Sitting Place 2 Kerrville City Councilman George Baroody has retained a lawyer to represent him in a potential case against the City of Kerrville.
City Attorney Mike Hayes confirmed Monday afternoon that he has been contacted by Austin attorney Roger Gordon on behalf of Baroody.
In an e-mail dated March 6, Gordon informed Hayes that he has been retained by Baroody “in relation to the City of Kerrville’s official action arising from an alleged violation of the city’s ‘ethics policy’ occuring in October 2018.”
“I have been instructed to pursue all available remedies related to the City Council’s actions; and I’d like to start by scheduling a time for us to have a call and discuss the notice and procedures used to implement the Council’s November 2018 public shaming of Mr. Baroody,” Gordon said.
Hayes would not comment on Gordon’s e-mail or the status of the discussions with Gordon regarding Baroody.
The documented incidents that occurred during Gordon’s specified time frame are as follows:
On Oct. 24 local attorney Patrick O’Fiel informed city officials that Baroody had attempted to contact him regarding a lawsuit O’Fiel filed against the City of Kerrville on behalf of Lotus Peer Recovery, LLC and residents of a Kerrville home operated by the company, claiming discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and the American with Disabilities Act, when in July they were denied a variance by the city to open a “sober recovery” home in the 1500 block of East Main.
“Please be advised that a council member, George Baroody, paid a visit to my office today to discuss the case. I informed him that I was not able to discuss the matter. I believe it is proper for me to notify you of this event,” O’Fiel wrote on Oct. 24.
Baroody’s attempt at contacting opposing counsel prompted a special called meeting by the Kerrville City Council on Nov. 8, which resulted in the removal of Baroody as mayor pro tem and barred him from participating in discussions regarding the pending litigation brought by O’Fiel.
While the topic was scheduled for executive session and to be held in private, Baroody requested that all discussion be made public.
“As a subject of the deliberation, I’m going to go ahead and cite the 551.074B and ask that it be a public hearing,” Baroody told fellow council members at the Nov. 8 meeting.
Place 3 Councilperson Judy Eychner explained her concerns to council.
“Mr. Mayor, I requested that you call this special meeting, because I am extremely disappointed and extremely outraged over the actions exhibited by Councilman Baroody following the council’s executive session on Tuesday, Oct. 23,” Eychner said. “In that session, we were specifically told by the TML (Texas Municipal League) appointed counsel not to talk to opposing legal counsel or anyone involved with the Lotus Peer Recovery lawsuit. The very next day, Mr. Baroody took it upon himself and went to see opposing counsel Patrick O’Fiel. That was totally, completely and absolutely inappropriate. Mr. Baroody put this council and the City of Kerrville in a position that could have had potential and serious legal consequences.”
During discussions, Baroody confirmed that he had been instructed by the city’s Texas Municipal League attorney to avoid O’Fiel, but claimed he was not prohibited from speaking to O’Fiel and said no one knew what his intent was in seeking a meeting with O’Fiel.
On Dec. 11, at a regular meeting of the city council, Baroody appealed the council’s decision to bar him from participation in the Lotus Peer Recovery, LLC lawsuit.
Baroody moved to rescind the order, which was seconded by Place 1 Councilperson Vincent Voelkel. The motion failed 3-2, with Mayor Bill Blackburn, Delayne Sigerman and Eychner voting against rescinding the order and Baroody and Voelkel voting in favor.
No other public discussion has taken place on the matter prior to Gordon’s e-mail to Hayes.
Attempts to contact Baroody regarding possible action against the city were unsuccessful.