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"It's dishonorable..." lack of quorum shuts down debate about public transit

Ann Zadeh listens to members of the public speak about their frustration with Fort Worth City council members who did not show up to hear their support for transit funding.
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Ann Zadeh listens to members of the public speak about their frustration with Fort Worth City council members who did not show up to hear their support for transit funding.

Putting a 14-hour time difference aside, Fort Worth Councilman Cary Moon sees no reason his district director will have to give up her job even though she'll soon be living in Japan.

In July, District 4 director Alicia Ortiz is moving to Nagoya, Japan, Moon said. Her husband, Neftali Ortiz, who serves on the Trinity Metro board, has accepted a work promotion there, he said.

"She's going to have a virtual office," said Moon. "Our office is responsive and we get a lot done, and we have a lot more to do. There will be no city assets over there."

Japan is 14 hours ahead of Fort Worth, but the high-level of responsiveness his office has come to enjoy because of Ortiz "will not be lost," Moon said.

District director posts are political appointments and the person primarily reports to constituents and the council member. There's nothing that says they have to be in Fort Worth and district office budgets allow for one full-time director or two part-time directors.

But there's never been anyone who's asked to hold the position internationally.

As a result, the city's Human Resources department is drafting a letter spelling out what the expectations will be for Ortiz, said Assistant City Manager Susan Alanis.

Moon said Ortiz will take a pay cut and work about 25 hours a week. He has since hired community activist Luann Hoppe to work the remaining 15 hours locally as an assistant district director. Hoppe is Moon's appointment to the Building and Standards Commission and is the Carter Riverside Neighborhood Association secretary, according to the city's website.

Ortiz has been with Moon since being elected in 2015. Moon said he met her through her work with the Heritage Homeowners Association, where they both live.

District 4 includes east and northeast Fort Worth from Interstate 30 and Sandy Lane to Golden Triangle Boulevard and Interstate 35W. Moon represents more than 100,000 residents.

Council districts have a $96,001 budget, from which the district director earns $59,437. The council district budgets are monies from the general fund, which is generated from property and sales taxes. The general fund is the portion of the budget that covers the police and fire departments, community services and city operations that residents are most familiar with.

Moon was recently in Japan representing the city on an eight-day Sister Cities International trip. He said while there he was convinced the long-distance set-up can work.

"I feel very comfortable with it or we would not be doing it," Moon said.

Moon credits Ortiz with helping him on several key city issues, including panhandling, new revenue policies and new sign, trailer and multifamily ordinances stemming from issues arising out of his district.

"Alicia is key to that production," Moon said. "She'll continue to work with constituents. There will be no difference in response. You just won't see her smiling face."

Sandra Baker: 817-390-7727, @SandraBakerFWST
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