Fired Killeen finance director Barbara Gonzales has not been notified of the findings of the four-member employee grievance panel, which ruled this week on her appeal.
The Civilian Personnel Hearing Board submitted its nonbinding decision to the city manager Tuesday, after hearing nearly six hours of testimony April 24.
Gonzales was fired after a two-month internal investigation of the city’s Fleet Services Division revealed widespread theft and mismanagement of the city motor pool, which was under Gonzales’ purview.
The city did not respond to emailed requests from the Herald — made Wednesday under the Texas Public Information Act — regarding the review panel’s recommendation.
“Secrecy serves no purpose,” Gonzales’ attorney, Bill Aleshire, said Wednesday. “I can’t imagine any good public purpose or any fairness in denying knowledge to the grieving employee of what the panel’s recommendation is.”
City Manager Glenn Morrison has 30 days from the day he received the panel’s recommendation — presumably Tuesday — to make a final decision on Gonzales’ employment.
The grievance board can either uphold Morrison’s decision or recommend reversing the termination on the grounds that Gonzales was discriminated against or treated unfairly, according to city policy.
Aleshire said he found it “strange” that the city is not required to automatically notify the employee of the panel’s recommendation.
Killeen’s employee appeal policy, which gives the city manager complete authority, has fallen under scrutiny in recent weeks since Morrison was a key witness during Gonzales’ hearing.
Aleshire said he had little hope Morrison would reverse his own decision to fire Gonzales and that a long delay in releasing the information could be a sign the board had disagreed with him.
“If the panel has agreed with the city manager, I can’t see why they would hold off at all,” Aleshire said. “It’s seems to me they would want that out there pretty quick.”
Next week, the same panel will hear the appeal of former fleet services mechanic John Acker, who also was fired Dec. 12 in the wake of the fleet services scandal.
Contact Brandon Janes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552