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Rancor continues in Galena Park; Council walks out

WALKING OUT –– Galena Park commissioners Juan Flores, right, Lois Killough, city attorney Jim DeFoyd, and city administrator Robert Pruett stand and prepare to leave the special called council meeting, after arguments about how the meeting was being run by Mayor Moya brought the proceedings to an unproductive halt. Monday’s special meeting had been called to resolve the problem created when the Mayor’s special counsel, attorney Edgardo Colon, had issued a letter to Galena Park’s bank ordering the checking accounts to be frozen.
WALKING OUT –– Galena Park commissioners Juan Flores, right, Lois Killough, city attorney Jim DeFoyd, and city administrator Robert Pruett stand and prepare to leave the special called council meeting, after arguments about how the meeting was being run by Mayor Moya brought the proceedings to an unproductive halt. Monday’s special meeting had been called to resolve the problem created when the Mayor’s special counsel, attorney Edgardo Colon, had issued a letter to Galena Park’s bank ordering the checking accounts to be frozen. (Photo courtesy of KPRC)

Mayor attempts to freeze bank checks

GALENA PARK – A special called city council meeting dissolved into near chaos on Monday afternoon, when members of the city commission or council, and the Mayor were unable to resolve a dispute over authority to sign checks for city obligations.

This is the latest disagreement that Mayor Moya has had with council members and the city administrator Robert Pruett.

The mayor has claimed, since taking office in January, that the council and administrator have been conducting city business in a way that violates the city charter. She has presented copies of the charter at council meetings, highlighting instances of non-compliance.

Mayor Moya also claims her signature was illegally removed from the accounts, but city officials say she refused to put her name on the document.

The bank, Comerica, requires checks to have two authorized signatures to be honored and paid. In order for the city to continue paying its bills, Council voted a resolution in July to allow the mayor-pro tem, Danny Simms, to sign the checks in lieu of the mayor. This arrangement was approved by the city attorney, Jim DeFoyd, and accepted by the bank. The city secretary must also sign, or as a backup the city administrator.

Moya’s attorney, Edgardo Colon, sent a letter to the bank on January 2, demanding that they not honor city checks without Moya’s signature. After several discussions between DeFoyd, Colon, and the bank’s attorney, Shirley Halas, all parties agreed that it would be better to honor the checks and settle the matter through “the judicial and political processes.” However, the political process did not seem to work for the parties, as the council meeting on Monday turned into a “circus atmosphere” according to one of the participants. The meeting only lasted about 12 minutes, before the councilpersons decided that they couldn’t be heard or recognized by the Mayor, and it was fruitless to continue. A large audience, filled mostly with the Mayor’s supporters, shouted comments and tried to speak although not officially recognized.

The bank, Comerica, added in their comments that they had “never placed any type of restraint/hold on any of the City’s bank accounts. There should be no disruption to payroll from our end.”

Councilman Juan Flores, obviously distressed at the events, said “she’s playing Russian roulette with city finances. I think it’s wrong.”

Council will meet again on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. at city hall, to continue to work on the problem.