.

  7. Lucille Gallman Says:

    I hope things settle down now that the election is over. It is really hard accepting that favorite candidates lose. The first election I was old enough to vote in was between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy in 1960. I campaigned for Nixon and stood in line for two hours to vote. After watching the returns come in all night, my candidate lost. I don’t remember any election loss affecting me as much as that first one.

    • West U Resident Says:

      What does that have to do with anything. I don’t think this relates to the loss of any particular candidate.

      • Lucille Gallman Says:

        Based on my own experience, I think some of the negative comments made are based on disappointment in how the election turned out. As I read so-called factual statements, I had to wonder how information was obtained.

        • B. Lopez Says:

          I voted for the slate. And I do not like what I hear. I have a master degree in Public Administration (don’t use it). A city manager follows orders. This group is trying to hold him accountable for the bad political decisions of the last city council. That is stupid, really stupid.

          I have never been to a city council meeting. But I might go on Thursday.

  8. kenny powers Says:

    Elections definitely have consequences, but if the ‘slate’ had an intention from the very start to fire the city manager, then it should have been in their election platform. It’s definitely not ‘transparent’ they way they are conducting themselves and pushing this as their apparent top priority without any public debate on the issue.

    • rick kellogg Says:

      agree and, further, it was certainly disrespectful and flaunting the spirit if not the letter of Texas law that the “Slate” met secretly to decide a matter of such importance. I am surprised and dismayed that Burt Ballanfant, especially, would stoop to this: he knows and is capable of much better.

  9. Ordinary Citizen Says:

    What is expensive is keeping Ross. He is so overpaid that his severance pay will quickly be recouped by allowing the City to pay an excellent City Manager a reasonable market rate. More importantly, Ross’ departure is needed to heal the City and get it back on track. The previous City Council attempted to trap the City in keeping Ross by doubling his severance pay. A reward for his helping to divide our City. Ross’ recording commissioner Raddick is only the tip of the iceberg.

    • Jim Shields Says:

      My questions above still stand. I’ll add a few to respond to your post

      I didn’t know the city was sick and needed to be healed. Do you have specifics?

      I am looking for transparency here.

      How is the city off track. Specifics?

      If I recall, I am the one who exposed Ross’s recording Raddick. I even called Raddick to confirm.

      Can you explain the secrecy?

      What is your name?

  10. Lucille Gallman Says:

    If I had been able to vote in the West University election four years ago, I would have voted for Jim Shields. I always thought that when an administration changes whether it is in a big country or a little city, the incoming elected officials have the right to select the staff they can better work with to achieve their promised goals. It would be hard to find anyone with more city manager experience than Michael Ross. However, there was an incident where the Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner’s phone calls were recorded without his knowledge. West University Place has some issues in the near future where they will need influential friends.

  11. Resident Comment Says:

    “sounds expensive”, not as expensive as no change. The city manager will present documented, justification for any decisions in question, that is part of the job. The City Attorney will be part of the process. Correct?

  12. Donna Field Says:

    Sounds expensive

  13. ordinary citizen Says:

    In order to make an omelet you have to break an egg. Sounds like Ross’ egg has been broken. Doesn’t surprise me. Keep in mind the prior council doubled his severance pay and ratified all his actions. What were they worried about?

  14. West U FACT Says:

    Is it strange that we’ll pay the city manager more to go away than we pay him to work here?

    • Old Cynic Says:

      Not strange at all. That is the way we’ve come to do things in the last several decades. That’s what banks, Wall Street, and large corporate America do.
      Those with the power of the purse do and undo as they want with the Economy and our lives, and every few years with go through the circus parade of voting just to keep up appearances.
      Just as a protest song in the 60’s said
      “Our leaders are the fines men…
      And we elect them again and again…”

  15. David Says:

    I will be at the meeting

  16. Resident comment Says:

    My husband and I have very different opinions on retaining the city manager. My husband thinks the current city manager does a good job running the city. As I said to him, “what does that mean”? Our current city manager, may be viewed as a victim of ineptitude city councisl for the last 10 years or so. Does that excuse him for the decisions he made. Hopefully, the city manager has well documented the reasons for his decisions.

    • Jim Shields Says:

      I have no opinion on Mike Ross. What I do know is that we live in a great city and the former administration consisted of our friends and neighbors.

      The so called transparency slate insulted, and demonized these good people and their first action was a devious, underhanded effort to fire a city employee.

      That is the issue.

  17. West U FACT Says:

    Yeah, what he said!

    • Jim Shields Says:

      Please spread the word and get people to attend the special – read secret – meeting.

  18. Jim Shields Says:

    This is the reason for Reilly’s special meeting.

    So much for transparency.

    Last month four of our residents, Bob Kelly, Burt Ballanfant, Brennan Reilly, and Mardi Turner, formed themselves into a slate of candidates and campaigned on the theme of transparency. I found their tactic of insulting and demonizing the outgoing administration disgusting. But that is beside the point.

    These four see-through people are now our city council and this is what they have done so far.
    • Before they were sworn in and subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act they met twice weekly to decide exactly how they were going to vote on every issue and what issues they were going to push through.
    • The Friday before the Monday swearing-in, Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant met with new mayor Susan Sample. They told Sample that they had decided to get Michael Ross to resign and that Sample really didn’t have a say in the matter. They were going to make Ross an offer and he’s going to take it. Period.
    • Essentially two members of council made an expensive back-door deal with the city manager and hid it from the residents.
    • Ross’s out-clause costs the city around $300,000, plus the assistant city manager is set to retire at the latest in January, and there are three major department heads who are retirement eligible. Reilly and Ballanfant never considered that it would be better to hire a new assistant city manager and have an orderly transition.
    • Reilly and Ballanfant told Sample they didn’t want this on an agenda (so much for transparency) and that they were going to handle it.
    • I have been told that the package forcing Ross to resign included 90 days to stick around. That’s bumping up on $400,000 of the city’s money they are spending behind everyone’s back – not counting how much it is going to cost for legal counsel on this, amounts paid for department heads to retire. This could mushroom to a million dollars.
    • To make things worse, they want to hire Ballanfant’s buddy Richard Rothfelder as West U’s special employment counsel to negotiate the deal and they want to declare a special (read: no resident will expect it or attend) meeting to hire him.
    • Rothfelder has no employment experience, so this is complete cronyism at its finest. Coming from the transparency slate who said process is everything. They want to replace the current city attorney with Richard Rothfelder who has minimal municipal experience. He’s not a municipal lawyer. He is the city attorney for Southside Place, but only because he was mayor there for 10 years. He just doesn’t have the expertise for a real city like West U.
    • Reilly and Ballanfant told Ross that they don’t intend to have a legitimate for city manager. They didn’t intend to use a search firm. They want to hire a buddy. Probably the city manager from Southside, because he is a weak city manager. That way they can cram down everything they want without pushback from somebody who knows better.

    Some obvious questions:
    • What’s the urgency?
    • Has Ross done something illegal?
    • If we residents are going to spend a bunch of money to buy out Ross, what will we get in return?
    • Is there money in our budget for this?
    • If not, will you raise taxes?
    • If you don’t raise our taxes, where will you get the money?
    • Why is this being done behind closed doors?
    • Should this not be transparent?
    • Are you violating your pledge of transparency?

    • Lucille Gallman Says:

      Mr. Shields: You seem to have some strong negative feelings about the new West University City Council. The reason you give: “I found their tactic of insulting and demonizing the outgoing administration disgusting.”
      Did you feel the same degree of disgust when you heard residents express concern at a council meeting last October that the city had plans to take their home of over 35 years? When they said they were notified by a letter dropped on their doorstep and didn’t feel like they owned their home. Or their statement that “We need confidence that we are going to be allowed to stay in our home to live out these last few years, the retirement years that are supposed to be peaceful. Leave us alone. Give us some confidence that we will not be bothered with this again.”

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