Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Did City Council Miss
a Critical Deadline?
by David Stanowski
03 July 2013
One of the most interesting and compelling items to emerge from the secret Terry Morgan memo that both the City Council and the GCDN refuse to make available for public review is the opportunity to challenge the suspension of its disaster recovery funds by filing a "Petition for Review" with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is an action that would be much simpler and less expensive than an actual lawsuit.
This opportunity is provided through 42 USC 5311 which deals with the options available if HUD suspends funding. It states in part:
“(c) Petition for review of action of Secretary in Court of Appeals; filing of record of proceedings in court by Secretary; affirmance, etc., of findings of Secretary; exclusiveness of jurisdiction of court; review by Supreme Court on writ of certiorari or certification
(1) Any recipient which receives notice under subsection (a) of this section of the termination, reduction, or limitation of payments under this chapter may, within sixty days after receiving such notice, file with the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which such State is located, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a petition for review of the Secretary's action.”
During the 13 June 2013 City Council meeting (watch Item 15B), Councilmember Elizabeth Beeton reminded the Council that the 60-day clock was most likely triggered by the 29 April 2013 letter from the GLO. This letter was actually received by the City on 03 May 2013. This would mean that the 60-day window closes TODAY, 03 July 2013.
Councilmembers Elizabeth Beeton and Norman Pappous implored the Council to move forward and file the petition BEFORE the 60 day deadline expired. The Council failed to do so. They simply directed the City Attorney to do further research. The time for doing further research ended a long time ago, and the time to file the petition probably ended today!
As the situation currently stands, the Gang of Five has agreed to rebuild Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, in order to get disaster recovery funding, but they have NOT received the disaster recovery funding that they expected to receive in return for this vote.
The more time that passes without receiving this money, the more likely it is that the GLO intends to force the City to wait until Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes are completely rebuilt to get it. However, if there is a long delay in receiving the money, it becomes more and more likely that it will disappear from the appropriations budget and the City will never get it.
Why didn’t the City Council move forward and file a petition? Because the City Attorney insisted that the 60-day clock has not been triggered, because the City did not receive notice of the suspension of its funds directly from HUD. If the GLO is acting as HUD’s agent in the State of Texas, as many believe, then her interpretation will be proved wrong, and the window just closed; tight!