Councilwoman files complaints with attorney general, district attorney in protest of city council executive session
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
Apr 15, 2014 | 548 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOLIAD – Goliad City Councilwoman Liz Holsey stated at Tuesday night's city council meeting that she has filed complaints with the Texas Attorney General's Office and District Attorney Michael Sheppard's office for what she believes was unfair treatment of her during a previous executive session of council members and city attorney Ashford Taylor.

Holsey read from a prepared statement and said she was unaware of what was to be discussed in the March 18 executive session until the closed meeting started. She claimed at the end of her statement that the meeting was in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

"That closed session revealed that, I, councilwoman Liz Holsey was the item discussed," Holsey said. "The following is a partial account of the closed-door session, including staff members as well as counsel:

"I was questioned as to my political affiliation and my involvement in such. I was accused of causing the loss of an election because of statements made regarding loan activity. I was accused of prematurely making a news release and I was told that I couldn't make comments to newspapers, because the city could be sued.

"I was accused of polling votes. I was accused of causing harm to Goliad economic development because of disclosure of financial information. I was instructed to not provide the public any of the city's financial information, because the public would not understand me.

"I was instructed not to question city financials during public session, but to go to the staff privately with my questions. I was told to think about the questions that I ask in open council sessions and I was told that we all needed to get along.

"As I stated, this is a partial accounting of that closed-door session, which had me as its target. No other council member was questioned and no other council member had comments directed towards them. I was informed after the doors were closed that this was done because of my purported ethical violations. I sat through that session completely shocked and stunned. I kept waiting for the discussion of the real reason we were in executive session. Not until the whole event was over, did I realize I was the reason.

"Days later, I again asked for verification that that executive session was legal and I asked for written verification of the complaint of my alleged ethic violation. I received letters reciting verbiage, but no explanation of the legality of that session and no written complaint of any committed violation."

Holsey claimed in October that the Texas Rangers were investigating a threatening letter she received and insinuated Monday that the author of the letter may be on council or a city staff member.

"Since assuming my council position, I have received a threatening letter and now I was targeted behind closed doors," Holsey read. "Curiously, some of that phraseology in that letter was again stated in closed session. I have had sleepless nights and countless physical problems no doubt caused by wondering what may come next."

Holsey claimed the March 18 executive session did not adhere to protocol.

"Proper procedure was not followed and it is my opinion that the executive session with me as its target was brought forward in bad faith for the purpose of intimidation, harassment and to silence me," Holsey read. "Texas law provides penalties and remedies for the violation of the Open Meetings Act."

Taylor said after Tuesday night's meeting that there was no validity to some of Holsey's claims.

"She made a lot of statements, a lot of which aren't 100 percent accurate," Taylor said. "But it's her version of it and she's entitled to that."

Members of the audience voiced their displeasure with the rest of council and Taylor for answering Holsey's claims during the meeting.

"She made a comment," councilman Buddy Zavesky said. "We aren't obligated to comment on her comments."

Also during Tuesday night's meeting, city administrator Larry Zermeno updated council on the district attorney's investigation of alleged questionable lending practices by the Goliad Municipal Development District and mishandling of city funds. Zermeno said two forensic investigators met with city secretary Pam Long on Thursday.

"They spent about an hour and a half with Pam," Zermeno said. "They reviewed a number of documents."

The Texas Rangers conducted a similar investigation and ruled last month that there were no improprieties.

"They may come back and ask to review some more documents," Zermeno said. "We did ask them to give us their results as soon as they could."

Holsey objected to a story in this week's Advance-Guard on the progress of the investigation.

"The investigation isn't over," Holsey said.

"They haven't told us it's over yet," Taylor said to Holsey.

"But y'all put an article in the paper on an ongoing investigation," Holsey answered.

"We made a statement to the paper," Taylor said.
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