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Flower Mound council speaks on appointments

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Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman
Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman

Each year, prior to the Oct. 1 start of the municipal fiscal year, a variety of duties—including setting a budget for the upcoming year—are finalized by the Town Council.

An additional duty, listed in the Flower Mound Town Ordinances, is making appointments to town committees, boards and commissions; for even-numbered places in even-numbered years and odd-numbered places in odd-numbered years. Appointees serve two-year terms at the approval of the council, as determined by the majority of council members.

Applicants must be town residents and registered voters at the time of their application to serve on a committee, board or commission. They must also be available to attend an in-person interview with the council members. This year, interviews were held between 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 30 and Sept. 8; 38-applicants attended.

“It’s so wonderful and I’m so uplifted to see all the people who want to volunteer to serve their town,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bryant. “We have doctors and DVM’s and all different kinds of professionals; and, other towns have to beg to get people to serve. The hardest thing, is we don’t have enough room for all the candidates.”

Many of the council members echoed the same feeling.

“We split it [the interview process] between two nights, because there were so many applicants,” said Jason Webb, Place 1.  “And, while many couldn’t interview—personal conflicts– even then, almost 40-candidates attended. I’m very excited about the number of people who want to serve the town; it gives me great confidence in our community.”

Place 4 Town Council member Don McDaniel agreed, but added that selecting appointees is a process that reflects the council’s responsibility to the town residents.

“I feel that I have a responsibility to work hard to achieve the goals and objectives that I put forward during the campaign [in May] and that I was elected on,” he said. “Part of that is selecting board and commission members that can understand that vision; even if they do not always agree [with me] and [don’t] vote [as I would] towards it.”

Bryant added that the number of applicants is a reflection of a general commitment to the town.

“The Citizen’s Academy, even the first one, was filled within four days, which is a lot of people wanting to be educated about how their town works” he said. “I heard that people wanted to see new people serving; and, we were able to place over a dozen new people in places. I’m pleased we were able to place several [academy] graduates in places, such as Laura Dillon, who is now Place 6 on P&Z.”

Jason Webb pointed out that every appointee serves “at the will” of the Town Council. He added that both he and Mayor Tom Hayden were in agreement that an appointee should be assured serving for the full two-year term.

“We should not remove anyone who hasn’t served their term as expected,” he said. “That happened in 2015 and I didn’t want that to happen again. When I was appointed to the Board of Adjustments, I wanted to feel the council would support me. So, after a majority of us [council members] voted to approve someone following discussion, I felt it was important to approve that selection unanimously—even if I disagreed during discussion– during the public section of the meeting. I said ‘yes’ to the new appointees.”

Voting in disagreement with that opinion as stated for appointees for the P&Z Commission was Place 5 Councilman Itamar Gelbman.

“It’s a fake claim that they’re [the other council members] trying to get new blood,” he said. “They are trying to hit me back for what happened last year. It’s the [P&Z] commission that does matter and they don’t want independent thinking. The developers just want a rubber stamp and that’s what they’ve got. The other commissions and boards are only advisory; except for P&Z and the Board of Adjustments.”

McDaniel stated that: “Voting records and such were never discussed when we were making P&Z appointments. As P&Z and Board of Adjustment member discussions are a matter of public record– and are posted as such– I will tell you that Councilperson Gelbman is the one that asked to move Mr. [Brian] Smiley off of P&Z [reappointment] to Transportation; a fact that he conveniently forgot to mention when he was accusing council of making selections based on voting record only.”

Mayor Tom Hayden and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Webb each responded that they didn’t care to comment.

“Many people submitted applications, but couldn’t interview,” said Bryant. “It’s important they don’t get discouraged; there will be openings next year– either to fill any vacancies or for the odd-numbered places expiring in 2017.”

To view all the appointments finalized by the Town Council on Sept. 8, click here. http://www.flower-mound.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/09082016-2395

“There were a couple of Transportation Committee appointments [Places 2 and 6] that were unintentionally left out of the final reading on Sept. 8,” said Town Secretary Theresa Scott. “They will be read and officially finalized as future Town Council agenda items.”

Removal of Two P&Z Commissioners in 2015

Following the May 2015 election of Itamar Gelbman, Brian Rountree and Kevin Bryant, the June 2015 removal of two P&Z Commissioners were the initial actions which led to an investigation of Code of Ethics violations– conducted by an independent investigator (costing the residents $32,000)—on Gelbman and Rountree; who resigned—for health reasons– prior to being subpoenaed to testify.

The Gelbman investigation led to the Town Council sending the results to the Denton County District Attorney, who—in turn—forwarded the issue to the Texas Rangers for further investigation; which is still pending.

On June 1, 2015, P&Z Vice Chair David Johnson was ousted at the request of Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Itamar Gelbman.

On June 15, 2015, Place 6 Nels Pearson was interrogated by Gelbman and removed from his position. Unfortunately, 10-days following that removal from P&Z, Pearson died as the result of a heart attack, prompting Webb to openly denounce the way Pearson was dismissed.

A year following the removal of Pearson and Johnson from the P&Z Commission, Johnson has been appointed to Place 9 on the P&Z Commission; which brings the popular phrase regarding “Karma” to mind.

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