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What’s Happening in Copper Canyon – May 2019

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Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Emergency Email Blast List Online at Town website

Copper Canyon has an Emergency Email Blast List to which Town residents can subscribe online at our website host GovOffice (www.coppercanyon-tx.org). An estimated 364 homes of the approximately 500 homes in Town have subscribed.  The emails are restricted to emergency items like notification of a road closed, electricity out for estimated length of time and where in Town, water line repairs and which area in Town will be without water for estimated length of time, etc.  Residents who subscribed to the Emergency Email Blast List did not want to be regularly contacted about other Town events such as Council Meetings and Agendas.  Our Town Administrator Donna Welsh respects their request for privacy of their personal email address.

This Emergency Email Blast List can NOT be viewed by the Staff, Council or Mayor.  And it is NOT subject to disclosure under an Open Meetings Request.  The Email Blast List resides only online at the Town’s web site host GovOffice.  It is not on any Town computer or any elected official’s computer.

Possible New Town Email List for Automatic Forwarding to Residents the Agendas and Approved Council Meetings Minutes.

On the Friday before a Monday Council or Planning & Zoning Meeting, the entire packet for Council and P&Z with Agenda and all underlying documents including Approved Minutes is also available on the Town website to Town Residents and the public in general.  Everyone can see these documents at the same time the Council and P&Z see them.

But at a recent Town Council Meeting, a Resident suggested that we create a new Town Email List for Residents who wanted to be pro-actively sent the next Council and/or P&Z’s Agenda and recently Approved Minutes.  We could do that, even with our small staff.  And, if Residents wanted further details and other underlying documents, they could find them on the Town website and download them.  Since Council Meeting packets are often 30-50 pages long, very few Residents might want the entire Council and P&Z packets that are sent to Council and P&Z members, also be sent to them.  Depending on how much this increases our small Staff’s work load, this might also be a possibility.

A “Plain English” description of proposed changes to Town Ordinances

Residents recently said that they didn’t understand what was being proposed for action on the Agenda, if it was only referred to by Ordinance number and Section number in the Ordinance.  Staff could summarize in “plain English” what action was being proposed.  And if necessary, have our Town Attorney review the plain English summary for legal accuracy.

The State primarily controls Outdoor Political Signs and Mailed Candidate Campaign Ads

The State has pre-empted local control of political signs alongside state roads and political campaign ads sent through the mail.  Our Town Secretary includes all the State regulations on campaign finances and reporting, political ads sent through the U.S. Mail, and outdoor signs for homeowners’ yards and fences alongside roads, etc. – in the packet she provides to each Copper Canyon candidate for our elected political offices of Mayor and Council.  The only State road in our Town is FM 407.  Multiple political signs along major thoroughfares can be a distraction to drivers.

Candidates usually observe a mutual “campaign courtesy” of only placing their yard signs and banners in front yards of their supporters or attached to front fences alongside streets adjacent to that homeowner’s land – with that homeowners’ verbal permission.  It is a time honored way to show local support for that specific candidate.

However, in this election some candidates have placed multiple signs in the road right-of-ways in front of Corps of Engineers land or at the entrances to subdivisions in Town or entrances at roads entering Copper Canyon – without either the Corps’s or the Town’s permission.  This laissez-faire attitude toward political sign placement gives the “intended impression” of more campaign support than the candidate has.

Our Town ordinance on political signs requires that the candidate remove his or her signs by the 15th day after the election.  Candidates are usually good about voluntarily doing this – whether they win or lose the local election.

Interestingly, two candidates for Copper Canyon’s Town Council – Ted Stranczek and Robin Davis – have chosen to each send two campaign ads through the US Postal Service WITHOUT any of the required information about who is paying for these political ads – or even that it is a political ad.  Both candidates could be reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.

This may seem like “political nitpicking.”  But, if you do not observe the State’s Political Campaign rules, what other State laws as a Mayor or Town Council Member might you choose to not observe?  And, does that result in political liability – or simply political credibility – to our wonderful Copper Canyon residents?

Possible Federal Voter Fraud Violations

Both Republicans and Democrats are on alert for Federal Voter Fraud violations!  Those violations may be easier to observe in a small town like Copper Canyon.

You change your home address on your driver’s license and your voter ID registration.  Then you vote in the Town that you have listed legally as your now current home address.  But, you may actually be living elsewhere than in the Town of your most recent voter ID address.  This is a Federal voter fraud violation!

However, your temporary change of home address can be for valid reasons (i.e. your home flooded or had extensive smoke and structural damage from a fire, you are doing extensive remodeling of your home, you are in the process of a divorce and have separated from your spouse and need temporary living quarters elsewhere, your home sold quicker than you expected and you need to give occupancy earlier) – anything that would cause you to legitimately have to live somewhere else other than your normal home.

Our Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson is on alert for this kind of voter fraud, as is our Denton County Judge Andy Eads.  Please thank them both for their vigilance in keeping our elections honest in Denton County!

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