Council Members Walk Out of Meeting, Preventing Consideration of Tabled Items

By George Slaughter

Two Katy City Council members walked out of Monday’s meeting at City Hall to prevent discussion of two proposed city ordinances that were tagged, or delayed, until next month.

Council Member-at-Large Chris Harris and Ward B Council Member Jimmy Mendez walked out following a vote to go into executive session to discuss the proposed city ordinances. The executive session was already on the agenda, but Harris and Mendez saw no need for it after the proposed city ordinances were tabled.

One proposed city ordinance was for rehiring suspended city employees. Under this proposal, city employees who were suspended without pay and then terminated would have to wait five years before being eligible to be rehired by the city.

The other proposed city ordinance provided for a penalty for public disclosure of executive session information.

Mendez tagged, or delayed, the items, saying he wanted more information on the proposed ordinances. The items will be considered at the next regular council meeting, set for June 24.

The council meets in special session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to canvass, or certify, the May 4 city election results and swear in Mayor-Elect Bill Hastings, Ward B Council Member-Elect Jenifer Jordan Stockdick, and Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll. Stockdick will succeed Mendez, who was term-limited from seeking reelection.

Clearly dismayed that the items were being postponed, Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll suggested having a discussion of the issues, with no action being taken. But Harris said he received his council packet—background paperwork all council members receive before a meeting—after the deadline, which was 5 p.m. Friday.

City Attorney Art Pertile said for this reason, discussion on the items was not possible in open session.

Carroll, supported by Ward A Council Member Janet Corte, pushed for the next item on the agenda, the executive session, to discuss the issues privately.

Harris, opposing the idea, said the city had just gone through a divisive election and asked why these matters had to be addressed now.

The matter went to a vote, with Carroll, Corte, and Mayor Pro Tem Durran Dowdle voting 3-2 over Mendez and Harris to proceed to the executive session.

Harris and Mendez then left the meeting, thus leaving the council without a quorum, and the meeting adjourned less than an hour after it began.

In February, Mendez tagged a vote on Noe Diaz, who had been nominated by Mayor Chuck Brawner to become Katy police chief. The council approved Diaz at its next meeting in March, and he has since taken office.

After the meeting, Corte said that even if no action were taken on the proposed rehiring ordinance, it was important to discuss it.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on out there that people don’t understand,” Corte said.

Corte said the proposed ordinance did not deal with the situation involving former city emergency management coordinator Maria Horn Galvez, who was fired in March 2018 and has since filed suit against the city. Corte, who was elected in May 2018 to the council, said she couldn’t comment on the Galvez situation, as it happened before she took office.

“This is not just for her, it’s for anybody,” Corte said. “We don’t have a good rehire option.”

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Recognized May 2019 as Senior Citizens Month, and Nevelynn Melendy as 2019 Senior Citizen of the Year.
  • Recognized the week of May 19-25 as National Public Works Week.
  • Recognized Medic 1, Tower 1, and Battalion Chief 1, of the Katy Fire Department, for actions taken to save a man’s life.
  • Watched a presentation about the city’s latest fiscal year, which ended September 30.
  • Canceled the regular city council meeting on June 10, for lack of quorum.
  • Called a special city council meeting for June 17.
  • Approved meeting minutes for the February 25, March 11, March 25, and April 8 council meetings.
  • Approved the No Label Brewery 1st Street 5K, set for June 15.
  • Accepted public improvements at the Woodcreek Reserve Municipal Utility for Cook Field Road.
  • Authorized the mayor to sign an amendment to the business services agreement with Consolidated Communications.
  • Authorized the mayor to sign a software license, maintenance, and support agreement with Vermont Systems, Inc.
  • Amended the rates charged by the Katy Fire Department for services provided to communities or unincorporated areas that don’t have a mutual aid agreement with the city.