- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
John David McCool, 45, Engage in Organized Criminal Activity
Anthony Bo Moreno, 24, Engage in Organized Criminal Activity
Steven Dewayne Wilson, 48, Public Intoxication
Shelby Wayne Ford, 19, Minor in Consumption of Alcohol, Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility, Violate Promise to Appear, Speeding, Motor Vehicle Inspection
Stanley Wayne Maggard, 50, Aggravate Sexual Assault Child
Maverick Paul Mullens, 21, Expired Motor Vehicle Registration
Billy Wayne Sprouse, 23, Driving w/ License Invalid
Lamar County Sherriff’s Office responded to a gunshot victim in the southeast part of Lamar County on August 25, 2012.
According to Cass, a 30-year-old male actor was attempting to unload the small caliber firearm at his residence. As he tried to remove the clip, it discharged, striking him in the shoulder.
No one else was injured, and after receiving medical attention at PRMC, the victim was declared in good condition.
No names are being released at this time.
Terri Lea Mitchell, 39, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Barbara Ann Owens, 41, Assault
Matthew Shelton Posey, 23, Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility, Expired Motor Vehicle Registration
Ladarius Rutledge, 29, Failure to Drive in Single Lane
James Wayne Spradlin, 38, Assault Class A
Vanessa Marie Tholen, 26, Theft of Property >=$50 <$500
Lauren Chari Vickers, 24, Theft of Property >=$50 <$500
By CHARLES RICHARDS
In violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Paris City Council met behind closed doors Wednesday discussing the contention of city attorney Kent McIlyar that the PEDC must come before the council for approval on each and every expenditure of 4A tax money.
That’s not the kind of topic a city, county or school governing body is entitled to have in executive session, but the council met privately for 30 minutes with executive director Steve Gilbert and board president Doug Wehrman of the Paris Economic Development Corporation.
Mayor AJ Hashmi sought to hold the PEDC discussion in the open, but McIlyar said he had legal advice to share, and that IS one of the reasons a council can go behind closed doors.
However, according to Texas attorney general’s opinion JM-100 by attorney general Jim Mattox in 1983, in such instances the council must stay in executive session only long enough to receive that legal advice.
At that point, the council is required to take the discussion itself into open session.
That didn’t happen Wednesday night.
The council went into executive session at 6:05 p.m., inviting Gilbert and Wehrman to join them. Thirty-two minutes later, at 6:37 p.m., Gilbert and Wehrman came out, and Hashmi gaveled the council back into open session a few minutes later.Normally, after a governing body emerges from a closed session, there is a vote on the matter — in this case on something that was listed on the agenda as “Development Corporation Act.”
(That’s another apparent violation of the Open Meetings Act, which says an agenda item must be stated in such a way the public will know what is being discussed.)
Instead of calling for an immediate vote, Hashmi said the items “that were discussed in executive session … will be discussed now.”
Hashmi called upon McIlyar and Wehrman to repeat their arguments that they had made in executive session.
“What I’d like you to do, Mr. McIlyar, is give us a brief history of what this is about so that people are brought up to date on what we are doing. Where did this item come from, and give a little background on this,” Hashmi said.
“OK, the economic development corporation and the city council try to work together on all economic development projects brought before the City of Paris and Lamar County.
“On one recent project, the equity group that wanted to buy the existing Sara Lee plant requested that the EDC back with a million dollar loan guarantee their purchase of the Sara Lee plant and also agree to a million dollar loan purchase agreement if there was a default.
“A question came up at the PEDC meeting about whether it needed to come before the city council. I advised them, yes it did. Since then, there’s been some questions and bantering back and forth about whether EDC expenditures of 4A tax money need to come before city council for approval in each and every instance. I believe that state law does require that. There are other cities in the state that may operate differently with their economic development corporations, but I believe there is some history here whereby the city council has tried to review and approve most significant economic development corporation projects. We need to determine if that’s going to be the direction the city council will move from here on.”
The mayor asked McIlyar, “So what you’re saying is, we need to set a direction on how it’s going to work?”
“Correct,” the city attorney responded.
Hashmi then asked Wehrman to come to the podium and give the PEDC’s position.
“Thank you for allowing me to speak. We at the PEDC are very much aware of the people’s money. In fact, I guard it probably better than I guard my own. One of the problems in trying to deal with any industry is sometimes it is a very quick decision that has to be made, to give Paris a better shot at something vs. another city.
“When I was selected to the PEDC, I read all the bylaws, I read all the rules and regulations, and through the years the budget was approved by the city council and it kind of operated as it was needed. It was always my understanding that the city council was in charge of the PEDC.
“To clear these things up, my suggestion is that we put a dollar figure, and once we get that dollar figure, we don’t have to worry about calling you in the middle of the night and saying, ‘Hey, we just got a call from someone who wants to meet us in the morning for coffee, and they need this many dollars and they want to know what we can give them.’
“We all want to get on the same page and on the same team, and so my recommendation would be $500,000 and below. But again, I am here to talk to you because you are the guys that make the decisions, and we want to work together with you.”
Hashmi said, “So the role of the council is to approve the PEDC budget and the tax abatements, and we need to come up with some amount in dollars for specific projects not called for in the line item of the PEDC budget.”
The mayor asked for a motion, and District 3 councilman John Wright said:
“I make a motion that we set the limit of $400,000. We’re all after the same thing, and that’s more jobs. We all realize it’s taxpayers’ money. We all realize that we can call a special meeting in 72 hours, and I don’t see why that’s a big hang-up.”
There was a quick second, and the motion carried unanimously, 7-0.
“My understanding is, there may be legal advice, but it is not in reference to disciplinary action or litigation or buying property, so why do we have it in executive session?” the mayor asked.
The city attorney replied, “Because it falls under (Section) 551.071 (of the Open Meetings Act) for legal advice.”
Hashmi continued: “But the legal advice is not in reference to litigation. …”
“It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be tied to litigation,” McIlyar said.
“OK,” the mayor pressed on. “I’d like to ask other council members. Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with discussing this matter in the open. If other members agree, we would discuss it in open session.”
District 5 councilman Matt Frierson disagreed.
“Personally, I’d like to go into executive session, and I’d also like Steve Gilbert to be part of the discussion for this item,” Frierson said.
“Do all the other council members feel the same way?” Hashmi said.
Two or three heads nodded, and Hashmi said, “OK, that’s fine.”
After the council adjourned, reporters from eParisExtra! And The Paris News expressed concern about the apparent violation of the Open Meetings Act.
“I understand what you’re saying,” city manager John Godwin told eParisExtra! It (the Open Meetings Act) says ‘receive advice’ on purpose. I agree.”
When asked why the discussion was done in closed session, the city attorney said: “It was done in both (closed and open). … No conspiracy that I know of.”
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