Calhoun Port Authority August 30 Special Meeting (copy)

The board of the Calhoun Port Authority spent much of their meeting on Wednesday in closed session.

The board of the Calhoun Port Authority met with its attorney in closed session for more than an hour on Wednesday but took no action afterward.

Last week, the Victoria Advocate asked an appellate court to force the port to withhold payments to its lobbyist. After the board met on May 9, the port hired Blake Farenthold, a former congressman who had resigned amid an ethics scandal, as its lobbyist.

The Advocate contends that the public was not notified he was being considered for the job.

The Advocate contends the public shouldn’t be on the hook for his estimated $13,000 monthly checks until a judge can decide whether it is true the port violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.

After the meeting adjourned Wednesday, the port’s attorney, Bill Cobb, of Austin, ignored an Advocate reporter who tried to ask him questions.

He instead sat in a car with Board member J.C. Melcher Jr. and went back into the port’s office after the reporter left. As of Wednesday afternoon, the appellate court had not ruled on the Advocate’s request to withhold Farenthold’s payments.

In other business, Port Director Charles Hausmann said the port is about 25 percent ahead of this time last year in terms of tons of product coming through the facility.

He said there’s been 2,312,429.8 short tons.

He said in November, 130 vessels used the port. Of those, 28 were deep draft vessels and 102 were inland barges.

“It was another good month,” Hausmann said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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