Men's Breakfast Report, April 8, 2017
Men's Breakfast, April 8, 2017
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday April 9th with Tyrone Morrow, candidate for Freeport Mayor. Troy Brimage, the other Mayoral Candidate, was not able to attend because of a schedule conflict.
Tyrone has had a long career in law enforcement and public service and was formerly Freeport Police Chief. He has recently served as a resource officer at Brazosport High School and is now serving as a special education teacher at Lanier Middle School. Tyrone is also treasurer of Concerned Citizens of Freeport, a watchdog and loyal opposition group for the city.
One of Tyrone’s prime objectives as mayor is to increase openness of the government. The present council has very restrictive rules about visitors not on the agenda speaking to council. Tyrone believes that these should be relaxed considerably. He thinks that relaxation will lead to long council meetings at first but that once people have had their say, the demand will fall off so meetings will return to present length. Of course, by the state open meetings law, council will not be able to take any action on concerns raised by these comments. Council will be able to take action if a citizen’s concern is submitted well in advance, and the mayor puts it on the agenda. Tyrone suggested that mayor and council members to have regular informal town hall meetings with constituents as a way of increasing openness.
A question was asked about the relationship between the City Manager and the Mayor and Council. This is particularly important since the current city manager, Jeff Pynes, fired Tyrone Morrow from his position as police chief. Also, Jeff Pynes cannot be easily dismissed since his contract has a $200,000 severance clause. Tyrone believes that the present government is too much under the control of the manager. He thinks that the city manager is determining policy and priorities. Tyrone thinks that this is the job of the council. He believes that determining policy and priorities is the job of the council, not the mayor. He also believes that Jeff Pynes will be able to adapt to any new program. However, he does not think that the manager should be given a long term contract but should be an at-will employee like other local city managers.
A likely difference between Tyrone and Troy Brimage is the priorities given development and infrastructure repair. Tyrone thinks that infrastructure upgrades should be the priority since new development on old infrastructure is asking for rapid deterioration of the new development. A couple of problems brought up were the flooding on Velasco Street and the odor from the sewage plant. Tyrone said these would be high priority for him.
The status of the East End was brought up. Tyrone said that Port Freeport has had a long term desire to buy up the East End for the expansion of the port. The port does not have eminent domain in the East End, only the city has that. The city has not exercised it for the port, but has been helpful to the port by doing little development in the East End. The port has acquired most of the churches in the East End, which deprives the residents of community centers there. The port has by now acquired most of the land in the East End. The port has moved several of the remaining residents out by offering to trade them a new modern house in Freeport for their decrepit house in the East End. The problem with this is that the taxes on the new house are much greater than the taxes on the old house and many of the residents cannot afford the increased taxes. Tyrone believes that the transition of the East End to the port is inevitable but believes that the residents can get a better deal. The Concerned Citizens of Freeport is getting a lawyer knowledgeable in eminent domain to help these residents. He believes that the remaining residents and the residents that have moved out within the last four years are eligible for significantly increased amounts of money.
The guests had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, May 13th.