The Committee to Incorporate Sandy Oaks (CISO) worked for 3+ years to get the community of Waterwood and the surrounding area to be released from San Antonio’s ETJ and to incorporate into its own city. But the process of incorporation hardly involved the community and even now people are realizing that the “City of Sandy Oaks” involves the neighborhood of Waterwood, not the community of Sandy Oaks 3 miles away.
Lack of communication from the CISO with the community is the underlying problem with much of the confusion. Regardless of how well they believe they did, Pedro Orduno and Jim Clement did not do a good job of informing and involving the community. An example of that is the election of the city council, which involved almost double the number of people who participated in the incorporation vote. But Orduno’s and Clement’s lack of communication continued after the City of Sandy Oaks was created.
On April 24, 2014 CISO held a meeting just 4 days before early voting started for incorporation. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the community about what incorporation entailed and what it involved. As CISO had worked on the project for over 3 years and was responsible for it, they established themselves as the leadership group for the creation of the city. At that meeting CISO was angrily asked by residents if CISO was planning to be the new city council or if CISO planned to include the community. Members of CISO promised to announce the deadline to run for office so that the entire community could be involved and have a chance to run.
Since CISO established itself as the lead group in charge of the formation of the city, residents looked to CISO’s website, CityofSandyOaks.info, for information after the city formed. At the time, the website had a calendar that listed dates of meeting times for CISO. Apparently, not all of these meetings were for the public.
On May 27, 2014, a handful of uninvited residents accidentally crashed a meeting hosted by CISO. Two of those were Catherine Rendahl and her husband, who learned about the meeting from the CISO website. Rendahl had this to say afterward:
As we were walking up the sidewalk leading to the clubhouse we were close enough to overhear Pedro and Jim. When Pedro looked up to see you he turned to Jim and said ‘I thought this was supposed to be a closed meeting.’ To which Jim said ‘I guess it’s not now.’
Also present but uninvited were James Davis and Micki Ball, both of whom had learned about the “closed meeting” on the public website.
Inside the clubhouse were a collection of tables and chairs in the center of the room. Pedro Orduno set up a laptop and projector to present notes once everyone who was supposed to be there was seated. Present at the meeting were Jim Clement, Pedro Orduno, Earnest Gay, Douglas Tomasini, Joel Ortega, and Dale Burmaster, all members of the Sandy Oaks Political Action Committee (SOPAC). Also present was Charlotte Rabe, treasurer of SOPAC. Orduno mentioned that Art Martinez de Vara, adviser to CISO, SOPAC and WPPOA, would not be able to make it.
The meeting kicked off with people going around the table introducing themselves and talking about what they wanted. Earnest Gay said he wanted the city to be a “pay as we go” city, to which the room filled with cheers. This is the first instance in which this phrase was heard which was later copied by almost all SOPAC candidates during the 2014 election.
Charlotte Rabe, a member of CISO, mentioned she would run as a back-up candidate if she was needed, but also said “If no one else runs, we won’t even have an election.”
Pedro Orduno gave a brief summary of the intentions of CISO/SOPAC. While making a Seppuku motion stabbing himself in the stomach, he explained that the Waterwood Park Property Owner’s Association would “commit suicide” and everything would be handed over to the new city. Orduno, Rabe, and Clement were (and still are) all WPPOA board members.
Jim Clement explained his intention to have the Waterwood Park clubhouse be turned into a cityhall and be filled with offices “with internet access.” He also spoke about his intention to file for a CDBG grant with the county, something that only the newly elected city council should be involved with.
Both Orduno and Clement maintained that one of their goals was the elimination of the $180 Maintenance Fee that Waterwood Development imposes on residents. No plans for revenue for the future city were discussed.
Committee to Incorporate Sandy Oaks Chose Not to Include the Community
Few of the uninvited attendees ever spoke, but Catherine Rendahl mentioned that her primary concern was that she wanted more people from the community involved. She expressed how unhappy she was that so few voters turned out to the vote for incorporation.
But the organizers of incorporation didn’t seem to have any plans for involving the community. SOPAC’s secret meeting was held on the 27th of May. The deadline to file to run for office was the 26th of June. In that month of time CISO (Orduno, Clement, and Rabe) did nothing to inform the community besides the 4 people they personally selected to fill office positions.
3 other candidates (including Micki Ball) outside of SOPAC ran for city council.
Jim Clement ran unopposed for mayor.