Shadid said he plans on introducing the measure in place of a joint resolution that was considered and deferred at the May 31 council meeting. That resolution would have required certain contracts be subject to at least three public meetings before eligible for a vote.
Councilman Pete White spoke in support of the majority of the measure, while others, such as Councilman Gary Marrs, said it would be an unwieldy burden on city staff.
White requested the resolution be deferred until July 19. Shadid suggested the measure after the council was asked on his second day in office to approve via the consent docket a contract that would allow a newly formed nonprofit group, the Alliance for Economic Development, to manage many of the city’s economic development functions.
That item ultimately passed after it was deferred until a later council meeting at Shadid’s request.
A similar incident that Shadid said spurred his request was a contract with the Myriad Gardens Foundation, which included a stipulation to have the city’s Economic Development Trust take possession of land purchased by the foundation in exchange for forgiveness of a $4.2 million loan. He said he had only 72 hours from the time the agenda and supporting materials were published until the council meeting.
“You really only have one business day between the time you see the agenda items and supporting materials on Friday night and the City Council vote on Tuesday morning,” Shadid said.
However, following the events at the July 5 City Council meeting, Shadid said he plans to revise his original resolution to include criteria for when an item can and cannot be deferred at a council member’s request.
Two big votes were taken at that meeting: the approval of the MAPS 3 project timeline and the approval of the location of the MAPS 3 convention center, both of which Shadid had asked to be deferred until the next meeting because of travel delays.
Shadid said he planned a trip overseas months prior to his election. His return flight was delayed, and while stuck at the Boston airport on July 4, he said he called numerous council members and city officials to let them know his situation, and requested deferral of the two items.
Shadid said he would have purchased tickets to Dallas for $4,000, rented a car and driven back from there that night to make the meeting, but after receiving assurances that it shouldn’t be a problem, he decided to stay. However, the vote to continue the item failed 2-5 and both measures were passed — an action he said shocked and saddened him.
“I’ve been told since I got there that it’s an unwritten rule that any councilor who wants a deferral on an item can get it at least once,” Shadid said. “I’m hearing two different things from other councilors. I’m hearing all you have to do is ask for a deferral, but the vote on Tuesday was diametrically opposite.”
Shadid said he planned to meet with White, City Manager Jim Couch and the city’s legal council to craft the language that would replace the previous measure, which, he said, hopefully would clarify when a continuance can be granted, and allow at least up to four weeks for council members to look over contracts.
“To have these subjective criteria where the majority decides when you can and can’t have a deferral just lends itself to conflict and hurt feelings and anger, and it’s not healthy,” Shadid said. “It’s not healthy for the council or the city.”
However, he said he does not want the measure crafted in such a way that it can be used as a tool to perpetually block items or be a death knell for items that may require immediate action.
“There was a time when deferrals were used as a means to needlessly delay items,” Shadid said. “I would need to explore what happened in the past and avoid that.”
The measure may come up at the first August council meeting, he said.