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Lengthy PEDC Executive Session Yields No Action

PEDCby Nick Murillo/eParisExtra.com

The Paris Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) called a Special Meeting on Tuesday, August 5th at 4pm in the Community Room at the Depot, located at 1125 Bonham Street.

On the agenda was a call to order followed by a closed Executive Session pursuant to Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code to seek legal advice from the PEDC’s attorney regarding the preliminary investigatory report by Defenbaugh & Associates, and Section 551.074 of the Texas Government Code to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties of the executive director, assistant director, and interim director.

PEDC Chair Steve Grubbs called the meeting to order by thanking everyone in attendance, including Danny Defenbaugh and Legal Counsel Jeff Moore who sat at either side of him.

Mr. Grubbs began by saying, “First of all, let me say, our original desire was to have this meeting in combined session with the city council.  However, through conversations with Mr. Defenbaugh, I quickly realized he was not in agreement with that, as well as having the sessions open to the public.  So therefore, we sought legal counsel from Mr. Moore, and asked what venue we could meet collectively not being in open session and talk about questions we might have on the investigative report, how to release this report to the public.

“Now these questions aren’t going to be talked about in closed session today, that’s not what we’re here for, but we did have those questions, and what we learned, what Mr. Moore advised, is that since we’re going to be talking about personnel matters and since we’re going to be receiving legal consultation and advice about the report that there really was no way for the city council and the PEDC to meet together in any kind of Executive Session.”

Mr. Grubbs continued, “I’m so thankful that both of these gentlemen have agreed to come and be a part of our meeting tonight.  I’m thankful for our board members for taking the time to be here as well.  At this time, I would like to convene into closed Executive Session pursuant to Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code to seek legal advice from this attorney regarding the preliminary investigation report by Defenbaugh & Associates, and section 551.074 of the Texas Government Code to deliberate…”

Before Mr. Grubbs finished his opening statement, PEDC member Mr. David Turner interjected about attorney Jeff Moore, “Mr. Grubbs, before we go any further this man has not been employed by the PEDC board to represent it.  He is not a PEDC board lawyer, there has been no motion, there has been no vote.”

Mr. Grubbs replied, “Mr. Turner, let me finish and we can answer that at a later time.”

Mr. Turner continued, “He is not our lawyer.  You said he’s our lawyer.  He is not our lawyer.  I haven’t voted on it.  There’s never been a vote.  I will take great exception to him being involved in anything.  He’s got no business giving advice to this board.”

Mr. Grubbs then asked Mr. Moore, “Point of order, Mr. Moore, have you been engaged by the PEDC?”

Mr. Moore answered, “I was hired in 2012 by the PEDC to deal with 4A legal issues.”

Mr. Turner responded, “You’ve not been hired by this board here though have you?  You’re not representing this board are you?”

Mr. Moore answered, “I am representing this board.”

“Who hired you?” Mr. Turner then asked.

“Steve Gilbert.”  Mr. Moore answered.

Mr. Turner continued, “Steve Gilbert’s no longer a part of this organization.

Mr. Moore responded, “The client is PEDC.”

Mr. Turner continued, “I never voted to represent you.  I never heard of you before.  He’s certainly not been voted on by me, by Mrs. Clifford, Mr. Wilson, or anybody else.  He’s not our lawyer and I object to him being part of anything.”

Mr. Grubbs then said, “Objection so noted.  Let me continue and finish.  Actually, let me start over.  The PEDC shall convene into a closed Executive Session pursuant to Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code to seek legal advice from its attorney regarding the preliminary investigatory report by Defenbaugh & Associates, and Section 551.074 of the Texas Government Code to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties of the executive director, assistant director, and interim director.  So at this time I’d like to convene us into Executive Session.  The way we’ll do this, the first session, the first part of the session will involve personnel matters and because it does involve personnel matters, I feel like it is very important that only the ruling members of the board be present in the room so I make that motion.”

Don Wilson seconded the motion.

Mr. Grubbs said, “I have a motion and a second.  Any discussion on that motion?”

Mr. Turner then said, “I object to having this man in this meeting,” referring to Mr. Moore.  “If you’re going to bring him in, I can’t do it.  I think it’s illegal.  He has not been hired by this board.  He doesn’t represent this board.  He’s not authorized being here.”

“Again, only members of the board will be present for a personnel session,”  Mr. Grubbs responded.  “The second session, when we finish that with Mr. Defenbaugh, the city council members are certainly open to come back in and be a part of that.  So we have a motion and a second.  Any further discussion?”

No one responded to further discussion.

Mr. Grubbs then asked, “All in favor?”

All members voted ‘Aye’ while Mr. Turner voted ‘No’.

Mrs. Clifford did not vote.

Mr. Grubbs ended, “Again thank you all for attending and if you will excuse us for a period of time.”

Visitors and press were dismissed at 4:10 p.m.

The Executive Session continued for three hours and twenty minutes.  The press and visitors were invited back in at 7:30 p.m.

At that time, The PEDC Chair, Mr. Grubbs noted the time and said, “We are ready to reconvene back in open session.  There is really nothing to take action upon tonight, but a couple of comments.  One, thank you Mr. Moore again for being present tonight.  You’ve been very insightful and very helpful.  The second is that we did learn tonight from Mr. Defenbaugh, he clarified that the report he issued on the 28th was a preliminary report, and we are to receive a final report by next Tuesday.  That was a point of clarity for all of us.  Finally, thank you to the board, the council members, to all of you for sticking it out.  It’s been a long night.  We’re all tired and weary, but it’s been a good night and I think we’ve made progress.  With that said, I will take a motion for adjournment.”

A motion was made, seconded, and unanimously voted in agreement to adjourn.

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