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MEDA board members tell council, ‘Slow down’

MEDAlogo_TNThe standoff between the Mission City Council and Mission Economic Development Authority (MEDA) has taken another unexpected turn.

On Thursday, MEDA board members rejected the council’s plan to restructure the board, adopting their own arrangement instead.

City Attorney David Guerra told the council Monday that the MEDA board was considering two options in an attempt to implement the council’s order on Feb. 18 to dissolve MEDA, a private corporation.

Both plans would reduce the size of the MEDA board from 15 to seven members. The key difference is who would be on the board.

Under “option one,” the “new” seven-member board would likely be seven of the directors currently serving on MEDA. Eight of the current members would be expected to resign to reduce the size of the board.

Under “option two,” all of the present board members would have to resign and be replaced by a city council-appointed board, turning control of MEDA over to totally different board members. This is the option the city council chose to support, but not the MEDA board.

MEDA board members want to control the destiny of MEDA—at least in the short term—until they are satisfied that their concerns are properly addressed.

At a MEDA board meeting held Thursday, March 17, MEDA Board Chairman Robert Goodwin said, before a vote was taken on the change in MEDA’s bylaws, “I don’t have a problem with option one…I will vote against option number two.”

All but one board member voted for option one. Pete Jaramillo voted against the motion to adopt this option, and board members Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas and Keith Moore were absent.

The action changes the bylaws, implementing a seven-member board in place of the previous 15-member board. The mayor will still be a voting board member.

MEDA’s message to the council is they want to keep their own board members to oversee the winding down of the corporation, not an entirely new, council-appointed board that is unfamiliar with the years of complicated agreements and matters MEDA has to deal with every month.

After the meeting, the Progress Times asked Goodwin why he chose to support option one, when the council supported option two.

“I feel the council has not adequately addressed this situation. I still have questions about the employees and some of the other working agreements,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said he wants to know how things are going to be handled. The business of MEDA is very complex and cannot just be turned over to a whole new board that knows nothing about the working agreements of the organization.

“I think if [the mayor] would attend [our meetings] every once in a while, he’d understand that there are a lot more complex [issues in] dropping this corporation down to a board of directors that has no history, nothing to rely back on,” he added. “I have wound down businesses before…and there are certain steps you need to take, and it’s not just the [wave] of the wand, and it’s all done.”

The chairman said they just need more time and to take things at a slower pace so they don’t make mistakes.

“We never said we wouldn’t do anything by Sept. 30...It just needs to slow down a little bit and it’ll happen and everything will be good,” Goodwin said.

Pat Townsend Jr., president and CEO of MEDA was clearly frustrated with the lack of communication from the elected officials with his board members.

“The reality is the workout group is not going to be able to get this resolved. I’m not going to be able to, nor is Julio [Cerda] or the city attorney,” said Townsend.

The city manager and the city attorney will not speak for the council, which leaves the MEDA board members wondering what the council’s intentions are. Should the council and the EDC determine a course of action, Townsend said he believed a large number of the board would be satisfied. The problem lies in knowing the objective of the EDC and city council.

“It’s knowledge of intention, as opposed to the abruptness of the way it was handled. We know how we do business, but how do you plan to do business?” Townsend said. “We’re the face and the arms and the legs and the mouth of economic development. Now you want to take that over, but in what manner?

“I don’t consider it to be the intention of any of the MEDA board to dictate terms to either of the groups [the council or MEDC]. I’ve never heard that,” Townsend said of inquiries from MEDA board members.

But questions keep coming up and MEDA is waiting for answers from the city council.

What’s Next?

Immediately after the MEDA board voted on the bylaws change, it was clear they didn’t know how to address the disparity of now having bylaws that state the board will have seven directors, while in reality there were still 15 board members, at least until eight of them choose to resign.

The board decided to wait until Tuesday, the date of their next regular board meeting, to see who will decide to resign.

If less than eight board members resign, then the board will have to decide how to deal with that.

Under the current bylaws, board members cannot be forced to resign, said board member Geoff Hall – citing the instructions of the board’s attorneys.

Henry Smith, DDS was the only board member to resign before the meeting adjourned.

City of Mission dissolves MEDA Originally published Friday, February 18
Mission Councilwomen barred from MEDA executive session Originally published Friday, March 4
Council removes Roseland as MEDC board president Originally published Friday, March 4
MEDA to discuss merger with MEDC Originally published Friday, March 4
MEDA board considers mass resignation Originally published Friday, March 11
Mission council supports MEDA board restructuring Originally published Friday, March 18
MEDA rebuffs city takeover of board Originally published Friday, March 25
Council strips MEDA's authority Originally published Tuesday, March 29, 11:24 p.m.
Mission rescinds MEDA's authority, hires its employees, except Townsend Originally published Friday, April 1
MEDA Timeline Originally published Friday, April 1
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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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