By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Two Killeen City Council members are requesting further discussion to bring in an outside agency to investigate the circumstances surrounding the buyout of former City Manager Connie Green after a 3-2 vote killed the item during Tuesday's workshop.
Councilman Larry Cole, who originally asked the item be brought forward, said Wednesday he would contact the city to put the item back up. Councilwoman JoAnn Purser said Wednesday she anticipates the discussion will be at the next council workshop.
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper, Councilman Ernest Wilkerson and Mayor Tim Hancock voted to reject the item from future discussion. Cole and Councilman Juan Rivera tried to table the item without success Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Wilkerson said everybody knows what the circumstances were around Green's buyout. Cosper agreed that an investigation would not be productive unless new information was brought forward.
"Saying nothing at this point just prolongs the agony," Cole said. "It's not going to go away. Just simply not."
A possible outside investigation could have the council requesting District Attorney Henry Garza look into the circumstances.
Garza said Wednesday that a majority of investigations originate from the local jurisdiction.
If it were an open meeting violation that he'd be asked to look into, such as walking quorums, it would be County Attorney Rick Miller who would investigate, he said.
A possible conflict of interest could
prevent Miller from conducting an investigation, as he is married to Killeen City Secretary Paula Miller.
Purser said if the county or district attorney won't investigate, she would be satisfied with the city hiring a lawyer who is not doing business with the city.
Cole said there's a laundry list of complaints regarding the city's former city manager, including alleged fraud in the EMS billing department, violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act and sexual harassment.
A sexual harassment settlement between former Finance Director Rana Lacer and the city on behalf of Green is one instance that has surfaced recently.
The city agreed to settle with Lacer for $110,000 - an amount reduced from Lacer's original request of $250,000.
A settlement agreement and supporting documents, obtained through the Texas Open Records Act, sheds light on what allegations were made against Green in 2008.
In an email, Lacer's lawyer states that in September 2006, Lacer was allegedly sexually harassed by Green on a regular basis, including inappropriate, unwelcome and offensive sexual commentary, innuendo and propositions.
"Mr. Green attempted to gain (Lacer's) approval for an extra-marital relationship with him while (her) husband was serving in the armed forces in Iraq," the statement reads. "Mr. Green would approach (Lacer) after work hours and reference interoffice sexual relationships appearing on various television programs."
The document further alleges Green would inquire as to Lacer's opinion on such relationships and made it clear he believed such relationships were acceptable and not the business of one's spouse.
Green was allegedly aware that Lacer's husband was in Iraq and had said men had needs outside marriage, the statement said.
After further advances were rejected by Lacer at a 2006 Texas Municipal League conference in Austin, Lacer's statement claims Green refused to communicate with her and would lock her and her staff out of portions of the office necessary for the completion of their jobs.
After the conference, the statement alleges Green expressed a desire to have a relationship with Lacer, telling her he had big plans for them at the conference and they could have a lot of fun together. She told him his feelings were not reciprocated.
As a result of Green's alleged pursuit, Lacer said she was forced to resign Feb. 26, 2007.
Green denied the allegations after the March 29 meeting when the council approved his $750,000 buyout.
"(Council) made the decision to settle that lawsuit," he said. "Others said, 'don't do that because he'll always be perceived as having done something wrong and perception sometimes is worse than reality.'"
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.