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City of Brady

The Charter Review Commission met Monday (Jan 14) night to continue its review of the City of Brady Home Rule Charter. They initiated a systematic review of the charter to consider changes and corrections to the current charter. Some changes were as simple as grammatical errors; others amended the charter to agree with current Texas law. For Brady voters, the most important change being considered was a change in the number of registered voter required to initiate a recall of the Mayor and Council.

The meeting began with comments by an unhappy Mayor Gail Lohn directed to Commission Chairman Shelly Perkins. Mayor Lohn told the Commission they were asked to review very few provisions and were not to review the entire charter. Among the items mentioned specifically were requirements related to recall elections and responsibilities assigned to the Mayor and City Manager.

In a City Manager style of government, the City Manager acts as both the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. As such, the City Manager is normally responsible for signing contracts, regulatory filings, invoices and bills, etc. The Mayor said the current city manager “signs nothing”. She wants to retain those responsibilities for herself. The Commission explained they were trying to provide Charter changes that fit with the City Manager-type of City government.

Prior to last night’s meeting, the Commission planned to recommend a change to the charter recall article that would raise the number of voter signatures on recall elections from 20% to a super majority of 66.7%. The Commission demonstrated a clear understanding of the issues surrounding this charter provision. Balancing the need for government continuity with the electorate’s need to recall Mayor and Councilmen when necessary is not easy. Residents attending the meeting asked the Commission to consider a simple majority of registered voters voting in the last municipal election or 250 voters, whichever is greater. Others noted the Commission represents all the people of Brady, not a particular group. The Commission voted to keep the provision as it is currently written.

Municipal Judge Gary Schroeder was also angry when he came to the meeting. His behavior and temperament did not seem at all judicious. He noted he was in charge of the City Court system and expected to OK any changes in the charter related to Municipal Court. He said proposed changes were not reviewed with him prior to the meeting. When the Commission tried to explain their work process, Mr. Schroeder initiated a sharp exchange with Commission member Jo Ann Coffey. He referred to her as “Lady” a couple of times. She responded that her name was Jo Ann and she would appreciate Mr. Schroeder referring to her in that manner. The upshot was that Mr. Schroeder left the meeting while Mrs. Coffee continued with the business at hand.

Some of you may have noticed that BBN has been less active over the past month or so. There is  a reason for that -  our original premise was wrong when we created BBN. We thought that the problem with Brady City Government was an apathetic citizenry. We thought that city leaders would be responsive and welcome citizen participation. Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again.

Recognizing personal error is a difficult, humbling process. It usually requires a stark, shocking event to get it started.

One such event is the Brady Police Department showing up in force at public meetings to stifle public comment. The Police are there to forcibly remove anyone who offends the Mayor even though there is no violence or threat of violence, just verbal disagreement and a return of the same verbal contempt and disrespect the City Council so freely dispenses upon its citizens.

Whether the Police will forcibly deny American Citizens in Brady their right to verbally disagree with their political leaders hasn't been tested, but the threat is so foreign and Un-American that it shocks and chills the soul. How can this happen in Brady, Texas? How are citizens supposed to respond when peaceful dialog is no longer permissible? The implications are tragic. No sane person wants to go there.

It is true that the citizens of Brady elected the City Council and Mayor. But they were elected to represent citizen interests, not dictate. There is a difference. Responsible people in Brady see that Government at all levels is spending more than the citizenry can ever hope to pay in taxes. It is as true in Brady as it is in Washington, DC. Sensible citizens know it will collapse into chaos when the bills come due. Avoiding that chaos and the resulting conflict will require doing something different.

The Government, including the City of Brady, has a monopoly on the threat and use of violence to impose its will upon the citizenry. Governments also have the power tax the citizen and borrow money the citizen is obligated to repay with interest. Both of these extreme powers were freely granted to the Government by citizens. When not abused by our political leaders, they are absolutely necessary for a peaceful, functioning community.

Make no mistake - if any citizen or group of citizens directly challenges either of those extraordinary powers, they will be crushed and suffer personal loss of income, property and freedom.

Even in the unlikely event that such a challenge succeeded, the winners would find that they would have to grant similar powers to a new group for the community to function. Police exist to protect honest citizens from human predators. Taxes, in one form or another, are necessary to provide common public services.

Doing "Something Different" must start with those realities.

Bread on a Dinner PlateThat "something different" begins at home and extends into the community where we live. We are going to have to become more self-reliant because the cascade of federal and state money showering down on us is certainly going to end. When? No one knows. It may be sudden or it may be gradual. It may be that there isn't much money or it may mean that there is lots of money that won't buy much.

But it will end, because printing money will not make one single slice of bread. Not printing it means we, as a nation or a city or individuals, can't meet our obligations.

What do the citizens want from the City Council? They probably just want basic public services at an affordable price and a City Council that is transparent and responsive.

About sixty McCulloch County citizens met at the Heart of Texas Event Center on Thursday, December 13, 2012, to create a Political Action Committee (PAC) to promote sensible government in McCulloch County and the City of Brady. After being ignored by the Brady City Council as individuals, these citizens organized into seven committees under the Taxpayers for Sensible Government (TSPG) Coordinating Committee.

Pat Davis and Stephanie Wiesen volunteered to be TPSG Treasurers. They will be responsible for accounting and reporting TPSG donations and expenditures. Treasury Committee membership includes Lynda J. Wagner, Ida Medrano, Jesse Torrez, Helen Motz and Mary Gutierrez.

Janet Guthrie and Mary Ann Chase are on the TPSG Economic Development (EDC) committee.

Paulette Savage, Abbie Lee and Mary Gutierrez volunteered for the TPSG committee on City Spending.

Gary Ray will lead the TPSG Recall, Initiative and Referendum committee composed of Donald Lee, Paulette Savage, Larry Mann, Ronnie Bloomstrom and Jo Kelly Rutherford.

Jim R. Wright volunteered to head the TPSG Candidates Committee composed of Jeannie Logan, Abe Rodriguez, Dub Smith and Deborah Linnard.

Gary Sutton leads the TPSG County Issues committee composed of Bill Lopez, Mike Rice, Thomas Flanagin, Kay Morris and Calvin Bingham.

Larry Mann heads the TPSG committee on City Charter, Comprehensive Plan and Ordinances. Serving with him are Paulette Savage, Ronnie Blomstrom and K.J. Hallmark.

A TPSG Membership committee headed by Anita Ellison was also set up.

Bill Neslage, Jon Chase, K.J. Hallmark, Bruce Logan and Latricia Doyal are on the TPSG Coordinating Committee.

Until these committees meet, become functional and begin to provide their own contact information, inquiries about TPSG should be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . In a small town like Brady, chances are you know one or more of the committee members personally.

The Taxpayers for Sensible Government (TPSG) to be organized at a citizen meeting sponsored by Bill Neslage is a Political Action Committed (PAC). Here are some facts about Political Action Committees that might be useful to the citizens of Brady.

The Texas Ethics Commission published a Guide for PACs. It is a good place to start reading.

Here is the definition of a PAC from the guide:

"A political committee, commonly referred to as a “PAC,” is a group of persons that has as a principal purpose accepting political contributions or making political expenditures. Simply stated, a political committee is a group of two or more people that accepts political contributions and/or makes political expenditures. A political committee may be a large group such as an organization that collects money to support many different candidates. A political committee may also be a small group such as two people who get together to raise funds for an old friend who is a candidate for a local office".

From the definition, a PAC is:

  1. To raise and spend money for political purposes
  2. Involves more than one person

The next important fact appears on page 4 where the guide says, "A group becomes a political committee by its actions ..." .

 

This means a group can become a PAC without knowing it. Reading a bit further, we find that when a group raises or spends more than $500  for political purposes, it is a PAC. It subject to the laws governing PACs, must appoint a Treasurer and file regular reports.

 

The important point is that this just happens when $501 is raised or spent. A group becomes a PAC in the eyes of the law when that threshold is passed, whether they know it or not.

 

This changes the question from "Do we want to form a PAC?" to "Have we become a PAC?" or "Are we likely to become a PAC?".

 

This reporting requirement has been ignored in McCulloch County and Brady for so long that it has become "just the way we have always done it in Brady". If no one complies, no one can afford to complain.

 

The first reporting PAC in McCulloch County was the Taxpayers for a Sensibly Priced Jail formed for the special purpose of opposing the bond issue for a new County jail. It was successful and legal.

 

Two Guides from the Texas Ethics Commission are available for viewing or download:

About sixty Brady citizens who want open, honest, competent local government met at the Heart of Texas Event Center on Tuesday, October 16. The meeting was hosted by retired businessman Bill Neslage. The informal group has voiced strong opposition to irresponsible spending and disregard for citizen needs for over a year.

Some elected officials have responded favorably to increased citizen participation. However,  the Brady City Council has gone the other direction, engaging in defiant, reckless behavior just to show they can borrow and spend as they please without regard for the people, the law or common sense. They apparently do not care if it bankrupts and destroys the city itself so long as they can indulge their own personal childish whims now.

Faced with City government run amok and completely deaf to logical argument, this informal group needs a plan, leadership and organization. This brings us squarely to the subject of local politics.

The current fad is to express disdain and hatred for all politics and politicians. Anyone who acts in any way to affect policy is a politician engaging in politics. In a broad sense, politics is the foundation of all human social interaction - it governs in the home, school, business, community, church, government and everywhere else humans work together for common cause. Everyone is a politician at one level or another.

For principled people to withdraw from active politics is to leave government in the control of those who have no principles. Vilifying politics and politicians is one way to drive principled people out of politics, leaving the field to the unprincipled. Don't fall for that lie. If you know what is right and stand for it proudly, you do your share to make politics honorable, as it should be. Keep the faith. You are not alone.

The City of Brady has a political problem that will require a political solution. Toward that end, Tuesday's citizen meeting was to find local leaders and put together the organization that can affect City policy. The groundwork has been laid to form a Political Action Committee (PAC) that can legally raise and spend money.

Sense and Nonsense Is dedicated to providing the information, ideas and interaction necessary to build a community of people who can be trusted and who trust each other.