More Apparent Texas Open Meeting Violations by Ron Hankins- Somervell County Hospital District
15 May 2019 at 1:15:47 PM
On any agenda for an open meeting in Texas, the agenda items need to be listed, and need to be specific enough to let the public know what is going to be discussed. In other words, you can't have a vague agenda item. And you definitely can't have a meeting where things are discussed and there is NO agenda item. (See p 29 of the TOMA Handbook for 2018) And yet, that's what Ron Hankins, as president of the Somervell County Hospital District dba Glen Rose Medical Center doesn't apparently understand.
In the meeting of the hospital district on April 25, 2019, there were two different items that weren't on the agenda. Therefore if the public needed or wanted to make a decision on whether to attend the meeting, they would not have even known about these. Here's the agenda
The first was what probably should have been an agenda item "Ray Reynolds talks about his vacation in Africa" which had nothing to do with hospital business but was along the lines of *entertaining" the board with his recollections of his trip. Maybe since this wasn't on the agenda anyway, he should have whipped out his photos and done a slide show. At any rate, no matter what you think about his vacation, this was not the place to talk about it and it violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by not being on the agenda. Ron Hankins should have said, when Reynolds first brough up the trip, that's fine, but it's not on the agenda, how about after the meeting, those who want to stay and hear can do so. Also, if Somervell County Hospital District is going to have people talk abour their vacations rather than the business of the hospital, maybe they should put in an item and an announcement welcoming the public to attend and bring their photos and stories. (As a side note, these meetings are at night and I would guess that most people, if attending, appreciate that the meetings would be well run and to the point, if possible, and not filled with extraneous vacay stories. Maybe the board room should install a cracker barrell in the corner for the olds to jaw around)
It isn't as if this was some general "CEO REPORT" that didn't spell out items to be discussed. Do you see "Report on Ray Reynolds Vacation" on there? How about "JD Sheffield's Bill re: Luminant". No? Then this is NOT a good agenda, does not inform the public and is an apparent violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
The second is about discussing a bill that J D Sheffield brought to apparently require Luminant to pay at the ARB rate. NOT ON THE AGENDA. Maybe there are some members of the public who would have liked to know this was on the agenda to come hear? But nope.
relating to the required payment of taxes by an owner of a property used for nuclear electric power generation who appeals certain ad valorem tax determinations.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 42.08, Tax Code, is amended by amending Subsection (b) and adding Subsection (b-2) to read as follows:
(b) Except as provided by Subsections (b-2) and [in Subsection] (d), a property owner who appeals as provided by this chapter must pay taxes on the property subject to the appeal in the amount required by this subsection before the delinquency date or the property owner forfeits the right to proceed to a final determination of the appeal. The amount of taxes the property owner must pay on the property before the delinquency date to comply with this subsection is the lesser of:
(1) the amount of taxes due on the portion of the taxable value of the property that is not in dispute;
(2) the amount of taxes due on the property under the order from which the appeal is taken; or
(3) the amount of taxes imposed on the property in the preceding tax year.
(b-2) This subsection applies only to an appeal in which the property subject to the appeal is used for nuclear electric power generation, as that term is defined by Section 313.024(e). The amount of taxes the property owner must pay on the property before the delinquency date in order to proceed to a determination of the appeal is the amount of taxes due on the property under the order from which the appeal is taken.
SECTION 2. The changes in law made by this Act apply only to an appeal under Chapter 42, Tax Code, for which the petition for review is filed on or after the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
Probably fixing to die where most bills die...in committee.
At any rate, point is that these hospital district meetings are not supposed to be little buddy meetings where people sit around and talk about their vacays but are there to speak about business related to running the hospital FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE TAXPAYING PUBLIC TO HEAR ABOUT AND POSSIBLY COMMENT. You can't do that if you don't even know that certain things are on the agenda.
I sent a complaint email to Andy Lucas asking him to please school Ron Hankins on TOMA. The proper procedure for violations is spelled out in the Texas Open Meetings Act and includes a write of mandamus but I think it's enough to just let Hankins know what he should do better next time.