by ANDY SEVILLA
As Kyle’s apparent intra-quarrelsome government recollects itself on the heels of the city attorney’s ouster last week, City Manager Lanny Lambert finds his voice, again.
Lambert, who had been told by former City Attorney Julian Grant to end his decades-long practice of keeping council members abreast of municipal affairs through a weekly letter, reinstituted and sent out his “Friday letter” to the elected officials anew, just three days after the city council accepted Grant’s resignation.
“The Friday letter is an integral part of our attempt to make city government in Kyle transparent,” Lambert said of the letter’s reestablishment. “We’re glad to make it available to anyone that has interest in our weekly activities.”
The weekly account of the city’s affairs typically details Lambert’s schedule for a bimonthly period, and also showcases new businesses, granted permits, and newspaper articles of city interest, among a plethora of different issues of relevance to Kyle.
As the New Year rang in, Grant instructed Lambert that the Jan. 4, 2013 Friday letter would be the last of its kind.
“Our new city attorney has advised me that a potential exists for the disclosure of confidential information regarding personnel, advice from the city attorneys, advice for the city’s lawsuits, that in my effort to communicate with the council could be inadvertently released to the public, through the news media, through the letter,” Lambert said in a January interview. “He advises that I no longer communicate with the council in that way, and I’ve accepted his advice.”
Grant, who before joining Kyle’s staff headed the Local Government Affairs Section of the Attorney General’s Office, was tight-lipped about recommending the letter’s end, but said “internal communication will remain (at City Hall),” the Hays Free Press reported in January.
But with Grant’s resignation, set to take effect 30 days from March 5, Lambert has returned to his old ways, and council member Diane Hervol says she “like(s) it.”
“(The Friday letter) assists council highly in making policy decisions,” Hervol said.
And “getting as much information as possible” in an effort to make educated public policy decisions is the quintessential element for council member Samantha Bellows-LeMense, regardless of the arrangement in which the information is distributed.
“If the city manager feels this is the best format, I am fine with his choice,” LeMense said. “… The communication I receive from the city, whether in individual emails or a weekly email, is important to me as I strive to make wise decisions on the dais for our city.”
Lambert said in January that the presentation of his Friday letter has, throughout his career, been aimed at keeping council members judicious on the multitudinous city affairs.
Lambert said that a city manager he worked for in 1979 communicated with his city council through a weekly letter, and he adopted the practice as his own in most of the cities he has managed.