Council no longer recording closed session portion of meeting

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr.

Orange Grove Journal

Changes have occurred during the last week in the search for a new Orange Grove Police Chief.

Alice Police Officer Enrique Saenz has decided to retract his application for Orange Grove Chief of Police, following his selection as one of five interviewees for the position. Saenz is currently running for Jim Wells County Sheriff.

On Tuesday, former OGPD Chief Gary Graham turned in his application for consideration. Graham served as chief from 1986 to 1996. Council members have yet to select Graham as one of the interviewees. The city council is still accepting applications for the position through Nov. 8.

After nearly one month of accepting applications, the council narrowed the field from eight applicants to five interviewees for consideration. With Saenz's departure, the four remaining interviewees include Orange Grove Police Department Sr. Police Officer Daniel Jaramillo, who has been with the department six years; Jim Long, a narcotics and K-9 officer, who has served with the Mathis Police Department for two years and was previously Jim Wells County Constable for Precinct 3; Sgt. Rogelio Mendez, with the Kleberg County Sheriff's Department Patrol Division, and a sheriff's department K-9 handler; and Carl Van Slooten, a former Victoria area law officer, who currently resides in Corpus Christi.

Following the deadline, City Administrator Rick Lopez said the city council is looking forward to making a decision on the new chief of police by the next council meeting on Nov. 14.

In other city business, the position of full-time patrol officer has been filled. Manuel Gonzalez, formerly the COPS in Schools Deputy for Orange Grove High School resigned his position with the Sheriff's Department nearly two weeks ago to accept the vacant position.

Sheriff Oscar Lopez said a request for Gonzalez's resignation letter would have to go through the department's attorney. The sheriff's department is looking for another officer at this time for the Orange Grove COPS in Schools position. Lopez said any applicant needs to be a certified peace officer.

Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Rey Aguilar, the original OGHS COPS in Schools officer, has been out since August because of injuries suffered in a vehicle accident. Aguilar is set to return in the next week and a half, Lopez said.

Rick Lopez said that after considering the advice of city attorney Lucinda Garcia, the council members have decided to end the practice of recording closed session meetings on tape, in favor of a certified agenda. Texas law allows governmental entities the option of either recording closed session talks or keeping a certified agenda of the meeting on file. Lopez said the last two closed session meetings have been done using the certified written agendas. According to the 2008 Texas Open Meeting Handbook, a certified agenda should contain a statement of the subject matter of each deliberation, a record of any further action taken and an announcement by the presiding officer at the beginning and the end of the closed meeting, indicating the date and time.

Garcia said Tuesday that having certified agendas would make record keeping a lot easier for the city.

When dealing with tapes, there are issues of space, as in where to store the growing collection of tapes, and an issue of deterioration, Garcia said. "Most entities I know do written transcripts," Garcia said.