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Galena Park Amendments: PONDER WINS JUDGMENT AGAINST CITY; APPEAL OR ELECTION TO BE CONSIDERED AT MEETING AUG. 20

GALENA PARK – The city learned on Monday that the judge of the 270th Judicial Court, Judge Brent Gamble, had granted a Summary Judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Barry Ponder, and ordered his proposed four amendments to be on the ballot at the next election.

The original lawsuit was filed by Ponder in January 2015, seeking to force the city to place four Charter Amendments on the ballot in the May 2015 election.

Ponder had secured over 614 signatures of registered voters, to place the amendments on the ballot. City Secretary Mayra Gonzales had certified that at least 492 of the signatures were valid, and wrote to Ponder, in care of the Citizens for a Better Galena Park, on Oct. 1, 2014.

In spite of that certification, and the petitions that were signed, the City Council decided to propose their own 18 amendments for voters to consider, instead of Ponder’s original four. They set up a Charter Commission to draft these amendments, which they subsequently adopted.

Ponder then filed suit against the mayor, the council, the city manager, the city secretary, the city attorney, and the city in general. This lawsuit and countersuits by the city dragged on, and the 18 amendments appeared on the November ballot, and were all defeated.

Ponder’s suit claimed that the city and council had “arbitrarily rejected the election petition.” It also claimed that Councilman Simms had illegally benefitted from health insurance amounting to $167,475, and that city manager Robert Pruett had exhibited racism in his official capacity.  These claims were disputed in a countersuit. EDITORS NOTE: These claims were subsequently removed in an amended filing by Ponder’s attorney.

Ponder’s amendments, which were not on the ballot, called for the following:

#1. City departments would be administered through the Mayor.

#2. The Mayor’s signature would be required for hiring and firing in the fire department, the fire marshal, and the police chief.

#3. Voters could initiate a referendum or recall, on ordinances.

#4. Other measures would strengthen the Mayor’s authority.

The Galena Park City Commission (Council) has called two special meetings to deal with this court order for Summary Judgment. The first meeting, in Executive Session (non-public) will be Thursday, August 20 at 4:30 p.m. in City Hall. The second meeting, open to the public, is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at City Hall. to announce legal action, or call for the election.

San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center construction progresses

Maritime Technology and Training Center at 3700 Old Highway 146 in La Porte under construction.

Maritime Technology and Training Center at 3700 Old Highway 146 in La Porte under construction.

PASADENA, Texas – The San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center at 3700 Old Highway 146 in La Porte is set to open in January 2016. Construction has been ongoing since Fall 2014. The facility will serve as the site for certificate and associate degree maritime training delivered through U.S. Coast Guard-required and approved course work.

The following list provides an update on the Summer 2015 progress of the San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center:

– Bulkhead work and dredging is nearing completion

– Brick is installed on the south elevation and is being installed on the west elevation

– Exterior sheathing is complete

– Damp proofing of exterior walls is complete

– Installation of windows continues

– Roof cap sheet installation is underway

– Interior walls are being closed and taped and floated

– Installation of ceiling grid is underway

– Tile work has started in restrooms

– Work on sidewalks under building continues

– Paving work at north and west continues

– Pool construction has started

Next phase of activities to begin:

Read more »

COMMUNITY PROFILE: Suellen Denton, new Jacinto City librarian

SUELLEN DENTON, Librarian

SUELLEN DENTON, Librarian

Suellen Denton is originally from Ruston, Louisiana, but she moved to Houston in 1997, graduating from Northbrook Senior High School in the Spring Branch area in 1998. In 1999, she went back to Ruston and graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 2003, with a Bachelor of Arts in History and French.

During her college years, she worked part time as a Library Page for the Lincoln Parish Library from 2000 to 2002. After graduation, she went to Officer Candidate School, Navy in Pensacola, FL where she was commissioned an Ensign. Denton left active duty and went into the Navy Reserves in 2005, and moved back to Houston where she went to work full time at Fondren Library as a Circulation Assistant at Rice University.

Denton began to realize how much she enjoyed libraries and decided that she wanted to become a librarian so she enrolled in the University of North Texas online program. Read more »

North Shore Rotary gives $5,000 to Senior Olympics

north shore rotary senior olympics

HARRIS COUNTY PRECINCT2GATHER holds a “Senior Olympics” each year, to challenge and entertain senior citizens in a week-long series of games and sports events. The North Shore Rotary Club supported this event with a donation of $5000. Club president Mike Williams presents the check to Pct. 2 event coordinator Diane Casey.

Cruz Hinojosa appointed new GP Councilman

CRUZ HINOJOSA is president of the local Lulac chapter, and now will be sworn in as the new Councilman for the City of Galena Park, replacing Lois Killough who resigned last week as a protest to the way Mayor Moya conducted meetings and tried to run the city. Hinojosa was a candidate for Mayor in the May 2014 election, as seen in this photo from the Candidates Forum.

CRUZ HINOJOSA is president of the local Lulac chapter, and now will be sworn in as the new Councilman for the City of Galena Park, replacing Lois Killough who resigned last week as a protest to the way Mayor Moya conducted meetings and tried to run the city. Hinojosa was a candidate for Mayor in the May 2014 election, as seen in this photo from the Candidates Forum.

GALENA PARK – At a special called Council Meeting last Monday, the City Commission or Council acted to fill the empty seat of Council Position #2, Fire and Police Commissioner.

This had been vacated on July 21 when Councilwoman Lois Killough resigned, blaming the Mayor for creating a circus atmosphere at council meetings, and refusing to run a legal council meeting as prescribed by law and training.

At Monday’s special meeting, each council person and the mayor nominated a candidate. Moya nominated Taggy Hall, Maricela Serna nominated Carol Thompson, and Danny Simms and Juan Flores nominated Cruz Hinojosa. Then a vote was called. Only the commissioners voted, and Hinojosa received all three votes. Therefore he will assume the open council seat until the next election, in May 2016.

Cruz Hinojosa was one of four candidates for Mayor in the election of May 2014. He said at the Candidates Forum that he had worked in city government for 23 years, in the water department of the City of Houston. He also was a Houston Police supervisor.

Read more »

GP/JC Rotary installs presidents – not 1, but 4

OUTGOING PRESIDENT Maria Rodriguez welcomes 3 of the 4 new presidents: Ernesto Paredes, Abby (Ibrahim Abou- Awdi), and Ramon Garza. Not able to attend was James Beesley, out of town.

OUTGOING PRESIDENT Maria Rodriguez welcomes 3 of the 4 new presidents: Ernesto Paredes, Abby (Ibrahim Abou- Awdi), and Ramon Garza. Not able to attend was James Beesley, out of town.

GALENA PARK – In a somewhat different procedure, the GP/JC Rotary Club installed not one but four new presidents for the coming year in a ceremony last Wednesday, July 15th. Installing officer was Derrill Painter, Rotary 5890 Assistant District Governor. Also on hand were ADG Bill Palko, and Governor-Elect Eric Liu.

The unusual 4-person presidency was occasioned by the last minute inability of the president-elect, Paula Henney, to take office for personal reasons. The board of the Rotary club decided to ask four past presidents, who were familiar with the training and responsibilities of the office, to each take 3 month terms for the coming year.

This arrangement promises to add variety and freshness to the coming year, according to outgoing president Maria Rodriguez.

A Clean Sweep for Galena Park streets

clean sweep galena park

GALENA PARK has invested in a new Street Sweeper, to clean the streets and parking lots of the community, and improve the air quality in the environment as well as the appearance of the city, according to City Manager Robert Pruett. The TYMCO 435 Regenerative Air Sweeper is a “state-of-the-art” machine made in Waco, Texas. It uses an air blower to dislodge debris, and brushes and a vacuum to remove litter such as leaves, dirt, sand and rocks. This system cuts down on the amount of water that must be sprayed to control dust in the air, according to TYMCO. The machine is now in service, as shown with operators Terry Bullock and Jay Jones, and under the supervision of Public Works Director David Binning. Galena Park is using a lease/purchase arrangement to buy the machine, which costs about $130,000. Pruett noted that it will pay for itself by replacing a lot of manual labor that was required previously for cleaning and sweeping.

Video of Killough resigning

GP COUNCILWOMAN RESIGNS; BLAMES MAYOR

GALENA PARK CITY COUNCILWOMAN LOIS KILLOUGH finishes her statement to the public on her resignation from the City Commission, or Council, and the reasons why she feels that she cannot continue to serve the public properly in the “circus” atmosphere created by Mayor Moya.

GALENA PARK CITY COUNCILWOMAN LOIS KILLOUGH finishes her statement to the public on her resignation from the City Commission, or Council, and the reasons why she feels that she cannot continue to serve the public properly in the “circus” atmosphere created by Mayor Moya.

“I refuse to be part of the Moya drama show.”

GALENA PARK – In a dramatic statement made at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Lois Killough read her resignation message, and at the end of the meeting quit as a member of the City Commission. She held Position #2, responsible for the police and fire departments.

Killough had been elected last May 2014, along with new council members Maricela Serna and Juan Flores, Jr. with the idea that they would bring fresh ideas and changes to the city government. Esmeralda Moya also campaigned for Mayor on these ideas, but with the promise that she would change department heads and “clean up” the way the city was run. Her confrontational style was obvious after she took office, when she immediately changed locks on City Hall doors and fired the City Administrator and demoted the Police Chief, at least temporarily. The new council members and one remaining, Danny Simms, were not able to work with Moya, nor concur with her decisions and methods, and council meetings and governing soon deteriorated into chaos, according to Killough.

Her statement, as printed here in the North Channel Star, refers to the “circus” atmosphere, and the lack of progress in improving the city. Read more »

OPEN LETTER TO THE CITIZENS OF GALENA PARK

STATEMENT BY LOIS KILLOUGH:

July 21, 2015

I have lived and worked in the Galena Park and Northshore communities for 50 years. I have served on County Boards, PTA Boards, Retired Teacher Boards and many other community organizations. I led a staff of about 110 people and a student population of 1000 students. I hoped to be able to improve the city of Galena Park by serving on City Council.

All the new commissioners and the mayor were required to attend training. We were trained in how to legally run city council meetings and our charters were explained to us by legal experts.

I am not able to properly serve the people who elected me because of the actions of the mayor. She refuses to run a legal council business meeting.

During her campaign she violated many rules of the Ethics Commission. She has not filed appropriate campaign finance reports. She has threatened council members. She has illegally fired city workers.

In her hunger for power, her actions and the many frivolous lawsuits she has filed have cost the taxpayers $100,000 to date. She filed a lawsuit to freeze the city bank accounts. She refused to sign a contract that kept our sewer plant operating. She has lied to voters promising to lower their water bills. We purchase 90% of our water from the City of Houston. They can charge whatever they like and their fees will only go up. Shame on you, Mrs. Moya.

Read more »