San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

San Marcos City Councilmembers were under fire from citizens Tuesday night as the city’s governing body sprints to approve a development agreement for Paso Robles and select a new city manager before a Nov. 2 election that could seat four new members to the seven-member council.

Added to the mix Tuesday night was discontent voiced during the citizens comments period about a plan to select new members of boards and commissions on Nov. 1, the day before the election. Some citizens said the council should wait and let the next council make the appointments. Only Councilmembers Gaylord Bose and John Thomaides supported waiting until after the election before making appointments.

Since city elections moved to November in 2005, the council has made appointments to boards and commission in November or December, after Election Day. Narvaiz argued that the proposed schedule is in line with past practice because, in previous cases, the appointments were made before the elections were canvassed. The canvassing of the vote, in which the city council declares an election official, typically takes place within a couple weeks of the election.

Following is a transcript of the ensuing exchange among councilmembers:

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50 thoughts on “Jones to detractors: ‘Please, get over yourselves’

  1. I second that what Chris Jones said

    Get over yourselves, did u hear that, Its all about San Marcos moving forward people

  2. Someone needs to remind Mr thin-skin that politicians are elected to “serve” the people not “lead” them. I don’t particularly care what HE thinks is best for San Marcos – I’m more interested in what the people who have to live with these decisions think.

    It sounds to me like his concept of “will of the people” is that it only matters at election time. “You voted me in, now get out of the way and if you don’t like what I do, you can vote me out later.” That’s a pretty arrogant attitude for an elected official, but sadly because voter turnout is so poor and incumbents get a huge advantage in those situations, he will probably get away with it.

  3. Yes, it is all about San Marcos moving forward….but HOW that should happen?

    Will San Marcos “move forward” into a future of unchecked sprawl, with a polluted aquifer, and a sporadically running creek in the middle of downtown?

    OR

    Will San Marcos become a showcase of intelligent planning, a protected environment, a place my kid can look forward to returning to as an adult because the quality of life is good here?

    I have my worries that the current town government is not leaning towards the second option. Government is accountable to the people, and the people have the right to question its decisions. We shouldn’t have to wait until an election to make our opinions known. That is not an insult to the council, Mr. Jones.

    I can’t speak to the cycle of hiring, as I am relatively new to town – and, BTW, own my home her.. But I will comment on the Paso Robles deal that is being pushed through council. A golf -course housing development is asking for trouble when it is put on a recharge zone. Pollution of our aquifer is inevitable. We have seen ample evidence of this in places like San Antonio. In my opinion, a responsible town council would: 1) do some basic research on aquifers, and 2) direct growth AWAY from these sensitive areas.

    Let San Marcos grow, but let’s use our heads! And if we see that our elected officials are ignoring the FACTS and the responsible plans that were put in place by previous administrations, then we need to speak up.

    We don’t need to “Get over ourselves”!

  4. all the people that dont want growth, to me seem like there all 65 and older. I mean all of them clapping, and disrespecting the council and Mayor is ridiculous the other night. Honestly to me all the people against Robles are very very old, and are only worried about street roads by their house or waterheads

  5. Great is Chris is correct. He listens to folks: in council chambers, in downtown, at committee meetings and in the hundreds of homes he visits. BTW, he does not just visit folks by walking door to door when an election is about to take place. Property owners in San Marcos work long hours and most can not afford to spend hours each day attending a City meeting. He listens to all people of San Marcos and not just the few of us that attend a City Council meeting.

  6. That may be, but when the people you are elected to represent are upset, that’s on you, not them.

  7. If one were really upset about the division in San Marcos, one might look to the dais, to see what might be happening there to contribute (or not happening there, to alleviate). People are upset, because they do not feel they are being listened to.

    Perhaps Mr. Jones could start the ball rolling, by moving to censure members whose attention is clearly elsewhere during citizen comments. I’ve watched our council members during comment periods and it doesn’t take a twitter post to let me know that some council members have better things to do than listen to citizen comments.

  8. Say what you will about Mayor Narvaiz and whether you agree with her decisions, or think she gives any weight to your comments; she has always appeared to be listening intently to every comment, by every citizen, when I have been watching. Some of her peers could go a long way toward mending fences, by following that simple example.

    Of course I would like to see more decisions go in my favor (as would everyone) and I’d like to feel like my comments carried more weight (as would everyone), but I’ll settle for a dais that at least appears to be absorbing and processing the comments that the citizens take the time to make.

    Someone recently quoted the mayor (accurately or inaccurately, I do not know) on an issue from years ago, as saying “perception is reality.” In this case, I couldn’t agree more. If you can’t even create a believable perception that you are listening, then you reap what you sew, and if you aren’t part of that problem, then it’s on you to “talk to” those peers who are.

  9. Have you ever heard the way some folks talk to the people up on the dias sometimes? No wonder they ignore some people or do not listen. I have seen some of the “regulars” talk down to Council and P&Z so badly it was an insult. Remember, all the folks up there on Council and the other city boards are citizens just as much as the people in the audience.

  10. Ted you bring up a very valid point about what Council members are actually doing while citizens are speaking or while staff is providing them data in which to make decisions. I can only speak towards the actions of one Council member who is running for Mayor, but his phone records (which I obtained through FOI) show that he is texting other Council members during some of that time. Unfortunately, the law does not require him to produce his phone records for his “personal” phone calls/texts conducted during Council meetings. If it did, I think we would see a lot more texting activity, but citizens do not have a right to those records. John preaches transparency, but does not believe this applies to him.

    I have filed another FOI for the actual phone bill (I was given a document John created). Although he can and will redact his personal calls, it might provide a little more information about the frequency of texting from the Dais.

    I don’t doubt other Council members are doing this as well. I don’t have the proof and focused my initial inquiry into the man who wants to lead our city and touts “transparency”.

    The Council adopted rules in 2008 about the manner in which they conduct themselves. Rule #1 is to “limit” use of cell phones during meetings. Rule #3 is “do not email or text other Council members during meetings.” Seems pretty straight forward to me but obviously it must be harder to do than it seems.

  11. “…which is why each and every one of you elected me, and elected every person sitting here, is to do the work of San Marcos.”
    He is right- he received the majority of votes. And our present Mayor and Council continue the tradition that once the torch was passed to them, that the citizens should be content (and required) to sit down, shut up, and let them do their job.
    Who can blame them- like taking candy from a baby .
    The reality is that people who read Newstreamz are a small group of people singing to the choir so it feels like everyone in San Marcos must be seeing things exactly like they do.
    The flip side of that reality is that the majority of San Marcos don’t vote, and those who do – well the majority of them voted for our present Mayor and Council.
    I predict a similar turnout and result come November.

    I should have thrown in a bit more cliches.

  12. Charles I in effect sounded the death knell for the totalitarian monarchy by insisting: “Kings are not bound to give an account of their actions but to God alone.”

  13. Chris Jones, my advice is that things are getting way too hot up there for you, maybe it’s time for you to get out of the kitchen and have someone else who can handle the heat to take “your” place.
    too sad you’re now one of those who’s selling our city to the highest bidder, you really need to wake up and remember why some of us voted for you, just incase if you forgot, it’s to represent the peoples interest not the big out of town developers.

  14. “…which is why each and every one of you elected me, and elected every person sitting here, is to do the work of San Marcos.”

    I vote for people because of their “committment” to preserving San Marcos and our water resources.
    I vote for people based on their desire to “bring the communtiy together”.

    Yet here we are looking at Paso Robles . How does creating a development for executives bring our community together? Sounds like more separation to me. And then of course we all know how well the said development preserves our water resources.

    So I feel like citizens have a right to be upset, whether they vote for a candidate or not, when that candidate, once elected, does not walk the walk ….

  15. Terry, interesting. Wish I had a moment to comment, but today is unusually busy. It would be great to have that information for all council members and the mayor. Not sure why you would only be concerned about the comduct of one member. It seems like an important issue, across the board.

  16. Terry–do you have the text of your Open Records Request that you used for your two related to telephone/internet activity during Council meetings? I think this is something worth seeing for everyone on the dais. I remember someone doing a request like this in Austin and it resulted in some enlightening information.

  17. I meant to say T. Nochols…

    I honestly didn’t meant to “out” you and I’m not even sure that’s who you are. I’ve just really got a thousand things going on today and dashed off a quick reply without thinking.

    Hopefully I didn’t cause any problems. My apologies if I did.

  18. Also, some of the other texting should be evident in his records. I know my online statements show the date, time and phone numbers, for all inbound and outbound text messages. So, if he received messages from ofher council members, that should be in there too.

  19. Ted, no problem. I concur it would be great for all, but I focused my energy and efforts on the man who speaks of transparency and wants the highest elected office in our city. I had to start somewhere and I started there. I spent hours entering his 812 phone calls/texts into a database to make sense out of them. The times were all jumbled which made it even more difficult.

    As for date/times, they are there for the calls/texts he has released. In the records he produced, it is hard to determine if the text is incoming or outgoing. Again, he created the document I received. He gets to (because the law allows for it) redact everything relating to the non-city business calls (date,time, etc.). This is unfortunate because I think it would really show (or not show) exactly how much texting is going on during meetings. I asked John to please leave the date/time/type of call in the new records I have requested and to just redact the number. He has refused.

    Out of the 812 calls/texts I have from Nov 1, 2009-Aug 11, 2010, I have identified all but two individual numbers consisting of single phone calls to each. Only 2 (possibly 4 with the 2 I have not identified) calls/texts which John released were made to what I will call “regular” citizens. What I mean is 808 or 810 of the calls/texts John released were all to council members, city staff, or city hall. No one else.

    This is the most puzzling part of John’s phone records. As a tenured Council member, I would expect and hope that he is talking to citizens about the business of the City. Some people I would expect John to have talked to at one point or the other in the past 10 months about some type of “city business” would be: CONA board members, neighborhood reps from CONA, SM River Foundation folks, our State Rep, our Congressman, one or more members of the 23 City Boards and Commissions, Chamber Board of Directors, Chamber staff, HIspanic Chamber board, SMCISD Trustees and staff, TX Univ administration, Hays County Commissioners, media, and CVB just to name a few.

    I can’t help but believe that with the Buie tract issue, the police/fire contract issue, firing of the CM issue, the Paso Robles issue, etc some citizen somewhere or one of the above folks have talked to John on the phone about City business. One particular local media person even told me ahead of time his phone number would show up in the records. And guess what….it did not.

    Something is not right. Either John has not provided all the records or he is not communicating with other civic and community leaders that an elected official should be communicating with. My continual point (as if you can’t tell) is….is this the type of leader we want running our city and being the leader of our Council?

    I have sent in another request for some of the actual text messages which are also open records (same as an email). They are saved on the phone. You can not get them from the carrier. I hope John saved his text messages knowing that any communication about city business is subject to FOI. I have also asked for copies of the original phone records just for the council meeting days. There are still 5 work days left on the request.

    CWS- here is the language:

    “Cell phone records including text messages (sent and received) and numbers called or received for all cell phones either provided by the City of San Marcos or in which a stipend (government funds) are used to pay of the cell phone for Council member John Thomaides which is used for official City of San Marcos business. Records are requested for the period of November 1, 2009 through the most current billing cycle.”

    I am in no way saying this may not be a rampant issue with the entire Council. I tackled what I could tackle and the one that is a priority to me. When I met with John and the City Attorney to discuss this issue, I pleaded with John to open up all of his records and be the most transparent candidate out there. He refused. He made it very clear his idea of transarency is making sure items being discussed in Exec session are clearly listed on agendas. I concur. He simply does not agree with the phone/texting issue. I understand not wanting his family/business phone numbers out in public. I get it. That is why I suggested he redact just the actual phone number and leave the date/time/type. Again, he will not go there. I just don’t get that part….what is there to hide?

  20. Poor Chris Jones. His constituents are so opinionated…and outspoken!! How can he do what’s best for San Marcos when San Marcians don’t like what is best for him? Everybody knows we elected him to make our decisions for us, not to listen to our collective voice and base his decisions on it. Those archaic practices were lost with the city-states of ancient Greece…and good riddance!! What we need now is exactly what Mr. Chris Jones deigns to give us: a wise father figure, seated on the dais, who can guide us and direct us as he deems fit. So, friends, San Marcians, countrymen, follow the guidance of the great Chris Jones, clear room for him when he passes you in the street, and, when possible, throw rose petals beneath his noble feet.

  21. Cori
    I appreciate your comments and my statement was not directed at those who seek to make their opinions known to council. I also agree that San Marcos is and should continue to be a showcase of intelligent planning, a protected environment, a place your kid can look forward to returning to as an adult because the quality of life is good here?

    Dano
    I am sorry you feel as if my comments suggest that I believe I was not elected to represent the people but to lead them. However I think it is important to note that there are those citizens who believe to move off every council decision to after the election is a mistake, which is the basis behind my statement that I was elected to do the business of San Marcos.

    Ted
    You are mistaken on my frustration over the 600K. I was frustrated with my council colleagues and in the context of the entire meeting you would understand that. In addition, my recent comments are no reflection of anger towards the citizens, but rather towards those who seek to divide our great city. I believe over the years this community has worked so hard to move away from divisive politics and seeing us return to them is frustrating. I am sorry that you feel I should step down at the end of my term, but I have no plans to do this. Yes my comments do also apply to anyone on the dais.

    Charles Sims
    I believe I have to given an account for every one of my votes to citizens and am ready and willing to do so, please just ask.

    City Man
    I do not think the kitchen is hot but please excuse me if I see arsons surrounding the house with gas cans and a match in their hand. There is no election worth tearing our community apart. I am sorry you feel that I am one of those who is selling our city to the highest bidder, however please examine my voting record. I am aware that many of my supporters voted for me to represent them and I am sorry that you feel I have not done this. My cell phone number is 512-826-9468 please call me and help me understand where I have not represented you. Once again I believe I do work hard for the people when I cast my vote but if I have missed something I welcome a phone call!

    Leah
    We have yet to vote on the details of the Pasa Robles project if that is what you are referring to. I believe my voting record is in accordance with your expectation.

    Mike
    I apologize for not making my point clear, it was so unclear that you might have interpreted my comments to fall in line with the tone of your sarcasm. Simply all I was attempting to say with my comments is that there are those who elected me who expect me to make decisions around election time the same way I would at anytime. I am committed to representing the people of San Marcos and seek out their needs, wants and comments. I am sorry you perceive my comments in such light.

  22. Speaking to the core of why I think we’re even having this discussion, those of you who want to continue to divide San Marcos, a kind word: please, get over yourselves.”
    This comment is not directed at those who disagree. If you disagree with the council or an agenda item, I want to hear you and I want to work with you. I have changed my position on issues several times because of legitimate arguments and suggestions. However, that is not to say I am unsure of my stance on any issue. I will stand for an issue, proposal, or belief that will provide opportunities for the City of San Marcos to show its greatness!

    Next, the words “get over yourselves” apply to those who seek to fuel the fire of discourse by aligning citizen against citizen on more than policy differences, but personal attacks, thus destroying the one motivation and dream which links us as citizens; the betterment of San Marcos.

    I am troubled to see our community return to its anti group silos and organize a group to oppose the actions of another group. These groups are then represented on council and major issues which help San Marcos Citizens are overlooked.

    I am a councilmember because I love San Marcos and believe in the limitless opportunities of its future, and I know you all believe the same. How we get there might be different, but at the end of the day we all want a better San Marcos.

  23. Chris (Jones),

    Again I would ask what Council is doing, to bridge the divide, and what they are doing to contribute to it.

    A large group of people, from many sides of many issues, have agreed that we need greater transparency. Perhaps a strong (voluntary) push in this direction by Council would help.

    A lot of people have commented to me, that Council does not listen. Perhaps if you called out your colleagues for texting, tweeting, playing on their computers, having sidebar conversations and the like, during citizen comments, this would help. Perhaps if you advised them that reading prepared statements explaining their upcoming vote, immediately after citizen comments, makes it difficult for people to believe that their comments carry any weight. Maybe they would listen to you.

    I don’t get to choose who lives in this city with me. I get to choose who represents me and I expect that small group to lead by example. Sadly, in the area of dividing the city, they have done just that.

  24. Oh, and an outreach to CONA wouldn’t hurt either. A lot of these folks are taking time out of their personal lives, to bring issues which concern their neighborhoods, to Council. Ask yourself this, re: division – how many meetings has Council had with various developers and how many CONA meetings have you attended?

  25. Good points, Ted.
    But Chris Jones has stated in no uncertain terms that “he doesn’t want to work with CONA”, and his voting record shows he doesn’t give a damn about neighborhoods or the environment.
    And this is why he will not be re-elected next year.

  26. It’s never too late (or too early) to put one’s money where his/her mouth is. There’s a CONA meeting every month and anyone can attend (and they’re even allowed more than 3 minutes to talk).

  27. “Something is not right. Either John has not provided all the records or he is not communicating with other civic and community leaders that an elected official should be communicating with. My continual point (as if you can’t tell) is….is this the type of leader we want running our city and being the leader of our Council?”

    Please….I would assume that John uses other methods of communication to contact community leaders and concerned citizens. When I have emailed him concerns, he has always responded. There wouldn’t be a record of this on his cell phone. I know for a fact he has even gone in person to talk to concerned citizens. Where does it say that a city leader is only allowed to use a cell phone for communication with the people?

  28. K Scull – true. I have emailed Council a few times, about neighborhood issues. A couple of them replied by email and John Thomaides came out to the house, as did Chief Williams and Asst. Chief Zerr (after a string of overnight single-car accidents in our neighborhood). None of that would show up in a cell phone record FOI request.

    I have gotten a couple of calls from council members over the years. I can’t say if they were from cell phones, or office phones, or home phones, as I don’t know any of these folks well enough to know their numbers, much less which number goes with which phone.

    Mr. Thomaides has also been to some CONA meetings and other public meetings, like Open San Marcos. It seems like he was at one of the Transportation Advisory Board meetings re: neighborhood traffic calming, but my memory is a bit foggy.

    It is unlikely that a lack of cell phone calls means a lack of public interaction. There are some who don’t respond to any communication from me and didn’t show up at any meetings that I’ve been to. I just assumed it was because of me, not because of a general lack of interaction with the public. 😉

  29. “Terry, interesting…. It would be great to have that information for all council members and the mayor. Not sure why you would only be concerned about the conduct of one member. It seems like an important issue, across the board.”

    I would LOVE to see the text messages between Susan (and Kim and Ryan and Fred)) and Gordon Muir (Buie) and the Carma guys. Transparency. We need some.

  30. @ Chris North-All you have to do is ask. Use my language above. If city business was discussed in the text, it is subject to FOI.

    @ K Scull-No, I don’t think the only way members communicate with citizens is by the phone. I was simply making an observation of the data provided. Ten months without ONE phone call to or from a citizen, board/commission member, etc? John has to have some explanation for this one because it is so unbelievable.

    @ Chris Jones-well said and I appreciate your candor.

  31. Terry- I don’t care that much to go through the trouble of an ORR to track every text and phone call our elected officials make. What I care about is how our council members VOTE on the dais. That’s as black-and-white as it gets and is all I need to know about a candidate/council member. I can’t help but think that all this has something to do with the fact that John T. had concerns about giving our cops an huge pay raise in the middle of a financial crisis/budget shortfall. The citizens of San Marcos rejected outright collective bargaining years ago.( I remember because I helped walk the petition to get it on the ballot.)
    I’m wondering how we, city staff and the citizens, were held hostage by the SMPD for a pay raise when we said NO to a cop union. I guess, as Susan would say, I “just don’t understand”.

  32. Chris, I know you don’t care. You would rather just throw that idea out there and not do anything to prove or disprove your comments or innuendos. At least I have the data to substantiate the issues I have with John.

    As for your theory about my motivation, wrong again. Six officers in the police dept voted against the contract when it was finalized. I was one of the 6.

    Among the issues I do have is him doing one thing and saying another (transparency on phones for example), voting to retain the city manager in light of compelling evidence it was not in the best interest of the city, misleading (at best) about his position on issues (stating in the University Star that he supported moving the elections to November after he voted against it twice) for example, voting to spend City funds on alcohol and golf for himself, and flip flopping on other issues to name a few.

    I just believe Daniel is a much better candidate who can bring our community together, build bridges instead of tearing them down and take office without the baggage and drama John brings.

    Finally, your comment about caring ONLY about “how our council members vote on the dais” is flawed and one of the problems with our system. As a general statement about all elected officials (local, state, federal) we as a society must not be as narrow in our election of people as you suggest. We must look at their morals, ethics and core beliefs. Per your statement, you would be happy with a convicted felon (drug addict, habitual drunk, sex offender, etc) on the Dais as long as they voted the way you think they should vote. There are some things that should be “show stoppers” in a candidate no matter how much in line with our individual beliefs they may be. I am no way alledging anything like this in our local races…simply making a point. It is more than “how they vote on the Dais.”

    Transparency, your right. We need some. Who is giving John his marching orders while on the Dais via text message? Only he can tell us by releasing all of his phone records. Since he won’t do it for me and the rest of our community, maybe he will do it if you ask.

  33. As a courtesy to not only the people in the boardroom but also to the seriousness of the government process, shouldn’t we be able to expect our City Council members to either turn in or turn off their cell phones during meetings?

    I’m not doing anything as important as running a City with my time, but you had better believe that when I go into a meeting my cell stays either turned off or in the other room…..if nothing else, it’s just common courtesy to the others in the meeting with me.

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