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Pilot Point City Council refuses to call recall election

Pilot Point City Council refuses to call recall election

By Basil Gist

Staff Writer

With the recall petition of council member Elizabeth Jones on the agenda, many members of the community spoke on one side of the question or the other during the June 27 Pilot Point City Council meeting.

       After extensive discussion from the council and the community, the dais voted 5-1-1 against calling the election, with Jones abstaining and Mayor Elisa Beasley voting no.

        “All of us, with the exception of you, have some hangups about the validity of this petition,” Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Ambrosio said. “There are some serious issues that I have personally, … and I don’t think council can call an election when there is legal stuff way above us that needs to be decided, and that’s why I think it needs to go to a judge.”

       Council came to its conclusion after a number of community members spoke not only to Jones’ merit as an individual, but also against the validity of the petition after research which some of the council had also conducted on their own.

       “I have some serious questions about the petition,” council member Ray Dane said. “The petitioner submitted a notarized statement saying all signatures of registered voters were made in her presence. The notarized statement she submitted was dated April 17, 2024. Every single voter who signed the petition dated his or her signature on a date that came after April 17.”

Pilot Point City Council refuses to call recall election

       On the petition’s grounds of fiduciary misconduct after Jones hosted the city’s Christmas party in 2023 and received $900 for her service, Tracy Glover, after a short cost analysis, calculated that between 10 propane heaters, decorations, and pre- and post-event cleaning, Jones would have spent $1,200 to make the event happen.

       Alternatively, the venue would have cost $4,600 to rent flat out.

       “She was advised by city staff that if she provided a party for the city at no cost, it would be viewed as an attempt to bribe city officials for favors,” Glover said. “She had to charge the city something, so she agreed to take a loss and get paid for it.”

       A letter from Lane Pierce read by council member Chad Major explained the charter does not forbid council members or even city staff from receiving money for services rendered on the city.

       “There is nothing in the section that forbids a council person from conducting fair business with the city,” Major recited from Pierce’s email. “Money, being a resource used for payment of services that are customary, incidental or lawfully available to the public is expressly permitted in the charter.”

       Amy Lanier brought up a message from Kelley Burgess to Adriana Midkiff, which included that “anyone can be recalled just for being disliked.”

       “She continues to place the burden of the cost on Elizabeth rather than herself as the petitioner so my question is, how can this be OK for a citizen to just target and try to control one of you,” Lanier said. “That just does not seem right. It all seems dangerous in fact.”

       Those who spoke in favor of the recall did not address the grounds nor the discrepancies with the notary.

       Each spoke about what they see as Jones’ lack of value as a member of the dais.

       “I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, but this is a job just like my job in the public sector,” Tom Burgess said. “It is an important job, and it must be done by people who are good at that job.”

       Kelley, who filed the petition, spoke about the three types of people in Pilot Point as she sees it. There are those who love Jones, those who want her off of council and a third kind.

       “I like logic and facts and procedures, so I have a hard time with all these testimonials, which I’m sure are true,” Kelley said. “There is a third group that really pushes me to be here, and those are the ones that are afraid of you. … Whether that’s founded or true doesn’t make any difference because we know in politics optics matter.”

Pilot Point City Council refuses to call recall election

       The final community speaker, Tatiana Ambrosio, questioned what appeared to be Beasley’s calling for community members to speak in an order stilted in favor of the recall.

       “I noticed that we received comments, but we had pro go first and to end the conversation was against to start this conversation for our council,” Tatiana said. “I don’t think that’s a correct way to hold a meeting. I think that’s manipulating the crowd and the conversation.”

       Beasley denied both the allegation and any connection to the petition beyond answering Kelley’s initial question about how to call a recall.

       “First of all, false,” Beasley said. “I didn’t stack the conversations or who is going first. Lennette puts a number on them, and I went through that. There seems to be this idea that I’m just this grand manipulator. I honestly don’t have time for that, so that’s false.”

       According to city records, the speaker order differed from the order in which cards were received by the city secretary.

       During her comment, Kelley additionally referred to her conversation with the mayor, saying that Beasley pointed her to the charter and nothing more, before the mayor publicly discussed the information request from the Post-Signal.

       “You can have my texts. You can have my messages,” Beasley said. “Like any other citizen that calls me and asks me for information, I send that information, whatever that is.”

       As of press time on Tuesday, the Post-Signal’s information requests filed on June 24 and 25 had not been released.

       Beasley argued that the charter “states, ‘the council shall call the election once the petition has been verified,’ which it has.”

       “The charter reads shall, … and in the past with other things that you all have brought to my attention, it has been that ‘shall’ means ‘shall,’ meaning ‘that is what we must do,’” she said.

       Andrew asked City Attorney Brenda McDonald to read more of the section of the charter regarding recall elections, where the initial “shall” in question is followed by an “if, then,” wherein the charter permits council to send the petition to a judge if, as a governing body, they disagree with its grounds.

      “That implies that there would be an action taken that would potentially not call an election,” Major said.


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