Thursday, June 20, 2024

Town officials call police on Argyle seniors at contentious meeting

The Argyle Seniors Organization Executive Board is asking for an apology from town officials after they called police to escort a board member out of a recent meeting at Town Hall.

Board members requested a meeting with Mayor Rick Bradford to discuss luncheon expense reimbursements — the Seniors say it takes the town too long to reimburse them — and safety concerns at Town Hall. The Seniors wanted to have the meeting at one of their board members’ homes, but Bradford instead asked for it to be held at Town Hall and requested an agenda and list of attendees, to which the Seniors agreed.

The meeting was then held on the afternoon of July 16, and the Seniors say they were surprised that Bradford had invited Town Administrator Erika McComis and Councilmen Ron Schmidt and Casey Stewart to attend the meeting as well, which the Seniors later called an intimidation tactic in a Letter to the Editor submitted to The Cross Timbers Gazette.

The CTG has reviewed a recording of the first few minutes of the meeting. Bradford and McComis both declined to comment on the meeting to The CTG.

Gabrielle Su, a Seniors Organization board member, took out her phone and placed it on a ladder to take video of the meeting, because the organization’s 92-year-old president is hearing-impaired, but Bradford and McComis told her not to take video because it was not an open meeting. They then asked her to leave, and then McComis called police, which is when Su started to record video, she said. The Seniors and elected officials continued to argue about the nature of the meeting, because Bradford accused them of turning it into a political “ambush.”

Both sides suggested ending the meeting immediately because of the recording issue. A Senior board member said the video would be posted on social media “so we can show the people of Argyle just how you guys are.”

“And that’s exactly what the intention of this was,” Bradford said, as the Seniors protested.

According to an Argyle Police Department police report, when officers arrived, McComis told them that everyone needed to go because people were being hostile and the meeting was over. She also told the officers that more people showed up to the meeting than she had been told, a statement the Seniors deny. Then McComis said only Su needed to leave, and the meeting continued behind closed doors.

Police escorted Su out of the building, and she told them that the Seniors “wanted to talk about how the seniors were being treated badly,” the police report says.

The Seniors Organization said McComis’ actions were abusive and unprofessional.

“It is imperative that the mayor and the involved council members acknowledge their inappropriate conduct, issue a public apology to the Senior Citizen’s Executive Board, and take disciplinary action against the town administrator,” the Seniors said in the letter. “Argyle deserves leaders who prioritize open communication and mutual respect. Dysfunction, hostility, and unfounded accusations directed at citizens have no place in local government and do not align with the values of Argyle citizens. The Senior Citizen’s Board now feels unwelcome at Town Hall and unsafe around their elected leaders. We urge the community to take a critical look at this incident and demand accountability from those who are currently serving in public office.”

Su said that as a result of the contentious meeting, the Seniors Organization is looking for another venue for its monthly luncheons.

“None of us feel comfortable going to Town Hall at all,” Su said. “We don’t know if someone won’t like something and call the police on us.”

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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