It's been an interesting week. Let me recap a few items.
Shortly after voting started in the May election, it was brought to our attention that there was an issue with our charter and the state constitution and the way we were holding elections.
In 2014 we made a change to the charter to have 3 year terms for elected officials. This was primarily because with 2 year terms the council quorum could change every other year. One year 3 council members had to run and the next year 3 more had to run along with the mayor. There was also discussion at the time that it took a new council member a while to learn the ins and outs of the office and they were running for election right after they figured out the system.
Council was told this would initiate a "resign to run" rule that says if you want to run for higher office (mayor) you had to resign your current position and that would initiate an election to fill your position in 120 days.
That charter change was passed by the voters in Lakeway in 2014. Fast forward to 2018. It was brought to our attention that there were two other items that were missed by our legal counsel at the time. Those two items were (a) the city needed to adopt a "place" system so candidates would sign up to run for a specific "place" on the council and (b) it would require a majority vote at election time instead of a plurality. Our legal counsel made an error and we will move forward to fix the problem.
Once this was brought to our attention, legal counsel started working with the Secretary of State (SOS) on how to move forward with an election that had already started. The mayors election was not a big issue, if there was a runoff, the top two candidates would run against each other. The big issue was with the council race where there were 6 candidates for two positions and there was no case law on how to hold a runoff election. This is further compounded by the fact that both election (mayor and council) had to use the same rules.
The path the (SOS) recommended was to "PAUSE" the implementation of the 3 year terms that started in 2014. This entailed a complex solution that restated the terms of office from 2014. Everyone that had won a 3 year term now went to 2 years and if they were in the third year at this time they were considered "hold over" until another election.
The city held a special council meeting on April 23, 2018 and all candidates were invited and (I believe) attended. The path forward was explained - the mayor would serve 1 year, one council member (highest votes) would serve 2 years and one council member would serve one year. Two other council members were considered "hold overs" and a special election would be held in November to fill those seats. The election would be held under two year term rules and would require a plurality vote. No runoffs would be required and the "resign to run" rule would not be in effect.
Many candidates spoke, and at the end of the meeting everyone including all mayoral candidates and council candidates (with one exception) seemed to understand the situation and felt this path was a viable option to move forward.
Now fast forward to this week. The election was held, the preliminary vote showed that Sandy Cox won with 42% of the vote, Steve Smith had the most votes in the council race and Keith Trecker was next.
On Monday, Ms. McMillan and an attorney didn't like the outcome of the election and filed a petition for a TRO to stop the seating of Mayor Elect Cox on the 21st. Here is that petition. There were many issues with the petition including Ms. Cox was named (individual that has no control over election rules) and the city council (not a jural entity) was named. They could have named the city and/ all council members individually but did not do that. If an election is to be contested there is a process for that contest - this petition was trying to circumvent that process. Our attorney filed a brief to the court although the "city" was not named in the petition. Here is that brief.
The judge evidently chose not to issue the TRO. A hearing was not held. This is all moot at this point and the city moves forward.
State law says the city must "canvass" the vote within 11 days of the election. Travis County (election folks) don't make the final total available to us until that 11th day (May 16) and we held a special meeting to "canvass" the vote on the 16th. Generally this is not a big deal - in fact only 2 council members constitutes a quorum for this. However, we also needed to finalize the term lengths and talk about a law suit (not the election one) in executive session.
The council meeting was held and the vote "canvased". All this means is the council votes to make Travis County's tally official.
Mayor Elect Cox signed the necessary paperwork and took her oath of office before a notary and turned in that paperwork after the meeting Wednesday. I signed a certificate of election Thursday as is required by law. Ms. Cox and Council Members will be sworn in and take office Monday at the council meeting as is the normal process.
Candidates have 10 days from the date of canvass to contest the election in the courts. The city has not been served and there is no official pending contest. That could always change but the city went forward with a process recommended by the SOS and counsel. Any contest will have to overcome that and provide an alternate "legal" path forward.
The city will go forward with business as usual. There is no corruption or nefarious actions in the city. Those that say that and are spreading those comments should reconsider and if they feel strongly there is an issue should do their own research and bring it to the police, city manager, myself, go tho the district attorney with a complaint or hire an attorney and file suit. Continuing unfounded claims is not productive and is not helpful to the democratic process.
As reported earlier in the week there was an accident that involved a fire truck and 5 other vehicles at 620 and Comanche Trails (turn off for Oasis). There were no fatalities and I'm told all have been release from the hospital except the fireman that was driving the truck. Please keep all these folks in your prayers for a speedy recovery. We were very lucky that this was not far more serious.
We received notice this week that the Cherry Knoll lawsuit has once again been completely dismissed. We purchased land from the plaintiffs to complete the Flint Rock Road project, paid appraised price and everyone was happy. They (and we) signed a contract agreeing that all were happy with the outcome and no one would sue. I don't think they will refile - no one knows for sure. here are the orders. Order on Motions - Final Judgement
Council will meet in regular session Monday the 21st. Here is that agenda. The new Mayor and Council Members will be sworn in and the rest of the agenda is pretty self explanatory. Here is a link to the packet with more info.
The Impact had an article on the Sports Parks in Travis County that includes infor on the Bee Creek Sports Complex. Here is a link to that article.
Staff met with TxDOT this week and discussed the upcoming 620 project (yea). They will most likely start working with a committee of stakeholders this fall.
Public Works replaced yield signs with stop signs at the intersection of Copperleaf and Plum to make the intersection safer. Now if we can just get folks to stop and look!
From the Chief:
LPD Officers conducted 197 traffic stops, responded to 13 alarm calls, responded to 17 animal calls, responded to 12 collisions, answered 18 suspicious circumstances calls, completed 1 mental health calls, and handled 134 other types of calls for service for a total of 392.
Routine traffic stops resulted in the following charges; Driving while Intoxicated X 2, Evading Arrest/Detention X 1, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia X 3.
Officers responded to a RR 620 S. business in reference to a disturbance. The manager advised that a customer had repeatedly returned to the business and was harassing employees over an account. The management asked that the subject be issued a trespass warning for the business. No charges were filed in this case.
Detectives were assigned to investigate a report of a Theft that occurred in the 200 block of Sendera Bonita. According to the victim, he had several rare coins mailed to his residence, but indicated he never received them. The coins were later observed posted for sale by another individual. Detectives were able to positively identify that seller as the postal carrier who had been responsible for delivering the coins to the victim’s residence. Detectives worked closely with the United States Postal Inspector’s Office and collected enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant (Theft, Felony) for the suspect.
Communications Supervisor Olsen and Sgt. Brown represented the Lakeway Police Department at the ASIS International Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon held at the Domain. The event was attended by staff members from all Central Texas area law enforcement agencies as well as area private security corporate representatives.
Detectives were assigned to investigate a report of an Assault that occurred in the 1100 block of RR620 North. According to the victim, she was assaulted by a known associate in the parking lot of a business. Detectives conducted multiple interviews and obtained video footage of the incident. However, Detectives were unable to convince the victim to cooperate/prosecute and the case was closed.
This will be my last blog as Mayor, I hope you have enjoyed the information. I intend at this point to continue to report - of course it will depend on continued access to information. I don't expect that to be an issue - almost everything I get is available on the web site or for the asking.
I have enjoyed leading the city for the last 3 years. I am disappointed that a vocal minority is working hard to discredit hard working elected officials and staff.
Remember this - we have a very open government, a low tax rate and significant reasons to live in this special place. Elected officials are there to make decisions in the best interest of the city and it's citizens. You should elect those that are not single interest candidates and have the best interest of the city at heart.
I believe that has happened in the last election. Most importantly, we need to get out and vote! Less than one fourth of the registered voters voted in this election.
Thank you for all the support in the past 9 years as an elected official of our wonderful city. I look forward to staying involved and helping to keep our city the wonderful place I moved to 30 years ago!
If you would like to be added (or removed) from my email list, send me a note and I'll make it happen.
Have a great Saturday and I'll see you around the city!