Sunday, April 25, 2010
City secretarys husband runs for council seat
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
PAYNE SPRINGS-A Payne Springs citizen charged a candidate for city council should bow out of the race, because his wife is the city secretary.
One of them has to go, Dwayne Hagin said during Tuesdays council meeting in Payne Springs.
Hagin charged the city with nepotism, and said the Texas Attorney Generals office agrees with him. Hagin supports a different candidate for one of the council seats available.
Councilman Michael McDonald tried to assure Hagin that the election law was being observed, and if Michael Juica wins a seat on the council, both could serve without an ethics charge
Emotions ran high during the discussion, and one responder had to be silenced as being out of order.
Karen Juica has been serving on the city payroll as city secretary since November, 2009, first as interim secretary and then permanently in December, 2009.
She was hired Nov. 2. By the time of the May 8 election, she will have served six months.
According to a handbook published by the Texas Attorney General titled Public Officers: Traps for the Unwary 2006, as long as she has served for at least six months prior to the election, she can remain at her post, and her husband can be seated on the council.
Texas law requires three different minimum continuous employment terms before a primary or general election (one year), local election (six months) and appointment (30 days) to be excluded from the nepotism statute.
According to the handbook, The legislature intended the continuous employment periods to correspond roughly to the length of time a candidates or incoming appointees relatives would recognize the potential conflict.
Candidacies for state and county offices elected at the general election, which are partisan, are generally public knowledge for at least a year. By contrast, candidacies for nonpartisan offices elected at an election other than the general election, such as school board trustee, generally are known only a few months prior to the election.
Finally, because an appointment can occur at any time, the legislature believed that appointive offices should not require as long a period of prior employment as an elective office.
However, should Michael Juica win a seat, he will be barred from voting on any issue involving the city secretary, and must abstain on such issues.
He also would be barred from running or being appointed as mayor or mayor pro-tem, because the post directly oversees the operation of the city, including the city secretary.
Had she served less than six months, and her husband won a seat, Karen Juica would have to be fired or resign, the handbook states.
To make sure she understood this correctly, Karen Juica said she called the AGs office the next morning and spoke to someone named Julian, who specializes in cities.
He said the six-month grandfather clause is correct, she reported. Julian also said that the city attorney could determine whether her employment started in November or December, but that would be splitting hairs.
Also during the Tuesdays meeting, the council allowed each of the four candidates to introduce themselves to those in attendance with their name and residence.
In other business, council members:
accepted a $150 bid from Charlie Harkness to repair the front entrance to city hall.
agreed to purchase a state and national flag for up to $150 and label them as the property of the city. The last new flags installed were stolen three weeks later, councilwoman Ethel Hagin noted.
approved $2,000 for the purchase of road materials for needed repairs.
approved a new business application for an outdoor supply store at 19780 Leisure Land Rd. to be operated by Robert Polster and his wife.
The couple plans to sell outdoor furniture and hand-crafted wooden items for the garden and outdoors.
repealed an ordinance regulating employee compensation, because it was contrary to state policy.
agreed to seek trash-hauling bids, as the citys current contract expires Oct. 1.
Burch retires from ECC utility board
Trimble retires after 39 years
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us a man ought to enjoy the gift of his labor,
and thats what Ive done, Trimble said in summing up his years of
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