Matilda “Mari” Paul filed a letter Monday notifying the city of Temple of her intent to “create and circulate petitions to recall” all Temple City Council members and Mayor Danny Dunn for violating the city charter.
The recall petition will seek to recall Dunn, Mayor pro tem Judy Morales, Tim Davis, Perry Cloud and Russell Schneider on the grounds of misconduct and malfeasance in office, noncompliance of Section 4.9 of the charter, cronyism, neglect and clear incompetence and betrayal of public trust.
The letter also claims Council members did business with the city for financial gain.
The letter explains reasons for the petition:
The Council intended to bypass Section 4.9 of the city charter by allowing Morales to be paid $40 an hour by her own consulting firm, not by the county, for no more than 116 hours to work at the Temple HELP Center.
The Council didn’t enforce Section 4.9 of the city charter with Morales’ forfeiture of office as required.
The Council allowed Morales to return to the Council and sanctioned her run for re-election without asking Temple residents.
Council member Schneider violated Section 4.9 of the charter by securing city contracts through his R.T. Schneider Construction Co. and others for financial gain.
The city’s response concerning the letter wasn’t available by press time Monday, city spokeswoman Shannon Gowan said.
Paul said she’s concerned taxpayer interests aren’t being protected and there are clearly double standards in applying the law.
“The City Council and mayor are so blatant with what they’re doing. There’s been no accountability for the last four months,” Paul said. “I feel like I’ve been dragged into this, but I don’t want to sit back anymore. Residents need to put action behind their words.”
Paul said she will be at Thursday’s 5 p.m. City Council meeting with the petition in hand and individuals may contact her and she will take petitions to them. Morales’ activities were investigated by Bell County Sheriff’s Department and the results were given to Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols. He recently said the determination of whether criminal charges would be filed would be made public when the investigation was completed.
Section 4.9 of the charter states no Council member can hold any other public office or employment for which compensation is paid out of public funds. That should have disqualified Morales, the director of the county-run Temple HELP Center, from running and being elected to the City Council in 2011.
The section has been a part of the charter since its inception in 1922, Gowan said.
Morales resigned from the HELP Center in October 2013 and then took a leave of absence from the Council effective Dec. 5 while questions concerning her election were reviewed.
The Council discussed Morales’ situation in several executive sessions but no action was ever taken.
Morales filed for re-election on Wednesday and no one opposed her for her District 2 seat on the Council.
Emails and documents requested by the Temple Daily Telegram through the Public Information Act showed Morales used county resources and personnel to further her City Council campaign. Morales reportedly deleted emails in her public email account the day after Burrows informed her that the Telegram had filed an open records request.
Paul recorded a phone conversation with Morales, her supervisor at the HELP Center, in which Morales asked Paul to delete emails and documents.
Paul provided evidence that Morales used her to “create e-mails, brochures, flyers and mass mailings of political election materials. These tasks were performed using county resources such as computers, printers, fax, paper, office supplies,” the letter reads — during the entirety of Morales’ 2011 campaign. Paul maintains that all campaign materials were printed and created during office hours by her and Morales and that Paul also solicited donations for Morales’ campaign, including banners and signs.
Among possible violations listed by Paul were unlawful use of public funds for political advertising and unlawful use of internal mail system for political advertising.