Public Discussion Of Possible Molina’s Deal Spurs Special Meeting On Executive Sessions
A special meeting of the West U. City Council is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. tonight, Aug. 3, in the Conference Room of the Municipal Building, 3800 University Blvd. The agenda includes a closed executive session to discuss closed executive sessions.
The item stems from information released to the media concerning the interest of Molina’s Mexican restaurant’s alleged interest in West U.’s land on Westpark behind RecylExpress. A July 24 article in the Houston Business Journal quotes Councilman George Boehme as confirming Molina’s interest in the property, which is currently leased to Good Company for parking.
The article spurred e-mails between the mayor, other councilmen and City Manger Michael Ross concerning matters discussed in closed session. Although an article in InstantNewsWestU.com a month prior to the HBJ article quoted Mayor Bob Kelly on the issue, Kelly told Ross that several entities involved in the possible deal were “outraged” because of the information’s release.
Boehme responded by saying he did not discuss anything that had not already appeared in the public domain – namely, a June 10 article in InstantNewsWestU.com in which Kelly discussed the deal in public prior to a regular council meeting.
“Once an issue originally discussed in executive session is credibly placed in the public domain, in this case by Mayor Kelly, I feel no prohibition on its discussion,” wrote Boehme in an e-mail to Ross. “If we have a rule or practice that conflicts with this practice, please let me know.”
Councilman Steven Segal chimed in on the discussion, questioning the public discussion of items that appear in closed session.
“What happened to the confidentiality of Executive Sessions? Maybe we need to put this on the Agenda and have a discussion with our attorney about fiduciary obligations,” wrote Segal to Ross. “I have been told some councils make it a crime to disclose confidential matters discussed in Executive Session.”
Councilman Chuck Guffey also wrote to Ross about the matter.
“I thought we were meeting in confidential sessions about this issue,” wrote Guffey. “If Molina’s or the other parties want to release this info, fine, but I don’t think the city should be doing this.”
The special session also includes discussion of employee compensation and public safety facilities.