Mayor, council members debate legality of votes during League City City Council meeting

(Courtesy city of League City)
(Courtesy city of League City)

(Courtesy city of League City)

League City City Council on Dec. 3 made what Mayor Pat Hallisey considered to be two illegal votes, and he will be taking his concerns to the attorney general despite the city attorney and council members claiming it was legal.

In October, council passed a resolution nominating Donald Gartman and Council Member Chad Tressler to serve on the Galveston Central Appraisal District’s board of directors. League City is a voting unit that is allowed to allocate 307 votes for candidates to serve on the board.

Hallisey recommended splitting the vote, allocating 154 ballots to Tressler and 153 to Gartman.

Council Member Hank Dugie made a motion to split the votes differently, allocating 302 ballots to Tressler. Hallisey said he could not do that as only the mayor can make recommendations regarding appointments to boards and commissions.

Dugie claimed Gartman would not win with League City’s 307 votes, but Tressler could.


“It does not make any sense to cast votes to someone who will not be on GCAD board of directors, but we do have an opportunity to get Mr. Tressler on, and I say that’s what we need to do,” Dugie said.

Dugie said he would vote down Hallisey’s motion and make his own if Hallisey’s motion failed, to which Hallisey said he does not believe Dugie can legally do that.

Tressler asked for clarification on the law, saying he does not believe it is the mayor’s discretion to make a recommendation for appointments to the Galveston Central Appraisal District’s board.

The city attorney said the city’s charter gives the mayor the sole right to nominate positions to city boards and commissions. The Galveston Central Appraisal District is not a city board or commission, the attorney said.

Hallisey said it has been the city’s policy that the mayor make recommendations for boards and the council confirms. There was only one city board when the city charter language in question was written in 1962, and the intent of the language was to allow the mayor to make recommendations even for noncity boards and commissions, Hallisey said.

“I hardly think this is worth fighting over,” he said.

Hallisey said he would be fine with council voting down his recommendation and moving on. Council voted down Hallisey’s recommendations 6-2. Dugie then made a motion to split the votes with 302 going to Tressler, and Hallisey interrupted him.

“No, you can’t make a motion,” Hallisey said again.

Dugie said the city attorney clarified that he is within the law. Hallisey said interpreting the charter language that way is “splitting hairs.”

“It’ll be at the AG’s office by the end of the week, and we’ll see who interprets the charter correctly,” Hallisey said.

Dugie’s motion passed 7-1, with Hallisey casting the only vote against it.

Council had a similar debate during a later vote for recommending candidates to the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council. Hallisey recommended Council Member Greg Gripon with Tressler as the alternative to the council. Gripon said he would prefer to not take the position.

“Well, how many positions can you not take? What are you here to do if not help the people of this community? I mean, this is getting ridiculous. You guys don’t want to serve on anything,” Hallisey said.

Eventually Council Member Andy Mann said he would be willing to serve, and Hallisey changed his recommendation to Mann to serve on the council with Gripon as the alternative. The motion failed 4-4.

Dugie began to make a motion for Millican to serve on the council, and again Hallisey interrupted, saying Dugie cannot make a motion because the city charter gives the mayor the sole right to recommend appointments to boards and commissions.

“This will be up at the AG’s office with your name on it,” Hallisey said to Dugie. “Make no mistake about it.”

At Dugie’s request, the attorney again clarified Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council is not a city board or commission and not subject to the city charter’s rules, giving Dugie the right to make the motion.

“[Dugie] made what I consider to be an illegal motion, but we’ll vote on it, and we’ll go to war over it,” Hallisey said.

Dugie’s motion passed 6-2 with Hallisey and Mann voting against.

IN OTHER BUSINESS


League City has a shortage of baseball fields available for all the children who want to play and practice the sport, and a group of residents has joined together to help meet the need.

Council Member Nick Long during the Dec. 3 City Council meeting said several parents in the League City Wildcats Little League—a resident-run, nonprofit baseball team for children—pooled their resources, found partners, raised money and approached the city to look at refurbishing an old baseball field at Newport Park. The baseball field will be ready for public play by the new year, Long said.

At one time, League City had baseball fields at schools and parks, but they have all since disappeared, Long said. The only public fields are at the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex, which is overcapacity. The city will soon build Bay Colony Park near Calder Road with more baseball fields to meet the city’s need.

Once complete, the Newport Park baseball field will be open and available to the public. Long said the project is a great example of residents recognizing a need and taking it upon themselves to find money and resources to make a public-private partnership happen. The homeowners association in which the park resides is also looking forward to the baseball field opening, Long said.

“I think it’s an awesome deal,” he said.

Hallisey agreed.

“Maybe it’ll be a trend we could start,” he said, referring to residents starting similar community-benefitting projects.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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