Bee Cave Mayor Bill Goodwin and Council Member Jon Cobb resign during special meeting

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin, center, and Council Member Jon Cobb, left, resigned their posts during a March 28 City Council meeting. Council Member Kara King, right, is now mayor elect of Bee Cave. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin, center, and Council Member Jon Cobb, left, resigned their posts during a March 28 City Council meeting. Council Member Kara King, right, is now mayor elect of Bee Cave. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin, center, and Council Member Jon Cobb, left, resigned their posts during a March 28 City Council meeting. Council Member Kara King, right, is now mayor elect of Bee Cave. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Bee Cave City Council, which normally meets at its City Hall location at the center of the Hill Country Galleria, held a special called meeting March 28. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
A special called meeting that initially appeared focused on the removal of a key Bee Cave official due to perceived missteps and lackluster response to crisis ended in the abrupt resignation of both the mayor and a council member.

During the March 28 special meeting, council also voted against a declaration of medical disaster that would have adopted rules necessary to promote health and prevent the spread of disease. Though that vote failed, city staff will still close the playscapes within Bee Cave's Central Park.

Council also voted to extend its disaster declaration until such time as there is no longer an acting declaration within the state of Texas.

But the major news of the meeting saw the structural formation of the Bee Cave City Council changed in rapid order, and by the end Council Member Kara King became mayor-elect following the resignations of Mayor Bill Goodwin and Council Member Jon Cobb.

The March 28 meeting came as a direct result of the March 24 City Council meeting, during which council adopted a declaration of disaster that extended for 72 hours but was initially slated to last until April 3.

During discussion of that item on March 24, for which several council members called in due to concerns of coronavirus, Cobb said during a heated exchange that he is let down by Mayor Bill Goodwin for several reasons, including what he said was Goodwin's refusal to attend a special meeting centered on coronavirus.

That meeting was called by Council Member Andrea Willott for March 12 with the expressed intent being to discuss city closures and an emergency declaration for the city.

On March 24, Cobb asked if the declaration could be made active for three days instead of until April 3 while the city calls a special meeting to deal with several other issues pertaining to the city's response to the coronavirus crisis so far.

The March 28 meeting was not open to the public to attend in person due to concerns of coronavirus. Those wishing to attend were given an option to call in and listen, and anyone wishing to make public comment had to make arrangements two hours prior to the 5 p.m. start time.

Public sentiment for Goodwin

Goodwin allowed for the public to make all comments at the beginning of the meeting, during which time eight Bee Cave residents addressed council via telephone.

One resident said she didn't understand why Goodwin was being targeted for removal of several offices within Bee Cave, including his position on the West Travis County Public Utility Agency, the Economic Development Board and his mayor position, and stated the situation appeared from the outside like childish infighting that was not warranted.

Another commenter said she did not feel Goodwin should be removed from the WTCPUA.

Bee Cave resident Will Davis added to that sentiment, and stated he phoned in to the March 28 meeting largely because of the heated exchange that took place during the March 24 meeting between Cobb and Goodwin.

"It was unprofessional. It seemed vindictive and very personal," Davis said, and added based on what he's read of the agenda, the March 28 meeting seemed to be just an extension of the attacks that occurred March 24.

Jim Norman held the same opinion, commending Goodwin for his roles on Council, the economic board and the WTCPUA.

"I completely do not understand what is going on," Norman said. "I see this as childish behavior. It is totally reprehensible ... to take this kind of action on a man that has given 15 years to this community. Shame on you is all I have to say."

Bee Cave resident Ed Crack said he agreed with Norman and asked council to put aside their personal differences and do the job they were elected to do.

After a few people said they were upset about insufficient instructions on how to call in for public comment to the meeting, at which more than 80 people phoned in to attend, council allowed the public to email City Manager Clint Garza in real time to sign up to speak. This greatly expanded the number of people speaking and provided a clearer picture of the feelings of the public.

By and large, public comment painted a picture of a concerned constituency voicing their support for Goodwin, whom they see as a strong and viable leader within the community and who cares profoundly for the businesses in Bee Cave.

"It's obvious he does his homework ... he talks to people in the community. He really cares," another commenter said of Goodwin.

Even comments acknowledging that perhaps Goodwin could have taken more decisive action for the city of Bee Cave regarding the COVID-19 crisis held a tone espousing a desire to keep Goodwin in place.

In the end, only one person who spoke during public comment expressed a differing sentiment from the general opinion.

Bee Cave resident Carrell Killebrew said people should be concerned about Goodwin's inaction with regard to Willott's request for a special meeting on the COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting post public comment

After public comment, Willott read a statement she wrote prior to the March 28 special meeting calling for all stakeholders to calm down and simply consider the facts.

"The presence of an invisible virus has many people on edge," Willott said. "Everyone makes mistakes in word choices and judgement. Everyone."

Willott elucidated on a couple of emails, both of which were obtained by Community Impact Newspaper. One was sent by Goodwin to staff March 21 that insisted council members and staff attend the March 24 meeting in person.

"I would like all members of staff that have business on the agenda to be in physical attendance, and urge you to tell them that I expect that of them," Goodwin's email stated. "Feel free to remind them that they are under your supervision and that I have no authority to require anything of them, that I am cognizant of that and nonetheless want them there."

The other email from Cobb to staff that Willott referenced admonished Goodwin for his insistence that staff and council attend the meeting in person.

"If any one of you feel scared of repercussions, please know that I will go to the floor fighting for anyone who does the right thing, and I believe the rest of the council thinks the same way," Cobb's March 22 email stated.

Willott said these communications from two city leaders need to be placed in the appropriate compartments and addressed away from public view.

"I would like for both parties to resolve this in private so that we can get on to city business," Willott said. "Hopefully, valuable lessons have been learned from this experience."

Cobb said he agreed with Willott following her emotional plea for focus on the most important issues, and said he wanted to table the agenda items that specifically addressed those communications. However, Cobb did address other agenda items on the special meeting agenda pertaining to Goodwin.

Goodwin and Cobb resign

Following Cobb's call to table the agenda items centered on him, Goodwin read into the record the aforementioned email he sent to Garza and three other city employees.

Goodwin said he acknowledged he made some missteps regarding the handling of several facets of official business amid the COVID-19 crisis, including violating the spirit of the Bee Cave City Charter, which essentially states no official may deliver orders to staff.

For his part, Cobb, who was the main reason for the meeting, apologized to Goodwin on the record.

"No ifs, ands or buts, I was wrong," he said of his reaction.

But Cobb also brought up an email from Goodwin dated March 17 in which Goodwin stated he would not attend a special meeting to declare a disaster declaration for the city.

"You unilaterally decided we were not going to have a meeting and therefore we didn't have a meeting," Cobb said to Goodwin. "I think that is bad government."

Cobb said he takes this situation especially seriously, as he believes most other people do, because he has so many loved ones who could face serious health complications should they be infected with coronavirus.

Following that, Cobb made a motion to remove Goodwin.

Cobb and Council Member Andrew Clark voted yes, Willott and King voted no, and by law Goodwin was not allowed to vote on his own removal, so the 2-2 result is on the books as a failed vote.

Goodwin then resigned as Mayor.

After Goodwin's resignation, Cobb made a motion to remove Goodwin from the Economic Development Board, which resulted in a 3-2 vote, with Cobb and Clark voting yes and resulting in a failed motion. The same procedure followed when Cobb called for Goodwin's removal of the WTCPUA.

"I implore you guys to support this," Cobb said, describing what he views as Goodwin's misuse of power.

That vote also failed in a 3-2 vote, with Clark and Cobb again voting for removal.

Imediately after that vote, Cobb resigned his post as City Council member.

"If I stayed on the council, it would be extremely disruptive to everyone else," he said just before leaving the phone call.

Though Goodwin resigned as mayor, he still retains his posts on the Economic Development Board and the WTCPUA, and is still a council member.

Community Impact Newspaper will update information on the now four-person City Council consisting of King, Goodwin, Clark and Willott, and any new appointments as that information is forthcoming.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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