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UPDATED: Paris Council meets Monday to discuss removing 2 members from the Historic Preservation Commission

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The Paris City Council will meet on Monday at 5 p.m. at 107 E. Kaufman St. for a special session to discuss two agenda items.

The council will first consider taking action on the issuance of municipal bonds. City Manager John Godwin said that the city will be selling $8.8 million in bonds for 2017 water and sewage projects. That amount is what is left over from the $45 million worth of bonds that the citizens of Paris approved in 2013.

Second, the council will discuss and act to remove Skipper Steely and David Alarid from the Historic Preservation Commission pursuant to Sections 2-302, 2-303, and 2-306 of the city ordinances. Those sections can be found at the end of this article.

There were no memos attached to the agenda, and neither Paris Free Press nor The Paris News could identify the source of the agenda item.

Paris Free Press contacted the city clerk, whose office prepares the council agenda each meeting, to determine who had the item added to Monday’s agenda. The clerk said there was no backup for the agenda and referred me to the city’s manager and attorney for further questions.

Neither the city’s attorney nor manager responded in regards to the origin of the item, and when asked to specify which subsections were violated by Steely and Alarid, City Manager John Godwin responded in an email saying that he couldn’t say much about it:

…volunteers are very important to the city, and I don’t want to come across as criticizing any.  Volunteer board and commission members serve at the will of the council, and must represent the city and its best interests.

The Paris News reported that the only council member they could reach, Matt Frierson of District 5, was unaware of who had the item added to the agenda. At least one other HPC member was unaware of the cause for the sudden removal of Skipper Steely or David Alarid. Both Steely and Alarid were appointed to the commission only five weeks ago.

Kelsey McLaughlin of The Paris News quoted David Alarid who said, “the city of Paris action is without merit.”

The following is from the Sunday edition of The Paris News:

Alarid said the special session was called specifically for the purpose of removing him and Steely from the HPC due to clashes the two have had with the city of Paris regarding code enforcement. In one instance, according to Alarid, Robert Talley, Code Enforcement Supervisor for the city of Paris, sought HPC approval for the demolition of houses without an abatement. “Steely said he would deny any further requests until Talley could bring a plan of demolition rather than wanting ‘blanket demolition,’” Alarid said. “I added that I would also deny for those reasons, plus the fact Talley refuses to follow Federal Law.”

Alarid told the News he believes this may be the result of an ongoing disagreement with the city over a the former First National Bank building which he owns.

You can follow live updates of the special meeting on twitter @coltonsanders as it happens.

The sections stated in the agenda reside under Article IX of the Paris Code of Ordinances which covers the Code of Ethics and Conduct for council-members, city employees, boards, commissions, and committees. Those three specific sections pertain to penalties for violation, voidable acts; standards of conduct; and enforcement, respectively. These sections have been listed below:

Section 2-302 (Penalties for violation):

(b) Whenever the city council has determined that any officer or advisory board member has violated any provision of this article, such officer or advisory board member shall be subject to admonishment or censure. The city council may remove from office any officer or advisory board member (other than a city council member) from their position for violating any provision of this article. Any complaint or charge against a city employee for violating this article shall be referred to the city manager for further investigation and/or discipline in accordance with the city’s personnel policies.”

Section 2-303 (Standards of conduct) in this case relates to board/commission members not being allowed to one of the following:

  • accept or solicit gifts, favors, or services which might influence decisions
  • make an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information which was gotten because of their position, or use such information to advance personal interests.
  • use their position or city facilities, personnel, equipment, or supplies to secure special privileges for themselves or others.
  • represent the city in any way other than for the position in which they’re appointed
  • accept private employment or render a service when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of their official duties or would tend to impair their independent judgement in the performance of their official duties.
  • make or permit the unauthorized use of city-owned property.
  • grant any special consideration, treatment, or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
  • engage in any dishonest or criminal act or any conduct prejudicial to the city government or reflects discredit upon the city government.
  • knowingly perform or refuse to perform any act in order to deliberately thwart the execution of city ordinances, rules, or regulations or the achievement of official city programs.
  • knowingly represent any person, group, or business before the council, or any department, agency, board or commission of the city.
  • knowingly represent any person, group, or business in any action or proceeding against the interests of the city or in any litigation in which the city or any department, agency, board, or commission thereof is a party.
  • knowingly represent any person, group, or business in any action or proceeding in the municipal courts of the city which was instituted by a city officer or employee in the course of his or her official duties, or a criminal proceeding in which any city officer or employee is a material witness for the prosecution.

Obviously, some of these can be ruled out as cause for removing Steely and Alarid. However, since I cannot say for sure which rule applies, I have included all of them.

Section 2-306 (Enforcement) allows the city council to direct the city attorney to investigate any apparent violation of the code by a committee member. It also allows the city council to employ or appoint a qualified attorney to investigate.

UPDATE: This article has been updated throughout with the information reported by Kelsey McLaughlin and printed in the Sunday Edition of The Paris News.

Colton is the founder of Paris Free Press. He was born and raised in Paris, Texas, graduated from North Lamar ISD and Paris Junior College with an Associate Degree. He lives in Lamar County with his loving girlfriend and their three dogs and two cats. He has once been uncredited in The Paris News.

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