Posted Thursday, April 7 – 6:35 PM
By Victoria Talbot
Councilmember Willie Brien, whose heartfelt farewells at the installation of Mayor John Mirisch March 16 elicited a host of well-wishers and sad goodbyes, has yet to submit his resignation.
However, in response to public comments from residents who asked when the absent councilmember would leave so that the City can move on, Brien, over the phone, informed council members Tuesday that he plans to submit a letter with an effective date on or about May 2.
On October 29, the City announced that Brien had accepted a position at St. Luke’s Health-Baylor Medical Center as Vice President of Medical Operations and Chief Clinical Officer. St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) also announced William Brien, MD, as its Vice President of Medical Operations and Chief Clinical Officer, effective December 9.
It is not known why Councilman Brien continues to remain on the council. Over the past year, he has conducted City Council meetings from a remote location on several occasions, most notably following the events on Nov. 21-22, when his friend Lyn Konheim clear-cut the trees on parcels 12 & 13.
Teleconferencing prevents call-in participation from residents.
When a seat is prematurely vacated, according to state law (Gov. Code Section 36512) the City Council has 60 days to decide if the wish is to have an election or if the wish is to avoid an election and fill the vacancy.
If no action is taken, there will be an election. Otherwise, the council may decide to make an appointment for the unexpired term of the incumbent.
On Jan. 16, following Brien’s announcement, the council repealed Municipal Code Section 2-1-21 that required a special election within 30 days of a council vacancy to fill the unexpired term – Gov. Code Sec. 46512(b). The change aligns the City with state law and allows the option of appointment to the unfilled term.
If Brien submits his resignation on or near May 2 the council has 60 days to announce a decision, which would be on or about July 4.
An election would have to be scheduled on the next regularly scheduled election, and not less than 114 days from the vacation of the seat.
If no action is taken, there will be a special election to fill the seat.
The next regularly scheduled municipal election coincides with the November presidential election.
The unexpired term will be November 2016 through March 2017. The next election would be for three seats on the council, including the interim seat, on the regular schedule (March 2017).
By law, the clock starts ticking when Brien officially resigns.
An election can cost the City an estimated minimum of $200,000, depending on the number of candidates and other factors that cannot be predicted, estimates City Clerk Byron Pope. Sources tell The Courier that costs to mount a campaign can be as much as $150,000.