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McMillan: Signing Petitions “Business, Not Personal”

Jana McMillan

College Station Place 5 councilmember Jana McMillan says it was “business, not personal” when she signed three of the five recall petitions against her council colleagues.

McMillan issued a press release the night of December 17 in which she said she signed three of the petitions, but not all five.

McMillan did not sign petitions against John Crompton or Dennis Maloney because their respective seats are up for election in May 2011.

Crompton is prohibited from running again because of term limits. Maloney has indicated publicly he will not run again.

McMillan signed the petitions to recall Mayor Nancy Berry, as well as council members Katy-Marie Lyles and Dave Ruesink.

The petitions are being circulated by area residents in favor of giving the Wellborn community the opportunity to vote on incorporation.

Wellborn supporters say the city is fast-tracking the annexation because the State Legislature may consider the issue in 2011. Sources tell WTAW News, however, that isn’t likely to happen.

Pro-Wellborn residents say the recall is to prevent the current city council from forcing annexation on a group of people opposed to it.

You can hear the full interview with Jana McMillan and WTAW’s Chace Murphy by clicking below.

Jana-McMillan-122010.mp3Jana McMillan on WTAW

The full text of McMillan’s initial release, plus her answers to follow-up question for a story in The Eagle are below:

Initial Press Release from Jana McMillan:

Jana McMillan, City Council Member of College Station, Texas has decided to make the following statement:

“The following views are my personal thoughts and feelings and should in no way be considered the position of the City of College Station or any City Council member.   In this statement I am not speaking on behalf of the City of College Station, but solely as Jana McMillan, an individual.

I was elected to the Council a little over a month ago, and the manner in which the council functions has been a real eye opener to me.  It appears to me that the council is making choices that are not in the best interest of the city.

I want the city to prosper and be a great place to live.

I think that the City of College Station should not be making important controversial decisions at a time when we need to fill two critical management positions, both the city manager and the city attorney.

Two recent contentious decisions have to do with the Wolf Pen Creek water project and the Wellborn annexation.  Both issues were supported by a 5-2 vote of the Council.   Both of these issues have the potential of causing our city a great deal of time and money both currently and in the future and, I believe, both are being done by breaking promises made to the individuals involved.

I cannot condemn the injured parties as they take necessary action to protect their personal property and their way of life. In the case of the Wellborn Annexation I see no other remedy available. That is why I support and have signed three of the recall petitions. To blame the injured parties for protecting themselves instead of blaming the City for instigating the action seems misplaced to me.

I personally do not support removing the two council members whose terms are up in May as their removal would unnecessarily interrupt the city’s ability to conduct necessary business.

I believe College Station’s citizens and the individuals and communities it deals with deserve honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility from the Council.  A recall vote offers the citizens a means of holding Council members accountable.”

McMillan’s Answers to Follow-Up Questions from The Eagle, including disclaimer:

Please note:  The answers that I give is my personal opinion and is not the view of the College Station City Council.  I am not speaking on behalf of the City Council.

  • What prompted you to sign the petition?
  • Why do you think the council members need to be removed? Based on what?

Questions 1,2,  are in a combined answer below.

I think that the City was wrong to introduce the annexation agenda for several reasons. I feel that it showed lack of vision and understanding the consequences of the action.

The idea of fast tracking the process to avoid any 2011 State House legislation is a vehicle for trouble.   The action taken by the City has angered both College Station citizens and Wellborn citizens.

The blaming of the injured parties for protecting their private property instead of blaming the City is a single sided perspective.

Also, not citing at least a estimate of the costs involved in annexation for the City Council to consider prior to the vote shows lack of reasonable skills for informing the Council and is a poor public relations move by the City.

As often appears to be the case with the City, once again there is the possibility of continued lawsuits.

Lastly, based on documentation I have seen, it appears to me that the City has not yet adequately responded to Jane Cohen, Citizens for Wellborn, President, on her Freedom of Information requests. Additionally, it appears to me the City has not yet acted on the recommendation of the Attorney General of Texas letter dated September 22, 2010 and stamped OR2010 -14305.  The Texas Attorney General stated that the City had “failed to comply with the procedural requirements of section 552.301 and such failure to comply results in the legal presumption that the requested information is public and must be released …… Thus we have no other choice but to order the requested information to be released ……”

I understand that the Attorney General’s office sent a follow up letter to the city this week.  None of this information was provided to me as a City Council member, and I feel a direct attempt has been made to keep me and other Council members from gaining this information from the city. I feel that I cannot make proper decisions without full and complete information.

  • You’ve been to less than a handful of council meetings as a sitting member. Do you think that gives you enough experience to urge this issue?
  • The majority of the council isn’t alone in their thinking on the annexation issue; the Planning and Zoning Commission also supports exploring these issues. Do you think they, too, should be removed?

I ran for office to bring change,  to represent the needs of the citizens, and as an advocate of the private sector business.

In my opinion the City has increasingly begun to ride rough-shod over both its citizens and business

In my opinion, using a hidden tax on the electricity bills in order to transfer money to the General Fund hurts families. This is unfair policy.

In my opinion, using onerous planning and zoning restrictions that result in higher priced homes and well as increased goods and services costs, to promote the personal agenda of a select few in city government, is wrong for families and is wrong for the development of the community.

If we want prosperity in the City, we need make some changes.

Lastly, there appears to me to be political nepotism within the prominent city committees, which provides a medium of one-sided goals and lack of fresh creativity in solutions.

  • It’s not uncommon for council members to disagree on things; that’s why there are so many on any given panel. Some might argue that because they don’t think like you, you think they should be gone. What’s your comment to that?

I don’t think people that disagree with me or I them should be gone. It just happens that a situation blossomed that might have those consequences.

  • Are you actively campaigning and or urging people to sign the petitions?

No, I am not actively campaigning, I was not involved in the planning or organizing of the recall.

  • Lastly, can you tell me a little more about why you have an attorney that you’re consulting with on this? I ask only because this is the first time I’ve asked an elected official something and they’ve had to refer to a lawyer. I checked with both my bosses (one who has been in the business for 20 years, the other 15) and they, too, said this was a first (with the exception of an elected official being charged with a crime, investigated or a part of an inquiry). I explain this only because it’s unusual and I know readers — voters — will want to know why you feel it necessary to have a lawyer helping to answer questions posed to an elected official.

I can’t speak for other people, I can only speak for myself.  As I have been told, the city attorney does not represent individual city council members but instead represents the council as a whole and the city staff.

Since the majority party in rule appears to be 5 and the minority party appears to be 2, and since there is a huge self insurance/deductible amount on the city liability policy and since the majority party decides when and who to indemnify, I feel very uncomfortable on making any comments unless I check first with my attorney.   I believe this is very prudent under the circumstances

Additionally, since the city council ruling party has influence over who they instruct the insurance company to cover (at least initially), I am likewise uncomfortable.

I feel that I should do my job as a City Council member to the best of my ability, which includes me utilizing my legal and business advisors, just as I have done and will continue to do in private business. I provide payment without remuneration for these advisors.

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Posted by on Dec 20 2010. Filed under Featured Stories, News.

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