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Flower Mound Town Council sends investigation report to DA

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Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.
Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.

Flower Mound Town Council members on Thursday voted to send the investigator’s report regarding a violation of the town’s Ethics Ordinance by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Itamar Gelbman to the Denton County District Attorney’s office for review.

“I want to say that when it came to writing the resolution, [Town Attorney] Bryn Meredith felt uncomfortable doing so, so I was the author of this resolution,” said Mayor Tom Hayden. “And, having said that, I want to tell the council members that if you do not feel that you can support this resolution 100-percent– under a future deposition– then do not vote for this.”

The resolution stated in part that it was “in the best interest of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare to refer the report … to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office,” and, went on to outline threats allegedly made by Gelbman against the town council, town manager and others if the council publicly released the report or took any action (see full text of the resolution below).

Immediately following the initial reading of the resolution, and before the discussion and vote, Gelbman read a statement saying he intends to file a police report against the council for exceeding its authority.

Hayden said: “Sounds like another threat.” He then asked Meredith if the council was within its legal legislative authority to send the resolution to the District Attorney; Meredith said it was.

The first council member to speak was Bryan Webb, who gave a verbal synopsis of events, dating back to before July 2015.

He reminded people: “This whole thing started because [former council member Brian] Rountree and Gelbman wanted to get, as Rountree said to another council member, ‘a pound of my flesh.’”

Webb went on the say that it was Gelbman’s initial attempt to remove a former Planning and Zoning Commissioner and Webb’s sharing that information—which was learned during an executive session– with the commissioner to allow him to defend himself in a public setting, that led to Rountree’s inquiry about how to start an investigation on Webb to remove him from the council for an ethics ordinance violation.

He continued saying that both the Town Manager and Town Attorney had told Gelbman and Rountree “don’t do it,” but they went forward with their request for an investigation.

When the investigation included the mayor and the other council members (with the exception of Steve Dixon) and involved testifying under oath and the possibility that both Rountree and Gelbman would be subpoenaed if they didn’t testify before the independent investigator, Rountree resigned before he could be subpoenaed.

Gelbman testified, but after his testimony and the threats he made against council members and another Flower Mound resident, the investigator recommended prosecution.

“Let the DA look at the facts,” said Webb, in conclusion.

Council member Kevin Bryant said: “At each of one of these forks in the road, you [Gelbman] made it where it had to be this way.”

“When this whole thing started, I felt I had to write down what I saw and heard on the day of, or morning following. And after reading this resolution, it matches what I’d written down,” said Steve Dixon.

When the vote to send the investigation report to the D.A. was taken, it was 4 to 1; Gelbman was the only Nay.

The matter is now in the hands of the Denton County District Attorney.

Resolution language:

WHEREAS, the Town of Flower Mound is a home rule municipality acting under its charter adopted by the electorate pursuant to Article XI, Section 5, of the Texas Constitution and Chapter 9 of the Local Government Code; and,

WHEREAS, on July 20, 2015, the Town Council authorized an investigation of the Town’s elected officials (the “Investigation”) pursuant to Section 3.12 of the Charter and on Sept. 8, 2015, the Town Council approved the continuance of the Investigation; and,

WHEREAS, on Nov. 30, 2015, the third-party investigator issued the “Investigation Report Town of Flower Mound” (the “Report”), which indicates “[p]ossible violation, prosecution recommended,” in the context of allegations made by resident David Vaught against Councilmember Itamar Gelbman; and,

WHEREAS, in accordance with the recommendation of the investigator, as set forth in the Report, the Town Council finds that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare to refer the Report and the findings set forth therein, to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office; and,

WHEREAS, in addition to the foregoing, the Town Council desires to express its displeasure and disappointment with Councilmember Itamar Gelbman’s actions, as set forth in the Report and as further detailed below, which the Town Council finds constitute a breach of the responsibilities of the office of Councilmember of the Town of Flower Mound.

That the Town Council of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, hereby directs the Town Manager and Town Attorney to refer the Report to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office.

That the Town Council finds that Councilmember Gelbman has issued threats that if the Council publicly released the Report or took action compel Councilmember Gelbman to participate in the Investigation, he would take the following actions:

  • Take steps that would be detrimental to the Town Manager’s profession and livelihood; and,
  • Councilmember Gelbman also threatened legal action to challenge the ability of the Town Council to exercise its right to issue a subpoena or to make the findings of the Report public (including commenting to one Councilmember, “if this goes to court I will bankrupt this *expletive* town”); and,
  • Councilmember Gelbman threatened reputational harm to a resident of the Town. The Town Council finds that these comments were witnessed at various times by the entire Council body and/or individual members of Town Council, as well as Town staff members, and in supporting this Resolution the Town Council finds these statements to be credible and confirms the validity of same. Based on the foregoing and on the findings of fact and conclusions set forth in the Report, the Town Council hereby issues a public rebuke of Councilmember Gelbman.

That this Resolution shall be effective from its date of adoption.

Duly passed and approved by the Town Council of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, by a vote of 4 to1, on this 21st day of January, 2016.

Timeline of events:

On July 20, 2015, the Town Council authorized an investigation of the Town’s elected officials pursuant to Section 3.12 of the Town Charter and on Sept. 8, 2015, the Town Council approved the continuance of the Investigation.

On Nov. 30, 2015, the third-party investigator, Ross Foster, issued the “Investigation Report Town of Flower Mound,” which indicates “[p]ossible violation, prosecution recommended,” in the context of allegations made by a resident against Councilmember Gelbman.

During the Dec. 21st Town Council meeting, the Town Council requested that the Town Attorney develop a resolution that would: 1– refer the investigation report to the District Attorney’s Office; and,  2– admonish Councilmember Gelbman.

In addition, the resolution contains factual findings (supporting admonishment) that were provided to the Town Attorney by individual members of the Town Council. The Council may debate, supplement or modify the factual findings set forth resolution, as it deems appropriate.

Legal review by Town Attorney Bryn Meredith, of Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla, & Elam L.L.P., of the resolution as to form and legality was conducted.

RECOMMENDATION: Move to approve a resolution to refer the “Investigation Report, Town of Flower Mound,” to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office and declaring a public rebuke of Councilmember Itamar Gelbman on the basis of the report and the factual findings contained within the Resolution.

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