By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Various legal minds are in disagreement over the Killeen city charter and a Nov. 8 recall election approved at Tuesday's night City Council meeting.
The latest dispute concerns how many people must petition for a recall and whether the proper procedures were followed in the resident-led effort to remove five remaining council members from office.
"The process mandated by our city charter was not followed," attorney Dan Corbin said at the meeting. Corbin was retained by Councilman Kenny Wells and allowed to give an opinion before the council voted Tuesday to set Nov. 8 as the recall election date.
Corbin said recall movement organizer Jonathan Okray violated the city charter.
Corbin cited section 102 of the charter. It specifies that a petition for an initiative or referendum should have a committee of five overseeing it.
Corbin's argument did not address section 112 of the charter, which deals specifically with recall procedures. The section states a single elector may make and file an affidavit with the city to call for a recall.
"There are provisions for committees and there are provisions for a single elector," Okray said. "If there was any illegitimacy in that, then why didn't the city attorney advise the city secretary of that?"
Corbin said Okray was required by the affidavit he signed to verify each signer's registration status and read each signer the statement affixed to the petition - a task that would have taken about a minute to read for each of the 9,877 signatures.
"I assure you that the procedures were not followed as stated in the affidavit," Corbin said.
The city certified Okray's recall petitions May 24.
Councilmen Billy Workman and Terry Clark and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper voted in favor of the Nov. 8 recall election. Councilmen Juan Rivera and Larry Cole dissented, and Wells abstained.
Okray referred questions to his attorney when asked about the recall election process.
Okray retained Houston-based attorney Chad Dunn, who said he is still reviewing the situation and will decide whether to move forward with litigation.
During the meeting, City Attorney Kathy Davis said she wanted to give a point-by-point rebuttal to Corbin's argument. Instead, she remained mum about the subject.
"I don't think that's in the best interest of my client, but I think there are some things where reasonable legal minds can differ because we do," Davis said.
In the meantime, Okray continues to insist a Nov. 8 election is not in line with the city charter, which states a recall election must be held between 30 and 60 days after the city certifies a recall petition.
Davis has continued to disagree with Okray on his interpretation of the law, citing Texas election laws that trump the city charter and require recall elections to be held during a uniform election date.
In order to tackle the issue, Okray and about five other organizers are raising money to fund legal counsel. The organizers call themselves the Killeen Tax Payers for Responsible Accountable Governance and have raised about $3,285 since May 27. Their goal is $10,000.
Residents interested in donating to KTPFRAG can contact Okray at (254) 368-8966 for more information.