Two Duncanville council members take issue after city manager addresses charter violations


by By JON NIELSEN / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 4:28 PM

Duncanville's city manager is notifying council members that if they continue violating the charter, they could be expelled.

It's the latest in the Duncanville council's political saga that includes accusations of manipulating facts to promote personal agendas and overzealous city spending.

The two council members, Paul Ford and Johnette Jameson, asked the city's Web site administrator to remove a phrase from their biography pages indicating that they didn't provide any information.

The city charter states that any orders for staff should be directed through the city manager. Those who ignore that procedure could be voted off the council by a majority vote and after public hearings. Cities generally allow council members to make requests to staff only through the city manager.

Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jameson admit no wrongdoing.

Past conflicts have led to an atmosphere of distrust on the council. Mr. Ford and Mrs. Jameson have questioned City Manager Kent Cagle on several issues. Within the last month, the pair questioned the building of Interstate 20 service roads and spending of taxpayer money on the Main Street townhome development.

Mrs. Jameson's and Mr. Ford's council terms expire in 2009.

The threat of expulsion came down last month in Mr. Cagle's weekly notice to council members in which he alluded to Mrs. Jameson's request.

"I was surprised that this became such an ordeal," Mrs. Jameson said. "This to me is kind of trifling and petty."

Mr. Cagle didn't mention names or even details of the incident in the e-mail.

"I am sure that Council member was unaware of the City of Duncanville Charter provisions that deal with this type of activity ...," the city manager wrote before quoting the provision.

Mayor David Green said Mrs. Jameson probably didn't know she was violating the charter.

"Personally, I'm willing to give anybody a reasonable doubt on something when they didn't realize they have gone too far," the mayor said.

Mr. Green crafted a letter to Mrs. Jameson saying as much.

"I'm not trying to make a big deal out of it. It happened, and it was unfortunate," he said. "If there are repeated violations, I think this is a completely different matter."

Just days after the city manager's warning, Mr. Ford fired off his own e-mail to the city's Webmaster. The city manager e-mailed Mr. Ford to let him know that his actions were inappropriate and that he violated the same section of the charter.

Mr. Cagle declined to comment on the council members' actions.

Mr. Ford said responses from the mayor and city manager are payback for him not agreeing with them on issues affecting the city.

"They know the positions I've taken on taxes and spending appeal to many people, and they probably figure they won't be able to defeat me in the next election. So now they're threatening to just kick me off," Mr. Ford said in a written statement.

"This entire affair is ludicrous, pathetically so, and if they pursue it, they will only embarrass themselves."

No public hearings are scheduled. Mr. Green said the council isn't scheduled to take any action.

"It got cut off at the pass, and that seems to be the end of it now," he said.