TEMPLE — Talk of making changes to the city charter is drawing fire in Temple.
Temple Councilman Russell Schneider wrote on March 6 in a response to accusations he violated the city charter that residents could “seek the necessary procedures required to change the city’s charter” rather than “publicly attack those of us that follow its guidelines as presently written.
“I take great offense when I am being accused publicly for violating the city charter. I have always made every effort possible to follow the guides of our city charter, which currently have no provisions disallowing elected public officials from conducting business with the city of Temple.”
Schneider was one of the strongest opponents of changing the charter or allowing residents to have that opportunity in the past, as seen in past council videos and minutes.
Former councilman Tony Jeter pushed to change the charter when he was in office.
He still believes the issue is relevant today, Jeter said in a recent interview.
“The community needs to know what’s in the city charter and people need to have faith in their leadership,” Jeter said. “People don’t know what’s in it and what it does. And the council should already know what’s in it.”
Jeter doesn’t advocate annual reviews, but said it should be reviewed as time and things change.
He said he believes an unbiased review needs to be done by an independent and appointed group of individuals who will take a good, honest look at it in its entirety and make recommendations to the council.
Jeter said he believes that people should have the opportunity to vote on changes, which is something the council members still didn’t agree with when he left his council position.
“No council member should ever vote on anything that might give someone
the opportunity to believe someone is
benefitting from their position,” Jeter said.
Councilman Perry Cloud said Wednesday he believes some items in the charter need to be reviewed and he would welcome taking a look at that.
Mari Paul, a former assistant to Judy Morales when she was director of the Temple HELP Center, claimed in her petition to recall all the council members that Schneider violated the charter by gaining contracts through his construction company for financial gain.
That section reads, “No Council member, appointed officer, or employee of the city having a direct or indirect interest in any proposed or existing contract, purchase, work, sale or service to or by the city shall vote or render a decision, or use his position authority or influence in a manner that would result in his financial betterment to a greater degree than the general benefit to the public.”
Temple Mayor Danny Dunn said March 6 in a letter responding to recall petitions being circulated to remove him and council members Schneider, Cloud, Morales and Tim Davis that he believed deficiencies in the charter were pointed out by recent developments.
Morales was arrested Tuesday on misdemeanor charges she destroyed, removed or altered public information.
“This situation has brought to mind the need to review the charter. I’m only sorry it wasn’t done before now,” he said.
Will the council review the charter now?
“Absolutely,” Davis said Wednesday.