Canady dominates Council meeting, again

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

One week removed from a meeting of only three members, the Liberty Hill City Council met again Monday with a quorum of three once again in a gathering with much the same flavor as before.

After Council member Tony DeYoung and Steve McIntosh were absent from the April 5 meeting, McIntosh was again absent April 12, along with Liz Rundzieher.

McIntosh’s term expires in May after choosing not to seek reelection, but his social media posts show he has already moved from Liberty Hill. He attended only two of five meetings in March and neither April meeting to date. The Independent inquired with City Administrator Lacie Hale whether McIntosh had officially resigned from the Council, but did not receive a response.

Council member Kathy Canady continued to show her disdain for items mentioned by Mayor Liz Branigan, and took time to publicly chastise another elected official over a cell phone.

Who is leading?
Branigan sought Council approval for a meeting to create an emergency management task force with the help of Liberty Hill EDC Executive Director Matt Powell.

“We will have a two-hour meeting and we’re going to invite the police, fire and EMS, the ministerial alliance, the school district, other cities, Operation Liberty Hill and representatives of Williamson County,” Branigan said. “I asked Matt (Powell) because he was previously certified in emergency management.”

She said the purpose of the meeting would be to critique the City’s response to the February ice storm and best way to move forward with emergency management plans.

“Have we checked with our city administrator?” Canady asked. “Lacie, do you have any thoughts on this?”

Branigan said Hale would be invited, to which Canady abruptly responded, “I’m asking Lacie.”

The response by Canady mirrored again her approach to Branigan since the mayor was elected, deferring to Hale on issues rather than Branigan. In an e-mail to The Independent after the meeting Canady explained why she has reacted to Branigan’s leadership role so differently than she did to former Mayor Rick Hall.

“I was not overly fond of the combination of city admin/mayor, but I was definitely dissatisfied with our previous city admin (Greg Boatright). It seemed reasonable at the time to try something different.  Liberty Hill has always thought outside the box. As someone new to the council I might have been a little naive – as it is a huge undertaking to be a city admin. For me at the point that I realized/felt we needed to go back to a strong council weak mayor form of government (which we as a city have primarily been and involves having a city admin) I started working towards that goal. Our current city admin has done a fantastic job handling all that has been thrown at her. I think the city admin needs to do the admin things, the council needs to do the council things, and the mayor needs to do the mayor things,” she wrote.

Canady repeatedly voiced her support for Hall throughout his term as Mayor.

Ultimately, the Council agreed that Hale should take the lead on the issue and that meetings should not include representatives from so many different organizations and cities.

Former Emergency Management Coordinator Casey Cobb resigned in January but there had been questions about his possible termination previous to that, and he has indicated he was not given much choice. The city has not indicated whether the position will be filled or not.

Contract or no contract?
The use of the Over the Hill Gang building was back on the agenda after a motion by Canady and unanimous vote by the Council April 5 denied Branigan’s request to discus the agreement with Our Village for the use of the building.

Branigan again brought the issue to the agenda with a proposed lease agreement for the Over the Hill Gang, saying the agreement would clarify the use of the facility for both groups.

Canady argued no such lease was necessary, despite supporting a use agreement for Our Village.

Canady and Branigan continued to clash over the issue, with the Council ultimately asking Hale to look into establishing a city policy for use of city facilities, and a sit-down discussion with both Our Village and Over the Hill Gang.

Attorney job description
The Council unanimously approved a job description for the city attorney position, which will be used in the search and evaluation of a new attorney hire.

According to Hale, when the Council severed ties with the Bojorquez Law Firm and hired Tad Cleaves as city attorney in March 2020 there was no job description in place.

Phone frustration
In the middle of Monday’s meeting, Canady stopped mid-sentence to voice her frustration over repeated noises coming from someone’s phone.

“Every meeting somebody down there has a ding, ding, ding, and it’s annoying,” she said. “We’re not supposed to be dinging on our phones during these meetings. I don’t know who it is but it is distracting, it’s annoying and it’s not supposed to be happening.”

DeYoung immediately spoke up saying it was his phone, saying “I apologize, can we get back to the agenda item please?”

In the same e-mail she explained her view of the mayor and city administrator’s role, Canady clarified her frustration over the phone issue.

“As far as the phone issue. Let me set you straight. It is very disrespectful to have cell phone usage at the dais. It is annoying, distracting and possibly illegal. I don’t know how much of it was actually from Tony’s phone, but I do know that it has been happening at most meetings. It is multiple notifications every meeting and the sound comes more from the middle chair. Repeated dings throughout the meetings.  We should come to the meetings prepared and willing to give up our phone usage.  It also continued at this meeting after the request to stop,” she wrote.

The “middle chair” Canady mentioned would be Branigan’s seat on the dais.

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