SEVEN POINTS  —  They did it.

The Seven Points city council members  — all five of them duly elected by the voters — took real, live votes at the Municipal Building Tuesday night.

And democracy broke out for the first time in five months.

Not that the two sides are singing Kumbaya in unison, yet. It sounded more like the iceberg cracking when hit by the Titanic, but the council did get off a series of 3-2 votes.

The so-called missing three voted in block against all agenda items that had been posted by Mayor Joe Dobbs. Two of those three also have taken court action to get the mayor removed.

The council did pull together as one in deciding to adjourn.

All left District Attorney Scott McKee pleased as  punch.

“I’m just happy the city council was able to all be there, and do the business that the citizens elected them to do,” McKee said. “My number-one goal in mediation was to get them to meet, and it looks like it worked.”

When the “missing three” (Mayor Pro Tem Hank Laywell, Cheryl Jones and Bubba Powell) pooled their votes, they had enough clout — as they have had from the beginning — to defeat the other two members, Tommy Taylor and Claudette Allsup, 3-2, on any issue.

Yet, it was the first time the five council members and the mayor had been able to form a quorum, conduct a meeting and conclude it, since Dobbs was elected last spring.

For a night, at least, the votes swung the city’s political power away from Dobbs, and back in favor of a council which appears polarized at 3-2.

Councilman Bubba Powell was pleased with the results of the meeting.

“I thought it went pretty well,” he said. “We were able to have a meeting, and it was fairly quiet.”

Winning seems to brighten perceptions. Here’s Dobbs observations on the same meeting.

“I’m just very disappointed that these three council members are willing to make our citizens suffer by not approving the signatures for the road program at Knob Hill,” Dobbs said.  “Due to them voting against allowing signatures to go on the grant, it will effectively discontinue the road-program grant, and force the city to pay back over $70,000 for work that has already been completed.”

The grant he was talking about was worth $200,000.

“The city will not only not receive the $200,000, but it will also have to pay back the $70,000,” Dobbs said.

“I’ll call and beg whoever I need to in Austin, because of the uncooperative efforts of the three council members,” Dobbs said, vowing to do his best to save the grant.

Laywell repeatedly told Dobbs he couldn’t make decisions on any of the items, because he hadn’t seen all of the financials.

Dobbs repeatedly told Laywell he had seen all the records, he himself had seen, and that any of the other council members or the city secretary had seen.

Laywell and Powell  continued to insist there are more records, and that the records they’ve seen are not accurate.

Laywell then made motions to table the items on the agenda, and got Powell and Jones to back him. Those items included:

• voting to table discussion that would have approved  the minutes of previous meetings;

• voting to table a decision on whether or not to hire Don Kinney to provide an annual audit as per Texas Government code;

• voting to table an agenda item that would have put Dobbs, Laywell, Claudette Allsup and Shirley Kirksey on the bank signature lists, which would, in effect, allow the city to continue grant negotiations for the $200,000 on the Knob Hill road project. The money is being held by the state, awaiting distribution, but Dobbs says the city will soon have to forfeit the funds;

• voting to table a decision on whether or not to renew or disapprove a new contract with the Cedar Creek Humane Society.

That took care of the agenda Tuesday night.

The frosty atmosphere shouldn’t be too surprising, since the “missing three” had attempted twice to post agendas of their own, only to have the mayor rule them invalid.

The mayor, acting on opinions expressed by the city’s attorney, Blake Armstrong of Tyler, has referred to a 1995 action by a Seven Points City Council, which gave the mayor virtually all powers.

As a consequence, the mayor, in an effort to keep the city running, had been making all business decisions by assuming virtually all of the city’s powers in absence of quorums. 

He has made hires, fires and purchases without having a council to approve any of it.

Part of his decisions required moving funds around so the employees could be paid, as well as other bills.

Laywell and Powell have filed motions for an injunction on Dobbs, accusing him of misappropriating funds.

Dobbs has accused the “missing three” of trying to shut down city government, and especially Laywell, who has steadfastly refused, as the city’s only signatory besides Dobbs, to sign his name so that city business can be conducted. He says Laywell forced him to shift funds to meet payroll.

Laywell said he won’t do that until he’s satisfied he’s seen all of the financials.

Further animosity has occurred between Dobbs and the three when they have tried to get their items posted on the agenda.

Each time, it was to discuss getting rid of the mayor.  He has responded by not accepting those requests. He also disallowed one meeting the “missing three” called in his absence, and where they also ousted the mayor.

He disallowed that meeting also.

In a side note Tuesday, Mayor Pro Tem Hank Laywell filed an affidavit joining Powell in an effort to remove Dobbs from office, or prevent him from conducting further city business.

On Oct. 15, Councilman Bubba Powell, had filed for an injunction along the same lines.

Powell’s injunction led to a mediation between both sides, which may, or may not, have had a heavy influence on all sides coming together for an actual meeting Tuesday night.

District Attorney Scott McKee had expressed the hope that everyone would show up for Tuesday’s meeting. To prove it, he showed up at the meeting himself, along with his investigators Balde Quintella and Jodie Miller.

Seven Points Police Chief Jack Nelson stood at the front of the room, alongside local firefighter A.J. Kirksey, who warned the crowd not to be disruptive, telling them they could be fined if they became disruptive.

Aside from a series of grumbles and sarcastic laughs after each vote, the crowd was fairly peaceful.

A few spoke during the speaker’s comments portion, mostly to urge the council members to do the work of the city.

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