This is the second of a two part series examining Council action at the last Leon Valley City Council meeting.
Leon Valley City Council met in executive session during the regular meeting on Tuesday to discuss and receive advice from an attorney regarding complaints filed with the City Manager, Kelly Kuenstler, concerning Councilor Bennie Martinez’s behavior.
The City Manager received complaints from five employees of the City and a City Council member. Those complaints were detailed in the first part of this two part series.
The City Charter and State Law required the City Manager to investigate those complaints. After consulting with the Texas Municipal League (TML) , an organization that provides advice and insurance for municipalities in Texas, Kuenstler received advice to conduct an investigation of the allegations and have an attorney prepare a pre-investigative report.
Current City Attorney, Denise Fredericks, filed a complaint against Council Martinez. Therefore Kuenstler hired the Law Offices of Ryan Henry, PLLC to investigate the complaints and provide the pre-litigation report.
Henry completed his report and provided a copy to Council and Kuenstler. The item was placed on the April 2 Council agenda.
So the situation with Councilor Martinez remains in flux.
The pre-litigation report effectively closes the City Manager’s investigation into the complaints because the City Manager lacks authority to independently investigate a City Council member, and cannot discipline a City Council member. Except for the complaints of sexual harassment by Acuna and Councilor Martinez, Henry determined the remaining complaints concerning discrimination based on sex and race to be unsubstantiated.
However, Henry informed Kuenstler there are valid and factual complaints Martinez may have violated the City Charter. Those possible violations must now be turned over to Council for Council action.
Tuesday night those claims were handed over to Council. According to Henry and Mayor Riley Council had additional questions requiring more research and examination by Henry. Henry has stated, “I am working on those questions and when Council makes the request I will provide those answers to Council.”
Currently the situation is in flux because no official motion was made by Council during Tuesday night’s meeting. There is no official investigation by Council regarding Councilor Martinez. The City Manager fulfilled her duties and obligations under City Charter by investigating complaints brought to her office. That investigation identified areas of concern regarding possible charter violations, and possible harassment of City Council member and City employee.
However, according to the City Charter if any other action is to take place it must be done with the approval and instigated by City Council.
City Council has certain options. The Council can determine if there should be an official investigation and then conduct the investigation. Council can determine no investigation is warranted.
If Council conducts the investigation and finds just cause and violations, Council can schedule a 3.12 hearing to determine if the Council member has indeed violated the provisions of the City Charter and is no longer eligible to remain in office.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Council can censure the council member or declare their office vacant and remove the member from Council.
What options now exist for Council.
For this matter to return before Council it must be placed on the agenda. Although Council posed questions to Henry and there was an announcement the investigation continues unless official action happens the matter will never return before council.
This official action can most likely take the form of the following options.
The Mayor or City Manager can place an item on any agenda.
If a council member requests and receives a second from another council member the item will be placed on the agenda.
During an open meeting, a council member may request an item be placed on the agenda of a future meeting but must receive a second from another City Council member.
Call a special meeting to address the possible violations of the City Charter.
Or elect to do nothing.
As of press time today, no request has been made to place this item on the April 16 Council meeting.