Bee Cave City Council votes to remove Bill Goodwin from office for violations of city charter

Bee Cave City Council Member Bill Goodwin did not attend a June 17 council meeting that was intended in part to allow him respond to allegations that he violated the city's home rule charter. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bee Cave City Council Member Bill Goodwin did not attend a June 17 council meeting that was intended in part to allow him respond to allegations that he violated the city's home rule charter. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bee Cave City Council Member Bill Goodwin did not attend a June 17 council meeting that was intended in part to allow him respond to allegations that he violated the city's home rule charter. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bee Cave City Council Member Bill Goodwin has been removed from office after allegations against him came to light over the course of the last several months.

After nearly an hour of deliberation in executive session during a June 17 meeting meant in part to allow Goodwin to respond to the allegations against him, Bee Cave City Council, minus Goodwin, who was not present at the meeting as a form of protest, went ahead with procedures and voted unanimously to find that Goodwin forfeited his office based on findings that committed several violations of the city charter.

Several minutes after the vote of forfeiture, council voted unanimously to remove Goodwin from office.

City Manager Clint Garza said council will have to call for a special election to fill Goodwin's now-vacant seat, which, at the earliest, could occur in November.

The votes unleashed a wave of public comments from Goodwin's supporters, with some even implying that the council should now be investigated, but Council Member Jon Cobb said he would not be bullied.

Cobb said that he, for one, has made his votes with a clear conscience, and no one should feel badly for how the proceedings went.

A June 9 report commissioned by Bee Cave City Council members concluded that Goodwin, a council member since 2005, violated the city's Home Rule Charter and stated that he did so by "impermissibly giving orders to subordinates, and impermissibly pressuring subordinates of the city manager to communicate information to Goodwin before that information was made known to the city manager."

The report, submitted by Martha Dickie of the law firm Almanza, Blackburn, Dickie & Mitchell, LLP, was obtained by Community Impact Newspaper immediately after Bee Cave City Council's June 9 meeting via City Manager Clint Garza.

Council initiated the investigation into Goodwin on May 18, and following executive session of the June 9 meeting, council members voted to submit Dickie's report to Goodwin and allow for his response June 17.

Citing what he called “an unconstitutional, ridiculous interpretation of the [Bee Cave city] charter,” Bill Aleshire, Goodwin's attorney in this matter, sent a letter to council June 15 stating that neither he nor Goodwin would attend the June 17 meeting.

Aleshire's letter made several arguments against the investigation into Goodwin, including one that has been brought up in recent council meetings regarding whether a council member may be subject to investigation and possible removal for actions committed during a previous term of office.

“Therefore, if Council were to vote for removal under these facts, it would be an unconstitutional, and perhaps ultra vires, act subject to a court injunction to stop,” Aleshire’s letter states. “Such an interpretation of Charter § 3.03(C) is so ridiculous and unreasonable, no person would have been given fair notice by reading that Charter language that it would be applied in such an unprecedented, retroactive fashion, basically barring CM Goodwin from ever holding office in Bee Cave again.”

Dickie's report states she reviewed emails to and from Goodwin between Jan. 1, 2018, and May 2020 as well as the audio recording of Bee Cave's March 28, 2020 City Council meeting, during which Goodwin seemed to state that he violated the charter through an email he sent to Garza on March 21.

That email insisted that council members and staff attend a March 24 City Council meeting in person, which was seen by many who read it as a dangerous request amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

"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."

Dickie also interviewed nine people as part of the investigation, including Mayor Kara King, Council Member Andrea Willott, City Manager Clint Garza and Police Chief Gary Miller.

"[It] is apparent that Goodwin has regularly involved himself in many of the minute details of the administration of the business of the City," the report states.

During public comment of the June 17 meeting, several Bee Cave residents called in to the meeting to speak on behalf of Goodwin and stated their belief that the council member did not deserve to be removed from office.

Bee Cave resident Rick Scadden told council he believed that at least one allegation against Goodwin listed in Dickie's report claiming that he was inappropriately involved in a matter involving the low water crossing in Bee Cave was mischaracterized.

Almost every person who called in to voice their opposition to council's actions was a resident of the Homestead, a neighborhood in Bee Cave south of Hwy. 71, and many supported or helped organized a recent effort to create a petition asking officials not to proceed with Goodwin's ouster.

By June 16, the group had amassed more than 150 signatures.

Those who opposed council's efforts to remove Goodwin frequently argued that the believe the proceedings are a waste of taxpayer's money, that Goodwin has been a great public servant during his 15 years in office and that an official in Bee Cave cannot be removed for infractions alleged during a previous term of office; since Goodwin entered a new term of office in May, they argued, he cannot be removed.

Council Member Cobb said June 15 that while ambiguities pertaining to a council member’s removal from office could be read into the charter—specifically, with regard to actions alleged to have been committed during a previous term of office—the findings in Dickie’s investigation largely refer to actions that came to light after the deadline for another candidate to run against Goodwin had passed but prior to his May 12 swearing-in to a new term. Therefore, Cobb said, the investigation is still valid.

Aleshire said he believed that Goodwin’s April 1 resignation from his position as acting mayor, which came days after allegations against him were brought into the public forum, should have forced any investigations against him to cease.

At one point during the proceedings, Council Member Kevin Hight read a prepared statement asserting that the allegations levied against Goodwin are for the most part in line with the guidelines listed in the city charter.

Council Member Andrew Clark said there is nothing about the situation that is personal and that it is clear to him that Goodwin violated the spirit of Bee Cave's Home Rule Charter, which is modeled for strong city manager leadership.

"I believe the report Ms. Dickie prepared was thorough, measured and clear," Clark said. "From my perspective, while the weight of our decision is great, the parameters are very simple."

Council Member Andrea Willott echoed Clark's statements and said that when Goodwin insisted city staff attend a meeting even though a pandemic was gaining steam, it was inappropriate.

"I feel that our charter was violated, and for me, it was highly offensive," Willott said.

Each council member weighed in, and the most-repeated argument for officials against Goodwin repeated again and again centered on the assertion that Goodwin did not take the city's charter seriously.

Mayor Kara King was no exception and delivered an impassioned speech saying this has been the hardest decision she has ever had to make. She further said that if voters disapprove of council's actions, she hopes Goodwin runs for office again and that he can be re-elected if that is the will of the people.

"It is up to the council to follow the charter and decide that fate," King said. "I certainly hope Bill Goodwin takes this issue to the ballot box instead of dragging the city through a legal battle."
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.


Lakeway City Council plans to meet in person at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway City Council to host in-person meeting Sept. 21

Lakeway City Council plans to meet in-person Sept. 21 for the first time since March, when the spread of COVID-19 prompted meeting restrictions.

Kido Home launched in late August offering preschool classes in a virtual setting. (Courtesy Kido)
River Place preschool Kido launches virtual learning platform

The Kido Home platform is available for children ages 2-6 and will feature online small-group classes led by trained instructors.

Trustees met Sept. 17 to discuss reopening campuses. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)(Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eanes ISD prepares for roughly half its students to return to campus Sept. 21

Eanes ISD officials met virtually for a special called meeting Sept. 17 to discuss reopening campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Central Health administrative building in Austin
Central Health finalizes budget with increased tax rate, more health care services for low-income residents

Local health care district Central Health is budgeting a nearly $20 million increase in health care delivery services for Austin’s low-income residents.

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Baylor Scott & White Health to host 9 Austin-area drive-thru flu shot clinics

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock.

Four Points Outdoor Eatery will open by early October. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Outdoor eatery coming to the Four Points area

Four Points Outdoor Eatery is anticipating to be fully open in late September or early October and will feature between eight and 10 international food trailers and a covered patio.

A band performs at the Mohawk on Red River Street. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Six months into pandemic, Austin officials scrambling to save music venues, child care facilities and restaurants

City Council is set to begin making choices on which businesses to try to save on Oct. 1.

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.

Austin City Limits Music Festival will present a free virtual broadcast from Oct. 9-11. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Free virtual broadcast of ACL Music Festival to be held Oct. 9-11 and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Sept. 17 that data from Texas' 22 hospital regions will dictate when certain businesses can reopen at 75% capacity. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, gyms can reopen at 75% capacity as early as Sept. 21

Nursing home and long-term care facilities will also be allowed to reopen for visitation as early as Sept. 24.

See how data compares among Lake Travis-Westlake school districts. (Community Impact staff)
See how enrollment, superintendent salaries and more compare among Lake Travis-Westlake school districts

Each academic year, the Texas Education Agency compiles enrollment data for each public school district, including information on enrollment and demographics.