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Granite Shoals councilor at center of social media controversy

Granite Shoals councilor Phil Ort

Granite Shoals City Councilor Phil Ort is at the center of controversy after the council set an upcoming agenda to discuss and possibly take disciplinary action against him for remarks made on social media as well as failing to fulfill a public information request. Ort also has a hearing on Monday, Sept. 19, in a Burnet County courtroom related to his October 2021 arrest on a charge criminal mischief. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Controversy surrounds Granite Shoals City Councilor Phil Ort, who is the subject of a special council meeting on Monday, Sept. 19, regarding possible sanctions for inappropriate use of social media and failure to fulfill a public information request. 

He is also facing a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief at a hearing in a Burnet County courtroom on Monday for an October 2021 incident in which he was accused of keying a car in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot and arrested.

The disciplinary meeting is at 6 p.m. at Granite Shoals City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.

“I am aware, I did not see it personally, that Mr. Ort made a lot of disparaging remarks on social media over the weekend,” said Granite Shoals Councilor Ron Munos during the regular council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12. “I feel like, in all honesty, that we need to have a discussion about his postings and discuss any potential discipline resulting from those.”

While no action was taken Tuesday night, the council released an agenda on Thursday, Sept. 15, for the Monday special meeting to discuss or take action against Ort for his social media posts. 

The online remarks are reportedly connected to a public information request made by Granite Shoals resident Kiel Arnone regarding Ort’s claim that he received many complaints about lighting ordinance violations. The posts were made in a closed Facebook group that he moderates called Residents of Granite Shoals

Munos said he was made aware of Ort’s social media posts while attending church on Sunday and received several emails from his constituents concerned about the other councilor’s remarks. The posts have since been deleted, but they reportedly targeted Arnone and Councilor Samantha Ortis.

“From what I understand, he made many disparaging remarks,” Munos told “It started off as a rant against Kiel Arnone and ramped off into a rant against Samantha Ortis.”

Munos made it clear that he does not speak for the whole council and that any serious discussion would have to take place during the Monday special meeting.

The root of the controversy is Ort’s proposed Dark Skies Ordinance, which was tabled during an Aug. 23 council meeting after residents, including Arnone, expressed concern about government overreach.

Afterward, Ort took to Facebook and reportedly requested that residents concerned about their neighbors’ lighting should contact him so he could support the passing of the ordinance. According to Arnone, Ort claimed to have received 41 complaints regarding intrusive lighting.

“Why do we need such an overreaching ordinance?” Arnone said. “I had a gut feeling that the number was being buffed up.”

Arnone is running for Granite Shoals mayor in the May 2023 elections and is also a member of the Residents of Granite Shoals Facebook page. He made a public information request on Aug. 30 for the written complaints that Ort claimed to have received, but Ort refused to provide them. The 10-business day deadline to provide the information passed on Sept. 14.

“I questioned his Freedom of Information request,” Ort told “Why would he want the names and contact information of the people that contacted me?”

Ort claimed that Arnone has been repeatedly attacking him and his proposals and said he was worried the complainants would feel intimidated if their identities were revealed.

“I could care less who these people are,” Arnone said. “I just wanted to see if there were really 41 complaints.”

Arnone told he believes these complaints might have been falsified. He is currently working with City Attorney Joshua Katz concerning Ort’s failure to fulfill the public information request. 

Amid this controversy, Ort resigned and rescinded his resignation on the same day, Monday, Sept. 12, saying recent events played a small role in his decision to resign.

Interim City Manager Peggy Smith told that the council chose to hold a special meeting on Sept. 19 so the matter could be addressed sooner than the next regular meeting on Sept. 27.

“I can’t believe the council would risk being sued in an attempt to violate my constitutional rights,” Ort said. 

He claims his constitutional rights would be violated if the council were to take disciplinary action against him for public statements.

Unrelated to recent events, Ort is scheduled for a hearing in a Burnet County courtroom at 3 p.m. Monday regarding a Class A misdemeanor charge for criminal mischief. He is accused of keying a car that he perceived to be wrongfully parked in a handicapped space at the Marble Falls H-E-B in October 2021. 

He is facing up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 if found guilty of the charge.