• December 27, 2014

City readies for lawsuits

Residents weigh in on past legal troubles for Killeen

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:50 pm, Fri Apr 26, 2013.

As the city of Killeen prepares its arguments for two lawsuits filed by former employees against the city in the past week, residents are wary of the major lawsuits, which have troubled City Hall in the recent past.

After previously settling a lawsuit against former City Manager Connie Green by a former city employee in 2008, the Killeen City Council in 2011 approved a controversial $750,000 buyout for Green, a decision that led to the recall of five of the city’s seven council members later in the year.

“This current crop has learned their lesson with that,” said Bob Blair, a Killeen resident and former municipal blogger. “I think there were significant consequences with that one.”

“The city always just seems to pay off lawsuits, which just rewards someone for suing the city,” local teacher James Ralston said.

“If they in fact did violate the law, then we would have to pay up. If not, I think it is right to go out and fight it.”

In the past week, Killeen’s former finance director Barbara Gonzales and former city mechanic John Acker, who were both fired in December, sued the city under the Texas Whistleblower Act.

Gonzales’ lawsuit claims she was fired for telling police about alleged unlawful spending by Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison.

Acker’s case claims that he was fired for telling investigators in the Killeen Police Department about a member of its own ranks allegedly using the city’s motor pool for personal use.

Gonzales is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in compensatory damages and reinstatement or compensation for lack of reinstatement. Acker is also seeking financial compensation and reinstatement.

The city said it is not offering a settlement in the two lawsuits.

Although the city denied all the claims, little information was released defending the city from the allegations against its top administrators.

The Killeen City Council met Tuesday in closed session to receive advice from the city’s attorney regarding the two lawsuits.

Texas Municipal League, the city’s insurance provider, assigned Stuart Smith of Naman, Howell, Smith and Lee law firm in Waco to represent the city in the two cases.

Smith said, in a telephone conversation Wednesday, that it would likely be nine months to a year before the civil lawsuit is tried in Bell County district court, where the case was filed.

Several council members, who were reached by telephone Wednesday, said they could not comment on the pending litigation because it could affect the outcome of the lawsuits.

“The truth will come out and we look forward to defending ourself in court,” Mayor Dan Corbin said Wednesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower also said he could not comment on the specifics of the litigation.

“I think that once the facts are out, it will shed some more light on this,” Lower said. “With Mr. Morrison, his integrity is not on trial with this.”

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4 comments:

  • Viktor posted at 12:38 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 317

    City government is arrogant. They want to do what they want to do without any input that goes against the flow. This finance manager, former city manager etc. had unwelcome things to say so they had to be shown the exit door. Any money paid up is not coming out of council's pocket so they don't really care. These people have been doing what they want since city was established & that's why there is an urgency to change city charter. They want to do what they want but never have to be recalled again. As far as someone's integrity goes, it only matches integrity of those that like to control the flow of the city.

     
  • Eliza posted at 11:37 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 904

    There is an old saying in the words of an old Boston lawyer I like to remember,
    ' If it ain't on paper ,it didn't happen' .
    From reading the Gonzales 13 page complaint listed at - http://media.graytvinc.com/documents/Killeen+lawsuit.pdf ---
    and if a lot of her charges are on paper in some form,I would think she's got a very good case.

    Where she made a mistake when she saw she was getting no where going the route she did with her complaints, was she should then have taken the state complaints directly to the state.--

    What is surprising and if her work background is as stated on web as; Fired Finance Director Files Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Killeen --

    Gonzales was hired in 2003 as the city’s general services director and was named finance director in March 2007. She also served as assistant director of finance from 1990 to 1995.
    She headed the department responsible for the city’s fiscal management and oversaw the accounting, purchasing, print services, building services, custodial services, fleet services and utility collections divisions.---

    She was certainly trusted to do her job or she surely wouldn't have been allowed to stay as long as she did at her employement.
    That's why a citizen has to wonder why she was suddenly removed from that employment.

    On her notice of being fired in e-mail form, all it states is the city manager was letting her go because of 'issues which occurred under her management'.

    Even though Texas is an 'at will state',some of her official complaints,such as her complaints about state laws being broken,an if proven true,would be covered under,Texas Labor Laws --
    Texas administrative rulings also have established a "public policy" exception to employment at will, meaning an employer may not fire an employee because the employee has declined to commit a criminal act or break any law at the employer's request.-- State of Texas Labor Laws

    Of all the complaints that Ms. Gonzales has made concerning her firing and if they are proven true to a jury of her peers, The wisest thing she has done for herself was to insist on going in front of that jury to tell her story.

    That will be the only way to receive justice for herself and in its own way justice and truth for the citizens of Killeen.

     
  • Max67 posted at 7:15 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    And who represented the city employee who admitted to the relationship w/ Glenn, getting the city to pay her $30,000+ for firing her? That would be our fine mayor, Mr. Dan Corbin. They should re-run those old articles to refresh all of our memories.

     
  • Max67 posted at 6:34 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    If we didn't have people like Glenn Morrison in office, someone who has already demonstrated he has no integrity, we wouldn't have to keep paying for violations of the law. Has it already been forgotten that Glenn is the individual who raced over to personally offer Mr. Green a settlement (at Mr. Green's house) that far exceeded the amount required by Mr. Green's contract so he could then become City Mgr.? What do you think Mr. Green had on Morrison? Did Mr. Green even have to hire an atty? Morrison also paid off his girlfriend (his former city employee who admitted to relatipnship w/ him) iao $30,000 (or close to that) even though there were serious allegations against her. See former KDH article. Now, two people are finally trying to hold him accountable for some of his many wrongdoings, hard-working people who've had to hire attorneys because that is the only way they can have him held accountable and have the tax payers hear about some of the many things he has done. His integrity isn't on trial here alright, but that's because it's already been on trial - and been proven not to exist.