Three months removed from firing city manager Tom Brymer, College Station's city councilmembers appeared in court Tuesday to answer for their mistake.
"I'm glad its behind us and we can get on with the business of the city," said Mayor Ron Silvia.
District Attorney Bill Turner filed an injunction against the council, but councilmembers entered into an agreement instead of facing litigation.
Back in July, the council fired Brymer in an early morning meeting without having his job consideration listed on an agenda. The firing was rescinded, but Brymer later resigned under terms put forward by the council.
The council will be required to give proper notice before considering city staff's employment, and cannot participate in any more improper meetings. They will also attend yearly training on the Open Meetings Act, which the council violated back in July.
Turner said in meetings with the councilmembers, he sensed regret and remorse for their wrongdoings. He said if that hadn't been the case, he might have pushed for a grand jury to indict.
"I think, specifically, we could have gone forward," said Turner, "but we also wanted to have a measured response, a response that would take care of the problem, but not overwhelm the city, and all of the trauma that could happen to a community when you do those kind of things."
Violation of this new agreement could result in upwards of 180 days in jail and a $500 fine for any and all councilmembers involved.
"I hope all of you have learned something from this experience, and I'm sorry if it's an embarrassment to any one of you," Judge J. D. Langley said to the council. Langley accepted the agreement by the two parties in his 85th District courtroom in a short meeting Tuesday morning.
City Attorney Harvey Cargill spoke on behalf of the city. Langley asked if any councilmembers wanted to make statements, but none did. They simpled answered, "Yes sir," that they understood the terms, and "No sir," when asked if they had any questions.
"I want to extend an apology to all the citizens in College Station that their council had to go through this process," said Silvia following the court appearance. "We will hopefully never have anything like this ever happen again."
"I'm just furious that it ever got to this point," said Councilmember Susan Lancaster. "I'm certainly thankful that they didn't invoke criminal charges.
"I think, certainly, it has jeopardized our integrity as a council," she continued, "but I think that, certainly, we're willing and committed to trying to move forward."
"I liken it to a book," commented Councilmember Ben White. "You read a book, and there might be one bad chapter, but that doesn't make the whole book bad. This is our bad chapter, and we'll move on from that."
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