Bastrop News

A City Council At Odds

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(Story and photos by Terry Hagerty)

(Bastrop – Oct. 23, 2016) The discord continues at the Bastrop City Council. Council member Kay Garcia McAnally announced her resignation at the Council’s regular meeting on Oct. 11 – alleging ethics violations by two fellow Council members and saying Mayor Ken Kesselus’ leadeship has been marked by  “chaos” – only to later withdraw that resignation, but not her claims. (It turned out her resignation was invalid anyway, officials said; see below).

Resignation Withdrawal: “I have been contacted by a large number of constituents who have expressed great concern at my leaving Council before May 2017,” McAnally wrote in an Oct. 18 letter addressed to City officials.  “I will therefore remain in my office, continue to serve the people of Bastrop and not force the City into spending money on a special election.”  McAnally wrote that interim City Attorney David Bragg informed her that her resignation was never official since she didn’t sign the written remarks she delivered at the Council meeting, nor did she submit an official letter of resignation. (McAnally’s letter withdrawing her resignation is in the online Council packet for the Oct. 25 regular meeting. It can be read at: www.cityofbastrop.org – See the Government tab at top of first page; scroll down, click on City Council; click on Agenda & Minutes tab.)

‘Troubled’ by Council Actions: At the Council meeting, McAnally said she couldn’t endure any longer what she claimed is unethical conduct by some Council members. “I have tonight submitted ethics violation complaints with the interim City Attorney against Council member Gary Schiff and Council member Deborah Jones,” McAnally said, reading from a lengthy statement. However, McAnally declined to detail the particulars of the alleged violations during the Council meeting, until the Ethics Commission has had a chance to view them. “For some time now I’ve been extremely troubled by what’s going on in this City,” particularly “since the latest City Council lineup (was elected) in May,” McAnally said. “Every single day I worry not only if what’s going on in the City is ethical – but if it’s actually legal.” McAnally claimed that before Mayor Ken Kesselus assumed his post, Bastrop was “a functioning city.” But under Kesselus’ leadership she contended there has been “chaos and confusion.”

Multiple City Resignations: Within the past 10 months former City Manager Mike Talbot resigned twice after he said Council members were meddling in his daily operations of the city. (Talbot withdrew his first announcement after a wellspring of public support urged him to remain, but he resigned a second time in early summer, saying the Council’s meddling continued).  City Attorney JC Brown resigned next, claiming some Council members were acting unprofessionally and tarnishing her reputation. At the time, Council members were reviewing what some said were substantial annual legal fees the City had incurred from Brown, a contracted Austin attorney. Also, Police Chief and Public Safety Director Steve Adcock, who was appointed interim City Manager after Talbot resigned, resigned his interim post after less than a month, saying he did not have the expertise to continue as city manager and wanted to concentrate on being police chief and public safety director.

Sarcasm Amid Accusations? McAnally also seemed to allege a series of questionable actions by Mayor Kesselus, but she went about it in an indirect and a reverse manner. “According to him (Kesselus), the things that he has done – or said – that appear to be irregular….have just been misconstrued or misrepresented by those of us who have questioned him,” McAnally said in her statement. “He must be the most misconstrued man in Bastrop history.” McAnally next said, “The Mayor really didn’t try to…” and then she listed a series of actions including trying to “get rid of the head of the (City’s) Ethics Commission,” “Attempting to appoint his (Kesselus’) boss to the Bastrop Economic Development board” and pressuring Talbot to resign his post.

Council Members To Respond: After McAnally finished her statement, Kesselus told the Council, “We’re not permitted to do a great deal of what Kay just did.” There is an Announcements, Information and Requests by Council Members regular agenda item for Council meetings, but it’s not for making personal statements/opinions, one council member said. Kesselus said that McAnally had made “personal comments that question the integrity of council…or its members,” and he characterized “the demeaning way (McAnally) spoke. Most (of it) directed to me.” Kesselus said that he would respond at the Council’s Oct. 25 (Tuesday) meeting, and that Jones and Schiff would also have the opportunity to respond.

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