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New City Council Uses Trickery to Avoid Transparency

June 29, 2015 By:Anne Marie Kilday

Local News

West University Place City Manager Michael Ross wants all future discussions of his ouster by the new City Council to take place in public, Ross’ attorney advised the council Sunday.

But, Councilmembers Brennan Reilly and Bob Kelly have asked that the council’s July 13 agenda include an executive session to consult their attorney for “legal advice concerning the City Manager’s employment and/or separation agreement.” Although they campaigned on a pledge of “transparency,” the new council members want those  discussions to be held behind closed doors.

The agenda proposed by Reilly also calls for the council to “reconvene into open session” for “any desired action” resulting from the closed session.

Bill Helfand, an attorney who represents Ross, told the council on Sunday that the veteran City Manager wants all future discussions of his employment to take place in open sessions.

“He has asked me to express to the City his desire to exercise his right under the Texas Public Information Act that any further discussions regarding any aspect of his employment and future with the City be held only in open session,” Helfand wrote, adding: “And, specifically that the City Council should refrain from any further private discussions or executive session meetings regarding any aspect of Mr. Ross’ employment with the City of West University Place. “

Helfand wrote the letter to attorney Mike Falick, a partner in the law firm of Rothfelder & Falick. The new council recently hired Richard Rothfelder, a former mayor of Southside Place, as special counsel in their negotiations with Ross.

Ross sent copies of Helfand’s letter to Mayor Susan Sample, City Secretary Thelma Lenz and all members of the city council.

The “personnel matters” section of the Texas Open Meetings Act, Section 551.074, authorizes the council to meet in executive session to discuss personnel matters.

However, that section of the act does not apply “if the officer or employee who is the subject of the deliberation or hearing requests a public hearing.”

Reilly, however, wants the council to be able to meet behind closed doors on July 13, and specifically requested that the executive session be held under a different section of the Open Meetings Act, section Section 551.071. That section of the law allows city councils and other governing bodies to consult with an attorney in an executive session to seek his or her advice on legal matters.

In his email requesting the agenda items be included on the July 13 agenda, Reilly specifically wrote: “Please do not modify the wording of the first item relating to closed executive session.  This item differs from the wording used in our meetings on June 22 and June 18.  That difference is intentional.  We are seeking the advice of counsel only.”

Ross last week wrote an email pledging his full commitment,  “renewed energy” and “a thankful heart” that the new council did not terminate his employment at its June 22 meeting.

“I understand this to mean that several council members have reversed their position and that the Council has decided to retain my services as City Manager for the foreseeable future,” Ross wrote in the email last Friday. “ I am thankful for this decision since it has never been my desire to leave this job, to which I remain fully committed.”

However, the city manager’s attorney detailed the council’s recent efforts to force Ross to retire or resign.

Helfand said “the City was asking for additional consideration from Mr. Ross beyond that which was required under his current contract for separation initiated by the City, as was being contemplated. “

“ I suggested that, if it was their intent, the City Council could either fire the City Manager under the terms of his current contract or, if they desired additional concessions and consideration from Mr. Ross, the City Council should contemplate offering additional consideration in return.”

Helfand’s letter also said, “That said, should a majority of Councilmembers continue to have an interest in separating Mr. Ross’ employment from the City, I anticipate that he will continue to expect them to comply with his written contract or be prepared to offer additional consideration in exchange for any additional concessions they might wish to have. “

 

 

Reilly also asked that the July 13 agenda include a time for public comments, and an item titled “Special Legal Counsel.” That item related to “retaining special legal counsel to  analyze and advise Council regarding the City Manager’s employment agreement, to consult with Council regarding the same, and to assist Council in implementing changes to the same.”

Reilly also asked that the July 13 meeting agenda include a discussion of the council’s rules of procedure, a discussion of green yard waste and a list of other future agenda items.

At a special meeting on June 18 and at the regular West U Council meeting on June 22, several West U residents spoke out against the council’s apparent intent to terminate the veteran city manager. Ross, who has been City Manager for 14 years, won high praise from many residents.

In his email, Ross traced the history of the new council’s efforts to end his employment with the city.

Ross wrote: “On June 4, 2015 newly elected councilmembers Burt Ballanfant and Brennan Reilly met with me. They told me, in clear and unequivocal terms, that all four new city councilmembers had decided to either fire me or allow me to resign. They said their preference was for me to ‘develop the script’ for my departure and they wanted my exit it to be as positive as possible for everyone but they made it clear that, either by separation or resignation, I would not be working for the City much longer.”

After the council retained Rothfelder, Ross said that he “was informed that these Council members wanted a new separation agreement to replace my existing agreement, even though my current contract clearly spells out the circumstances of any decision by a majority of Council to fire me.  Inexplicably, therefore, the agreement proposed by the City’s retained counsel added numerous new restrictions and requirements on me, but provided exactly the same benefits to me as defined by my current contract.  I am sure you can understand why I did not think this was appropriate or fair, even if the majority of councilmembers wished to terminate my employment with the City,” Ross wrote.

Ross explained that he then asked Helfand to communicate his response to Rothfelder.

“If  it was the wish of a majority of Council to fire me, they could and should do so in accordance with our long-standing and current agreement which completely addresses such a contingency.”

Ross, who was in Austin Monday attending a meeting of the Texas Municipal League, said he did not wish to publicly comment on the council’s apparent decision to continue with his severance from the city.

“I am going to continue to take the high road and not comment,” Ross said.

61 Responses to “New City Council Uses Trickery to Avoid Transparency”

  1. Jim Shields Says:

    Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse. Here is a letter from Mike Ross to our City Attorney.

    Mr. Petrov,
    As I know you are already aware, shortly after the recent Council election, two newly elected council members, Messrs. Reilly and Ballanfant approached me and told me that a majority of council desired that I leave my position as City Manager. These gentlemen suggested that, in their words, I “write the script” for my separation, including any new agreement that might be appropriate.
    Shortly thereafter, and after I retained an attorney who you approved, my attorney was presented with several new demands purportedly from city council, many of which seemed unfair and unreasonable, particularly since my contract with the City, adopted many years ago, already speaks to my potential separation. When my attorney attempted to discuss these demands with the attorney hired by the Council to negotiate on their behalf, he was essentially told that these terms were “take it or leave it.”
    Yesterday, I had another conversation with council member Reilly. In that conversation, I told Mr. Reilly I am prepared to stay at the City of West University Place and continue to serve as an excellent city manager or that, if it is the will of the majority of the Council I will leave and make my transition as workable as possible under the terms of the contract I have had with the City for many years.
    However, Mr. Reilly told me their plan is to devise a mechanism to garner votes to fire me from my position as the City Manager and at the same time attempt to find a way to avoid the City’s long-standing contractual agreements to me. Indeed, Mr. Reilly threatened that he, in cooperation with other council members, may be attempting to manufacture some “cause” under which to fire me so as to avoid the City’s promises in my contract.
    Obviously, based upon Mr. Reilly’s harsh tone and threats of earlier today, coupled with the fact he has requested the opportunity to speak with council regarding my contract in a closed, executive session, I am deeply concerned that I be treated fairly and lawfully in all respects.
    Accordingly, and consistent with my attorney’s prior notice, I am writing to advise you, as the City’s chief legal officer, and with a copy to the City Secretary, that I expect all discussions regarding my relationship with the City to be conducted in open session as required under Section 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
    It seems that I may need to seek a judicial order in advance of the meeting of July 13 to ensure the City’s compliance with its obligations not to discuss my employment relationship with the City in any closed session. Before I do so, I am asking you to advise me whether the City intends to comply with my request and state law in this regard. Accordingly, please let me know before Noon on July 13, 2015, whether the City intends to conduct any of the July 13, 2015 City Council meeting regarding my employment in anything other than a fully open and public session.
    While it pains me to point this out, unless the City Council is willing to comply voluntarily with the Texas Open Meetings Act, I may be forced to ask an attorney to obtain a temporary restraining order compelling such compliance and/or I may report any violation to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, although I am hoping that neither are necessary. Based on conversations with individuals I remain concerned about apparent violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act where a “walking quorum” of council members are intentionally meeting outside of a properly posted meeting regarding my employment.
    Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. Please let me hear from you as soon as possible.
    Michael Ross
    City Manager

  2. Mellissa Martin Says:

    It would seem that the potential line of future high quality city manager’s that might want to come here would be getting shorter and shorter with all of these slate shenanigans.

  3. Brokelyn Says:

    Lucille (and all),
    In response to your observation/question above:
    “I have really never seen an election aftermath like this in West University or actually in any election,”

    I would point to the democratic elections in Egypt that brought Morsi to power. That didn’t last long. The democratic process, with all of its warts, works when there is transparency and honesty. When there is deliberate and malicious deceit, as was true in Egypt and is, in my opinion, true in West U today, CHANGE IS AN OPTION.

    Our bylaws require a waiting period of 6 months and some onerous petition hurdles, but we can do it with good organization and modest funding. The local publications, including this one, need to publish the facts and solicit the views of both sides of the issue as well as providing their editorial commentary (whatever their points of view).

    It isn’t easy and the vast majority of our neighbors seem disinclined to get involved in anything that doesn’t jeopardize their income streams or asset values, but CHANGE IS AN OPTION. Who will take the lead?

    • Jim Shields Says:

      count me in

    • Lucille Gallman Says:

      I briefly read about recall elections in Texas and it appears to me that it is like paying a large amount of money to remove a restrictor that may not work. They have become so common that a documentary called “Recall Fever” has been made. The groups or individuals who initiate recall elections want elected officials they don’t agree with, removed. In Texas, recall elections are only at the local level. The Devil is in the details of a recall election in Texas. Most recall efforts fail and taxpayers pay most of the cost. The citizens who initiate the recall pay for collecting the required number of signatures, verification of signatures, for printing ballots, etc. The biggest expense is the cost of the recall election and if successful the cost of the special election.

  4. Lucille Gallman Says:

    There are a lot of business people living in West U. Why do you think the New York Stock Exchange has suspended trading?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Unfortunately right now the employees are in turmoil with all of the council imposed uncertainty. Hopefully that will end Monday night.

  6. West U Employees Says:

    All we ask for is closure one way or the other now. This has got to stop. We were told that this council wanted our City Manager’s departure to be positive for all but now it appears that they are playing games at our, and the residents, expense. Based on this council’s current behavior we are all planning to leave as soon as possible. Please end this now!

    • Lucille Gallman Says:

      Can you tell me what kind of work your group does in West University Place? I’ll admit I’ve been out of the workplace for a while and my experience is mainly with energy related companies, but I sure would like to work again.

  7. Lucille Gallman Says:

    I have really never seen an election aftermath like this in West University or actually in any election. Anyone vaguely interested in the politics of West University Place must be confused. How do residents see this all working out? One individual indicated he will keep the discussion going. I was always taught that the winners and losers of any election shake hands. For many years, I voted in the Community Building and I remember the big voting machines with curtains you closed before voting. I took my small children with me so they could see the process. Civics was a required course in Lamar High School to graduate. Maybe a Civics Course should be required to vote in West University Place.

    • Johnny B Says:

      Lucille, Did you hear the comments some of these candidates made? Hard to forgive when someone calls you a crook. You don’t really shake hands with the guy who tarred and feathered you. And now? Look at them!

    • Tangley Resident Says:

      Man I agree so much with Johnny. Lucille, Bob Kelly questioned Bob Fry’s character. They have been friends for a long time. You don’t do that. The slate called Dick Yele a stooge. This slate group are not nice people. They are not neighborly. I think it will be awhile before the fences are mended. Words may only be words, but they hurt. And It will take a while for all this to settle down. The good news is the city council doesn’t run the city, the employees do.

  8. Lucille Gallman Says:

    The Instant News Bellaire has a comment by someone who actually signs his name. I don’t see how anyone could say anything negative about the new park where Teas Nursery was located. He got a reply that criticized his negativity and George Boehme signed on and agreed. I think Mr. Boehme should also reply to Voter’s Remorse, who should print his name like the Bellaire guy. It must be awful to be mad all the time.

  9. Voters Remorse Says:

    I voted for every one of these clowns and I am angry. Here is my Mantra. Today it is prophecy. I will repeat this over and over on these blogs for the next year. A year from now – you will all know my words as the truth.

    1.All Council-member Bob Kelly cares about is firing Michael Ross, that is why he ran for office. He will agree to any political deal to further that childish purpose.

    2. Council-member Mardi Turner is a nice person who was swept into this mess because she wants a park across from her house. She is far too nice to be mixed up with this crowd. But she has fleas and ticks all over her body now.

    3. Council-member Burt Ballanfant want that same park that Mardi does. He will literally trade has left ear or right foot to get that park. This is all Ballanfant cares about. He will agree to a tax increase, or a half-way house for sex perverts, if that’s what it takes to get his park.

    4. Councilmember Brennan Riley is a shallow fellow who is being used by Kelly and Ballanfant to do their bidding. Very angry young man, lots of anger. Seems to dislike women, which explains his hostility towards our lady mayor. Shameful.

    5. Mayor Susan Sample is a lovely, well-educated, mother who must be wondering why she signed up for this three-ring circus. She is the only true egalitarian in the bunch.

    • Jim Shields Says:

      Well said Voter

      Sounds like something I would have written except the part about voting for the slate.

      Hence my question – how were you tricked into voting for the clown car when you are obviously well informed?

      • kenny powers Says:

        I’ll give you my reasons for voting for some of the slate:
        – Previous council never made the case (that I saw) for why a superblock was necessary. They pointed to potential future needs, but given that West U is not growing, I can’t see why our municipal footprint needs to grow materially in the future at the expense of existing residential homes. That, in conjunction with the dealings with the church (which the emails between Ross and WUBC made it feel like more of an inside deal rather than an arms length negotiation) and the earlier inclusion in the master plan of trading away the library and senior services site gave me no confidence in what was going on and whose interests were being served. My ideal outcome was some of the slate people getting elected and acting as a check on the others. Them winning a super majority and going off the rails in terms of moving to fire Ross right away despite not having that in their platform has now given me voter’s remorse as well.

        • Jim Shields Says:

          I am a member of Christ the King Lutheran on the corner of Rice and Greenbriar. You will note that we are expanding our parking facilities on the south side of our lot. The only way we were able to do this was to swap lots with Rice University. They owned the land where our new parking lot is and we owned the lot just to the west.

          My point is, Rice and my church are land locked with few options. The swap made sense to all concerned. I and most of my neighbors who looked at the land swap in West U thought the same about the swap with West U Baptist.

          What really turned me of however was the vile, untrue assaults lobbed at our friends and neighbors who served us as mayor and council.

          Add to that, they insulted our intelligence by claiming that the dump truck maintenance facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood was charming and a better neighbor than a church youth center.

        • Lucille Gallman Says:

          There was a serious lack of transparency by the previous council. I don’t see why the duly elected City Council was bound to disclose any personnel issues before the election. West U isn’t Mayberry.

      • Voters Remorse Says:

        I bought in to the talk about transparency. I know Burt Ballanfant and like him. I was impressed by Brennan’s youth, something missing on past city councils.

        But now it appears that each of them has a specific agenda and that they will swap and deal like a farmer at a Caribbean fruit market to get their pet thing done.

        I think every single issue was decided by them at the Buffalo Grille before the election. There does not appear to be any transparency.

      • Voters Remorse Says:

        Jim:
        I also got a video from a friend emailed to me that showed the treatment that our new mayor Sample received from Brennan and Bob Kelly at their first meeting. The friend was trying to make me ashamed of voting for the group.

        It was text book male chauvinism. No one deserves that sort of disrespect, certainly not our elected mayor. I was not there and granted the video was spliced and diced, but it was still offensive conduct.

        Jim, I wasn’t there but I understand you had a front row seat. Am I correct in my perception that Brennan used parliamentary maneuvers to try to limit the speech of Mayor Sample? And the behavior of Bob Kelly was offensive in any context. Kelly may be related to Bull Conner. I intend to try to go the meeting on Monday.

        • Anonymous Says:

          Yes I was there. It was obvious that Reilly thought he was in charge and repeatedly talked over and interrupted Sample. To say his behavior was boorish is an understatement.

          I was sitting next to to my friend Mark Lee and Kelly noticed Mark laughing at the spectacle we were all witnessing. Kelly screamed at him and wanted to know who he was and where he lived. I know for a fact that Kelly knows Lee and should have said so. There is no law prohibiting a non West U resident from attending a public meeting.

  10. Jim Shields Says:

    Regarding to flooding – listen to engineers not politicians.

    Changing the subject

    The slate hired the City Attorney from Southside Place, Richard Rothfelder, to represent us in the firing of Mike Ross.

    Rothfelder represents billboard companies so that is where his expertise lies because he has demonstrated he knows little about employment law.

    On his watch as City Attorney, Southside Place fired police chief Stephen McCarty who is now suing the city for violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

    McCarty serves in the US Navy Reserve and was called up to active duty. The law protects employees who are called up. It looks like Rothfelder overlooked this point.

  11. Jim Shields Says:

    Ted – flooding is a bit more complicated.

    As your keen eye for the obvious tells us, grass is more absorbent than concrete but when the ground is saturated, grass’s ability to absorb water is the same as concrete’s. You know when this occurs when you look out your window and see standing water in the low places in your yard.

    Houston should change it’s nickname from Bayou City to Storm Sewer City. A bayou becomes a storm sewer when it is made deeper, wider and then paved. As Houston developed, most of our natural bayous have become storm sewers.This is a great technique for flood control because it allows water to flow faster.

    Another technique is to build catchment basins so that when we have our gully washers, excess water can be funneled to those basins while the storm sewers do their job.

    Catchment basins come in two forms
    – large areas of land dug deeper than grade to collect water (you can see these all over Houston)
    – a not so obvious technique is to make streets into catchment basins by lowering them. When West U got our new streets this was accomplished. Better that your street fill up with water than your living room.

    Yet another technique is to take measures to remove flow restrictions. I am not talking about the 5 foot by 10 foot concrete restrictor at the outlet to the Poor Farm ditch that was so controversial. I am talking about keeping street gutters clean. I recently heard some cranky West U residents complaining about the waste of money it is to have the vacuum truck clean our gutters once a week. Imagine how cranky they would be if all of those leaves and yard waste were allowed to build up in our sewers which would really restrict water flow away, and into our living rooms.

    Back to the silly controversy over the concrete restrictor. Before the large Kirby under ground storm sewer was built, during a gully washer you could go to the south side of Bellaire Blvd at the bridge over the Poor farm ditch where the restrictor was and see that there was no flow to be restricted. The water in the ditch simply had no place to go.

    Braes bayou could not accept any more water and it backed up flooding people in the deep part of University, Weslayan, Bellaire, SS Place quadrant. Note that streets in West U were lowered to accept water, but Metro streets were not – University, Weslayan, Bellaire, so we effectively built a pool in that quadrant.

    When this was noted, West U did install storm sewers in that area but they were sized wrong. This was the issue that Ross recorded in the telephone exchange with County Commissioner Steve Radack. Radack was screaming at Ross complaining that the West U mayor and council were blaming the county for installing the restrictor when the fault was with the West U council and mayor for refusing to adequately fund storm sewers large enough to handle the flow.

    Like I said.It’s complicated.

    • Ted Ferguson Says:

      I agree that it’s politically complicated – people usually only want what best serves THEM, so trying a one-size-fits-all panacea for an entire city would meet with immediate and violent opposition. But from a practical standpoint, there are only so many solutions to the problem. We’re just not that far from the bay, and the lots around here are flat. The drain on a bathtub is the first place water starts to pool, and then it works its way backwards. We’re close to the drain. As you stated, the water has nowhere to go. Maybe Lucille can chime in here, but I’ve read that West U. was originally a swamp. It doesn’t help that this is an old city with almost a century of soil erosion, either. I’ve noticed that all of the new houses being built along Braeswood are 10 feet up to their first floor. That would never go over in West U., but raising houses and lots, adding more green space, and/or widening the pipes under our streets for more detention, in my humble opinion, are our only options. It’s a slow, decades long process, and would, of course, have an effect on the older homes and residents. What did you have in mind as a solution?

      • Lucille Gallman Says:

        “Stepping Back In Time”, a History of West University Place by June Begeman discusses the early days. I bought mine at city hall and tried to call and see if they are still selling it, but their new phone system doesn’t work for me. The Library probably has a copy.

        • In the Know Says:

          “Stepping Back in Time” is still available in the city hall offices for $20. Not sure about the “new phone system” comment but the number is 713-668-4441.

          • Lucille Gallman Says:

            Thanks for the information. “Stepping Back in Time” has so much information about early West U. I always read something I didn’t know. I really regret not participating with pictures but I just didn’t have any free time. The problem I had when I called, and it may not be a new phone system but I so rarely, if ever, call city hall it is new to me. I couldn’t reach a person. There are a lot of numbers to use for various departments. I kept waiting for a “press 0” to speak to an operator. I think I tired one department and still couldn’t reach a person. Thanks again for your reply.

  12. Lucille Gallman Says:

    Jim Shields may be able to comment on the restrictor removal. To remove it, West U had to pay a substantial amount of money and there was something about there having to be a replacement for a certain amount of flood water, etc. None of that would have been done unless it was believed that removing the restrictor would reduce flooding.

    • Jim Shields Says:

      As I said when I was a candidate, the engineering report said that the restrictor was never a factor in flood control in West U. The unfortunate people who lived in the University, Weslayan, Bellaire SS Place quadrant were desperate and were grasping at straws.

      You might ask why that quadrant did not flood over the Memorial Day flooding. The answer is that Harris County did a great job at relieving the Braes Bayou flow. They did this by building that huge under ground storm sewer under Kirby from the Bayou to Bissonnett. If you remember as we watched the construction, you can drive a bus through that sewer. The purpose was to provide somewhere for flood water coursing into the Bayou to go.

      Engineers really do know how to solve problems. The restrictor never was a solution to a problem – it was a political trick to quiet homeowners who were being flooded.

      • Ted Ferguson Says:

        If you read the historical documents pertaining to this city, West U. has ALWAYS had a flooding problem. We’re basically at sea level, and there isn’t anywhere for the water to go. 50 years ago, people used to build their homes up on blocks to protect them, but then again, 50 years ago this city wasn’t overbuilt with three story homes and tons of concrete. I do hear tell that grass absorbs more water than concrete, but maybe that theory is just an evil scheme perpetrated on us by the former council. Maybe some of you aflluent and highly educated types that live amongst us can buy the lots around you, knock down the houses, put down grass, and report back with your findings after the next storm.

        • Lucille Gallman Says:

          In the early 1940s, the drainage ditch was all dirt, grass and muddy water with snakes and other things. Whenever there was a hard rain, the ditch overflowed and all the streets in the 3600 and 3700 Blocks had “water” midway up the block. We kids loved to play in it. I don’t know about Southside Place and other areas the ditch ran through. No wonder we had a Typhoid outbreak.

      • Lucille Gallman Says:

        Since moving to Katy, I am amazed at the strategic construction of large holes (I’m sure there is a better word.) everywhere. When shopping for a house, I asked a relator what the big hole was at the end of the block and he replied to keep water out of the homes. I guess George Bush Park is the best engineering example of keeping water out of homes. During the recent flooding, the park looked like a lake.

        • Ted Ferguson Says:

          If the super block crew had their way, all of the churches in town would be detention ponds. Of course, they’d still want the churches to pay property taxes on those detention ponds, but then again, even if they got their way, they’d just have more free time on their hands to worry about nothing. There’s nothing worse than a busybody with nothing to do.

  13. Sonya Z. Says:

    (Long-time reader, first time commenter)

    Lucille:
    Seriously, we love your input as a senior, and a former resident, but there was no one who read any of the data who thought removing the restrictor would significantly reduce flooding. If you don’t want to flood, move to higher ground.

  14. Johnny B Says:

    Calling Lucille: The Weslayan Shopping Center is not in West U. Never has been.

    • Lucille Gallman Says:

      The Weslayan Shopping Center isn’t in West U. However, the pipes that carry rain water to or from West U may be connected to those in the shopping center. Since Weslayan Street is flooding, it might be wise to investigate if there is a blockage in the West U pipes or the Weslayan Street Pipes that is causing Weslayan Street to flood.

      • Flood Says:

        Leave the flooding issue out of this discussion. Having lived on a street in West U that floods I can attest that removal of the restrictor vastly improved the flooding on my street.

  15. advocatefortransparency Says:

    Don’t forget the other reason Kelly hates Ross. Kelly feels that Ross was responsible for his former city secretary getting fired when he was mayor. Kelly enjoyed going out drinking with her when he was Mayor and she was trying to get Kelly to fire Ross because Ross questioned her hours. Unfortunately for her it went the other way once everything was uncovered about her and Kelly’s transgressions

    • Tangley Resident Says:

      Even I am tired of hearing about Bob Kelly and the former City Secretary. That is small caliber ammo compared to Kelly’s silliness now.

      • Jim Shields Says:

        Tangley, you are correct that he issue was blown way out of proportion. At the time, all city employees reported to the City manager, except the City Secretary who reported to the council. Ross had that changed and it was indeed a sore point with Kelly.

        As for Kelly and Kay being drinking buddies, that was a salacious rumor started by the more creepy people on this site. There is absolutely no truth to it. I met Kay when she moved to West U in the early eighties and her daughter was on my soccer team. She is a wonderful mom and person and has a wonderful daughter.

        Kelly too has a wonderful family. I must also say say that Kelly was a very good mayor – new streets, sewers, lights, rec center etc. All under his administration.

        His current behavior is petty and mean. I don’t understand it.

  16. Lucille Gallman Says:

    An election was held and candidates were elected. Moving on, last night on the evening news, a reporter commented on the recent Weslayan and Bissonnet flooding during the last three rains and wondered why, based on the amount of rain, it is happening. I’ve noticed that I’m getting to see the Weslayan Shopping Center frequently on TV. Have any theories been offered as to why Weslayan is beginning to flood more often? By the way, did all the flooding stop south of University around College Street. Did removing the restrictor take care of that? It seemed to be such a problem, I was afraid the area would be drained, filled in and another apartment complex built.

  17. Ted Ferguson Says:

    All of that talk about “transparency” was a joke. The people complaining about it only lived a couple of blocks from city hall, and all of the meetings were legally posted, anyway. They could have attended meetings until they were blue in the face and it wouldn’t have mattered. The issue wasn’t about being “transparent”, it was a handful of people using fear and panic to convince other residents to protect their property values for them – not like they were in any real danger. Let’s be honest here: this is West U., guys. This will go down in West U. history as a first class debacle. I’ve yet to hear any substantiated allegations against Ross. If anyone on council had the goods on him, there’d be an imprint of a doorknob on his butt. As it is, he’s still sitting at city hall. What does that tell you? Wake up.

  18. Mellissa Martin Says:

    Can anyone explain what Ross did to Kelly to make him dislike him so much?

    • Jim Shields Says:

      I had many conversations with Kelly over several years about Kelly’s disdain for Ross. I do not remember any specifics but if I could sum it up, I would say that Kelly did not like our form of government – a strong city manager and a weak elected mayor and council. Kelly wanted to be a strong mayor and have the ability to give Ross instructions to be followed. That is not workable in our form of government.

      That is what is so troubling about the firing of Ross. The slate wants to bring in a weak manager – the current city manager of Southside Place – to follow orders.

      You will not hear any specific complaints about Ross – that is why Ross wants the process to be public.

      We live in a great city that is managed very well. The slate is creating problems which simply do not exist.

  19. Johnny B Says:

    What a joke. The slate ran on transparency. The city manager says he wants everything in a public meeting. But Bob Kelly says he is doing the city manager a favor by having a secret meeting. On a side note, Bob Kelly’s good friend says Bob Kelly has a passionate hatred for the city manager.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that Bob Kelly may not be very reliable?

    • Brokelyn Says:

      He’s acting like a national politician and there’s not much else that stinks as much as that.

      Reminder: He and the “Slate” were swept into office by 10% of WU’s voting population. That’s it. I voted against the Slate and now exercise my right to complain vociferously. To those who failed to vote, you implicitly voted in favor of Bob Kelly and Friends. Go ahead and smack yourselves for being lazy.

  20. Tangley Resident Says:

    Using any matrix of benchmarks, you have to conclude Michael Ross has been a very successful city manager. Bob Kelly hates him. So he is swapping votes with Burt and Mardi. They get their park and Kelly gets his revenge against the city manager.

  21. Brokelyn Says:

    Whatever Ross has done he has done over the course of 14 years. West U, by the way, has only become a better and more affluent city in that time.

    This new group of dancing monkeys have trumped his worst sins in the matter of 30 days.

  22. Blah, Blah, Blah Says:

    Mr. City Manager has done his fair share of non-transparent, with a wink, hand shake, and a nod of the head deals. Let’ get the whole paper trail out in the public. Check dates carefully. Documented facts, not the here say on this blog.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Whatever Ross has done he has done over the course of 14 years. West U, by the way, has only become a better and more affluent city in that time.

      This new group of dancing monkeys have trumped his worst sins in the matter of 30 days.

      • Blah, Blah, Blah Says:

        I agree. Many in corporate American, which this is, face the music each day and move on because change is needed. We each a different measuring stick for “better” and the word affluent makes my skin crawl. For almost 15 years, Mr. City Manager has had a vision for West U. I don’t know whose vision but a vision.

  23. Jim Shields Says:

    At the Thursday meeting, Reilly said that closed sessions are important when discussing employee matters because it protects the employee from public disclosure of embarrassing information.

    The above article makes it clear that Ross, the employee in question, has no such concerns.

    Why then is Reilly continuing to call for a closed session?

  24. Mellissa Martin Says:

    I feel sorry for the staff that is having to endure the prolonged pain associated with this event. They deserve better. The foursome on Council does not seem to care about them at all and that is very sad. It sounds like this group is hoping Ross will voluntarily leave so they won’t have to pay him. Hang in there Ross. You have been an awesome City Manager for this city and you deserve far better than this.

  25. Johnny B Says:

    There is no trickery, these dudes (and one dudette) said they agreed BEFORE they were sworn in that they were going to fire the city manager. Jim Shields, a friend of Bob Kelly for more than 40 years, said the reason Bob Kelly ran for city council was to fire the city manager. This is right on script. Bob Kelly will run this city like the Maceos ran Galveston. Kelly got thousands of dollars from real estate cats and chain restaurant people. (Jim Reid and Levi Goode)

    • Jim Shields Says:

      My friendship with Kelly is closer to 30 years. Having said that, I can confirm that when he cajoled me into running for Council 4 years ago he made it abundantly clear to me that his disdain for Ross exceeded his disdain of Boehme. Kelly used Reilly and Ballanfant to do his dirty work but clearly all four were in cahoots.

      They have yet to offer an explanation for why they want to fire Ross.

      Kelly said in open session that firing Ross in secret was a magnanimous gesture on the part of the slate to protect Ross and give him a good deal. That is laughable.

      The slate lied to the people of West U.

      Margaret G. posted that Kelly told her he wanted to fire the police and fire chiefs in addition to Ross. I asked Kelly if this was true. Kelly denied that he ever made such a statement and denied knowing Margaret G. I don’t know her either but now would be the time to speak up Margaret.

  26. Brokelyn Says:

    How could the entire Council have come to the same conclusion about firing Ross on June 4th when the Council did not run on that premise and did not take office until June 1?

    I suppose they could have worked non-stop from June 1 to June 3 to review Ross’ performance, benchmark it against industry standards, interview those who had worked with him in the previous Council, and received input from citizens who have worked with Ross for the past 14 years. That’s a lot of work to do, but maybe I’m just a slacker.

    Or maybe these Council Thugs met privately ahead of time and came to this conclusion. But that seems like something they would have mentioned during the elections, no? And would that have been legal?

    • rick kellogg Says:

      These are rhetorical questions, of course. It is obvious and indisputable that the “slate” of council members met secretly before taking office and decided to terminate Michael Ross’s employment, thereby proving their central campaign pledge a lie.
      Personally, I despise being lied to. While I might excuse the behavior in Mr. Reilly and Ms. Turner on the grounds that both are inexperienced, the fact that two former mayors chose to lie and chose to countenance lying by their inexperienced colleagues, that is inexcusable.

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