Thursday, August 22, 2019

Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting August 7, 2019

 I had to leave this meeting early because I was so frustrated with the lack of preparation and knowledge of items on the agenda. Late in the meeting, it became clear that the County Judge’s office has not been providing commissioners with materials to prepare for the meeting for quite some time now.
What’s even more amazing about all this than the lack of ability of the County Judge to do this job is that commissioners have not mentioned this to the constituents. No wonder the meetings take forever and everyone is so confused. It’s hard to believe that the city council, basically a volunteer position functions exponentially better than paid commissioners and the County Judge do. This is very upsetting to me.

Here are my notes on the meeting:

Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting Wed 8/7/2019, 9:30 AM, Marfa

Convened at 9:40 AM

All commissioners present

Item 4: Citizen Comments:
Bentley says that citizens have requested mass gathering issue be advanced to front of agenda.

Rob Crowley: says that vote four weeks ago about second amendment sanctuary county passage. Understand that it’s somewhat meaningless, but it sends a signal.
Gun laws may be changing. Right and left are considering changes. Sheriff already has a lot of power to interpret the laws. Commissioners sending the message that if new gun laws are passed, commissioners do not support the Sheriff enforcing them. Curt has a responsibility as leadership to set the priorities for this County. Be on the correct side of history. Do it for Presidio county and for El Paso.

C3 item moved up.
Judge says that she wishes C3 had presented the mass gathering initiative differently. They went to the city first and everyone was already upset.
At this time the County is still meeting with them, trying to get all the facts so that commissioners can come to the public. Promises to put this before the public “at the right time”. Input has been high volume.
Says that commissioners have public safety in mind first.
C3 feels the same way.
Unfortunately nowadays being in public is not necessarily safe.
The decision to grant or not grant is a huge responsibility that is on the Judge’s shoulders.
Nine requirements stipulated within the law that must be followed. If followed, County must grant permit.
Goes on about requirements, reads from statute.
County has expressed concern about fire and EMS services needed for C3 festival. Company is addressing that.
These rules apply to anyone having a mass gathering.
Outdoor music fest:Sec 24.101 of the Occupations Code.
Judge says she wants to hear from all of the public, but she wants commissioners to consider separate applications for mass gathering s and music festivals.
Wants to have a public meeting in the evening when more of the public can attend.
Comments: Buddy Knight says that he knows there is a citizens committee that put together a proposed application.
Knight has some issues with a few things on that application. Insurance should be required. He supports festival but he thinks county should pay an impact fee, possibly a performance bond.
Would like to have a limit on peripheral, but state code does not allow for that.
Says health officer, fire marshal and sheriff have to do their duty.
Wants to be sure County is completely covered for any impacts.
Judge says she will personally guide this.
Neil Chauvigny says that C3 is huge, probably has a performance bond, county does not have the ability to deny the permit if requirements are met. Sheriff, fire marshal and health officer cannot delegate their authority in this, it’s really on them.
How many people? 5000-6000 the first year.
Neil says ability to grow is what is potentially troubling. 10,000 or more?
Neil has talked to DPS and sheriff about all this. It would take a tremendous effort on the part of law enforcement.
Judge says State does not allow for limits on numbers, but does allow for denial for safety reasons.
Another citizen asks about tickets, 6000 people in year one. Knight says yes.
Nothing is established beyond year one.
Judge says they don’t plan on growth. Beebe and Knight disagree, they said they plan on growth in the future.
How can information on this become public? The public does not have the information, gets conflicting information from different people, such as in this instance.
How can citizens participate?
Judge says that the leaders here will decide after being satisfied with their concerns when to bring it to the public.
Bentley says she is in favor of a citizens group to attend these meetings.
Judge says that it will be good if public officials will get the facts first and then bring it to the public.
Citizen participatory group would be great says public comments. Judge Guevara says she has invited a citizen to attend. Knight says that a couple of people should be able to attend.
Judge wishes there was not so much anxiety about all this. Bentley says that the public is asking to participate.
Judge says that in the interest of productivity the meetings have been limited to officials and the company. Citizen agrees that having citizens there would indeed inhibit productivity with regard to getting a deal done.
Judge says next meeting in Marfa will have an agenda item with regard to this.
Judge says that court maybe should start meeting in the evenings so that people can attend.

Judge says that commissioners need to discuss meeting times so that citizens can have better representation. She thinks that meetings would better serve the public if they were at night.

Bob Schwab: says this is a huge deal, that’s why there is passion.
He is concerned about the court seemingly justifying the C3 application.
Liability is unavoidable. A citizens committee is very important. He is sensing a lack of professionalism on the part of officials and possibly others and a conflicted County Attorney.
Citizens want a committee that can have a real voice in setting the standards for an event like this. Citizens need to see that our own standards are met. Cut off the meetings with C3 and meet with the community instead.
How do we define subjective standards?
DPS needs to be heavily involved. Knight is talking to Allison Bass Atty’s to get advice. Schwab believes Rod Ponton has at least two direct conflicts of interest.
Sally Bovais asks about citizens advisory committee, where is that? Judge says she met with citizens on June 6. Then took concerns to C3. Objections from crowd.
Schwab says citizens are asking for a non binding committee to be established on Sept 4.
Knight says we can ask C3 for things, but cannot force beyond the statute.
Schwab agrees and says we need to ask. And we need to define the standards of safety. Schwab says he is very concerned that the Judge seems to be siding with C3 and trying to justify them to the citizens.
Rob Crowley says that he is in favor of live music, property owners individual rights, tourism based business. Says citizens advisory committee does not represent the entire community. He has been locked out of the meetings of the informal committee. He does not like the anti tourism sentiment in town. New says he has not seen any anti tourism sentiment.
Dawn Shannon says she has been asked to attend a C3 meeting to sit and listen. She does not approve of meetings where she is not allowed to speak and does not approve of the closed door meetings.
Aranda says he is in favor of a committee and has been.
Next agenda in Marfa will address this and evening meetings.

Five minute break at 10:55 AM

Reconvene at 11:10 AM

Item 5: payroll approval

Item 6: line item transfers and budget amendments:
Airport: supplies and repairs
Road and bridge fuel costs
Courthouse fuel costs
JP 2 tech fund software money
Road and bridge temp labor, repairs to vehicles.
County Annex, cleaning supplies
Emergency management computer website
Several others...
Knight moves to approve. Second by Cabezuela

Item 7:
auditor says RFPs for motor grander are going out.
(I missed the rest of the auditors report) approved

Item 8: Treasurers report: Frances Garcia
Golf course clubhouse roof damaged in a storm, insurance paid, will be repaired.
Bills. Approved
Treasurer does not have monthly statements, will have next meeting.
Most ion to postpone item 10. Unanimous

Item 11: Donation to 4H in conjunction with Kia commercial. Ginger Griffice presents this $750.00 donation for the record. Approved. Also paid rental fee of $4000.00 to county, Judge says.

Item 12: proposal for services jail HVAC project. McKinstry is architect of project. Continuation of services.
Nine rooftop units. Natural gas heaters.
Auditor negotiated price down $5,000.00
Court approved this amount range a few years ago for this project.
Approved Katie Sanchez says that she wants it for the record that McKinstry has only been on site one time. Much discussion about what exactly they have done and if previous facilities manager directed them to do things that way. Motion by Judge, second by Cabezuela. Unanimous.

Item 13: already covered- mass gathering, discussion only.

Item 14: Electrical work for outdoors at courthouse. Forty outlets, two 100 amp panels.
E.V. Services. Aka Junie Villareal. Electrical outlets are rotted and unsafe.
This would be a portion of the work. There are four panels, this would replace two.
$14,000 plus dollars.
Judge thinks there is a fund balance available.
AEP is donating time to do trenching.
Bentley wants to know what the benefit of this is to the county. Obviously the Marfa Lights Fest is one. Judge says that if system is unsafe then permit would be denied. Patty Roach says that a budget amendment would be needed for this. Forty percent advance requested. She does not recommend this. Perhaps an invoice could be provided first. AEP can help supervise the project with Eddie Pallarez being the point man.
Judge wants to approve contingent on availability of funds.
Auditor has an issue with this. North side of courthouse will be addressed next agenda. This updated agenda only applies to the South side box, for just over $7,000.00 (I do not have a copy of this , the agenda given to me is different).
$9600 left in budget for courthouse repairs.
Motion is now to approve proposal for 7540.00 to install electric on S side of courthouse. Unanimous.

Item 15: judge motions to pass, duplicate item.

Item 16: Lubbock County public defender contract for Capitol cases.
Ponton says it’s a standard agreement. Recommends approval.
Renewal of previous agreement.
$1465.00 payment.

Item 17: Adoption of an ordinance allowing sale of alcoholic beverages “late night “ in the County.
TABC section 105.03
Judge says that the county should have had in place before issuing any late night permits.
Radio station brought this up. Clarified by TABC.
Ponton says that the proposed ordinance is standard and conforms to code.
Extended hours for alcoholic beverage permits.
Reserves the county’s right to repeal ordinance.
Allows for previously approved permits to remain valid.
Sally Bovais asks what affect it has on issuance of permits? Judge says she thinks that commissioners will still judge each applicant on a case by case basis.
Sally asks what the criteria would be, if there are any criteria. Judge says she thinks there is a section that addresses this.
Ponton says that it makes it lawful for commissioners to grant a permit.
Guidelines are within the code. Bentley says that she thought that the TABC had advised, through two attorneys that an applicant still must come before  commissioners but that the ordinance gives blanket permission to an area to apply for one. Judge says she does not know.
Judge says that concerns of the public will be considered, based on Attorney Ponton’s recommendation. Bentley asks who wrote the ordinance. Judge says they found one and adjusted it. Judge says she wants to consider each and every applicant.

Beebe asks if anyone has read the ordinance. No, and nobody got access to the document prior to the meeting.
Accusation by Beebe that nobody knows what they are attempting to pass.

I could not write this all down, but Ponton confirms that all businesses applying can receive a permit through TABC.

It now comes to light that Commissioners do not receive materials prior to meetings. Including in this case.

(I am totally disgusted.)
Ordinance passes, making the specific El Cosmico request moot.

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