Following an investigator’s recommendation Monday, the Mansfield City Council rejected an anonymous claim that Councilwoman Wendy Burgess violated residential requirements in the city charter.
A report submitted by the investigator, Austin ethics attorney Ed Shack, said he found no evidence that Burgess’ occasional stays at a property near Rendon violated the mandate that council members maintain a home in the city.
City Attorney Allen Taylor recommending hiring an outside investigator to avoid the appearance of political bias and backroom dealings.
“The city takes these matters very seriously,” Taylor said, as he presented Shack’s report report to the council. He said the member’s intent is the controlling factor, and where the member receives mail, for example.
“It’s where you represent to the community where you live,” Taylor said.
“Mr. Shack made the finding that there is not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Mrs. Burgess intended to make her domicile in any other city,” Taylor said.
The charter says the City Council is the “judge of the qualifications of its members.” However, a council that ignores its investigator’s findings becomes more vulnerable to legal action, Taylor said.
Burgess said: “I agreed with the process, I complied with the process, and I’m happy to get back to work. Let’s get some stuff done.”
The council’s action puts to rest a mystery sparked by two anonymous packages mailed to City Hall within a month of each other. One was about Burgess’ residence. The other leveled a similar claim about Councilman Stephen Lindsey’s residency and also his attendance record for council meetings.
The letter contained real estate records appearing to indicate that Lindsey had moved to a house outside the city in south Arlington. The council rejected the claim within a week of the letter’s arrival, accepting his response and documentation.
Lindsey said his name was on the real estate records only because he co-signed a mortgage for his ex-wife as part of their divorce decree.
The council’s rejection also included the attendance issue, but Mayor David Cook asked City Secretary Vicki Collins to research city records to make sure. Collins reported that Lindsey’s unexcused absences were too few to violate the charter.
Burgess, who is in her second three-year council term, had explained that she bought a house near Rendon because it had enough land for a few livestock animals for her daughter. It was not intended to be a permanent residence, she said.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641