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New Coffee City officials apparently 'swear-in' too early

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POSTED: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 8:19pm

UPDATED: Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 8:51pm

For those who need a little backstory, a disagreement about property taxes a few years ago led to the creation of a watchdog group called the "Concerned Citizens of Coffee City."

Members of that group just won in a landslide victory for aldmermann positions as well as the mayor's seat.

But now one man from that group believes they're being kept from taking office.

Most newly elected officials won't take office until January.  But in Coffee City, the mayor agreed to let them take office in December according to documents we were shown.

After the recent city council meeting, the new officials were sworn in by a notary public.

As far as new aldermann Don Weaver knows, everything's ok.

"I can say that I haven't heard from the mayor, I haven't heard from any officials to the contrary," Weaver said.

But mayor Tony Moore says the swearing in wasn't legitimate.

"They call [it] swearing eachother in.  Well that was illegal because you have to be sworn in during a meeting if nothing else just for the minutes," Moore said.

Moore got a legal opinion from the city attorney supporting that.

And he spoke with the newly elected Concerned Citizens later in the week and they shook hands that the official swearing-in can happen at the next meeting in December.

But Robert Ray, a writer for the Concerned Citizens blog says he feels the swearing in was perfectly legal and the city is up to no good.

"It doesn't have to even be during a regularly scheduled meeting," Ray said.

Ray says they got opinions from the Texas Municipal League and the Election Division of the Texas Secretary of State supporting the validity of the swearing-in during the last meeting.

Ray tells KETK on behalf of the blog, he believes the officials in power are keeping the new guys out.  Because they want to have a party soon in honor of the fire department.

And he also feels records are being tampered with.

"Important records that can help in the prosecution of crimes, both financial crimes and crimes against public order and open government are being destroyed as we speak," Ray said.

"The other day, we were handing out turkeys.  Turkey baskets for Thanksgiving and they called the police and said that we were taking out documents!" Mayor Moore said.

It should be noted, KETK spoke with the new mayor Ray Wakeman -- part of the Concerned Citizens.

He tells KETK that Robert Ray doesn't accurately reflect the group and doesn't even really live in Coffee City.  He doesn't understand why Ray is trying to rock the boat.

"We have an agreement with the current administration.  We are going to take over at the December 10 meeting.  Nothing that I 'm aware of will be happening prior to that December 10 scheduled city meeting," Wakeman said. 

Comments News Comments

These people need to focus more on how the new Tyler beer and wine election is going to swear them off rather than worry about elected officials. Their main source of revenue, alcohol, is going down the toilet. Liquor will still be there but beer and wine sales will plummet for sure.

We are worried about precisely that. These swine who are illegally occupying these offices have spent money they don't have so foolishly Obama would be jealous. We want our people i there now, as prescribed by law, after their landslide election. We want them to begin getting the books together, setting aside whatever money is left, and begin making a realistic, legal budget.

All those things aside, is it not important that the law be obeyed?

From: Caroline Geppert
Date: 10/26/2012 8:45:48 AM

Subject: RE: Post Election procedures

In the absence of any other specific provisions, newly elected officers take the oath of office and start performing their duties after the canvass is performed, and the canvass must be performed between the 8th and 11th day after the election (per Texas Election Code Section 67.003). As you point out, it is the county and state officials who may be sworn in no earlier than January 1, in accordance with Se

As you point out, it is the county and state officials who may be sworn in no earlier than January 1, in accordance with Section 601.003 of the Texas Government Code.

I hope this is helpful.

Elections Division Staff
Texas Secretary of State

Excellent coverage, Casey. I'd like to correct one minor point, if I may. I did not just say we had recieved those legal opinions, I presented you with hard copies of them.

Mayor-Elect Wakeman does not have the authority to enter the new council into an illegal "handshake" agreement. It appears we have elected another liar to the mayor's office. Ray Wakeman is more concerned about being on vacation than fulfilling the mandate the voters gave him.

From: District4.Gooden@house.state.tx.us
Date: 10/26/2012 9:35:54 AM
Subject: RE: Post-Election

Good morning,

Following is the response from the Texas Municipal League:

The mayor can’t stop a newly elected council member from being sworn in and taking office, and it sure won’t be three months until they do that. The council is required to canvass the votes and issue a certificate of election within three to eleven days after the election. The Election Code provides that two members of the cou

The Election Code provides that two members of the council constitute a quorum for the meeting to canvass.

Once a newly-elected council member receives his or her certificate, they can go to any notary public and be sworn in.

So there isn’t a need for legislative changes.

Best regards,
Leigh Pool
District Director
State Rep. Lance Gooden

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