For years transparency in its truest form was not regularly practiced at Forney City Hall, however under the guidance of new City Manager James Fisher and attorney Jon Thatcher, the City of Forney is being brought into a new light of respectable operations.
The city recently upgraded the transparency portal on their website, and it should be acknowledged that the city managers office is no longer spending thousands of dollars requesting Attorney General Opinions in an attempt to prevent the release of public information.
The withholding of public documents is handled according to the legal specifications outlined in the Open Records Act, and regularly city attorney Jon Thatcher advises City Secretary Dorothy Brooks on the timely release of public information.
Simply because the taxpayers have the right to review how their municipal government is being managed by the officials who represent them; below are a few prime examples of what real transparency looks like.
The Barriers Brooks Bought
During the Highway 80 - FM 548 bridge reconstruction, former city manager Brian Brooks, on behalf of the City of Forney, purchased $606,260 worth of concrete barriers.
These barriers are listed as Item #512 Port CTB F& I, Low Prof TY1 & TY2 on the attached bid sheet. These barriers were never used and have been sitting in the Forney Community Park since they were purchased.
It is unclear why these barriers were purchased by the city considering that they are listed as part of a $12,279,000.00 construction bid that was awarded to Ed Bell Construction for the reconstruction of the FM 548 bridge.
City Manager James Fisher has now received council approval to sell these barriers to the highest bidder in an attempt to recoup some of the funds wasted, and in order to get them physically removed from the Community Park.
The Cost of Free Concerts and Movies
For the fourth consecutive year, the city's Special Events Department is hosting a summer series of free concerts and movies in the Community Park.
An expensive endeavor, the booking of concert talent alongside thousands of dollars spent on toys, candy, food and “green room” extras is occasionally extravagant.
Attached for taxpayer review are all the receipts associated with the 2017 Summer Concert/Movie Series, to date.
These records also reveal the cost for the 2017 BBQ Cook-off and Festival, including the $20,000 spent on the concert performance of “Ten Thousand Horses”.
Powers Uses Walking Quorum to Intimidate Developer
It should be clearly understood that almost all the work product of the council is subject to the Open Records Act, therefore The Post regularly obtains emails that have been produced by council members, staff and associated city vendors.
The taxpayers have the right to see exactly how they are represented, and many will find it interesting to discover that Council Member Robbie Powers recently used city email to intimidate and ultimately prevent a prospective developer from coming before the council.
The Wellington Ridge residential development had been working towards coming before the council since early November 2016. They were finally listed to appear before the council on June 6, 2017 as the official council agenda shows.
However just days before their scheduled presentation, Wellington Ridge developer Pat Akins received an email from Council Member Robbie Powers .
The Powers email basically states that she and Council Member's Penn, Moon and Myers were not interested in approving the development, and Powers copied the email to Akins superiors at Wellington Ridge.
A series of emails transpired between Powers and developer Pat Akins. The developer was subsequently encouraged to ask that the item be “tabled" before the commencement of the June 6th meeting.
Voters need only understand that Darrell Grooms was not hired as a "consultant" by the developers of Wellington Place. Therefore, Council Member's Robbie Powers and Mary Penn will do whatever is necessary to prevent this development from coming before the council for site plan approval.
Council Member Powers projected an illegal consensus when she told the developer, in writing, that it is her belief that 4 of the 7 council members will not approve the project should he present it to the council.
Listen to the below video tapes of attorney Alan Latham, representing former city attorney’s Brown & Hofmeister, as he explains the definition of both consensus and walking quorum to the Forney City Council in December 2015.
Written by: Denise Bell