Saturday, June 17, 2017

ASAC Quorum: Did One Exist on 6-15?

A quorum may have existed when the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee cancelled its meeting last Thursday.  Here's the scenario:

If ASAC Chairperson Jenie Wilson's resignation is not official until accepted by the Committee, then there were four committee members in the room. which constitutes a quorum. 

Here's what the city did in the case of Bill Richardson:

District 1 City Councilman Bill Richardson submitted a written resignation to Mayor Dwain Morrison this morning.

According to a Texas Attorney General opinion, the resignation will become effective once it is approved or accepted by the City Council or once eight days have passed since receipt of the resignation.

The City Council will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday to engage in its annual strategic planning session. City Clerk Bryan Kendrick said a special meeting may be called prior to the planning session Thursday morning for the Council to consider acceptance of Councilman Richardson’s resignation and to discuss its options for filling the seat.
Should the above information apply to the Animal Board the ASAC meeting could have begun, public comment been accepted and business started.  ASAC bylaws do not speak to resignation of board members, so City Council behavior/practice is one place to turn for precedence.

The Standard Times reported the evening of the cancelled meeting that Wilson "resigned about a week ago."  That's in time for her resignation to have been added to the agenda and accepted by the board.  It's also before the eight days that had to pass before a City Council members resignation was effective.  Four ASAC members may have been in the room last Thursday but no meeting was convened.  Would that be a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act


Jim Turner said...

If we want to split hairs, the resignation needs to be to the body that has authority to decide membership rules. In the case of City Council, that is city council. In the case of a board or commission, that would be the appointing authority which in this case would be the city council. This is backed up in the ordinance, city charter and the bylaws.

In effect, this mean the resignation must be submitted to the appointing authority (City Council) and isn't official until approved by the City Council or at least the council person that recommended appointment. So in effect there could have been a quorum present but that doesn't mean they would be able to actually conduct business. She could just recuse herself because of the ongoing action of resigning.

Like I said, splitting hairs a bit. If the chair (or any member) is resigning and their participation is required to have a quorum to act, I think that recusing ones self is the proper course to take.

Can't wait to see if they do it properly (city council vote, etc.) or just slide it through like normal. This needs full and open discussion in front of the Council and the Public.

Jim Turner said...

Also, on the open meetings question my take (IANAL) is that if the meeting is never called to order and there is no discussion among the quorum present and no action happens then there is no meeting. It's effectively cancelled. Several possible scenarios, such as the meeting room being unusable, where that could happen. Best course, of course, would be to hold a short meeting where the problem was noted on official record and all items are tabled till a future date but I don't think it's technically required.