Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison rejected a recommendation Wednesday from the Killeen Civilian Personnel Hearing Board to reinstate John Acker, a city mechanic who was fired in December.
“I have received and considered the Civilian Personnel Hearing Board’s nonunanimous recommendation regarding the termination of John Acker,” Morrison said in an email Wednesday. “I have also reviewed Police Chief Dennis Baldwin’s documentation and decision. I am upholding the police chief’s original action terminating Mr. Acker.”
Acker was fired Dec. 12 after admitting his role in the culture of theft that reportedly existed in the Killeen Fleet Services Division for several decades.
The 18-year city employee appealed his termination at a public grievance hearing last week, arguing that he was treated unfairly in the case.
A police investigation of the division performed in October reported that nearly all 24 fleet services employees participated in the theft and misconduct.
Acker also sued the city under the Texas Whistleblower Act, a case expected to go to trial in Bell County district court in early 2014.
Acker’s attorney, Bill Aleshire, said the May 7 personnel board hearing included false testimony from Baldwin.
During the hearing, Baldwin said Acker assisted former Fleet Services Director John Strickland in a theft at the city’s motor pool in 2002 — a claim that Aleshire calls “an unconscionable lie.”
“I am glad to see (the board) didn’t fall for that,” Aleshire said. “He (Acker) was a bit player and used like a pawn. He even provided a key piece of evidence in that case.”
Strickland was convicted of theft, less than $500, in 2003.
According to the city, the board’s decision was not unanimous, but it did not provide how each individual member ruled.
“We don’t know who voted how,” Aleshire said.
Aleshire also represents Barbara Gonzales, the former city finance director who was fired the same day as Acker. Gonzales also filed a lawsuit against the city under the Texas Whistleblower Act.
Morrison rejected the board’s unanimous recommendation to reinstate Gonzales on May 2.
“The public should begin to see that there are serious personnel management problems with the Morrison administration,” Aleshire said. “The city manager has never upheld a recommendation that didn’t agree with his previous decision.”