You are the owner of this article.
top story

More red flags emerge on eve of city manager interviews

  • 12
City manager candidates

With only a day until the interview stage begins, just three finalists remain in the hunt to be the next Killeen city manager. But as the city prepares potentially to enter a new administration, many questions remain unanswered in the search — especially as troubling details continue to emerge on the finalists.

On Friday, a citizens advisory committee will get first crack at the three candidates to determine for themselves and the residents of Killeen whether former Corpus Christi City Manager Ron Olson, current Hobbs, N.M., City Manager John “J.J.” Murphy or Jefferson County, Ala., County Administrator Daniel Biles is the best fit to take over the city manager role.

Following that, the City Council will meet with the finalists at 9 a.m. Saturday in closed session and potentially reach a consensus on their selection. The contract details would then need to be agreed and voted upon by council and the new hire appointed.

With the possibility of council reaching a consensus on their selection during Saturday’s closed session, many details still are not known on the three men being considered, how they were selected and who gets a say in which one could be hired.

CONCERNS ARISE

Over the past two weeks, more concerns have arisen on the finalists.

In a news release Saturday, Nick Maxwell with wethefourth.org, a New Mexico-based online government watchdog outlet, reported that Murphy had championed two city contracts while serving as city manager that the New Mexico state auditor’s office said raise “the appearance that the contracts may not have been at arm’s length.”

Of concern was the city’s procurement practices for contracts with Medico Consulting Group, for waste and recycling services, and from Zarwin, Baum, Devito, Kaplan, Schaer & Toddy, P.C., for legal services related to the police department’s video surveillance network.

Both of the firms are based in Pennsylvania. Murphy previously served as city administrator for the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

In both cases, the city was pegged for possibly using noncompetitive procurement practices, particularly in the law services contract — and its exorbitant $475 hourly fee structure.

“Nothing in the supporting document reviewed by (the state auditor’s office) indicates the city took any steps to negotiate the law firm’s contract, and the lack of other quotes makes it difficult to assess whether the $475/hour billing rate was reasonable,” the state auditor wrote to Hobbs, N.M., Mayor Sam Cobb in an Oct. 17 email.

However, despite the concerns, the auditors said no state or local law apparently was violated.

The current issues in Hobbs echo Murphy’s time in Wilkes-Barre, where Murphy’s business dealings after he resigned as city administrator were probed by a federal grand jury.

In that case, documentation concerning a 2012 agreement between Murphy’s consulting group, Goals Consulting, and the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority to aid in a leasing contract was subpoenaed as part of a widespread corruption probe into the city. Murphy’s company was contracted with the authority at the same time as the Fox Rothschild law firm, with which Murphy’s brother — Patrick Murphy — was a partner.

Patrick Murphy is the current undersecretary of the U.S. Army, appointed by President Barack Obama. Patrick Murphy previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2006 to 2011 and was the first veteran of the Iraq War to serve in Congress.

Meanwhile, the other two candidates have concerns of their own heading into the interviews, but none of the caliber of Murphy’s red flags.

OLSON

Olson resigned in May from the city manager role in Corpus Christi after the city issued three water boil advisories in the span of 10 months, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Olson ultimately took responsibility for the advisories, which he said were major factors in his decision to leave, though it was reported that he had been looking for work elsewhere.

The circumstances of Olson’s departure left some scars among council members, as Olson fired off an email announcing his resignation minutes before a council meeting, missing the deadline to list the resignation as a discussion item at that meeting. He had recently accepted a three-year, term extension from the council.

After his resignation, Olson said that he became disenchanted after his ambitious plan to turn the city around slowed down.

“The first several years I was here, it seemed like we were on an accelerated pace of improving things, and that pace slowed down,” Olson told the Caller-Times on May 17. “And it just got me thinking about: Am I doing as much good as I’d hoped to be able to do?”

Olson arrived in Corpus Christi in 2011 as the city was mired in a financial downturn similar to the current situation in Killeen. He immediately launched a City Hall reorganization plan in 2011 that downsized the number of city departments from 32 to 25 and cut 66 city positions. Meanwhile, the city of Corpus Christi crept out of its financial mire.

BILES

Biles, a former assistant city manager under Olson in Corpus Christi, has served Jefferson County since 2013. Among the three candidates, he has the least city manager experience, although he told the Herald by phone that his role as county administrator is comparable in size of budget and population served.

Biles was hired as part of the administration following the meltdown of Jefferson County’s finances and 2011 bankruptcy, earning the county the moniker of “Bankrupt, USA” by the New York Times.

SELECTION ISSUES

With so many red flags raised on the finalists — including the two who have already dropped from the race, Steven Norwood and Andy Bird — questions remain on how the original list of five was chosen.

In the past, Mike Tanner, senior vice president of Strategic Government Resources, the firm tasked with the executive search, said the finalists were chosen by the council before in-depth background checks and searches were conducted. However, the city, in multiple news releases, has said much of that background work had been done prior to the finalists being chosen.

Before the council was presented with an in-depth booklet of information on each candidate at its regular meeting Tuesday, council members were forced to do investigations of their own into the finalists’ pasts. The council was reportedly also limited in its original input into the search.

Councilwoman Shirley Fleming told the Herald that during the September executive session in which the finalists were chosen, she was directed by Human Resources Director Eva Bark to leave the search to SGR and Tanner, despite Fleming’s concerns over the lack of background information and the lack of ethnic and gender diversity among the candidates.

When reached Wednesday, Tanner said he needed to contact the CEO of SGR before responding to any questions from the Herald.

NEXT STEPS

At the council’s Saturday session, the council members will refer to a booklet provided to them by Bark and Tanner with background information compiled by a private investigation firm contracted by SGR.

From that point, because the interview process constitutes a quorum, the council could come to a consensus on whom they want to select for the city manager role. That process, however, is complicated by the fact that councilmen Juan Rivera and Jim Kilpatrick are not expected to attend the interviews for personal reasons.

That would mean, by rule of the Texas Open Meetings Act, that council could theoretically come to an agreement without the attendance of two of its members.

Councilman Richard “Dick” Young said the absence of the two council members doesn’t necessarily mean the council won’t choose to reach a consensus and move ahead.

“I don’t think that will affect anything so long as there’s four people that can agree,” Young said. “If we decide to wait, we’ll give them the findings for when they’re back.”

If the consensus is not reached Saturday, the council could meet in a special closed session to reach a consensus, but Mayor Jose Segarra told the Herald the likelihood of that happening is low.

Regardless, the council would provide direction to SGR, who is handling the contract negotiations, and then would ultimately approve the contract at a later regular meeting.

kyleb@kdhnews.com

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(12) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@aksmith: I can understand 'why' someone who professes to have a strong interest in local government has developed this interest, but what I can't fathom is, 'Why it took over 4 years to generate this interest. This case of the city hall verses the general population of this city has been going on since Hancock was the mayor. I became interested when the mayor and council, in a secret, closed door session, 'fired' Green who was the city manager and received a $750,000.00 pay-off when he was only contractually speaking, allowed some where in the neighborhood of $500,00.00. Why did this city, benevolently 'give' him the extra $250,000.00 dollars, and why was it, the city mayor and then councilmen/woman even offered it? Did they have the authority to 'give' the extra money from the city's coiffures? I do't think so and have they, collectively speaking of course, offered to 'pay this city back? I can't remember that it was even suggested. I 'm just curious 'why' it took so long.
But it seems to me that you 'dwell' on this newspaper. You give me the impression that 'if it were not for this local newspaper, this town would just be rolling in sales and property tax, and that it is all because of this news paper that this city has not found the industrial base that is non existent in this town even though we heretofore have pumped around $500,000.00 annually into building a substantial industrial base. I don't get the sudden interest? Negative activities deserves negative reporting. If not for that, this newspaper would have to go elsewhere for something to report on.
But look at what this city had as a city manager, Morrison. He was responsible for awarding the Police and fire departments a 3% and the a 6 or 7% blanket raise to all employees,city and otherwise and this was during the period of this city not keeping up with income. He is also credited with generously giving $5 million dollars up front money when this city was not keeping up with income. And we had, as a city Financial Director during this period of time that was not cognizant of 'what was going on' and that is a known fact.
Now what is it so maligned with this newspaper??? I just don't see it. Why do you fault this newspaper for the fact that you want to deny this newspaper for faulty reporting. If you check with your back copies of this newspaper for the last 4 years you will find that 'it was the mayor and supporting council who 'flew the coup' in over expenditure thus saw this city go down millions of dollars. It was the fault of this newspaper.
Now what else is it you want to talk about​​​​????
One of the 3% who voted.

aksmith

Alvin:

Why would I get involved. I'm not. I'm stating my opinion. I have a strong interest in local government in general. I don't limit my scope on whats going on to one city. Look at the big picture and see how different news outlets characterize their cities. Negative reporting constantly on bad things involving cities isn't going to attract new businesses that want to relocate or good city managers. What I believe is the news outlets for individual cities are shaping the type of candidate that will even apply for a city manager job based off the information they can obtain and they will start with the news outlets. Any highly qualified and esteemed CM will not apply if they know they are walking into a nightmare from day one. Sure you might get lucky but if there is knowledge the news will do everything they can do to take you down or constantly be negative then the is a big red flag to the CM candidates. Then couple that with a general public that runs around calling for recalls and doing it is another huge flag because those with the agenda are going to turn around and fire the CM for right or wrong. The thing is I don't know the truth about what the newspaper is saying is true anymore than you do. I am SURE that if I went to city hall and asked for an explanation of something I was unhappy about I would get a more defined and logical answer than what is represented in the newspaper. And if you tell me you did this and no one would talk to you I would call BS. I will conclude you asked the wrong person maybe even on purpose to get no response so you could say no one would help you. Cherry picking to form a story is not what the news is supposed to do. I suspect this is the case with this newspaper. Gotcha reporting.

Eyewatchingyou. Good luck on your council run. I suspect you will have a different perspective once you are truly involved. And will scratch your head when the "truth tellers" come out and don't report facts. Also if you cut the bloated paychecks for the top brass you will not attract top talent. CEO, which they essentially are, are going to go for money. Unless a salary study proves Killeen is way out of whack with similar cities, not surrounding cities, maybe your should rethink this. City Manager's make good money. Try finding one for a city the size of Killeen worth a darn if you cut the salary by a third. And remember people are responsible for themselves they make their own actions and choices.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@aksmith: First, it should be well known that the message that I put in the leader is an attempt to to be a CYA, and I think you know what that represents. As you well know, there are multitudes of individuals just looking for an excuse to 'SUE'.
You are correct in saying that 'the council is the reporting medium of the city manager, but you are also correct that 'the city council serves at the will of the people' and no city councilman/woman should contravene these so very instructions. It is by the will of the people that I serve. So aptly put. But in many cases 'this is not the case of 'The will of the people', and as such have not gone with the 'will of the people', but like a city of 12 to 16, served the will of the minority pretending to represent the city of Killeen.
You allude to the prospect of running for office in this city, paraphrase: 'Unless that is you can't get elected yourself.' I have told the citizens of this city the reason 'why I do not run for office, 'I am disabled and don't think I could serve the public', that has been my reason at least 3 times in the past, and also paraphrase: ' Unless that is you can't get elected yourself,' so I am forced to as you say 'Slap the keyboard'.
If you look at this newspaper or any other newspaper with rose colored glasses, you will find some smudges on any city, but Killeen is, in my opinion, 'Black'.
If you would have noticed, back in 2012, I wrote a piece in which I noted that this city, in my opiion. 'was going in the wrong direction, and as such if they continued in that direction they would be subject to loosing 'hundreds of thousands of dollars'. Well I missed the mark, this city has lost 'millions of dollars' and the attempt now that is being made to confuse the issue is a compounding reason that 'it should not be continued'. This is why I paraphrase: 'Feed off of this news and believe every bit of it'.
In a democracy, it is the will of the people who should be in control, they in turn elect individuals who are of a like mind as themselves, who control the vote and if they do not 'represent the will of the people, they get voted out. It is to that end that 'with millions already lost I can hope these same people wake up to what's going on around them'.
And since you do not reside in Killeen, why are you so 'involved' with what is going on in this city anyway???
One of the 3% who voted.

eyewatchingu

@Allvin Keep posting, we all have the right to say are minds, that is what my husband fought for, and that is why my husband is 60% disabled vet, because he gave up over 18 years of his life to give me and the rest of the people the right to say how they feel, he gave up his hearing and walks with a bad limp, and suffers depression so that all American could keep their right to Pray and worship the god they choose, ( thank you hubby for that and I am proud to be a Pagan because you gave me the right to choose how I believe even if I spent my childhood stuck in a catholic school I love you) He gave up all that and a little more so even AKSmith and many others could voice there option as well.
@AKsmith You make great points just like Alvin, I just honestly think maybe you should come and live in Killeen what is so affectional referred to as the HOOD and not because of Ft Hood, they even tell you that on base. We the citizens watch as our schools are destroyed by fighting, drugs, and people in position that only care about what they are making and not caring about the people in the city. I for one will not stand for JJ Murphy to get the job, he has to many red flags.
I am up for a recall on all city council members, sorry Mrs Flemming, I love you and I think you should be the one to do the interviews and I feel you need to get a deeper voice and say hey, wait a minute, I want to see more application and that you will not let this city have the wool pulled over their eyes, that the citizens of Killeen have spoken out and for the most part have very good points and have the intelligence to vote.
Also I can run for city council and Mayor, I already called and had my packet sent to me. I am already raising my money for my campaign. I have group that is helping me and just hired a manger. If Trump can run for office I sure and the heck can to.
I have been working for at lest a month now on talking to companies in other states about what it will take to get them to move or start up in our city, and I have also gotten many replies, I have also started looking into ways to bring the cost of education down with a set goal to make sure every person in our city can obtained an education with out fear of bulling, fighting and the cost of higher education.
It is a sad day when you walk into a Family dollar and their is a bright young man that had a goal to go to a university that carries his name and yet he cant afford it and he is ringing a register in a dead end career, even worst to think what will happen to the many young men in the city of Killeen who get out of school and cant find a paying job to get ahead, and when minimum wage isn't enough, well lets face it, they eventually turn to crime to feed their family. Its not a black and white issue, its a human issue. All humans deserve the right to education and a chance at life. Just like any animal when you get hungry you go out and find away to eat, and well humans are the same. When you look across that table at your kids and you have worked and worked and saved and save and still cant buy your child a pair of shoes with a brand name on them so the other kids will stop teasing them, you will do what it takes because that is your baby, when a mother looks at her kids and tries hard to find the money to feed them and she makes the choice to walk into a strip club so she can feed them and send them to school, I call that one heck of a Mother, sadly she will be demonized for that. So my point is this, when you live in a city that the crime rate is climbing and climbing we need to stop and ask ourselves what is wrong with this picture. We the citizens cant feed there families or themselves it has been proven time and time again though out history that crime and other things come along, with desperation and lack of resources any human would choose survival at any means and cost. We do not need JJ Murphy here, the city of Killeen cant afford to pay him his over bloated pay check, when we cant even get better Police Officer, we cant even afford our own Gang Task force, ( which is very much Needed) we cant afford to give pay raises to those that work on the KPD and Fire Dept. and that we have to choose from the bottom of the barrel of applications for city manager.
I don't think so, we are better then that we the citizens of Killeen deserve better then that.

aksmith

Alvin:
This is the personal opinion of this writer.
I think saying "This is the personal opinion of this writer" is pretentious every time you open your threads. Look, I don't live in Killeen, want to live in Killeen, or particularly care about Killeen. I read a lot of news about local government and there are three cities I pity any person who applies for a city manager job because the constant negative news. Killeen, Amarillo, and Abiline. I'm not saying any of these are perfect cities but it is the responsibility of the news to portray facts and it always seems to be a negative twist with these news outlets. If we all had a microscope on all private business I'm pretty sure there would be some ugly things that would come out. You feed off of this news and believe every bit of it. Get involved and change it if you don't like it instead of slapping at a keyboard. Unless that is you can't get elected yourself. I'm sure you know who to run a city better than all but give me a break with your opinions. And by the way the City Manager is responsible for upholding the agenda of the City Council. Yes they serve the public. They do so at the will of the Council. The city manager should not take orders from the public PERIOD. Imagine the efficiency if government ran with city employees taking direction from the public. WOW. If you think this is realistic...well. Again this is all just the personal opinion of this writer.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@aksmith: Why do you characterize us 'a bunch of people who are going to criticize whom ever they choose.' Look at what the history is of the bunch who happens to be 'running this city'. Look at how much money has disappeared down the well and nobody can come up with a logical reason 'why this city has gone down the tubes'. Look at how 'nobody seems to care and in fact they are trying their dead level best to not coming up with a causative factor. No I do not share your concern with all of the
consternation as to 'why all of the hoopla surrounding this city and it's finances'. But I do see where some people want this forensic audit and the try to come up with a city manager who will 'save the day on all fronts'. And I do not see why thee is so much secrecy in the matter of a new city manager.
In my opinion, the city manager who entertains the notion of applying for the city manager's job should be open to the public, not restrained as certain parties wish. Look at what we got for a city manager in this last go around. The city manager's job, as a public servant should be just that, a public servant who uses his position to work for the citizens of this community and is not beholden to 7 or 8 elected officials, he works for all of the citizens of this city. That hasn't been too apparent the last 4 or 5 years.
Copy: 'This news outlet revels in reporting negative crap about the local government.' End of copy.
Look at what's been chosen as: (1.) The search organization, (2.) Look at 'who' selected this organization, (3.) Look at who chose the forensic audit committee that specifically gave the OK to write the RFP and sent it out without the authority of the council, and it goes on and on. It isn't apparent to you, there is one name that keeps coming up, the mayor. In my opinion, he is just going head long without the authority claiming 'he thought that it was agreed to'. At least 2 of the council members say 'it was not, that they expected to be given a copy with time to 'go over it'. I for one say it's time for the council to put a stop to this head long rush.
Now you can 'bad mouth the few people who care to exercise their right of free speech, I for one am not going to quit exercising this free speech that I have been given. I will continue to come down on the side of the citizen at every turn of the road.
One of the 3% who voted.

eyewatchingu

@timebandid I agree, with the remaining people in all honesty, if I was hiring for a position at my business I would hire him. He did state he took the reasonability for the water. To me that says a lot about a person when they step up and take the full blame. I would like to see him at lest at the top of the list. The others, I am so sorry I just cant trust them. That would be like getting in a car with someone you knew was a serial killer and his preference is blond woman and you have blond hair.
The others just seem to far out there and one don't even have expreince and we sure don't need another person with out experience, we don't need another Ferris. We just need someone that we can trust with money, trust they will tell the good ol boys club to go bake themselves, and someone that actually truly wants to see a city blossom and grow into something that all the united states cities will turn and look at for examples, not look at us as what not to do.
Killeen has so much to offer, yet for some reason our city council and others seem to sell the city cheaply only to butter there own bread.

timebandid

It will be interesting to hear what the candidates have to say on Friday. Ron Olson was able to take Corpus Christi from financial crisis to sustainability. He cut the fat from an over-staffed city hall and reduced other city positions to bring the budget in-line with spending. This is the type of leader Killen needs. Maybe the reasons for the water boil advisories should be questioned, on Friday, but it far from disqualifies a man who has shown a willingness to make the tough decisions required to put a city back on a solid financial footing.

eyewatchingu

Take a look at this, it seems that we the citzens of Killeen are not the only city that is having trouble. It looks as if Crystal City on or around 2016 In February, scores of FBI agents stormed the tiny City Hall and arrested most of the city’s leaders in connection with a bribery and kickback scheme.
The indictments allege that the city manager, the mayor, two city council members and one ex-member, and a Texas businessman were exchanging city permits and construction contracts for money. The payments ranged from a few hundred dollars to thousands. At one point, the city manager allegedly got a contractor to pay for his country club membership.
Another embattled Crystal City leader, Councilman Marco Rodriguez, was arrested separately and charged earlier this year with human trafficking.
See I honestly think there is more going on then what the people of Killeen are a wear of. Honetsly ask yourself have you been paying attention to just local news or are you one of the few that look at all the different news channels and news websites.
If you take a look and then look at who they are busting around texas and then look at who is holding seats here in Killeen texas and ask yourself, why and how are some of these people connected. Check out this link https://www.revealnews.org/article/how-a-tiny-texas-town-took-down-its-city-council/ I will also post the full story at the end so those that cant pull it up can at lest read it here.

Also I went to vote and the sad thing is I get this huge ballot, and yet very few of the things I voted on, had no one opposing the candidate listed, why the waste of even printing them on the ballot, I sure and the heck will not even fill the circle in on those races as I feel that it is fruitless and that if I fill those spots that is saying that I approve of them, I have not approved of any of them and I do not like the fact that I am not given an option to write in someone on the ballot when there is someone running unopposed. So please if you do not like that person don't fill the circle, the people need to know the truth and the only way to know that is to let them know by not filling in that circle, you don't have to fill in that circle, it will not hurt your vote, it is just letting them know that so many people voted and yet even running unopposed that person only got so many votes, if you fill that circle in for that person and you didn't want them then all your doing is adding to his numbers falsely.

Posted and copied from the news story
https://www.revealnews.org/article/how-a-tiny-texas-town-took-down-its-city-council/

How a tiny Texas town took down its city council
Topics: Criminal Justice / Law Enforcement
By Ike Sriskandarajah / June 6, 2016

Crystal City is a quaint South Texas town of about 7,500 people.
Its most famous resident is a cartoon sailor with a corncob pipe, one good eye and a fearsome right hook. Popeye is the official mascot of Crystal City, the self-proclaimed “spinach capital of the world.” And earlier this year, the life-size Popeye statue in front of City Hall had a front-row seat to a citywide purge.
In February, scores of FBI agents stormed the tiny City Hall and arrested most of the city’s leaders in connection with a bribery and kickback scheme.
The indictments allege that the city manager, the mayor, two city council members and one ex-member, and a Texas businessman were exchanging city permits and construction contracts for money. The payments ranged from a few hundred dollars to thousands. At one point, the city manager allegedly got a contractor to pay for his country club membership.
Another embattled Crystal City leader, Councilman Marco Rodriguez, was arrested separately and charged earlier this year with human trafficking.
That left only one council member not facing federal charges. But indictments haven’t entirely stopped the council from trying to conduct city business.
While I was visiting City Hall, I saw Rodriguez and Mayor Ricardo Lopez frantically try to call an emergency meeting. They knew their power was waning and wanted to appoint their choice for city manager before the May recall election. The former city manager, W. James Jonas III, is on indefinite suspension for his role in the bribery scheme.
But the meeting never happened. Instead, the mayor was arrested for harassing the city clerk. Such unusual activity has become almost routine in Crystal City.
Before the arrest, I spoke with a defiant Lopez in front of the Popeye statue. He said: “Did I clean up my city hall? Did I clean up corruption? Yeah. Am I indicted? Yeah.” He added, “We’re going to see in a court of law if I’m guilty or not.”
So where did this civic quagmire begin?
Soon after the council was elected in 2014, the rookie politicians began deferring to Jonas.
Jonas stands out in the overwhelmingly Hispanic population. An Anglo outsider who had been an influential Republican lobbyist in Washington, he fell on hard times after Democrats won Congress and the White House in 2008. He spent a few months in jail for not paying child support.
Then in 2012 came a lifeline from Crystal City. A former client had become a city council member there and offered Jonas the job of city attorney. He didn’t even have to apply. Jonas’ salary, and his influence over the council, expanded over time.
One of the first things the new council did in 2014 was hire Jonas as the city manager.
In a town where the median household income is $26,000, Jonas paid himself $216,000 plus a $6,000 travel stipend. That’s nearly half the city’s annual budget. At the same time, the council was voting to raise taxes and fees.

By the end of last year, council meetings had become standing room-only affairs. In a video of one meeting from the Zavala County Sentinel, angry residents jeered at the elected officials as former Mayor Jose Mata stepped forward.
“Now you’ve gotten yourself in a corner where you have to raise everything in order to pay this man,” he said while pointing to Jonas.
Residents have a laundry list of allegations: unjustified firings of city employees, questionable bids being awarded to family members, grant money disappearing without contractors getting paid. But what really insulted people was how blatantly they believed Jonas abused his power.
He’d even established residency by claiming to live in a city landmark: an abandoned caboose parked in the middle of town. A reporter from News 4 San Antonio confronted Jonas about it on camera, asking if he actually planned to live in the caboose on city property.

“I absolutely hoped that was a possibility,” Jonas replied.
Mata said they were fed up: “We wanted to put an end to it.” So finally, some people in town reached out to the FBI, Mata said, adding that “they were the ones who ultimately got the ball rolling.”
Actually, it was more like a wrecking ball.
For residents who long had suspected that something was rotten in Crystal City, the February raid was like a federal holiday. FBI officials and residents present told me that people were cheering as agents stormed City Hall.
Public corruption is a top criminal priority for the FBI, with arrests tripling in recent years in the southern district of Texas. There were 64 cases in 2014. A few weeks ago, two public officials in the next county over – a magistrate and a commissioner – were sentenced for their involvement in another bribery scheme.
A Facebook page dedicated to local humor – Shit You Hear in Crystal City – started to lampoon the series of unbelievable events there. It has become a mouthpiece for much of the outrage in town. Cibi Perez, whose family is from Crystal City, operates the page from Wisconsin. He’s tapped into current events and scandals, and he ruthlessly taunts the indicted public officials.
On April Fools’ Day, Perez used a fake Facebook account for Lopez to lure a real TV news crew to the real mayor’s house.
According to Mata, the spectacle of the council members ultimately led to their downfall. “I believe that had it not been for the absurdity of the council, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get them out. That’s what made the citizens of Crystal City get all riled up … we all finally came together.”
In a landslide recall election this spring, all indicted council members were removed. Only 25 people voted for Lopez to stay in office.
In a document obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, Jonas describes himself as a crusader against graft. He blames the Latino political party that briefly held power in Crystal City, La Raza, stating that “on a daily basis, Jonas battles with the vestigial lies and hate that brought La Raza to power.”
Jonas declined an interview.
The businessman in the scheme, Ngoc Tri Nguyen, aka “Mr. T,” pleaded guilty to bribery based on allegations that he paid Lopez $6,000 in exchange for running an illegal gambling operation in town. He faces up to 10 years in prison and fine of up to $250,000.
The criminal case against Crystal City’s indicted officials will begin this summer.

SO ask yourself if the state of texas ranks so high in human trafficking and bell county and central texas ranks pretty high with it as well, ask yourself and do some research who on are council, and who has left are council and who has dealing with these people and then ask yourself, do you really want these types of people setting examples for your kids.
Just because the city tells your something or the government tells you something, does not mean you have to stand up and say you believe them at there word, do research be a smart voter. Indoctrination is something we seem to fall for time and time again, so ask your self this, do you truly believe what the city council is feeding you or do you trust yourself enough to look up facts and see for yourself the truth.
Look at how it seems Killeen always comes up short with money when ever a big election is coming up and the same person is always called out and now they are running for another seat far higher then just mayor.
Ask yourself why were these candidates for city manger got picked for us, also take a look at who has there hands in SRG and ask yourself if it was a horse race who do you think will be are next city manager, don't fall for the horse and pony show, because I have a feeling we are going to get the person we don't want because the city council has already been forced to take them.

aksmith

Seriously. This news site is a bunch of people who are going to criticize whom ever they choose. This news outlet revels in reporting negative crap about the local government. They are going to talk negative if God himself took over. This is a pattern. People this "news" site is using some butt hurt BLOGGER to drum up negativity on one of the applicants. Come on. Start the negative mentality now so it can be easier to drum up new articles that draw the pitchfork crowd later. Good job KD.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Nobody's perfect. And that has been the bi-line of this city administrative group ever since I've been associated with this city government, 'just take 2nd or 3rd best because nobody is perfect'.
Who was responsible for the choice of Mike Tanner and the Group 'Strategic Government Resources'???
Copy: 'In the past, Mike Tanner, senior vice president of Strategic Government Resources, the firm tasked with the executive search, said the finalists were chosen by the council before in-depth background checks and searches were conducted. However, the city, in multiple news releases, has said much of that background work had been done prior to the finalists being chosen.
Before the council was presented with an in-depth booklet of information on each candidate at its regular meeting Tuesday, council members were forced to do investigations of their own into the finalists’ pasts. The council was reportedly also limited in its original input into the search.' End of copy.
Again, 'Who was responsible for the choice of Mike Tanner and the Group 'Strategic Government Resources'??? That's a question a lot of 'the citizens' would like to know.
Copy: 'Councilwoman Shirley Fleming told the Herald that during the September executive session in which the finalists were chosen, she was directed by Human Resources Director Eva Bark to leave the search to SGR and Tanner, despite Fleming’s concerns over the lack of background information and the lack of ethnic and gender diversity among the candidates.' End of copy.
Councilwoman Shirley Fleming was directed by 'Human Resources Director Eva Bark' to leave the search to SGR and Tanner. I hope this woman did not heed the 'advice' of the 'Director of Human Resources', in fact I would be looking for a 'New Director of Human Resources', because 'That's the way this city has been operating for years' and it's my opinion that 'That's what needs to be changed if this city is ever going to be on the straight and level'.
Copy: 'When reached Wednesday, Tanner said he needed to contact the CEO of SGR before responding to any questions from the Herald.' End of comment.
Well I wonder 'Why'. Here it is in the final throes of 'deciding who will be the replacement for the interim city manager and it's still up in the air with so many 'red flags' present.
And I still say, 'A/the city manager has so much involvement that 'the citizens have a right, an obligation to inquire as to the personal integrity of that individual. The citizens 'have that right' as to what this individual is prepared to 'do for this city', and what this individual 'can do' for this city and the only way the citizens have in this obligation 'is to inquire, to ask questions, to inquire into this individuals 'personal worth'. It has been 'suggested' that 'the council are the only ones to make this inquiry'. I say 'NO', it's the cause of this city and it's citizens to take this from the city mayor, the city council, this 'city administration', because if it is not done then you will have no recourse other than 'to knuckle down and let this city continue to 'walk all over you, today and tomorrow and many years down the road. The choice is yours.
Copy: 'With so many red flags raised on the finalists — including the two who have already dropped from the race, Steven Norwood and Andy Bird — questions remain on how the original list of five was chosen.' End of copy.
@Citizen360: No, I agree, nobody is perfect, but we have an obligation to this city and it's future generations to see to it 'that we make the best choices'.
And @UT Fan: I whole heartily disagree, These individuals 'are the pulse of this city and as such, they deserve the input from citizens. They should not be 'covered in secrecy' devoid of all scrutiny, and should not be 'for the council's eyes only', but should be 'open for public scrutiny', and in this I wholly believe.
One of the 3% who voted.

Citizen360

Nobody's perfect. The City and us as taxpayers must realize that. No matter who is ultimately selected as the new City Manager, I am certain that they too will have some skeletons in their closet. Let's not forget our previous City Manager's. Many were accused of far worse. At this point I believe that any qualified, external candidate would be better than what the City's had in the past.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.