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May 19, 2013

Quinlan eyes reducing mayor’s authority

QUINLAN — When most small-town mayors are elected, their first city council meeting is festive, featuring a routine swearing-in ceremony and smiles for local newspaper photographers.

Quinlan Mayor Donny Brock, who was elected on May 11 and will be sworn in May 20, will have a chillier welcome Monday evening, if the city council decides to pass an ordinance that would strip Brock of much of his power and solidify City Consultant Billy Green’s role as the city’s day-to-day manager.

The ordinance was included in a packet delivered to Brock’s house after 5 p.m. on May 17.

“I would love to say that any of this shocks me, but the truth of the matter is, I’m not shocked at all,” Brock said. “I’m just surprised by the tactics they used by not informing me of this until after close of business Friday, so that I had no time to prepare a defense.”

Ordinance 8054-000 will be considered by the city council Monday night in a special meeting. The ordinance would create a “coordinated management structure” whose purpose is to “establish a functional working relationship between the Mayor, City Council and City staff and to clearly state City Council’s role in establishing the city’s personnel policies and procedures.”

The ordinance does not allow Brock to make expenditures, use city vehicles and act as the city’s approval agent without express authorization from the council. Brock would also have to “coordinate” with Green to add items to the city council’s agenda, according to item “H” of section 2.

Section two, item “A” of the proposed ordinance also seemingly conflicts with the Texas Local Government Code, Section 22.042, item “B”. Under the Texas Local Government Code, Brock would be responsible for inspecting the conduct of “each subordinate municipal officer” and cause any violation of duty to be punished and prosecuted. Under the proposed ordinance, Brock would instead bring any violation to the city council’s attention, and they would be responsible for punishing and prosecuting the city officer.

“I would encourage the citizens of the city of Quinlan to attend Monday night’s special city council meeting if they want to have a voice in their city government,” city council member Jacky Goleman said. “If resolution 8054-000 and resolution 3087-002, which is a contract with Billy Green to be our consultant, passes, then the city council and mayor will have less authority, and that authority will go to an unelected official.”

According to city council member Carole Petty, the ordinance is routine housekeeping that is usually conducted following an election.

“It’s mostly just housekeeping items,” she said. “This ordinance just delineates the authority structure.”

Petty also said that she didn’t believe that the ordinance was “related at all” to Brock’s recent election.

Quinlan city council member Tommy Underwood said didn’t have time to review the new ordinance or contract by press time Saturday. Council member Carolyn Strickland declined comment.

The agenda also includes a resolution that would create new contract between Quinlan and Green, the first contract Green has had in more than a year and a half.

“Billy has not been interested in renewing his contract for the last two years,” Brock said.

Green’s contract, which would pay him $30 an hour to run the day-to-day operations of the city, specifies that Green is not a city employee. Additionally, the contract states that Green is free from council control, save for the stipulations of his contract.

“In performance of the work, duties, and obligations hereunder, it is mutually understood and agreed that CONSULTANT shall not be considered an employee of the CITY,” the contract reads in section three, paragraph two. “Accordingly, the CITY shall not have any control or direction over the CONSULTANT other than provided by the terms of this agreement.”

Brock has made it clear that he does not intend on voting for or signing the ordinance.

“I find it absurd and have no intention of signing an employment contract that stipulates that he not only doesn’t answer to the mayor or council, but also will be covered and held harmless for any disputes, loss, liability damage cost or expense arising from this agreement,” Brock said. “I have no intention of signing a contract that gives away the power of a city to someone who isn’t even a city employee.”

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