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In a flier mailed to voters, Austin City Council Member Sheri Gallo says her opponent in the Dec. 13, 2016, runoff to represent West Austin’s District 10 "got an F in attendance in 2016 as a Parks Board member and was removed by a unanimous vote of the Austin City Council."
Not so, we found.
Gallo’s claim caught our eye because we remembered the incumbent giving a different explanation in August 2016 when she asked council colleagues to remove Alison Alter from the all-volunteer panel after Alter, a philanthropic adviser, signaled plans to challenge Gallo, who worked as a real estate agent before her election to the council.
Just the year before, Gallo nominated Alter to represent the district on the board. The 11-member City Council accepted her recommendation in May 2015 and Alter was eligible to begin her service a couple months later.
When Gallo made her motion to remove Alter from the board, Gallo said she was acting after Alter refused to resign. On Aug. 4, 2016, Gallo’s colleagues approved Gallo’s request without discussion as part of the meeting’s consent agenda, which typically consists of uncontroversial items that are passed in a single council vote.
"I asked Ms. Alter to resign from the Parks and Recreation Board because of her inherent conflict of interest due to her intention to run against me for City Council," Gallo said in an Aug. 4, 2016, statement. "It would be difficult for her to represent both me and the District 10 office in good faith while actively campaigning against me."
Gallo made no mention then of Alter’s attendance.
For this fact check, we reached out to Gallo’s campaign by phone and email, seeking the factual basis for her claim that Alter’s "F" for attendance preceded her removal from the board. Gallo’s campaign cited those two missed 2016 board meetings in an email to PolitiFact, defending the claim.
Separately, we checked on Alter’s attendance history by reviewing meeting minutes for the 11-member parks board.
From January to July 2016, the period claimed by Gallo, the minutes indicate the board had six meetings, and a subcommittee Alter served on also had six meetings. Alter missed two of each--meaning she missed one-third of the year’s meetings.
But that’s an incomplete accounting.
The year before, Alter was absent from her initial full board meeting on July 28, 2015, according to that meeting’s minutes. Yet she was present at each of her next eight meetings of the year--from Aug. 25 through Dec. 8, 2015--including three committee meetings, according to respective meeting minutes.
All told then, Alter was present at 16 of 21 parks board or subcommittee meetings until her removal. That breaks out to a 76 percent attendance record, arguably a ‘C’ letter grade.
We wondered if the city in any way grades or ranks board members on attendance.
At our request, city spokesman David Green emailed us the city’s log of attendance for the parks board; it didn’t include attendance grades or such. Green said too that the city clerk’s office, which tracks board and council absences, doesn’t rank or grade members on attendance.
Gallo said Alter "got an F in attendance in 2016 as a Parks Board member and was removed by a unanimous vote of the Austin City Council."
This claim gets events flat wrong in that we found no evidence that Alter’s removal from the board--which occurred at Gallo’s behest--had anything to do with missed meetings.
Austin volunteers who serve on city boards don’t get graded on attendance. Still, if Alter were graded on her entire tenure rather than a cherry-picked stretch, she’d merit a passing grade of ‘C.’
We find this claim incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/e8557968-5eea-4706-9522-56dcea770908
News story, "Council removes Sheri Gallo’s political rival from Austin parks board," Austin American-Statesman, Aug. 4, 2016
Newspaper news blog post, "Challengers emerge for two more Austin City Council members," City Hall blog, American-Statesman, July 19, 2016
Emails and phone interview, David Green, media relations manager, City of Austin, Dec. 1, 2016
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