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Mission subcommittee to assess municipal court

During executive session at this week’s Mission city council meeting, the mayor, council, city manager and city attorney discussed “the appointment, evaluation, duties and other employment matters” regarding the municipal court judicial appointments of four judges.

Presiding Judge Johnathan Wehrmeister, Alternate Judge Horacio Peña, Alternate Judge Mauro Reyna and Alternate Judge Ramon Rosales were the four judges in question.

City of Mission logoWhile the council was in closed session for the discussion, they returned and stated they would be conducting further analysis of the municipal court.

“It appears that the consensus of the council is to create a subcommittee to assess and evaluate the municipal court, so as to expand services to the community,” City Attorney Abiel Flores said.

Mayor Armando O’caña appointed council members Ruben Plata and Gus Martinez to serve on the subcommittee along with city manager, Martin Garza, Jr. and the city attorney.

The council also approved Ordinance #4654 amending Policy 200.08, nepotism, in the personnel policy manual.

According to council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa, this amendment was brought up for review by the council to align the written policy with practices that occurred in the previous administration of Mission.

The nepotism policy now allows family members of city council members, the mayor and city manager to serve in non-paid positions on various Mission advisory boards.

According to Mayor O’caña and Ortega-Ochoa, this has been going on for years, and council wished to confirm the policy in writing.

“It was determined that the current policy is more restrictive than state law mandates,” Mission Human Resources Director Noemi Munguia said.

Mayor O’caña mentioned that he has family members who have served on the board, and Ortega-Ochoa clarified that this amendment would only apply to advisory board positions, which are not paid and not employed with the city.

Mayor Pro-Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza was unsure if the personnel policy manual was the correct manual to be amending, and proposed creating a new chapter dedicated specifically to the issue.

After going into executive session for legal counsel, the city council, mayor and city manager came to an agreement on how this change will be implemented. Flores spoke about the change made to the original item on the agenda.

“After reviewing the supporting documentation for this item, staff recommended an amendment to subsection A that would have removed the wording ‘appointed to serve’ from that subsection,” Flores said. “However, after consultation with the attorney in executive session, it is the consensus of the council that instead of that amendment, an additional line will be added after subsection A to indicate the following: ‘This section does not apply to the appointment of advisory board members or volunteers as per state law.’”

Council member Ruben Plata said that in the future, he would prefer a workshop so the council could discuss personnel policies as a whole before presenting them in council meetings. After that, Ortega-Ochoa spoke about the decision to bring up this amendment in this meeting.

“This policy has been in place with the City of Mission since 2010,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “Currently we have had family members of our current board and past mayor on boards. I posed the question to our city attorney because I wanted to do the right thing, I’m for transparency and accountability.”

City council passed a conditional use permit for the sale and on-site consumption of alcoholic beverages at 5×5 Brewing Company, a new business that is scheduled to have a ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. The current location of 5×5 is connected to the Mission Center for Education and Economic Development.

The company originally held an agreement with the previous administration that stated that the brewing company could only serve a limit of three drinks per person, and only be open to the public the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

“We have no problem with them consuming beer there every day, with a limit of three drinks,” said Alex Meade, Chief Executive Officer of the Mission Economic Development Corporation. “There is no access from the inside of the CEED building into the brewery, it’s locked, by TABC [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission] it has to remain locked. The entrance would be from the parking lot to the building. So with that condition, we wouldn’t have an issue.”

The new administration allowed 5×5 Brewing Co. to be open every day, as long as they keep the three-drink maximum. The veteran-owned craft brewery will be allowed to open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., but their business hours have not been established.

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