The Blanco County Commissioners Court held a Special Meeting on Tuesday May 28th. All four County Commissioners attended the meeting. The minutes of the May 14th Regular Meeting were heard and approved by the Court.
County Judge Bill Guthrie told the Court there were no bids on GovDeals for the two unsold 6’ x 16’ cattle guards, and that, “Bids for these items closed at 9 a.m.” Commissioner Paul Granberg asked how the Court would implement the process of putting these items on the agenda. Judge Guthrie asked Blanco County Auditor Cindy Lent if the bids should be verbal or written. The Auditor answered that the bids would need to be in writing and the items may be declared as salvage. Commissioner Granberg made a motion to declare the items as salvage with a proposal to come back and take the high offer. This motion was seconded by Commissioner John Wood, and the motion carried.
Blanco County Commissioners acknowledged the filing of the audit for the South Blanco County Emergency Services District for FY 2012 as required by Texas Health & Safety Code 775.082(a). Judge Guthrie told the Commissioners the audit was filed with the office last week, and a motion for acknowledgement was given by County Commissioner James Sultemeier and seconded by Commissioner Wood.
Pursuant to the Regular Meeting of May 14th County Commissioners Chris Liesmann and Granberg have gathered paving bids for their respective Precincts Three and Four. Bids for the project were received from several vendors, including Big Tex Paving, Inc., Blacktoppers Technology, Inc., Ruvalcabas Paving Company, and Shannon Mock, Inc.
Commissioner Liesmann presented a motion for Big Tex to be awarded the low bid for grade four in Precinct Three. Commissioner Granberg asked to be given a few minutes to review the lengthy compilation of bids for Precinct Four. After reviewing the bids Commissioner Granberg awarded bids in Precinct Four to Big Tex Paving. The specifications called for AR 5. Commissioner Granberg added that, “All the bids were competitive and good bids, and I appreciate the time given by the contractors to prepare them.”
Judge Guthrie asked the Court to consider the appointment of Ernest Topper to the Blanco County Child Protection and Family Advocacy Board. A motion for acceptance of the appointment was made by Commissioner Liesmann and seconded by Commissioner Sultemeier. The Court approved the appointment of Ernest Topper.
Judge Guthrie told the Commissioners that a resolution observing the 45th anniversary of the TET Offensive had been prepared by the State of Texas. Governor Rick Perry had signed this resolution “to remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women whose sacrifice honored our country through their service.” Commissioner Liesmann presented a motion to accept the resolution, the motion was seconded by Commissioner Sultemeier, and the resolution was signed by all four Commissioners.
Outstanding bills were received by the Court in the amount of $60,681.27. A motion for payment of the bills was provided by Commissioner Wood and seconded by Commissioner Sultemeier; the motion carried.
At this time the Commissioners adjourned for an Executive/Closed Session. The closed meeting was held pursuant to Section 551.071 of the Texas Government Code in order for the Commissioners Court to consult with and seek advice from its attorney pursuant to and within the attorney/client privilege and the confidential attorney/client relationship, as defined by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas, Rule 503 of the Texas Rules of Evidence, and other authority regarding the following pending litigation: Cause No. CV07075, styled Tex Riley v. Commissioners Court of Blanco County, Texas, et al, in the Third Court of Appeals, Austin, Texas.
Pertaining to the pending litigation a Public Information Release was supplied. According to this Status Update: “Tex Riley sued in January, 2011 after Commissioners Court refused his Open Records Act request to publicly disclose tape recordings of three non-public meetings held by the Commissioners relating to land purchased by them for $750,000, an amount the suit alleges was over $300,000 more than the seller asking price for the property two weeks before the county’s purchase. Once Commissioners Court refused to disclose the tape recordings, Riley noted, he had no choice but to file the lawsuit because that was the only legal remedy made available by the Open Meetings Act.”
The District Court ruled in favor of the Commissioners Court, striking down all of Riley’s claims. However, on May 23rd, 2013 the Appeals Court ruled in favor of Tex Riley regarding his open-meetings claims because the Commissioners Court are not immune from his suit. “Although the Commissioners Court points out that a provision of the open meetings act authorizes actions against members of a governmental body, this Court has explained that the open meetings act waives immunity for violations of the act and authorizes suits against governmental bodies.”
Furthermore, in his second issue Riley presented several claims. These were: “The Commissioners Court violated the open meetings act by providing inadequate notice of their closed meetings, that the absence of notice prohibited the Commissioners Court from properly holding a closed meeting, and that the recordings of the meetings should be made available to the public because the recorded meetings were not properly closed to the public.” Riley’s second issue was overruled on appeal.
The Appeals Court upheld Riley’s third and final issue on appeal. In the appeal Riley “contends that the district court erred by concluding that he failed to properly present his claims to the Commissioners Court before filing suit.” In summary, the Appeals Court “sustained portions of Riley’s first and third issues on appeal and overruled his second issue…accordingly, we remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
After consulting and seeking the advice from legal counsel, the Commissioners Court resumed the open session, and Judge Guthrie asked if there was a motion or discussion. Commissioner Granberg made a motion to not appeal to the Texas Supreme Court regarding the Third Court of Appeals Decision on May 23, 2013. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Wood. Commissioner Sultemeir also voted not to appeal, and Commissioner Liesmann voted in favor of appeal. The motion carried with a vote of three to one. Attorney for the County Commissioners Chuck Kimbrough summarized that, “The case would be remanded, or sent back to the lower court for further action.”
The business of the Court was concluded at this time, and the meeting adjourned.