City Leaders Try To Set Record Straight - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/8/07

City Leaders Try To Set Record Straight

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Mayor David Miller addressed allegations of sabotage, favoritism, and lies at Lubbock City Hall Thursday.  His words came, just days after councilman John Leonard brought his concerns into the open.

Leonard claims he was unfairly pushed out of meetings, and says the council is playing favorites.

Miller says there are valid reasons why Leonard was asked to leave some meetings, and claims the "gang of four" doesn't exist.

"There is no gang of four," Miller said. 

"I think it's true more than it's not true," Leonard said. 

"It's fictitious and it does not exist," Miller said. 

Miller and Leonard both took to the podium, telling their side of the story. Most of the incidents they spoke about took place out of the public's eye, so you'll have to decide exactly what happened for yourself.

"In recent days, council members and city staff have been the target of inflammatory and inaccurate allegations by John Leonard. I am correcting the record today," Miller said. 

On Monday, councilman Leonard told NewsChannel 11 he was unfairly asked to leave water commission meetings, and claimed city leaders tried to keep him out of an audit committee meeting.

Miller says he requested a briefing with the water commission early in his term. He asked council members Jim Gilbreath and Phyllis Jones to attend. He says staff inadvertently invited Leonard.

"He was unable to participate because it would constitute a quorum of the council. I requested that he excuse himself and he agreed," Miller said. 

"When I realized it was me that was being asked every time to leave the meeting, I said no, I'm not going to do that," Leonard told NewsChannel 11 on Monday.

Leonard says Miller could have asked other council members to leave a second meeting, but Miller says Leonard had the least seniority there.

"I simply went by seniority," Miller said. 

Dispute at the audit committee meeting started when committee members went into executive session.

"All council members and staff were asked to leave, including my self," Miller said. 

"I went back and asked the chair person to come out into the hallway. I said you understand that what you asked, you can't really ask of a councilman.  Well, that's what the city attorney told me to say. I said thank you very much," Leonard said. 

"Later the committee invited me, along with the city attorney, and the city manager to rejoin the meeting," Miller said. 

"I returned, got my charter, spoke with councilman Boren, went back to the audit committee and when I opened the door, low and behold the mayor is in the meeting, so the attempt was obvious," Leonard said. 

"It's of interest to me that the allegations being made, brought up, are of meetings that happened in the last 12 to 16 months, not in the last week or so," Miller said. 

"The fact that this is old, 12 and 14 month old news is not correct. There were some attempts made in the last two to four weeks as well," Leonard said. 

Mayor Miller says these allegations purposely coincided with Tom Martin's run for mayor, but Leonard denies that.

Again, folks will have to decide for themselves, because as of right now, there is no internal investigation into these matters that we've been made aware of.

 

Statement Issued by Mayor David Miller, 11/08/07

In recent days, Council members and City staff have been the target of inflammatory and inaccurate allegations by John Leonard. I am correcting the record today.

First, John alleged he was excluded from Water Advisory Commission meetings.

The truth is, early in my term, I requested a briefing on water from staff and the chair of the Water Advisory Commission for myself, Councilman Gilbreath and Councilwoman Jones. The purpose of this meeting was to bring me up to speed on the major water issues. Staff inadvertently invited John to the meeting as well, but he was not able to participate because it would constitute a quorum of the Council. I requested that he excuse himself, and he agreed.

On a subsequent occasion, I wanted to give a brief word of thanks to the Water Advisory Commission at one of its meetings, as I was doing with many other Boards and Commissions. As I entered the room, I saw John and two other council members present. In order to comply with the Open Meetings Act, I asked him if he'd be willing to step out for five minutes while I thanked the Committee for their work. He declined, so I left. Out of disgust, the other two Council members also left.

I believe that any interested Council member should be able to attend these important meetings. For this reason, under my leadership and for the express purpose of openness, all Water Advisory Commission meetings since January 2007 have been publicly posted to allow all interested City Council members and citizens the opportunity to attend.

Second, Mr. Leonard also alleges that he was excluded from an Audit Committee meeting. This is a half-truth. The whole truth is that when the committee moved into executive session to discuss a particular audit, all Council members and staff were asked to leave, including myself. Later, the committee invited me to re-join the meeting. Shortly thereafter, both Mr. Leonard and former Councilman Gary Boren entered the meeting without invitation and demanded to stay. Therefore, they stayed.

By design, the Audit Committee is independent of City Council and staff influence. The committee has unrestricted access to all relevant information and it has the authority to investigate any financial matter. It is within the committee's authority to hold an executive session meeting.

After concerns expressed by the Audit Committee regarding Council pressure and interference with their work, the Lubbock City Council unanimously re-affirmed the Audit Committee's independence in a resolution adopted August 23, 2007.

As Council members, we took an oath to act in the best interest of all citizens - not for political or personal gain. It has taken extraordinary leadership to keep this ship righted while others have tried to sabotage our work. I, for one, will continue to keep my oath to serve all citizens.

 

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