Killeen city council

Killeen City Council members discuss an airport rehabilitation project during a workshop meeting at Killeen City Hall on June 15, 2021.

The Killeen City Council will hold a rare Saturday workshop meeting to discuss what has been a dicey subject lately — ethics.

“Discuss Ethics Ordinance” is the only item on the agenda for special workshop meeting set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the main conference room at City Hall, 101 N. College St.

The council is not expected to vote to approve a possible new ethics ordinance, but it may come to a consensus on what it may want to do moving forward on the subject.

The topic of ethics for the council came to head last month, when the issue was discussed at length during a May 18 council workshop meeting.

At that meeting, there was more heated exchange than constructive discussion.

Councilmember Mellisa Brown said she wanted to see the ordinance cover all staff, elected, board and committee members, election workers and anyone else who is appointed or hired by the city that would represent the city in an official capacity in any official matter.

While there was no shouting or yelling at the May meeting, the council members openly reflected on the optics of their sometimes tense discussions.

“I’ll be honest, in the time that I’ve been here we’ve had some times up here where it’s quite embarrassing to sit up here,” Councilman Ken Wilkerson, who supported the ethics ordinance for council members only, said. “I think there is a need to have a governing standard of how we operate up here.”

Mayor Jose Segarra last month said he did not agree with the need for an ethics ordinance because protocols were already in place and at the end of the day the people are the ultimate check on behavior.

“It gets to the point of ridiculous here,” the mayor said. “As a city, we have so many important things to discuss and a lot of times we get stuck on things that have nothing to do with our citizens. I think it’s an emotional thing.”

When they are sworn in, council members already sign Killeen’s “City Council Standards of Conduct” — which outlines eight principles, including honor, civility and conflicts of interest.

Added Segarra: “I think the citizens, they are our boss. If you do something wrong, there is a way to get you out of council. Us hashing out how we are going to control each other, to me, that’s ridiculous.”

After about an hour of discussion, and bringing up some old wounds among council members, the council eventually voted 5-2 to hold a workshop on the issue of creating an ethics ordinance.

That workshop is set for this Saturday.

Segarra confirmed to the Herald this week that he will be out of town and unable to attend, which means Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King is expected to run the meeting.

Like the mayor, Nash-King has also said the current ethics policies are sufficient. 

"The city council has a greater responsibility to the citizens of Killeen than dictating to the city manager on how to manage the city. If the council members chose to approve an ethics ordinance to manage council members, city employees, board members and volunteers, the council would also have to use taxpayers' dollars to hire an outside attorney to investigate if an ethic’s violation has been committed because it would be a conflict of interest to use the city staff," Nash-King said in an email to the Herald on Friday.

"The city already has a check and balance system in place to investigate violations, the council members have the authority to appoint or not appoint volunteers to serve on city's boards and the citizens have the right to vote for or against reelecting a council member," she said. "I believe the council members should follow the present ethics policy that is located in our Governing Standards & Expectations’ manual. The council should also practice the Standards of Conduct which each council member takes an oath to follow after being elected then we would not need a new ordinance."   

If anything is voted on during the meeting, Nash-King will not be able to vote while acting as mayor, city officials confirmed. She will, however, vote if there is a tie, just as the mayor does.

Councilmen Wilkerson and Rick Williams confirmed to the Herald this week they will be going to the meeting.

“My job as I see it is to listen to my fellow council members and then to determine the most appropriate and effective way to proceed,” Williams said in an email to the Herald Thursday.

Brown also said she will be at the meeting.

“I would just like to see a framework for the ordinance put together including who will be covered, what will be covered, and if we have a committee what will it consist of and what will their responsibilities and abilities be,” Brown said via email. “I would like to see all staff, elected officials, and appointed representatives covered and we should have a committee that can accept and hear complaints.”

Councilwoman Jessica Gonzalez also said she plans to attend.

"While it is a step toward enhancing transparency and ensuring best practices. I have many questions, that I will address at that time," she said in an email to the Herald Friday.

Council members Michael Boyd and Nina Cobb did not reply to the Herald's questions on Thursday, asking if they would be attending the meeting.

jbrooks@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7468

Locations

(4) comments

overseer

In my assessment of this story in relation to the "council" addressing ethics. It is my humble opinion that, and I will speak carefully as to not have my comments withdrawn from this post, past actions with council members, to include our Mayor, past and present demands that greater ethical guidelines be put into place. Our illustrious Mayor Segarra has expressed his disdain with the council addressing the topic of ethics at all. He is supported in his thoughts by our Mayor Pro-tem Nash-King. As for the remaining council members, it seems the majority have some desire to address this issue. As I agree that it should be addressed, I cannot help but to be filled with concern as some members may only address them in a way that will likely benefit them and alienate other members. The majority rules, correct? Who "is" the majority? Who "are" the majority? What "are" the majority? When "are" the majority? How "are" the majority? I dare not insinuate yet, I am still, admittedly concerned; and, hopefully misplaced in my concern.

overseer

@noneofyourbiz - As I read over your list of "Do Nots" in regards to ethics and public servants, a particular duo of your verbalized statements caught my attention. This is the statement you quoted:

"Did you know that if you sit on a city adhoc, commission, committee you can not use that position to run for office, you can not use it to use city resources for you campaign, you can not use it talk to others about running for office, you can not use the senior citizen board to gain votes, it any other citizen boards." End quote.

If this statement of yours is true NOB, then you have made the case for an ethics complaint to be submitted to the TEC for the review of Mr. Boyd's entire campaign. Do you deny or admit that Mr. Boyd continuously utilized his "committee and commission" positions as a means to promote his "Eligibility" for the city council position? If you admit this, should Mr. Boyd now be removed from his seat or, recalled later in the future when he is eligible to be?

In your sharing of knowledge, you may have, inadvertently, made yourself more of a "public enemy" to some of the supporters of Mr. Boyd than they made our former councilman Harris. - barring the difference in that he was an opponent of the ideologies of local activists and party line members; while, as for you, you will just be a "victim" because you provided, if your statements are indeed correct, a means t remove their "handpicked" choice from office. I suggest you contact the paper immediately to remove your post...if someone did not already screenshot it. INOB, it is not secret that I do not think very highly of your character and opinion in some areas of your life's practices; nonetheless, I still believe in your right to express your thoughts and opinions regardless of the motives that precede or follow them. My sincere advice to you. Remember, you are no longer just dealing with citizens who have voted, you are dealing with "real" activists and "Die-hard" party members who have no natural affections as they will sacrifice the innocent to get what they want. Unless you are someone who does not take any regard to what others think of or may do to you, as many citizens nationwide have been placed in to a box of "silence" due to the fear of "retaliation" if they speak their true thoughts, tread lightly except you find yourself "cancelled" if and when they find out who you are; especially, if someone utilizes the information you provided to try and "cancel" Mr. Boyd's position.

Noneofyourbiz

Good to know that there is a direct threat.

I stand by words as everyone knows I call and say the truth. The laws and ethics are written. As you are the one bringing councilman Boyd into this, it seems you are the one that is saying he has done wrong.

As for your comments I have also taking a snapshot. As know who you are.

I do not have any fear of you, not would I ever fear a person that has to call themselves overseer. It seems more like you are wanting to be a gatekeep and wanting to silence anyone that disagrees with you be threatening them.

I stand by the ethics laws that are written by the Texas state that are in place to protect citizens rights and to protect citizens from the city council members and the over reach of government.

Your threat just makes my voice louder and makes me fight back even harder.

I am a libertarian and will always fight to protect citizens and myself from government abuse.

Noneofyourbiz

Ethics do cover All city employees. If you sit down and read the ethics laws that govern the state of Texas, along with the TLM handbook.

Did you know that if a city employee post stuff on thier Facebook page about city business, that they also have to maintain those post for 6 years, this also applies to anyone that sits on a city adhoc, commission and board.

Did you know that you can also request city adhoc, commission, committees and board members emails and so on.

If city council would actually read about ethic laws instead of taking a 1to 3 hour workshop and watching a video, it really would improve how city council holds meetings.

Did you know holding a chair on a political party can violate ethics by holding a position on a city board, adhoc, commission and so on.

Did you know that someone holding a chair with a political party cannot hold a elected position.

Did you know that if you sit on a city adhoc, commission, committee you can not use that position to run for office, you can not use it to use city resources for you campaign, you can not use it talk to others about running for office, you can not use the senior citizen board to gain votes, it any other citizen boards.

With all that said, go file a freedom of information on any city employee you want, you have the right to know. Btw thier Facebook page and messages along with emails and text messages are included in it.

That means city employees can not go though and scrub what they don't want released. They have to hold on to it for 6years.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.