By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen resident Jonathan Okray seeks to recall every Killeen City Council member in the wake of a 4-3 vote to buy out former City Manager Connie Green for $750,000.
The clock is ticking for Okray, who has 30 days to collect 1,050 signatures for seven petitions - one for each council member.
"Nobody could answer the question -which is the $750,000 question - what happened to the public's tax money?" Okray said. "Why did we pay Mr. Green?"
Okray's question comes days after the Killeen City Council voted to buy out Green for about $250,000 more than what was stated in his contract.
In an interview Friday at City Hall, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper said the council could have paid Green about $555,000 as his contract stipulated.
Okray said the council failed to explain why it paid so much for the buyout, which is why he'd like to recall the elected officials.
Okray said he called all seven council members and spoke with Cosper and Councilmen Ernest Wilkerson and Kenny Wells, seeking explanation for the buyout.
"The resounding thing I heard was 'we were not on the council at the time Mr. Green's contract was drafted'; however, there is no responsibility or accountability to the citizens of Killeen," Okray said.
To set in motion the recall petition, Okray followed city charter guidelines and submitted an affidavit to City Secretary Paula Miller requesting a recall of the council. He picked up the necessary forms Tuesday and has until May 4 to gather the signatures.
The city charter requires a recall petitioner to gather 51 percent of the number of voters in the most recent election in which four council members were elected. A total of 2,057 voted during the May 9, 2009, election. Those who sign the petition must be registered voters.
Okray said he is not seeking to oust the mayor, who under normal circumstances doesn't vote.
"If the citizens feel they're not being
properly represented, they have that right to have a recall election," Wilkerson said Wednesday. "Hopefully they look at all of the things we've done in the past, both the good things and look at what's really going on, and just make a really informed decision."
Wilkerson said there are great things coming in the city.
"We just need to start looking forward and stay positive," he said.
Council members Larry Cole, Billy Workman, Juan Rivera, JoAnn Purser and Wells were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
"I still believe that the council acted in the best interest of the city of Killeen, negotiating an exit strategy with the city manger," Cosper said. "Although, I take the citizens' tax money very seriously."
Cosper said he believed it was necessary for the council to negotiate the higher amount in order to have clauses in the agreement to avoid litigation.
"There is a process in our charter that allows for the recall petition as addressed and he has that right," Cosper said of Okray. "However, I hope that the petition is unsuccessful and that each of the members that were elected by their various constituents are allowed to serve out the remainder of their term."
If Okray is successful, the city charter indicates the city secretary will have five days to inform each council member sought for removal. The notified council members then have five days to resign or the council is required to order and fix a date for a recall election.
According to the charter, the recall election must not be less than 30 and no more than 60 days after the petition has been presented to the council. Should the council fail or refuse to order the election, a Bell County district judge will be relied on to order the recall election.
Residents seeking more information regarding Okray's efforts can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 368-8966.
Green, 49, became the city manager in 2005 after former City Manager David Blackburn left to work the same position in Temple. In 1990, Green started with the city as finance director and was promoted to assistant city manager in 2000.
Former Assistant City Manager Glenn Morrison is acting as interim city manager.
Contact Anthony Scott at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.