A special meeting of the governing body of Blanco was held Friday, October 22, with only two items on the agenda and no public comments. After discussion of two proposals to purchase new Crown Victoria police cruisers, council voted unanimously to purchase used vehicles from the Houston-Galveston Acquisition Coop, a government entity the city has used previously to get good prices on vehicles.
These 2008 vehicles, one with 21K miles and the other with 26K, come with a 3-year warranty at a base price of $14,500 each. On Chief Willmann’s recommendation, council also voted to have special equipment, including radios and video cameras, installed locally by a Marble Falls firm for $3,500.
According to Mayor Homan, the vehicles were to arrive by Wednesday, October 27. Council member Rebecca Howerton suggested that the money saved by buying used vehicles be set aside to purchase a third car in the future.
The second agenda item, characterized by city attorney Eddy Rogers as “totally unnecessary,” was a motion to ratify the earlier firing of Assistant Police Chief Carl Bragg. Rogers explained that the law does not require a vote to fire an “at-will” city employee; however, ratifying the firing “will make moot any questions about violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act,” which had been raised by residents.
Firing Bragg in open session of council, said Rogers, would be tantamount to “a public hanging,” continuing, “It is not the way to do business.” In response to a published statement by Bragg that he was not given a chance to defend himself (Blanco County News, October 20), Rogers related that Bragg had been given a multi-page evaluation which he signed, containing areas of “deficiency.”
Attempts by Tina Gourley to respond to these comments met with reminders by the mayor that the meeting was not “a public debate” and that there were no public comments on the agenda, to which Gourley responded, “How convenient.” She was told that she could speak in the Public Comments section of the next regular council meeting.
Rogers also took council member Rebecca Howerton to task for commenting to the press on matters discussed in closed session, especially her assertion that council members said Bragg “should be out writing tickets.” City secretary Bobbie Mowery verified that council discussed the fact that revenues were down but did not put any blame on any individual. The vote to ratify the firing passed 4-1, with Howerton’s the only dissenting vote.
Read responses to this meeting here http://www.blancocountynews.com/news/article/35959