Hollywood Park City Council, in a called meeting Feb. 1, did not act on a meeting agenda item in which council members mulled removing the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation board.
Mayor Oscar Villarreal said several weeks ago a few residents brought to his attention an alleged conflict of interest involving Andrew Moon, who has been with the EDC board for more than one year.
According to Villarreal, concerned residents claimed Moon, who practices law, has been serving as a registered agent for Broadminded Media, a local marketing agency that contracted with the EDC to carry out the organization’s inaugural Hollywood Park Restaurant Week event in 2021.
The subject first arose in a joint council/EDC meeting in January, where Villarreal asked Moon if he had fully disclosed his working relationship with Broadminded Media. The mayor also asked Moon if he considered his registered agent status as a conflict of interest. Villarreal as mayor also serves as EDC executive director.
As he did in the January joint EDC/council meeting, Moon told council members on Feb. 1 that his role was not tantamount to being a Broadminded Media employee or partner with benefits.
In last month’s joint meeting, Moon said he relays official documents on behalf of Broadminded Media, but that he has “no financial or legal obligations” with the marketing company.
Moon said he has long admired the work done by Broadminded Media and sought to pitch the agency to the EDC and city for additional work, including possibly developing an app to promote Hollywood Park and its business community.
"I have no financial or legal interest in Broadminded Media,” Moon said. “I used my relationship with Broadminded Media to accomplish Restaurant Week. I’ll continue to use my relationships to further business in Hollywood Park.”
Moon said he did not think his professional relationship with Broadminded Media was “relevant.” According to City Attorney Ryan Henry, Moon does not appear to be violating any ethics rules, although the EDC does not have a mechanism by which to review alleged ethics violations.
Community Impact Newspaper was alerted to at least one complaint being filed with the State Bar of Texas against Moon for his role with Broadminded Media.
State Bar Public Information Director Amy Starnes told Community Impact Newspaper that a confidentiality requirement bounds her organization, and that the state bar could neither confirm nor deny such a complaint filing unless it were filed in district court or if the claim results in a public sanction. The State Bar of Texas website shows no active complaints nor past sanctions handed out against Moon.
Several other attendees at the Feb. 1 meeting defended Moon, including Broadminded Media President Debbie Johnson, who expressed shock that anyone would question Moon’s work or professional relationships.
Residents defending Moon also said they feel the claims against Moon are another example of city leadership acting hostile against community groups and volunteers. Many of those residents referenced the recent debacle involving the Hollywood Park Community Association and the Hammerheads youth swim team, and their efforts to secure long-term storage space at Voigt Park.
Resident Wendy Gonzalez said there is some discord between city government and community members, and fears that could discourage people from volunteering with City Council, boards, committees and initiatives.
“It’s like anyone who steps up, they get shot down and it’s disheartening,” Gonzalez said.
According to Villarreal, residents who expressed concern about Moon feel there should have been some kind of disclosure a long time ago.
“My job as mayor is to get all the information and bring it to the council,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal also acknowledged that some residents are angry with his handling of more contentious issues, such as the Voigt Park storage space controversy. But Villarreal said since his appointment to the mayoral position, he has focused on addressing loose ends and unresolved matters, and “[fixing] a lot of things that were broken at city hall.”
“There is no way to please everybody,” Villarreal said. “I’m a volunteer here as well.”
Before entering an executive session, three council members said they felt inclined to vote against any motion to remove Moon from the EDC board.
“I’m not happy how this was brought about,” Council Member Debbie Trueman said. “I’m not happy about the way it came up at the [EDC/council] joint meeting.”
Trueman, among a few other participants and attendees at the Feb. 1 meeting, said they would like to see ethics guidelines added to the EDC’s bylaws.
Two other council and EDC board members—Sean Moore and Delaine Hall—shared their worries about Moon.
Moore questioned Moon’s behavior toward city government and about other EDC issues, including Moon’s suggestion at the joint meeting that the EDC could be dissolved. Moore said, given the chance, he would vote to remove Moon.
“It wasn’t just this failure to disclose, which, regardless what you think a registered agent does or doesn’t do, we should all disclose. We all have a Rolodex; we all have connections that we hopefully bring to the job,” Moore said.
Hall said Moon could be an asset for the EDC and the city, but criticized what she called Moon’s lack of understanding of certain community matters.
“Andy, I want you to get along with everyone and do great things,” Hall said.
Following a 40-plus-minute closed session discussion, Villarreal said the council would not act on any proposal to oust Moon.
“Looking forward to working with you, Andy,” Villarreal said afterward.