LEAGUE CITY — Council members like the idea of having an ethics review board. Most just don’t like how the board members are appointed.

At today’s City Council meeting, the process of how members have that board are appointed is up for a discussion.

The board, created in 2009, has eight members who each serve two-year terms. The mayor and council members each have one appointment to the board.

The board’s primary duty is to investigate complaints and make findings and conclusions concerning allegations of violations of the city’s ethics rules. Critics argue the board has focused less on its primary duty and prefers to play politics.

Chris Mallios, the board’s chairman, supports the appointment process and said despite accusations to the contrary, every single person on the board “has left their politics at the door.”

In December, several appointments to the board were rejected because most on the council want to overhaul the appointment process. Even members whose terms have expired remain on the board because their replacements haven’t been appointed.

Five months later, nothing has come of those calls for change.

Mayor Tim Paulissen said at the request of a council member and in an effort to get the process moving, he added the board’s appointment process to the meeting’s agenda.

Paulissen said he’d like to see a process where members are selected at random.

“I would probably say each council member would nominate a couple of people and we would solicit applications from the general public,” Paulissen said. “Then all of those names would be put into a hopper, and we would draw for the positions.”

That plan has at least timid support from Councilman Todd Kinsey, who has been critical of the board’s performance. Transcripts from meetings that Kinsey gathered show that even though no one has filed a complaint for the board’s review, members of the board would come up with their own complaints.

The board is supposed to look into complaints of ethical violations that come from outside the committee members.

Mallios insists that is how the board handles its business.

To date, the board has yet acted on any formal complaint. The board did review a few accusations, but its inquiries went nowhere, Mallios said.

“I like the way it sounds when we talk about doing a random selection, similar to a grand jury,” Kinsey said. “Political appointees shouldn’t be deciding other people’s fates.”

Mallios said he’d be fine with a random selection process, just as long as a majority on the council could not block individual appointments.

“The process we have now is fair,” he said.

Councilman Andy Mann is another wanting to change how board members are appointed, but he objected to holding up the nomination of new members until changes are made.

Councilwoman Heidi Thiess and Councilman Dan Becker have also expressed a desire for an overhaul to the appointment process.

Today’s discussion will mostly be “everybody trying to get their head around what needs to be done,” Kinsey said.

Paulissen said he would like to have a three-member committee of Mann and Councilwomen Joanna Dawson and Geri Bentley formed to come up with a proposal that the council would consider.

At a glance

WHAT: League City Council meeting

WHEN: 6 p.m. today

WHERE: Council chambers, 200 W. Walker St., in League City

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(4) comments

Chris Mallios

For the record The Ethics board has ruled on several complaints NONE which were generated by a member of the board. So to say the board has “yet to act on any formal complaint” is not true. I would ask the “critics” how are we “political” when our duty is to deal with citizen complaints that may or may not involve “political” individuals? We may discuss a situation because it has been brought to our attention and been placed on an agenda but we do not “generate” complaints. We act on complaints filed and sworn to by the citizens.
The reason each councilmember was asked to select a citizen for appointment to the board is to ensure that each councilmember had a say in the selection of the board and to be held accountable should their selection prove to be “politically motivated”. The process being looked into would remove any form of accountability to the citizens by the city council. The discussion over the selection process of the board members was done when it was created. All the options being discussed now were looked at and the present process was selected as being the most fair and open way to do it. The present selection process tells you a lot about the councilmember who select them. To date I can say without reservation that the individuals who have been selected by the present process have been fair and honest and have not used politics as a basis for their decisions. Not a single one. When a process is working why would you decide to “fix it” ? I guess the question is should the citizens expect an ethics board that is fair and impartial or should they expect members of the board who are just “proxies” to their council member? I believe the present selection process works.

Mick Phalen

It appears that Mayor Paulissen is attempting to create a "fair" subcommittee to come up with a "fair" selection process - he names a Repub, a Dem, and a Buzbee tea partier.

As a proud co-sponsor of the City's first ever Ethics ordinance, I welcome a review of the ordinance, and any tweaking which will improve the ordinance. However, Mr. Mallios is correct in that the then Council decided on the current selection process because it does keep the accountability with the elected Councilmembers.

Drawing names out of a hat? Seriously?

As to accusations of politics on the board - - the current membership is composed of a couple of staunch liberals and a couple of staunch conservatives, all with strong beliefs. This inaugural board worked though their own process of how they would conduct themselves, within the structure of the ethics ordinance (without meddling, or political influence, from then councilmembers).

To my knowledge, the board has only reviewed complaints from City residents - including a complaint against Mr. Mann for saying "God D***" during a recorded Council meeting. The board reviewed the complaint, and took no action.

Methinks the conservative "dream team" wants a board makeup who thinks like they do.

Ron Shelby

Ethics boards are a good watchdog to have. I would prefer that they be chosen in the same way that Grand Juries are at the County Level. I'm in GA now for school, and the stuff happening out here is Incredible with the Governor and other issues. We definitely need ethics boards.

George Croix

Question 1:
Is the change needed, or is it just wanted?
Question 2:
Any person agreeing to work on an ethics board who DID let their personal politics or opinions get in the way of decision making based on the fact finding would, themselves, be in need of an ethics review.
New admin's usually want to change things to suit their personal phylosophies or goals...no surprise there. But an ethics committee is supposed to be apolitical, so some serious thought should be given as to whether change, just for the sake of change, is needed.
Change for change sake hasn't always worked out so well...

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