Attorney letters: League City City Council members acted legally when making motions related to board appointments

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

(Courtesy city of League City)

Letters from two attorneys agree: Despite Mayor Pat Hallisey’s protests, League City City Council members acted legally when they voted on a council member’s two motions to appoint residents to various boards in December.

During the Dec. 3 City Council meeting, Hallisey recommended the council evenly split votes allocated to the city to two League City residents—Council Member Chad Tressler and Donald Gartman—who wanted to serve on the Galveston Central Appraisal District’s board of directors.

Council Member Hank Dugie instead made a motion to split the votes so Tressler would receive the majority because Gartman did not have a chance to win a seat on the board with how other municipalities’ votes were shaking out.

Hallisey said Dugie did not have the right to make such a motion, according to the city’s charter, which states solely the mayor can make appointments to boards and committees, Hallisey said.

Dugie pointed out the charter references city boards and committees, and the Galveston Central Appraisal District’s board of directors is a county body.

Hallisey and council members debated the topic at length until the council voted on Dugie’s motion, which passed. Hallisey called it an illegal vote and said he would take the matter to the attorney general.

Later in the meeting, Dugie made a similar motion for Council Member Larry Millican to serve on the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council. Again, Hallisey protested, saying such appointments were solely the mayor’s responsibility, but the motion passed.

At the time, City Attorney Nghiem Doan said he agreed with the council members’ interpretation of the charter.

The debate resurfaced Dec. 17 with the mayor and council members reiterating their points. Since then, Community Impact Newspaper has obtained letters from attorneys that agree the council acted legally—for the most part.

According to a Jan. 28 letter from William Helfand of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, the council was allowed to make a motion to appoint someone to the Galveston Central Appraisal District’s board of directors because it is not a city body, which means the city’s charter does not apply to the situation.

The letter also states that because the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council is not a city body, council members, not solely the mayor, can appoint a representative to it. However, according to the council’s bylaws, Hallisey would have to be League City’s representative to the council, negating any appointments, whether from the mayor or council members, Helfand wrote.

Doan wrote a similar letter on Dec. 3 to the council restating his interpretation that the city charter’s language granting the mayor the sole privilege of appointing representatives to boards and commissions applies only to city-created bodies.

“I am unable to find any basis to assert that either the Galveston County CAD board or the TPC of H-GAC can be considered a city-created board,” Doan wrote.

City Council on Feb. 25 voted 6-1 with Hallisey opposed to waive attorney-client privilege for this specific situation, making Doan’s and Helfand’s letters public.
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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