The Kyle Report

The Kyle Report

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I ain’t part of no one-sided love (legal) affair

In my professional career I have had many opportunities to interact with a number of police chiefs, assistant chiefs, station commanders and rank-and-file police officers and one thing I’ve learned to be true and you can take this to the bank: As a general rule, police officers don’t like their police chiefs and the head of any police association/union feels it’s his or her mission in life to get rid of his/her chief.

This is true here and the proof of that fact is in a story that appeared today on the front page of the Austin-American Statesman involving Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett. I can vouch for the fact that this story is part of a campaign within the Kyle Police Department to get Chief Barnett fired and the reasons certain people want him fired has nothing to do, whatsoever, with any of the information contained in that story.

Rank-and-file police officers generally mistrust those in higher authority because, they feel with some justification, that those higher-ups put obstacles in the way of their being able to fight the bad guys. I don’t know if it started with Miranda — probably not — but that 1966 Supreme Court decision certainly exasperated the feelings. Then authorities began instituting such law-enforcement barriers as deadly force polices, rules against high-speed pursuits, outlawing choke-holds and police became convinced they were the ones being handcuffed.

Here in Kyle the contention is why is the city, with the chief’s endorsement and encouragement, spending all this money on buying SUVs and handguns for the police when they should be spending it on hiring more police officers. By gum, what we need is a new police chief.

I was approached by an individual within the Kyle Police Department (I don’t want to divulge just who right now) with the same information contained in today’s American-Statesman story. This individual also gave my e-mail address to one of the principals in the story, Dr. Glen Hurlston. I know this because Dr. Hurlston e-mailed me saying he desperately wanted to talk with me at any time and in any place. I poked around and because, apparently like the American-Statesman, I could not obtain privately held legal documents that told the other side of the story, I chose not to pursue it at the time because it would be, like the American-Statesman’s account, completely one-sided. (As an aside, I formally was a partner in a media consulting firm that was called on by governments, companies, sports teams, individuals, etc., facing a crisis and my job was to tell them how to respond to media inquiries. In that capacity, I will say Kyle city officials were correct in saying they could not respond to issues that currently are in litigation, but they could have said a lot more that would have made the newspaper’s account somewhat less one-sided.)

In a nutshell, here’s the issue as outlined by at least one member of the Kyle Police Department and Austin-American reporter Tom Plohetski. Prior to being hired as Kyle’s police chief in April 2011, Barnett was the chief of police in the Collin County town of Princeton, a relatively small, but growing, burg located on the eastern edge of McKinney. Apparently while there he met and twice engaged in a romantic relationship with Suzanne Hurlston, the second time after she became the wife of Dr. Hurlston. No one is able to say, precisely, when the affair ended, but it seems to have run its course when Barnett accepted the police chief’s job here.

On Jan. 1, 2012, Dr. Hurlston was arrested by Princeton police on charges he assaulted his wife. According to legal documents filed by Dr. Hurlston, he was arrested because Barnett used his influence as the former Princeton police chief to coerce Princeton police to make the arrest. Plohetski writes that in an interview with Mrs. Hurlston, she maintained "under no circumstances did the chief orchestrate anything."

Unfortunately, that has become the hub of the story: that Kyle has, as its police chief, someone who engaged in an affair with a married woman and then abused his position to unduly, if not illegally, influence a governmental institution outside the chief’s jurisdiction. To put it simply, he asked his old buds from his former hometown to protect his girlfriend. Ipso facto, Barnett should be fired, if not on legal, than at least on moral grounds.

Hogwash. First on the moral issue, I am firmly in the "Glass House" camp here. Now let’s address the issue of influence. If using a position of authority to influence former employers was illegal, I’d be serving a life sentence. I used my position as the president of a chamber of commerce to influence several Dallas city council members to hire my former boss at the city as the city’s new city manager when there was a great hue and cry to hire someone from outside the city. (My former boss was hired and she proved to be a superb city manager.). I used that same influence on an area police commander, who is now the city’s police chief, to arrest a panhandler that was using excessive force to extract money from shoppers in a certain area of the city. I used that same influence on that police commanders successor to bust up a section of an apartment complex I learned was being used as a meth lab. As a writer, I used my friendships I developed with other city employees to learn about issues happening within city government. Get over it. It’s a way of life.

But now let’s get to the real issue here and it’s illustrated by what I said about the panhandler and the meth lab. Both of these activities are illegal. And so is domestic violence. That’s the issue. Not whether Barnett used his influence to get someone arrested or whether he committed some heinous moral activity by having an affair. It’s whether, as someone sworn to uphold the law, he reported someone breaking the law. I don’t know whether Dr. Hurlston beat his wife. I do know he pleaded no contest to the resulting assault charges filed against him. I have my opinion based on that, but I’ll leave the facts of the case for others to decide.

I also know, largely due to all the publicity surrounding the Ray Rice incident from earlier this year, domestic violence is much more in the public’s eye than it ever has. Just look at the campaign that my former employer, the City of Dallas, has undertaken.

Domestic violence, and especially whether those who really do have the power to stop it, is one of the real issues here. But the other, and most important thing to realize is that, no matter what, those within the department are going to look for some way, any way, to get rid of their chief, especially when if that chief endorses SUVs and handguns over additional officers.

The subject of this argument needs to be changed to reflect that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kyle’s wacky way with roads

Normally, when someone buys a house, they will pick the home they want and then try to secure a loan to obtain the money to pay for the home. Sometimes they will get pre-clearance for a loan before they buy a house. But I’ve never heard of a case in which someone borrows $300,000 or so from a loan company and then goes out in search of a house to buy.

The same is true of municipalities when it comes to capital projects, usually defined as the construction or the major repair of one or more things that will last at least 20 years. Municipalities will undertake all the required studies — land costs, engineering, etc — to determine as closely as possible the cost of the project, and then they will ask voters for permission to take out a loan, in the form of bonds they sell and then repay with interest, to cover the cost of the projects. That way, after the bonds are sold, the city can immediately ask for companies to bid on the construction projects and get right to work on them without much delay. The reason voters need to give permission for the sale of bonds is because they are repaid by taxes the city collects and if the taxes being collected at the time the bonds are issued aren’t enough to cover their costs, the city must collect more money, usually by increasing property tax rates.

From what I’m piecing together, that’s not the way it’s been done around here. In May 2013 Kyle voters gave the city their approval to borrow $36 million to pay for road repairs, expansions and/or extensions of five roadways: Bunton Creek Road, North Burleson Street, Goforth Road, Lehman Road and Marketplace Avenue. That last project — extending Marketplace from its current terminus southward to Burleson — wasn’t part of the original proposition and, from what I’ve learned, a number of influential individuals didn’t want it to be part of the original proposition. However, of the four other projects, all but Burleson were located on the east side of Interstate 35 and city officials wanted more voter participation in the bond election from the voter-rich east side. So they added the Marketplace extension, a project extremely popular with those who live in the Burleson Road/Center Street area of town who now, in order to shop at the H-E-B which, for all practical purposes, is the only grocery story in town and is located north of where they live, must drive south before they can eventually head north to get to that store (as well, of course, to the Target right across the street from the H-E-B). I said this project was "extremely popular" and Mayor Todd Webster supports this. He told me last night he receives, by a whopping 4-1 margin, more people demanding the Marketplace extension be completed than the other four projects combined.

I’ll get back on the subject of Marketplace in a second, but it’s important to note that when the city asked voters to approve this bond package, virtually nothing had been done to determine exactly how much these projects would actually cost. Now voters are getting a little peeved because it’s more than a year and a half since they approved these bonds and they still can’t see with their own eyes any actual work starting on any of these road projects. The reason they aren’t seeing any is because all the engineering, to cite just one example, that should have been completed before the bond proposal was sent to the voters, wasn’t even sent out for bids until after the proposal passed.

As far as the Marketplace Project is concerned, there was still that small handful of folks who, for reasons other than NIMBY seem difficult to decipher, don’t want it to happen. But after the bond proposal passed, stopping the project outright would be breaking the law and result in sharing a room with Big Ugly Mike in some minimum security detention unit. So they did the next best thing: they managed to put so many unrealistic obstacles in the path of its construction that it amounted to the same thing.

That was the situation facing Mayor Webster and the current city council, four of whom assumed their seats a year after the passage of the bonds. Obviously, a new sheriff was needed so the council summoned Wyatt … I’m sorry, James … Earp, who, at the time, was the assistant city manager and during the process became the city’s acting city manager. He was assigned to be city’s designated negotiator whose assignment was to somehow, someway find a way around these obstacles. (To give you some idea of how ludicrous some of these barriers were, one required that in order for the road to go forward, the landowners along the route had to surrender their land for the right-of-way without receiving any compensation — not one red cent — for the land the city needed to build the extension. Another one gave the developer the right to build the road and then be repaid by the city; anyone who agreed to a deal like that would also wind up sharing a room with Big Ugly Mike.)

Last night, Earp, in his last appearance as the acting city manager, briefed the city council on the status of the negotiations and, to the astonishment of many and the chagrin of a few, let it be known that he achieved something that possibly his more famous namesake never could — a deal that is close to being finalized with all parties directly involved to complete the extension. Even so, there is still a lot of misinformation about the process. The developer paid (he claims close to $270,000) for a lot of the engineering that is required before construction can begin. The city could initiate its own engineering studies from scratch, but Earp thought it would be wiser simply to purchase the studies that have already been completed and agreed to reimburse the developer for any and all payments he made for those studies up to $270,000. However, some reported that what was happening is that the city is paying $270,000 for buying land which it is supposed to be getting for free.

Item No. 14 on last night’s council agenda read: "Discuss and take possible action to execute an agreement by and between the city and Plum Creek Developers, L.L.C., for the extension of Marketplace Avenue." As noted above, the item was discussed but no action was taken, even though a tentative agreement is in place, because of some technical changes and "typographical errors" that need to be fixed before the agreement is signed. One of those "technical changes" concerns exactly where Marketplace will intersect with Burleson — close to Spring Branch or should Marketplace take a sharp dogleg to the left and intersect with Burlerson further north, a less desirable alternative but one that’s still in the discussion.

But, folks, these are details that are supposed to be all decided upon before a bond package goes to voter approval, so that voters really have a clear idea what their tax money is going to accomplish. It’s as if that person considering buying a house takes out a loan on the idea, not the actuality, of purchasing a new home.

As I mentioned somewhat offhandedly earlier, we have a mayor and four council members who have assumed their current positions a year after this road bond proposal was approved. I get the sense that they want Kyle to quit its wacky road ways and do these things the way they are supposed to be done. Time will tell. Watch this space.

UPDATE: One other thing worth mentioning is that, what Mayor Webster is describing as a "significant development that will create a lot of new jobs and could include the construction of office space," was put in motion to be located in an area in an area west of I-35, north of Kyle Crossing, west of the quarry and touching the southern edge of Buda’s city limits. The matter was discussed by the council as part of an hour-long executive session and when council members reconvened they voted 4-0 (council members Shane Arabie, who is on a cruise; Samantha Bellows-LeMense, who was ill; and Tammy Swaton did not attend last night’s meeting) "to offer a financial or other incentive to a business prospect that the city council seeks to have locate … in or near the territory of the city council." Mayor Webster assured me after the meeting the incentives were not all that much, but could not be elaborated on further until after the developer agreed to the city’s proposal.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tech in Northwest Kyle could increase pollution

Tony Spano, project manager for Plum Creek Development Partners, Ltd., appeared before Kyle’s Planning and Zoning Commission this evening to outline his plans for creating an area of Northwest Kyle that could be set aside as a "data center park." The area he has in mind is on the east side of Highway 1626 and north of Kohlers Crossing. The baseball/softball fields would be just north of the proposed area. (It's designated as Area 10 on this map.)

What Spano envisions for this area is at least one data center to be built on the site and, he hopes, "secondary and tertiary businesses" that would follow in the wake of the centers. It’s these businesses that would provide new jobs to the area because the centers themselves are simply nothing more than large warehouses that house computer systems and associated components that basically run by themselves.

The issue with data centers is that they use a lot — and I mean a whole lot — of electricity and much if not all of this electricity comes from their in-house diesel generators. This is a conservative estimate, but three moderately sized data centers could use as much electricity as the rest of Kyle combined. Thus, if not monitored closely, these data centers could produce significant pollution in the form of diesel exhaust.

The EPA, however, has stepped in to address the problem. Beginning this year, the agency has required that all diesel engines for off-road use meet strict emissions standards and we’re talking about nearly zero levels of emissions. So there’s that. On the other hand, Gov. Rick Perry along with Attorney General and Gov.-elect Gregg Abbott have made it their mission to sue the federal government every time the EPA tries to put restrictions on businesses when it comes to their emissions. So there’s that, too.

The subject of "pollution" didn’t even come up at tonight’s P&Z meeting. All the commissioners could see is "We could have high tech data centers right here in Kyle like they have in Austin and San Antonio." And if Spano has his way, that’s exactly what Kyle will have. When asked by commissioner Lori Huey whether Spano had anyone interested in locating such a facility in his proposed park, he sort of hemmed and hawed, smiled sheepishly and replied "At this time, I’d rather not say." I know how I interpret that.

Iit’s going to be a while before any of this comes to fruition anyway, so I’m hoping between now and then someone on the commission and/or someone on the City Council will demand the EPA’s Tier 4 regulations be followed to the letter when it comes to actually locating one or more of these centers here. P&Z is already discussing surrendering the city’s landscaping integrity; let’s make sure we don’t give away our air quality as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It’s official: Scott Sellers is Kyle’s new city manager

Scott Sellers, Kilgore’s city manager for the last three years, has officially agreed to assume the top administrative post here. He signed and returned a three-year contract today that calls for a base salary of $165,000 a year, although when other variables are included the total value of the contract comes to $186,284.24 a year, about one thousand dollars a year less than the total compensation package for the city manager of Buda. The base salary is about $40,000 more than his predecessor, Lanny Lambert, received. Lambert resigned in August to become city manager of Converse.

As reported earlier, Sellers will assume the city manager’s job Jan. 1, although I’m doubting he’ll be in the office that day. He will become only Kyle's third fulltime city manager.

I’ve only encountered Sellers once and that was on Nov. 15 when he and four other candidates came to city hall to be interviewed for the city manager’s position. I found him to be the most stand-offish of the five, the only one who wouldn’t even tell me his name or admit why he was in the building. I can imagine the reason for that being he didn’t want his bosses back in Kilgore to learn he was out job hunting, but that didn’t stop the other four candidates, some of whom even talked to me openly about the challenges of the Kyle job and compared our city to their current cities of employment. Mayor Todd Webster, however, has assured me on at least two occasions that Sellers has a reputation for being more open and accessible to the media than your average city administrator.

I must also admit I’m impressed with many of Sellers’ accomplishments, to wit:

  • He recognized the need for more middle-income housing in Kilgore and to meet this need he created something he called the Kilgore 20/20 Vision Committee, created a residential revolving loan fund, co-created with nearby Stephen F. Austin University the Kilgore Livability Study, resurrected the Community Development Corporation and undertook the largest annexation in the city’s history. The result of all this is that, according to a document he presented, "many new homes are under construction."
  • He seems to recognize what tasks performed by a city can be outsourced successfully, thus saving taxpayer money.
  • He comes across as a master innovator in applying high-tech solutions to communications needs.
  • Like many small towns, Kilgore had a once-thriving downtown movie theater that was sitting vacant. In Kilgore’s case, the theater had not seen a single bit of activity in a half of a century. So he had an elaborate haunted house built inside the theater that in six nights of operation generated $18,000 in revenue. He later staged a Christmas-themed event in the building. These two activities attracted the attention of a developer who has contracted with the city to restore the theater.
  • He sees the value in creating Tax Increment Finance Districts which, if administrated properly, can be a valuable tool in converting unused properties into tax-generating ones.
  • He seems to understand how to partner with other governmental entities such as county commissioners, TxDOT as well as private businesses, even the Union Pacific Railroad.
I am looking forward to getting on Sellers’ calendar so I can have a nice chat with him about his vision for Kyle.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

City Manager search: Waiting for the signed piece of paper

I guess there’s still no word yet from Kilgore on the future of Kyle’s new city manager. Here’s where we stand up to this minute. A couple of Saturdays ago, on Nov. 15, the council interviewed five potential candidates for the job. At a city council meeting three days later, it was announced the elected city leaders wanted one of those five, Kilgore City Manager Scott Sellers, to take the job. Then last night the council agreed on the details of a contract to offer to Sellers, which Mayor Todd Webster signed and sent to Sellers immediately. It was expected that Sellers would sign the document and get it back to Kyle sometime today.

If indeed a signed contract has been returned, the city is keeping mum about it so I’m guessing it didn’t happen. The city did send out a news release just before 5 p.m. today about Sellers but all it said was what we already knew, i.e., "The Kyle City Council has finalized a contract with Scott Sellers, currently the Kilgore city manager, to become the next city manager for the City of Kyle." The council, as I said, took that action last night.

I hope I’m not coming across as an alarmist here. I don’t want to infer that Sellers is having second thoughts about coming here or that he’s not that thrilled with the details of the contract. If you were anywhere around downtown Kyle this afternoon (I stood in a line for 90 minutes so I could take a picture of my granddaughter with Santa Claus), you know that the town square was packed with citizens, volunteers and a good number of city employees putting on a very nice tree lighting/holiday party. One could surmise Sellers has his agenda crammed with similar holiday tasks in deep East Texas and that dang contract is still sitting in his email inbox que.

And while I’m on the subject: a salute to those who put together those festivities downtown today. A first-rate job. And the only Santa I’ve ever come across that was more pleasant than the one stuck in the historic city hall was played by Edmund Gwenn.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Burleson Road captures attention of City Council

Nothing much of widespread interest transpired during tonight’s Kyle City Council meeting, unless, that is, you live on or relatively near Burleson road or you often find yourself at the intersection of Burleson and Center Street.

Second things first. The city actually had one or more people stand at the corner of Burleson and Center for a couple of days recently. They were there from approximately 7 to 9 a.m. and then again from around 5 to 7 p.m. to count the number of cars heading south on Burleson that did one of three things when they arrived at Center: whether they turned right, left or went straight ahead. Now you may think this is a terrible waste of time and taxpayers’ money, but stay with me here. What they discovered was that the overwhelming majority of the drivers of those cars – 80 percent of them in the morning and 77 percent of them in the evening – turned left. Based on that information the council unanimously decided (the vote was 6-0 because council member Becky Selbera was an excused absentee from tonight’s session) that constructing a designated right-hand turn lane on Burleson at Center would be a real waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

The council did, however, approve the idea of having Freese and Nichols, Inc., a widely respected Austin-based engineering firm, "perform an additional drainage study for areas contributing runoff to North Burleson road and the City’s open channel in the vicinity of St. Anthony’s Street."

I repeat: I’m new in town. But the way I figure this is the homes in that area between Burleson and the railroad tracks, say between Rodriguez and Moreno streets, are subject to widespread flooding during periods of intense rainfall, most likely due to the runoff from the comparatively newer housing subdivision located just northeast of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Now this action by the council doesn’t mean the flooding will come to an end. But it should result in a list of projects, should the city decide to fund them, that will end the water lapping at the front doors of the homes on and between these aforementioned streets. In other words, the end is not yet in sight, but the council has okayed the idea of someone preparing a map to get to that end.

Oh, and the council approved a resolution adopting the city’s updated investment policy although Mayor Todd Webster lamented the fact that the city’s $34 million investment only yielded a return this year of $100,000. It also authorized a contract be sent for city manager designate Scott Sellers to sign and return. If it is, Webster said Sellers will officially assume the office Jan. 1 Other details will become available when and if Sellers signs the deal, which he is expected to do, if not tonight, then sometime early tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kilgore city manager accepts Kyle’s top post

Kyle has its third fulltime city manager. His name is J. Scott Sellers, although most references to him drop that first initial. He is 35 and comes tp Kyle following a three-year stint as the city manager of Kilgore, Texas, whose mayor, R.E. Spradlin III, referred to Sellers as "a superstar."

"I’m really happy with the choice," Mayor Scott Webster said after the council adjourned. "I’m excited about the opportunity to work with this guy. I personally believe I’ve brought a lot of energy to this job and the city. I’m going a hundred miles an hour all the time. But I’m going to have a hard time keeping up with this guy. What we’re gaining here is someone who is going to be challenging us to think bigger and drive for more. I think he’s going to be a change agent but a change in the direction we’re trying to go."

Following a one hour, 45-minute executive session (during which other items in addition to the hiring of a city manager were discussed), the Kyle city council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to offer Sellers the position. Today, in a message to Kilgore’s city staff, Sellers said:

"After much prayer I have decided to accept the offer. My wife and I feel that this move is a good fit for our growing family as well as my career. Leaving Kilgore is an emotional roller coaster for me. I have grown to love this city, and together we have worked incredibly hard on behalf of all Kilgore citizens."

In a letter to the Kyle City Council, Sellers wrote:

"I have researched the City of Kyle thoroughly by reading the Kyle Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan, Infrastructure Evaluation and Analysis Report, and Annual Budget. Additionally, I attended the FM 150 Character Study Open House and have driven city streets to gain first-hand knowledge of the transportation and infrastructure issues. I am very confident I can quickly bring fiscally responsible and high-impact solutions to Kyle."

It was Sellers’s "energy and enthusiasm," that seemed to impress the council, particularly Webster, who repeated those words a number of times when speaking about the choice.

"We had really good candidates and in the end the consensus was that Scott will be the best fit," Mayor Webster said. "He will bring a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm to the city and he’s really creative, a really innovative guy. I’m excited about the opportunity to bring him here."

Webster said it wasn’t any one thing Sellers told the council during his interview Saturday afternoon that sealed the deal.

"He sees a lot of potential in Kyle," the mayor said. "With Scott it was the energy and enthusiasm and just the excitement. He’s done some really innovative things in Kilgore’s historic downtown areas. He’s done some creative things to bring efficiencies to Kilgore’s government. He’s had a surprising amount of experience and a lot of variety."

Before assuming the Kilgore city manager’s post in October 2011, Sellers was assistant city manager from August 2008 to June 2010 and acting city manager from June 2010 to October 2011 of Montrose, Colo.(pop. 13,500), a community that derives 50 percent of its budget from tourism. Prior to that he was the assistant city manager of Centralia, Ill. (pop. 13,000). He holds a bachelors degree in recreation management and a Master of Public Administration, both from BYU. He is fluent in Spanish, which could be important in a city with a population that’s more than 50 percent Hispanic.

According to Webster, Sellers’ salary and official start date have yet to be determined. He will succeed Lanny Lambert who resigned last month to become the city manager of Converse, Texas.

The mayor said one of the Sellers’ accomplishments that really stood out for him was "He put a great deal of emphasis on quality of life in Kilgore and bringing amenities to the community, especially their old town. When he spoke about his staff and how he felt about the community, he talked about them as if they were family. That resonated with me.

"He also has a lot of background and training in economic development. He is the right choice for where we’re at right now."

In somewhat of a backhanded slap to Lambert, Webster said he was particularly proud of the city’s staff and its accomplishments during its time under the leadership of acting city manager James Earp.

"The staff came together and worked really, really hard," Webster said. "They deserve a lot of credit. I think we got more done in the last three or four months than we have in the last three years."

Initially, more than 50 individuals applied for the Kyle city manager position. That number was whittled to five, who were interviewed by the council Saturday. The final decision came to a choice between two of those who really stood out for the position, Webster said, although, out of deference to the other candidates, he did not want to say who the other choice was.

"They were similar in that both thought they would be successful in different ways," the mayor said. "In the end it came down to which direction do we want the city to go and at what pace and that drove the decision.

"I think we’ve made an excellent choice and (Sellers) is going to surprise some people with the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the city. I’m sure the staff will embrace him and we’ll get a lot done."

In other action Tuesday the city council:

Approved extending drinking hours
The item was pulled from the consent agenda because council member Tammy Swaton realized between the first reading of the ordinance two weeks ago and Tuesday evening she had a conflict of interest. (James Rios, who brought the item before the city council, is also her son’s football coach). She recused herself from the discussion and the vote. Mayor Webster told me after the meeting he thought at that moment the motion would fail on a 3-3 vote, but it passed handily with only council member Becky Selbera, the lone council member to vote against two weeks ago, to say nay again this time around. "I don’t want to turn downtown Kyle into another sixth street or South Congress," she said in reference to two areas of Austin. The ordinance, which goes into effect today, allows any establishment within the city limits that serves mixed drinks to apply to the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission to obtain a late night permit that would allow it to serve those beverages between midnight and 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Although Selbera said she was concerned that young people might be endangered by the extended drinking hours, Hays High School student James Collins, vice chair of the city’s Youth Advisory Council (KAYAC), said the council favored the proposal because a midnight curfew meant teenagers should be off the streets when the bars close.

Webster told the council that two businesses ultimately decided to locate in Kyle because of the extended hours and that consultants hired to sell the city to prospective businesses "were adament" that it would make their jobs easier. "This isn’t the only thing we can do to make Kyle more attractive to restaurants, but it’s a step in the right direction," Webster said.

Discussed FM 150 realignment
Mayor Webster said he wanted to put all four options for the realignment before the council at some future, unspecified, date. "We’re gonna talk about each one of the options and the impact they will have on the city. First I need time for the school district to respond to my offer to sit down and talk about this because the option that’s most logical for the city is the one that goes between their two schools. Out of respect for them I would like to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with them. I think there’s some lobbying going on with the school board to have them come out with a position that will cost the city of Kyle a lot of money. I want them to be cautious about doing that."

Appointments to P&Z
Unanimously approved Webster’s nominations of Michelle Christie and Tim Kay, both longtime civic activists, to fill the vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The search for a city manager goes on (largely in private)

The City Council spent 8½ hours in executive session today interviewing five individuals (for what it’s worth: 4 white males and one white female) seeking to become the next city manager and then adjourning before coming to any decision.

However, the subject of the hiring a city manager is also on Tuesday’s agenda and the language there indicates a decision could me made to name one of the five at what will be the last council gathering before Thanksgiving. On today’s agenda it said the council would "interview candidates for the position of city manager and ... deliberate and take possible action on the appointment and employment of a city manager." Tuesday’s agenda reads: "deliberate and take possible action to hire a city manager (emphasis mine) and if appropriate, to negotiate and execute an agreement for employment (again emphasis mine) with the selected official."

To me that means City Attorney Ken Johnson could spend Monday and Tuesday hammering out a deal with the council’s preferred choice and then bringing that deal to the table Tuesday evening. But it could just as easily mean that the council could meet again in executive session Tuesday evening in which they pick their choice and then tell Johnson to negotiate a deal, all without making any official announcement.

Although the mayor and the city council members (all of whom were present today) refused to say anything at all about the process, I do know the five persons interviewed were (in the order in which they were interviewed):

Steve Norwood, former city manager of Round Rock, Texas: Norwood resigned as Round Rock’s city manager on Sept. 30 citing "personal reasons." According to that city’s web site, Norwood "held a successful $123 million bond election, aggressively implemented a downtown redevelopment program, built the Round Rock Sports Center on time and under budget, and re-energized a transportation improvement program." Norwood served as city manager for Prescott, Ariz., from 2003-2010; as the assistant city manager for North Richland Hills, Texas, from 1998-2003; the city manager of Lancaster, Texas, from 1995-1998; the city manager for Wylie, Texas, from 1992-1995; and as the assistant to the city manager/director of Economic Development for the City of Euless, Texas, from 1986-1992.

Brian P. Long, city manager of Lawton, Okla: He is the son of Huey P. Long, but not the infamous Louisiana political figure. He is actually the son of the former Oklahoma senator and gubernatorial candidate. He was the city manager of Spencer, Okla., from September 1999 until October 2000, when he decided to enter the private sector. He returned to public service in 2000 as the city administrator for Oak Grove, Mo., in the Kansas City area. According to the city of Lawton’s web site, during Long’s administration in Oak Grove "His calm demeanor and resolute leadership example largely contributed in restoring order within the community, reestablishing productive dialog within the community, and setting a positive example which was admired by civic leaders within the region and constituents alike. His exceptional ability to build upon the community’s strengths, charm and charisma was epitomized in the community’s 2008 Downtown Revitalization Project. This economic development initiative was recognized as the 2008 Transportation Project of the Year awarded through the Kansas City Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) due to its highly innovative approach to economic development, functional design, and appealing aesthetics." He became Lawton’s assistant city manager in August 2008 and was promoted by the city council from among 40 candidates to the city manager’s position Feb. 26, 2013.

Andrea M. Gardner, city manager of Copperas Cove, Texas, and someone I learned little about except she is also the president of the Central Texas Council of Governments, which, according to its website, "helps local communities work cooperatively to improve the conditions and well-being of Central Texans." The city council spent less time talking to Ms. Gardner than any of the other candidates so my guess is she’s on the outside looking in. She did tell me before her interview that her mother is a breast cancer survivor who was treated in Austin and, as a tribute to her, she participates each year in Austin’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 3.1-mile race to raise money for cancer research. This year’s race is Sunday.

Kevin Hugman, assistant city manager in Wichita Falls, Texas. Someone else I have had trouble finding background on, but, according to the city’s web site, Hugman is "supervises three departments, Community Development, Parks and Recreation, and the Public Information Office. Community Development is comprised of five Divisions: Building Inspections, Code Enforcement, Neighborhood Resources, Planning and Zoning and Property Administration. Parks and Recreation includes Parks, Recreation, Wichita Falls Public Library, 50 Plus Zone and Cemeteries. The Public Information Office manages the City's cable television channel, City website, social media, keeps the media and public informed about City business, events, activities and emergency situations and other marketing and promotional aspects of the City."

Scott Sellers, city manager of Kilgore, Texas, a BYU graduate and the youngest of the five candidates. Before coming to Kilgore, he was the acting city manager in Montrose, Colo., and the assistant city manager in Centralia, Ill. According to Kilgore’s web site, "Scott has a passion for building communities and for serving the public. His economic development efforts have earned the International City/County Management Association’s Community Sustainability Award, and his innovation with the creation of a unified web-portal has been recognized nationally. During his career, Scott has been involved in the creation and/or oversight of several Tax Increment Finance districts, a Business Improvement District, a Downtown Development Authority, streetscape and beautification projects, and historic preservation initiatives. His work has resulted in the redevelopment of multiple downtown buildings and the infusion of millions of dollars into the local economy."

So that’s the final five which may be whittled to one on Tuesday.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ugly Factor

How ugly do the city fathers (and mothers) want Kyle to be when it grows up? From what I gathered listening to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission discussing the Kyle’s landscape ordinance they want it to be pretty damned ugly. Heaven forbid that Kyle should ever be the home of an office building that looks like this, or this, or even this. And we certainly don’t want manufacturing concerns with campuses like this, or this, or this.

Contrary to what these pictures prove, the KPZC argues that businesses won’t locate here if the city requires them to have more than 10 percent of their property landscaped. Let them put a potted plant at the front door and we’ll call it day.

Current landscape ordinances require that those properties zoned R-1-1 and R-1-2 (both single family residential designations); R-1-A (single family attached/detached); R-2 (duplexes); and M-1, M-2 and M-3 (all manufactured housing designations) must plant "a minimum of two four-inch trees, six two-gallon shrubs and lawn grass from the front property lines to the front two corners of the structure ..." The problem the zoning folks had were with those big dad-gum trees. Chairman Mike Rubsam said trees that are no smaller than 2½ inches are plenty big enough for him. Of course, the real issue here is how fast will these trees grow and the answer to that is it depends on the type of tree. The most common tree planted in Texas is the Red Maple and it can grow between 1 to 2 feet per year. So, splitting the difference, if you put it a 2½ inch diameter, 4-feet tall red maple now, in 25 years that sucker will be 41½ feet tall. Of course, you have to wait a quarter of a century for that and by that time ....

But, to be honest, the tree issue is not that one that bothered me. It was the area-of-land-devoted-to-landscaping topic that I found wanting. Current landscape ordinances require that those properties zoned R-1-T (townhomes), R-1-C (condominiums), R-3-1 (multifamily), R-3-3 (apartments) and CBD-1 (Central Business District 1) devote 20 percent of their respective properties to landscaping. Rubsam noted that areas zoned for hospitals and neighborhood commercial also fell into this category and, in his view, 20 percent of their property devoted to landscaping was simply too onerous a requirement. He wanted it dropped to 15.

But that’s not all. He thought that areas zoned for warehouses and commercial uses, which now must have 15 percent of their property landscaped, be dropped down to 10 percent. Everyone on the commission seemed to buy into it. In fact, commissioner Dan Ryan said if these landscape requirements weren’t lowered, businesses would simply not locate in Kyle.


According to reports I’ve seen, the No. 1 reason an entrepreneur will locate a business in a certain area is that nebulous factor known as "quality of life." Specifically that means, an adequate and talented labor pool, easy access to customers and suppliers, good schools, parks, cultural amenities and restaurants. In fact, in a recent survey of 150 founders of some of the fastest growing companies in the United States, "only 2% of respondents mentioned business-friendly regulations or policies when discussing why they founded their company in a specific city." (You can read that entire report here.)

So instead of taking steps that make Kyle less attractive to the naked eye, I would be going in exactly the opposite direction. One of the first steps I would take is to put a temporary hiatus on discussing changes to the city’s landscaping ordinances and instead put out a bid for a forestry consultant to oversee the development of a landscaping master plan designed to enhance, not detract, from the city’s quality of life.

Instead of boasting about to prospective business owners about how little landscaping they will be required to install, tout Kyle’s location that features quick and easy access to the Bergstrom Airport via toll roads 45 and 130, the proximity to the labor pools produced by graduates of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University, the easy access to outstanding cultural and athletic amenities offered by Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio and the fact that just about every shopping need a consumer has can be satisfied by no more than a 5-minute drive right here in Kyle.

Admittedly, I am a recent transplant to Kyle. But this is where I have decided I want to live the rest of my life. This is going to be my final home. And I want that home to be "more," not "less." I want our city fathers (and mothers) looking for ways to make that home more attractive, not uglier.

Friday, November 7, 2014

City looking to upgrade communications

Kyle is looking into ways to improve its communications capabilities — both internally as well as with local constituents. Part of the effort was achieved Wednesday when the city council voted unanimously to approve a proposal from Time Warner Cable to connect all city office locations to a fiber ethernet network. This will not only improve communications from, say, City Hall to the Public Works Department, but will also enhance the city’s ability to stream city council meetings.

It probably won’t do anything to improve the quality of those videos, however. Acting City Manager James Earp announced plans to solve that part of the riddle when he told the council Wednesday about the Granicus Project which Earp promises will vastly improve the city’s interaction with its constituents.

"First, within six weeks we should be up and running on the boards and commissions project," Earp told the council. "It’s a better way to manage those folks who are applying and wishing to be on committees. It’s a better way for you to review applicants and for us to manage committees and to be aware of when people’s terms are expiring. It’s a way for people to apply, tell us what they’re interested in and submit resumes. It’s going to be an amazing tool.

"The second part (of the Granicus Project) will take a little longer to implement," he said. "You’ve had a lot of complaints about the quality of the video for council meetings. The video we do get is a very cheap product. The second prong of this project is going to provide a very professional video stream.

"As a citizen at home, if you’re interested in what happened concerning one particular agenda item you can click on that item and it will take you to that discussion in the video.. Another benefit is that it is so robust it can take the place of the verbatim written (council meeting) minutes, because now the video becomes the record of the meeting. And that means the city secretary doesn’t have to take the recordings of the meetings and transcribe every single word which saves hours upon hours upon hours of labor. So that’s two very important pieces. That will probably come in January.

"Finally we looking at Granicus to replace our entire agenda process. Everything will be all inter-related and inter-connected and work together in harmony."

Almost sounds like a Paul McCartney-Stevie Wonder song.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

Now folks in Kyle have two ways to determine the current weather conditions in the community. One is the old fashioned way: just stick your head out the door.

But Acting City Manager James Earp unveiled a new way during Wednesday’s city council meeting. Go to the city’s web site, click on the "Community" tab and then acess "Kyle Weather Data" from the drop down menu. It’s actually a pretty neat page. You can see the current temperature, the forecast high and low for the day, humidity, dew point, atmospheric pressure, rainfall amounts, wind direction and speed as well as a table illustrating the "5 minute wind interval."

Now you can’t get all that just by sticking your head out the door.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kyle police will finally get department-issued handguns

Mayor Todd Webster pulled an item off the consent agenda at Wednesday’s City Council meeting — an item approving the expenditure of $23,687.50 for 50 Glock .40 caliber pistols (pictured here) for Kyle police officers — after a gadfly resident complained at the open speakers forum that it was another example of wasteful spending.

It turns out, if Kyle police officers want to "preserve and protect" with department-issued weapons, they would go on duty with all the firepower of a greater London bobby. That’s right, Kyle police officers have to purchase their own firearms.

That is, up until Wednesday night’s council action.

And as far as wasteful spending goes, the $473.50 per pistol price seems like a fair price to me. The best deal I could find on one was $539.00.

So there’s that, too.

City Council takes first step to allow bars to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

The City Council voted 5-1 last night to approve an ordinance that would allow establishments serving alcoholic beverages to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. This was the first reading of the ordinance so final approval is still to come, but an analysis of the 33 and a half minutes of discussion and some debate at Wednesday’s council meeting suggests the ordinance will be approved when it appears on the agenda for a second reading.

Only council member Becky Selbera voted against the proposal. Council member Samantha Bellows-LeMense did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

The proposed ordinance was brought to the council at the urging of James Rios, who recently opened a dance hall called Desperados at 110 West Center Street in the heart of downtown Kyle. Currently city law allows drinking establishments to remain open no later than midnight Sunday through Friday and until 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

"I honestly don’t have a problem with this," Mayor Todd Webster said. "We’re trying to energize Center Street. I have been in some of these establishments at closing time – not many times, but a few times – and I’ve heard people say at midnight they are going somewhere else outside the city. Well, I don’t want them to go somewhere else. I want them to stay here in Kyle. I’m in support of this. I’m in support of change."

Selbera said she feared for the safety of those living in the area.

"If people want to drink until 2 a.m., they can go home and drink until 2 a.m. if this means saving people’s lives," she said.

But the mayor countered: "Every time we have made a move to help our small businesses in Kyle there has been this fear that it will lead to some sort of catastrophic event that’s going to be terrible for the city. And it’s never happened. Mr. Rios, I want you to bring more businesses here and I worry about the message we send if we don’t get this done."

The only real concern among council members was that the city had no way of enforcing the ordinance because enforcement responsibility rested solely with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. But Police Chief Jeff Barnett seemed to allay those fears when he talked about the close cooperation that exists between the Kyle Police Department and the TABC. Barnett said the city could ticket any establishment serving alcohol after 2 a.m. and then notify the TABC of that action.

"The TABC representative for the city of Kyle regularly stays in contact with us and says he is absolutely at our disposal 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Barnett assured the council.

Rios added that once the TABC is notified of a violation that establishment is immediately slapped with a $5,000 fine and a possible loss of its TABC permits for up to six months.

Mayor pro tem Diane Hervol asked city attorney Ken Johnson whether the ordinance could be modified in a way that permitted establishments to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. only one or two days a week. Johnson replied that a TABC late night permit, which any establishment wishing to remain open after midnight must obtain, allows the establishment to operate until 2 a.m. seven days a week.

During the public hearing on the ordinance, only one citizen, Terry Blackney, came to speak against it. No citizens, other than Rios, came to speak in favor of it. Blackney said he moved to Kyle from Houston 15 years ago and while in Houston he witnessed late night drinking leading to gang wars and drive-by shootings "involving innocent people standing around."

"I think you’re setting up Kyle for a spiraling decline in the way you’re approving these bars and dance halls," Blackney told the council. "Crime is likely to follow and it’s already showing up. Now you want to let these bars remain open until 2 o’clock in the morning every day of the week. And after closing time the residents near these bars will have to have iron bars on their windows and doors and front yard fences and guard dogs. I come from the city and I’ve seen this my whole life."

Council member Shane Arabie did not paint such a bleak picture but he did express concern for the area. He told Rios he had no doubt the ordinance will benefit Desperados and will also add sales tax revenues to the city’s treasury.

"But we also have to protect the citizens who are and will be living in this district," Arabie said. "And even if it has worked in other cities, it is my job to make sure it’s going to work for us and to protect the citizens around this area. That does not mean I’m against this ordinance. It simply means I have some questions about the locations we’re talking about. And it’s not you we’re worried about, it’s the businesses that come in after you."

After the vote was taken, Rios sat down with me and talked a little bit about Desperados.

"It’s a place for people to come, enjoy, drink, hang out, dance and have a good night," he said. "This Sunday we’re doing something for the teenagers from 6 p..m to 10 p.m..

"For the longest time, the people of Kyle have had to go 15 minutes north or 15 minutes south in order to enjoy themselves," Rios continued. "Or they’d start drinking here in Kyle and then they’d drive to Austin or San Marcos. We’re providing place where they don’t have to do that.

"We’re also providing a place where they don’t even have to drink if they don’t want to. We’re going to do live music concerts. We’re going to do acoustic sets. We’re going to do DJs. On the off nights when we’re not open, we could open for private events. We have a capacity for 276 people and it’s a big space but it’s a welcoming space. You can go in, enjoy yourself, have a drink, not have a drink, listen to good music and dance if you want to. It’s a mixture of country, top 40, 80s, retro. We have a live DJ in there so you can go in and request any song you want and dance to anything you want. My thing is to provide an entertainment venue for Kyle."

He said he obviously felt good about the tentative approval of the ordinance.

"At the end of the day, these people on the city council are responsible for the entire city," Rios told me. "So they are going to be careful about anything they put their stamp on. They have every right to question everything and it’s my job to convince them and tell them it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully we achieved that today."



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Council hears plans for more than 3,700 new homes (oh, and some apartments and commercial development as well)

If there is any doubt Kyle is growing quickly as a residential community, consider this: The City Council heard this evening from two separate developers looking to add 3,773 single family homes and 2,112 apartment units to the city’s inventory, the overwhelming majority of them on the east side of Interstate 35.

The largest of the three planned developments, called Pecan Woods, would be located on 763 acres situated on the north side of FM 150, immediately west of Simon Middle School. It would, according to its developers, the Walton Corp., consist of 1,835 single family homes, 1,320 multi-family units and 16 acres of commercial development which Walton spokesman Adam Scott said would consist primarily of office space.

The second largest of the three developments, also planned by Walton, would be called Kyle Estates and would be located on 640 acres about 2 miles southeast of Lehman High School near where Goforth Road becomes Bunton Lane. This could be the most controversial of the developments because only about half of it would fall within the Kyle city limits. It would contain 1,608 single family homes, 792 apartment units and 15.7 acres of commercial development.

The developers asked the city council to look into the creation of Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) for both developments to fund their needed infrastructure improvements. PIDs are special assessment areas within a specified district in which owners inside that district pay special assessments in addition to their regular city taxes to pay for the district’s infrastructure needs. The theory behind PIDs is that the cost of improving an area will be borne exclusively by the owners within that area and not spread among all the city’s taxpayers. I had two problems with the PID as described by Walton spokesperson Steve Metcalf. First, he said the PID would be paid by a one-time assessment, that could be paid in one lump sum or over time, by the homeowners in the two developments. My question is why aren’t these costs somehow shared by the multi-family and commercial property owners as well. Perhaps they are and Metcalf just didn’t say, but in his presentation to the council he only said the assessment would be levied against homeowners. Second, he didn't mention a termination date for the PID. Normally they only are in effect for three to five years.

The council appeared to have way too many concerns about PIDs in theory as well as in practice to advance this discussion to any lengths beyond the developers’ initial presentation. In fact, the feeling I got listening to this entire discussion was that the city, as yet, hasn’t developed any policies concerning PIDs and Mayor Todd Webster indicated the council should conduct a workshop on PIDs before discussions on these developments progress any further.

Council members also expressed concerns about the multi-family units with Mayor Pro Tem Diane Hervol and District 6's Tammy Swaton stressing that any apartment bordering on a single-family residence be limited to two stories. District 4's David Wilson said he thought recently constructed apartments constructed on the north side of San Marcos along Interstate 35 looked cheap, while he admired apartments he said he saw on a recent trip to the Dallas suburb of Frisco that were made of "rock and stone."

"I want apartments in Kyle to look more like Frisco and less like San Marcos," Wilson said.

The third development the council heard about was not nearly as ambitious but was received more enthusiastically. It involved a 130-acre development of 350 residential lots inside the "Y" that’s formed by the intersections of W. Center Street, Old Stagecoach Road and Cypress Road. The developer said at least 25 percent of the lots would measure 80-by-130 feet to accommodate homes in the mid-$400,000 range. (Fifty percent of the development would have 65-by-120 foot lots and the other 25 percent would have 55-by-125 lots. The homes in the area, according to the developer, would start in the mid-$200,000s.)

"It’s great that we have affordable housing here, it’s just that we need step-up housing like this," Mayor Webster told the developer. "It allows us to keep those people in Kyle who are looking to step up in their housing and I think you are the first to offer this alternative."

The one concern with the development was its name. The developers want to call it "The Woodlands at Center Street." It turns out the city already has a subdivision called The Woodlands and the council said this could cause some confusion, especially when first responders are being summoned in an emergency, Interim City Manager James Earp told the council he had already cautioned the developers about the name and had not given up hope that it might be changed.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

A suggestion for the City Council on this committee thing

Never let it be said that I won’t stick my two cents in when no one has asked for it.

Tuesday evening five members of the City Council and Mayor Todd Webster convened in the training room of the Public Works Department to try to hash out the city’s unwieldy committee system. And, if the Mayor is correct and there are 21 citizen-driven committees advising the city council, that’s way too many.

So here are the committees I think the city could use:
  1. Planning and Zoning
  2. Library
  3. Parks and Recreation
  4. Civil Service
  5. Board of Adjustments
  6. Community Development
  7. Cultural Affairs
  8. Animal Shelter/Animal Control

That’s it. Eight committees could get the job done. If anyone has any questions on what the functions of each of the committee, simply comment at the end of the blog or send me an e-mail at But for the most part I think the names of the committees speak for themselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City Council decides to ditch most committees

During a workshop this evening led (some might successfully argue that "pushed" might be the more appropriate term) by Mayor Todd Webster, the City Council rewrote the rules for serving on the few city advisory committees that will be left once Webster’s purge is complete.

Mayor Todd Webster
By the end of the three-hour, 20-minute workshop only five of the current 21 committees were guaranteed to survive although some, such as Planning and Zoning, will be regarded more as a commission than a committee. The four left are Economic Development, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and Public Safety. (The Youth Advisory Committee will remain intact, but since its members are nominated by three area high schools, it fell outside the purview of the workshop’s discussion.) The council decided each committee will consist of seven members with two alternates appointed to two-year terns (with the possibility of holdovers if a new committee member isn’t named when a term expires). Prospective committee members must be registered voters living within the Kyle city limits (another, albeit somewhat discussed, change) for the last 12 consecutive months. A committee member, under the new proposal, which still must be written as an ordinance and formally approved at regular City Council meetings, may serve a maximum three terms.

Webster, in the fifth month of his three-year term, advocated abolishing all the committees and then re-establishing those that served a specific function through individual council resolutions. The resolutions, the council agreed, would also include the specific assignments the committee was created to complete. District 6 Council member Tammy Swaton seemed reluctant to do away with the Community Relations Committee, but decided to wait until the issue was on the council’s agenda before she made up her mind on the issue.

"The current system is simply too complex," Webster said. "What we needed is structured order. And we need committees that have a limited shelf life, not ones that live forever without anything to do."

District 4 Council member David Wilson argued, and the rest of the council present (District 5 Council member Samantha Bellows-LeManse did not attend the workshop) agreed, the committees should serve in an advisory capacity only, as not as quasi-legislative bodies.

"We are the ones who were elected, not committee members," Webster said in support of Wilson’s recommendation.

After the meeting adjourned Webster and District 3 Council member Shane Arabie agreed that much of the work currently assigned to committees should be handled by the city’s staff. "To be honest," Webster told me, "this unwieldly committee system was established simply because, at the time, the council had a lack of trust in the staff."

Webster came into the meeting in an ebullient moving having earlier in the day attended a ribbon cutting for a new rehabilitative center that promises to add 250 jobs.

"That’s 250 jobs that will be in working in Kyle everyday and having lunch in Kyle everyday and not 250 jobs going north on 35 to Austin," Webster said.

During the workshop, Interim City Manager James Earp revealed the possibility of the City acquiring a software system that will, among other "amazing" things he could not reveal because those subjects were not on the workshop’s agenda, significantly enhance council members’ abilities to track the entire committee application and appointment process. Webster said he happened upon a demonstration of the software’s capabilities and to say he was "amazed and impressed" would be an understatement.