By Sarah Naron
ELKHART – With the council table strewn with miniature 100 Grand® candy bars and one council member sporting a Texas Rangers T-shirt – perhaps poking fun at the uproar currently taking place in the city – the members of the Elkhart City Council sat down Tuesday, Feb. 6 for what the agenda referred to as a “regular” council meeting.
According to former mayor Raymond Dunlap, however, the meeting was, by law, no such thing.
Dunlap addressed the council during the citizen recognition portion of the meeting, pointing out that laws regarding what constitutes a regular council meeting had been violated.
“This gentleman is not legally a council member, because the other one was not accepted before you swore him in,” he said, referring to councilman Carl Hallmark, who joined the council after the January resignation of Chris Bice.
“You have to have four council members for a called meeting,” explained Dunlap. “This is not a regular meeting. This is a called meeting. He is not legitimate.”
According to Dunlap, Bice’s resignation was not accepted by the council during its last meeting.
“I was listening to it, and it was not on there,” he said. “It wasn’t on the agenda. You have to accept one resignation before you can appoint another one, and that was not done.”
Hallmark’s presence at the council table, Dunlap said, was illegal.
“I’ll be at the D.A.’s office first thing in the morning to file a complaint,” he said. “It is an illegal meeting, and all of you will be guilty. All I’ve got to do is get the deputy to take the report to Mrs. (Allyson) Mitchell.”
Dunlap said during a Thursday morning interview with The Messenger that while Mitchell has not yet been contacted, steps are being taken to handle the issue.
“The sheriff’s office wanted to make a report and turn it over to their investigators,” he explained. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s not the way it works.’ So, I’m going to wait until the ranger gets back this coming week and just give it all to him.”
Dunlap expressed disappointment in the current state of the city.
“We had a good town before my wife got sick and I had to take a leave (of absence) and I didn’t rerun,” Dunlap explained. “I probably would have still been in there, but it (the city) wouldn’t have been in the shape it’s in. I know it wouldn’t have been in the shape it’s in.”
According to Dunlap, the city’s budgets were balanced for a period of six years throughout his time in office.
“I had three terms of balanced budgets – that’s buying all the new trucks and all that stuff – and still left them $350,000 in the bank,” he explained. “So, they’re blaming everything (on the previous council), but we balanced budgets every year. I lived in my budget.
“We’ve just got to get it straight,” Dunlap said of the city. “It’s something else.”
Dunlap mentioned he is a descendant of the Royal Family, who he feels would disapprove of the current goings on in the city.
“The queen would be very upset,” he said. “I guarantee you.”
Speaking to The Messenger Thursday morning, Mayor Mike Gordon maintained that city officials are doing nothing wrong.
“He (Dunlap) thinks that we done something illegal, and I can assure you that it was not,” Gordon said. “We done talked to our attorneys at TML (Texas Municipal League), we done talked to our attorney, and everything’s okay.
“If he thinks that he knows the rules, he just needs to call our attorneys, and we wouldn’t have been in that situation,” he continued.
Had the meeting not been legal, Gordon said, the council would not have preceded.
“We’re not going to do nothing illegal,” he assured.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.