(Circle) C You in Court!

State District Judge Lora Livingston will hear arguments Tuesday in a case that could ultimately alter the way the Circle C Homeowners Association does business. Or, it could be business as usual for the tightly controlled and largely secretive CCHOA board of directors, which oversees a $1 million budget drawn from homeowners' membership fees. Austin lawyer and Circle C resident Bill Gammon last week got a temporary restraining order against the CCHOA, which effectively put the kibosh on the board's March 26 election proceedings. Gammon said the board --Jim O'Reilly, Steve Bartlett, and Ken Rigsbee -- finagled the association rules to prevent Carl Kernodle, another resident, from running against Bartlett. A board member since the association's 1988 inception, Bartlett was up for re-election -- but it wasn't the slam-dunk that the board had grown accustomed to over the years. Gammon's hunch is that the board arbitrarily changed the election rules to ensure Bartlett's place on the board.

Moreover, Gammon and other residents believe the board and some of its employees have direct financial links to Gary Bradley, the Circle C developer who founded the CCHOA and handpicked its board members. Bartlett, who is not a resident of Circle C, is a former Bradley business partner. For the past couple of months, residents have vented their frustrations with the CCHOA on a community Web site (www.circlec.cc), questioning everything from the limited access to the Circle C swimming pool to the number of lucrative business contracts the CCHOA has with former board member Susan Hoover.

Rigsbee, speaking for the board, commented briefly on the unexpected election roadblock: "Once a decision is made, the CCHOA will call another election," he said. "We will not respond to other allegations made by Mr. Gammon until after the court hearing, on advice of counsel."

On another matter, Gammon and other residents recently asked City Council not to approve the extension of Escarpment Boulevard to SH 45. The extension, supported by the CCHOA, was part of the city's annexation agreement with Circle C and was also a component of the city's development agreement with Bradley in 2000. Council approved the extension anyway, on a 7-0 vote.

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