Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Almost Never Present City Attorney ....

.... owes the Richardson residents a refund after this goof-up.

As you probably know, the Richardson City Council, by ordinance, created a Charter Commission. The city council members may be stunned to discover they do not actually have the authority to create the Charter Commission, nor do they have the authority to select who will be on the Charter Commission.

So says Local Government Code, Title 2, Subtitle A, Chapter 9, Section 9.002.   

“Sec. 9.002. SELECTION OF CHARTER COMMISSION. (a) The governing body of the municipality may, by an ordinance adopted by at least a two-thirds vote of its membership, order an election by the voters of the municipality on the question: "Shall a commission be chosen to frame a new charter?" The governing body shall by ordinance order the election if presented with a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of the municipality.”

There are only 2 ways in which a Charter Commission can be formed.

First, the governing body creates an ordinance adopted by 2/3 of the governing body (city council) and orders an election with the question “Shall a commission be chose to frame a new charter?”

The second way, a petition signed by at least 10% of the qualified votes asking for a Charter Commission.

The city council, at least according to law, cannot create a Charter Commission without a majority of the voters voting for a Charter Commission.

The next question comes, who would serve on the Charter Commission if the Charter Commission were approved by a majority of the voter. Section 9.002 (c) provides that answer: “Section 9.002(c) The ballot at the election on the question prescribed by Subsection (a) shall also provide for the election from the municipality at large of a charter commission to draft a charter if a majority of the qualified voters voting on the question of choosing a charter commission approve the question. The commission must consist of at least 15 members, but if it has more than 15 members it may not have more than one member for each 3,000 inhabitants of the municipality. The ballot may not contain any party designation.”

On Sept 8, 2014, in an unrecorded council meeting at city hall, behind the veil, somehow or another, a group of people were selected for this “to be illegal” Charter Commission. The ordinance creating this Charter Commission wasn’t even in existence at the time and would not be sign until Oct. 6, 2014.

So what does all this have to do with the almost never present city attorney? As the city attorney, he should be able to give the city good and sound legal advice. Seems he was once again unable to perform that job.

The city council and city staff seems to have just followed his advice without thinking.

Because really, how hard is it to do a search to find out the legal requirements to create a Charter Commission? Maybe they should have googled it for themselves.

Ordinance creating their version of a Charter Commission:

State law governing Charter Commission:




  1. The law you cite does not apply to the City, it only applies to General Law Cities attempting to convert to Home Rule status. The Charter Commission created by the City is created under the authority of the Charter itself, and will only propose amendment to the current charter. Sec 9.002 LGC only governs the adoption of a new charter, and is not applicable to the charter amendment process.

  2. Anon 10:10, how right you are! No state statues apply to Richardson, according to some.

    Your first point, it does not apply to home rules cities and only applied to General Law Cities? What does the title say? “LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE,TITLE 2. ORGANIZATION OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, SUBTITLE A. TYPES OF MUNICIPALITIES, CHAPTER 9. HOME-RULE MUNICIPALITY”

    I think you got that wrong ole bud.

    Next you claim the Charter Commission was created under the authority of the charter itself. That is so. But, the charter does have to comply with state statute, does it not? 9.001 commands how the Charter Commission shall be brought forward and state statute is always superior to a city charter.

    I Guess ole bud, you are wrong again.

    Now you also say Sec. 9.002 LGC only governs the adoption of a new charter, and is not applicable to the charter amendment process.

    Give the man a gold star! You have that correct!

    Sooooo, why is the council trying to use a Charter Commission to amend the city charter when that is not allowed by statue?

  3. Well, I’m glad to know that we’re ole buds:) In any case, you couldn’t be more wrong, both in your understanding of the statute or in your understanding of what the City has actually done. The board created by the City is an advisory board meant to advise the City Council on how to exercise their authority under Sec. 9.004 LGC, it is not the board authorized to create a new charter for a City under Sec. 9.002. Here is a FACT for you ole bud: The vast majority of Texas Cities amend their charter in the exact same manner that the COR is doing so now. It’s been done hundreds of times over many decades, and it’s perfectly legal. I don’t know why you think that your half reading a state statute would make you more credible than the City Attorney, but the process will continue, both in COR and everywhere else in the state. Have a nice day ole bud;)

  4. Well, ol' bud, here is what is so misguided in your perspective. Comprehension and understanding should never apply to just one person in any organization. And it is not about the credibility of Pete Smith. It is more about comprehension and understanding by the people, the real stakeholders, who vote for 7 people to be the protectors of their interests, not the saboteurs and punishers. If the complexity of law is too "deep" for anyone to read and understand, then you should expect arguments and personal attacks. If someone wants to become clear on the rules and opens up Local Government Code 9.001, it says Adoption or Amendment. Nothing a mentioned general law cities. It also says in 9.002 (d) it says for the first charter, the prior (a) (b) (c) do not apply IF 1 or to happen. So the only place in that language the first charter is mentioned is (d). That is just plain, old fashioned reading. A voting citizen should be able to open the charter and know what the rules are. And if there is a deferral to local government code, there should be a reference to it. This comes under the heading of clarity and transparency. And if it is not clear there should be dialog about it. Yet that is not what is going down in this instance. There has been so much that has happened through the years to bring doubt by pure conscious intent to disregard the Charter, from the TOMA, to the golf course, to debt, and the chummy relationship with the chamber. It just flat out baffles me that people in this city will argue against the law as it is written, and then attack the persons who bring up the subject. If the events of the last 8 or 10 years were a soap opera, with all of the missteps of morality and ethics, Richardson would be more popular than JR and gang of Dallas. Absolutely fascinating!