Goliad city attorney resigns at council meeting

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

July 21, 2014 at 2:21 a.m.
Updated July 22, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.

GOLIAD - A special meeting called to fill vacancies on the Goliad City Council ended with another resignation Monday night.

City Attorney Ashford Taylor resigned after he complained some council members were being disrespectful.

"I can't help people who don't want my help," said Taylor, who started in the position Feb. 1.

The move came after the 8 p.m. standing-room-only meeting started about 22 minutes late.

During that time, Mayor Anna Lopez Machacek, City Administrator Larry Zermeno, City Secretary Pam Long, Ashford and another attorney hired by the city, Barney Knight, met in the hallway after it was discovered they did not have a quorum.

Machacek at one point wanted to meet with Knight alone but later said she valued both attorneys' opinions.

Knight is paid $175 an hour, Machacek said.

Knight will likely bill the city for 2.8 hours of work.

Knight, of Corpus Christi, recommended the city call the two council members who resigned last week, Buddy Zavesky and Lionel Garcia.

He said Zavesky and Garcia should attend the meetings until their positions could be filled, but they declined to do so.

The city could ask law enforcement to bring them to the meeting, but "I don't recommend that. Period," Knight said.

Knight recommended the council set an election for November instead.

All of the city's business, including creating the budget and setting a tax rate, must be conducted during regular meetings. Regular meetings can be held without a quorum; however special-called meetings cannot.

The City Council meets twice a month, but it can pass a resolution to meet more frequently, he said.

Machacek expected the council to fill the vacancies, so she brought two people to the meeting to be considered.

They were to introduce themselves to the council and speak about their contributions to the community, Machacek said, declining to release their names.

This presents a new set of challenges, she said, but "we are trying because we care."

Councilwoman Cheryl Worley said after the meeting, "I am just sick and tired of the mess."

Zermeno resigned July 15. His last day will be July 31.

Zermeno said he resigned after it became clear Machacek wanted to take away some of his duties.

Machacek, who ran on a platform of increasing transparency in city government, denied doing so.

One item Machacek placed on the agenda sought council approval for purchases greater than $5,000. Currently, the council's permission is needed for purchases at or greater than $50,000, according to an earlier report.

Attendee Raymond Starr, 76, called the new council members "vindictive" toward staff.

"You can see it in their body language ... and how they make comments sometimes," he said.

Starr, who signed up to speak, did not think consulting the council on purchases of $5,000 was a workable solution. He was happy an election would be held for the vacant council positions instead of appointments.

"It's part of the need to repair citizen confidence in city government," the retired college history professor said. "And it's simply the right thing to do in a democratic government."

The next City Council meeting is in August.



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