GALVESTON — The Galveston Housing Authority said Monday it will seek a state attorney general’s opinion on whether the City Council could appoint ex officio members to its board, and whether ex officio members should be allowed to attend the board’s executive session.

The announcement came minutes after District 1 Councilman Tarris Woods was physically barred from entering the housing authority’s executive session during Monday morning’s regular meeting.

At about 9:30 a.m., housing commissioners adjourned their regular meeting to enter executive sessions, where they were posted to consult with GHA attorney Carla Cotropia and to have a discussion regarding real estate.

As the commissioners began to enter the hall leading to the commissioners’ board room, Cotropia and housing commission Chairman Irwin “Buddy” Herz stopped Woods from following.

Woods objected to being barred, saying he had an opinion from the office of City Attorney Dorothy Palumbo saying he should be allowed into the session.

The confrontation became heated at some points, with Woods calling the housing authority’s legal opinion “bull(expletive)” and accusing Cotropia of assaulting him when she stopped him from entering the doorway.

A Galveston Police Department officer at the scene eventually stepped in to separate Woods from the group.

“I feel like my rights are being denied,” Woods said. “They’re in executive session, and I’m being held out here in the hallway.”

Woods is the city’s ex officio appointee to the housing authority. The position is a nonvoting one.

He became the ex officio member of the commission after he was sworn into to his position June 30.

After speaking with the police officer, Woods left the premises. He said he would consult with the city attorney about his ability to fully participate in future meetings.

After the board of commissioners returned from the executive session, Herz said the housing authority would seek an attorney general’s opinion not only on the ability of an ex officio member to participate in executive sessions, but of the ability of the City Council to appoint a member to the housing authority board.

Herz said the housing authority differs from other boards that are appointed by the City Council, such as the Park Board of Trustees. Housing authorities are created according to a state statute and specify that commissioners must not be an “officer or employee” of the city.

Officials acknowledged that, in the past, council members who have been appointed to the housing authority have been welcome at executive session. But they insisted the board had shifted its policies in recent years. Former Mayor Lewis Rosen was not allowed to attend executive sessions but occasionally walked with commissioners to their board room immediately before a session began.

Woods was not allowed in the hallway that Rosen once accessed freely.

“I’ve kept a consistent opinion that he can’t come back there,” Cotropia said. “If I let a third party in, I have completely busted attorney-client privilege and it’s no longer confidential. That’s sacred.”

Monday was not the first time Woods had been told he was not allowed in certain parts of the Island Community Center by housing authority officials. In May, before he was elected, Woods received a letter from housing authority attorney Robert Booth informing him that his access to the GHA office suite was prohibited.

The letter cited Woods’ “abusive behavior” toward GHA staff members on the morning of May 20 when Woods was at the office dealing with issues related to his participation in the housing authority’s housing choice voucher program.

Housing authority officials and Woods both said that letter did not apply to Monday’s incident, but Woods still is required to meet with housing authority employees in a public meeting room while housing authority interim Executive Director Mona Purgason is present.

On Monday, Mayor Jim Yarbrough called the incident with Woods “embarrassing” and welcomed the housing authority’s bid for an attorney general’s opinion.

Yarbrough also said he was unsure whether having council members serve as nonvoting members of boards was necessary.

“I think it’s important that City Council members attend City Council meetings,” Yarbrough said. “Do I think it’s important to have somebody on there? Absolutely not.”

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

(45) comments

Kevin Martin

Whoever voted to re-elect this idot is just as stupid as he is. There's an old saying that fits this guy perfect, "You can't fix stupid!!" [beam]

Allison Buchtien

I agree! I heard that he personally drove people to the polls.

Mary Branum

That and he is a bully. Apparently there are some constituents that are afraid of him, He has never represented District 1 and never will. He only represents himself!

Evelyn Clark

To IslandResident thats not true, My church member needed help in her Didtrict and Mr TW came to hger house and was able to see that she receive help So do not talk about things you can't prove. Thank You
[beam]

Evelyn Clark

I don't live in Mr. Woods District, but the people wanted him . How dare you call the people in that district stupoid. Maybe they feel the same way about your area..

Mary Branum

Live in his district. Lots of problems and issues that have never been addressed. Huge amount of neglected, falling down houses.
Never called anyone stupid! The problem in Galveston is so damn few vote. We all wish our council would not only represent their district (oh, he doesn't live in District 1) but the entire city for the betterment of all residents.

Evelyn Clark

To tell the truth, those run down apartments and Houses belong to the well to do land owners in other areas of the city. they wanted no part of PH , and Rosen said he would see to it that PH never be rebuilt . HE LIED AGAIN and AGAIN.. The APT. owners wanted to fix up their apartmebnts and increase ithe RENT.. Nobody will admit to it.

That IS THE REAL TRUTH. [sad] [sad]

Raymond Lewis

But if you were Mr. Woods you might be wondering why this ruling is only now being enforced. As stupid as some may believe his constituents may be, they still elected him.

Never the less, the GHA is a separate entity and does have its own policies over seeing ex officio members as well as whether or not those members participate in executive sessions.

JT Edwards

It was a distasteful scene and actions unbecoming of a local elected official.

And to put your hands on a lady....???

.....................................................................................................................................................

Leonce Thierry

The Galveston police officer in this YouTube video should be commended for his professionalism and the manner in which he was able to diffuse this dispute.

Jarvis Buckley

TW is so much smarter than you folk give him credit for. He single handedly had the demolition
Of all the projects put on fast track so that Galveston would get scattered public housing. He is smart
May not be educated but he knows right from wrong as for as the city goes. He was a police officer for many years now he is an entrepreneur . Generally if you mess with him ,you are going to come out
On the short end of the stick, sooner or later. I expect most of the GHA board will be resigning
Soon. He may be a little rough around the edges, but he is no crook,and the city will probably fund
His lawsuit against the GHA, which will probably be forth coming. My thoughts does not mean I condone any of his actions.....I just don't sell him short. One of those guys that gets things done,
But won't ever have a street named after him, or a statue of him placed in a park.

Mary Branum

He's a bully - plain and simple. TW does what is good for TW.

Evelyn Clark

IslandRessident it seems as if youm are HATEING on TW. WHY . ???????

If the guy you wanted had won , I would not complaine like you.......................


[beam][beam][beam][beam][beam]

JT Edwards

[huh] Resign?

...............................................

[lol]

George Croix

[beam]

Kevin Martin

I agree Hank. That guy is just a plain idiot!!! Like I stated earlier, whoever voted for him should be ashamed of themselves. You can't fix stupid!!![beam]

Leonce Thierry

It was clear Mr. Woods was trying to use a legal opinion to have access to an executive session of the GHA. That legal opinion apparently did not merit itself acceptable for this governmental agency to gain entrance into their executive session. There was a clear difference in legal opinion that led to both groups taking strong stands on their positions. There were terse words and close physical proximity while verbal disagreements took place. Given the professionalism of the law enforcement officer, both sides were essentially able to vent at each other without the provocative words escalating into something more serious. Call it community-based policing, call it Dr. Phil, call it what you wish, but that law enforcement official clearly practiced the art of a calming tact in this exchange. He listened and did not take sides, while allowing Mr. Herz and the GHA attorney the right to enter their executive session without Mr. Woods. Again, I commend the law officer. I have no opinion on the concerns of either side.

Jarvis Buckley

It is really juvinile to call anyone, especially one of our city leaders a "plain idiot"

Kevin Martin

Jarvo,

I call it like I see it. What's JUVENILE Jarvo is calling someone JUVENILE when they can't even spell it. Just saying....

Jarvo, what exactly is juvinile anyways?[beam]

Evelyn Clark

To The daily Blues: thank you verry much. It is all about TW and PH.


[beam]

Jarvis Buckley

Mr. Edwards has hard feelings in regards to woods vs Legg, in which I was on Leggs side also .Juvenile is a little immature person that calls folks idiots and try's to make other folks look bad for an occasional error in spelling. I hope when you are 88 you can still type.

Jarvis Buckley

In 1955 my UT English teacher said its more important to understand the meaning of the word,
Than it is to know how to spell it. I believe that still holds true today. I want you to know I was not trying to make you look bad you , like me , have a right to your opinions. I truly respect that. I wish you only the best in life SH . Don't ever stop voicing your opinion. It is important. this island would be a better place if more folks would just say what they think. Instead of just playing follow the leader.

Stevie Maradeo

Why they hatin on Mr. Woods? Oh yeah, because he is for rebuilding the projects.

Jarvis Buckley

Looks like Big Jim not to impressed with councilman Woods , that means Brian's not either.
Wonder what the rest of the council is thinking? Rosen was allowed to walk down the hall
But Mr. Woods was not allowed that privilege . That is very interesting. What's allowed for
Mr. Rosen, should be allowed for Mr. Woods you would think..........But apparently not. Why
Do you think that is?

Kevin Martin

Jarvo,

To answer yoiur queston...Mr. Rosen was Mayor at the time and is entitled to be in on every meeting that has to do with the city if your Mayor. I'm no political guru, however, one would think so.

Also, Rosen has class and diginity and would never display the ignorance that Woods has displayed over the years.[wink]

Evelyn Clark

This is not right, they let Rosen do what he wanted to do. Now with TW the rules are changed. it is different. WHY, i really think Rosen is the worst mayor ever. and I have been around over 70 + years.

Jarvis Buckley

I also thought a lot of Rosen , as a person , not necessarily his views for Galveston.

George Croix

I don't recall whether Rosen took a videographer and an attitude with him when accessing meetings....

John Ferguson Staff
John Wayne Ferguson

I think this is implying that Mr. Woods somehow arranged to have this incident video taped. He didn't. I attended the GHA board meeting, as I do most months, and shot the video on my iPhone as it happened.

Dwight Burns

And some people wonder why in 2014 America, we have still have Ferguson's.

Jarvis Buckley

Lewis Rosen has a temper, he has shown it in council meetings, but he is also a gentleman, definitely
Not a career politician. Mr. Woods , is not a career politician either, but he does have an agenda in
My opinion. Unlike what many folk has stated in these comments I believe he has an interest, in
Improving the quality of life for folks on the north side of Broadway. I honestly believe he is a good man with good intentions, while I don't agree with him on some issues, he does represent many poor
And underprivileged folks and I believe he feels that's his calling. One thing for sure, he definitely
Is deceptively smart.

Mary Branum

Well, he hasn't done a darn thing for the south side of Broadway! As far as I am concerned, he represents himself - only!

Evelyn Clark

I have not seen a thing that Rosen did for the North Side of Broadway,except he lied to all the apartment owners that he woulod STOP the PH.
.
Why is it everytime a person of color shows intellenge, some says he is wrong. . Rosen was mean , hateful and did not know how to run a meeting..

He had Legg in charge of the meeting . This was illegal. trhe only way another person is to be in charge is when the mayor is unable to attend. due to illness or business.
[sad] [sad][sad]

Susan Fennewald

I give Tarris Woods credit/blame for insuring that the public housing decisions were made outside of Galveston. At a time when he was the ex-officio to the housing authority (2008-2010 post Ike), he brought in Sheila Jackson Lee for a "we'll rebuild the public housing" press event and the Austin advocates (presumably at the urging, or at least with the cooperation, of the local advocates) filed an action with HUD against the GHA that eventually led to the Conciliation Agreement. (I think I remember these facts correctly).

To me that means, that while he was an ex-officio GHA member he worked to have an action brought against the GHA and to ram through what he thought was best for restoring the black population north of Broadway. I can see why the GHA board wouldn't want him in on any sensitive sessions.

(Some members of the African American community believe they can have an African-American mixed-income community north of Broadway, but the fact that middle-class blacks, such as Mr. Woods, choose NOT to live there, even though he owns property there, suggests that an old-fashioned mixed income African American community is unlikely now that society is less segregated and middle-class blacks can find housing in nicer neighborhoods.)

Leonce Thierry

Ms. Fennewald- Just how mixed do you think any mixed-income apartments will be? Regardless of race, what potential tenant will pay full market prices for mixed-income public housing? Students? First-year professionals? Will they make up one-third of all residents occupying these newly constructed units? What about moderate-income tenants? What percentage of mixed-income will be classified as moderate-income residents? How much will they pay in rent in comparison to market-rate tenants and low-income tenants? I have never seen anyone discuss the nitty-gritty details of how mixed-income units will be populated. Thank you for attempting to lead that discussion.

Jarvis Buckley

To: Island Resident, what's your thoughts about our new finance director? Also what about our
"permanent City Manager" Brian Maxwell. I think they are great choices . So does TW. Interested in your thoughts.

Mary Branum

Time will tell on the new finance director. Personally, the finance department has not been up to standards in a long time. It will take a strong individual that is detailed oriented to get things back on track.
How the heck does one not reconcile dormant accounts for years!
This is a complete lack of checks and balances.

Brian Maxwell should be promoted to permanent City Manager.
However, this is a job that requires a tough skin as their is way too much micromanaging by council. So far he has proven he can put up with the all the personalities on council.

Jarvis Buckley

Thanks John. I know you find a lot of these comments silly, if not down right hateful.

Andy Aycoth

Staff need not reply.

rah

If anyone has followed politics over the years ( since 1998 or so) no one should be surprised. I had the unique opportunity of teaching his son. I recall reading about dad in the paper on a regular basis. I always thought that dad never set a good example for son in the behavior department. I do not know how the son has done since the last I saw him. But, leave it to dad he has a chip on his shoulder no matter what he does. As far as moving the decision out of town where the public housing decision was made~ that may have been his only strong suit. Someone needs to look out for the honest lower income folks that really do not cheat the system.

However, TW needs to know his boundaries and it might be wise for someone to spell it out to him. Galveston does not need to be an embarrassment to all the readers in the county.

Ana Draa

Mr. Woods' predecessor, Cornelia Harris Banks, was also a person of color and a proponent of public housing on the island...yet she was well respected and well received, so what's the difference? Cornelia was a council member who always conducted herself in a very professional, above board manner. The same cannot be said of Mr Woods who has puts himself in hot water, starting with running for a seat in a district where he does not live.

Jarvis Buckley

My last thoughts....40 comments on Woods being denied access which means near nothing.
2 comments on new finance director , which could help turn our city around, for quality of life &
Infrastructure improvements, lower taxes etc..........baffling. I'm as guilty as anyone.

George Croix

How many comments were there on the GDN article about the new finance director?

Jarvis Buckley

2. (two)

George Croix

Maybe it was because the new finance director came with a supply of decorum and a desire to make a difference, not a statement....[wink]

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