City Council members voted 4-1 Tuesday night to terminate the employment of City Manager Deborah Ballí, slightly more than a year after hiring her to replace another terminated city manager, Tom Ginter.
Ginter had served as city manager about two years following the forced resignation of longtime City Manager Ford Patton.
The council gave no reason for the termination.
Councilman George P. “Trace” Morrill made the motion to terminate Ballí, “effective immediately.”
Then Councilman John Fulghum seconded the motion just before Mayor Pro Tem Libby Spires was able to offer a second.
Ballí was hired on July 10, 2012, by a 3-0 vote with then Mayor Pro Tem Mike Scotten making the motion and Councilman John Fulghum offering the second.
Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez voted in favor of the motion to hire her. However, Martinez was the only one of the five council members to vote against her termination Tuesday.
During a hearing of visitors earlier in the meeting, retired attorney Tom Healey spoke in defense of Ballí.
He mentioned the agenda item calling for her job to be discussed in executive session and spoke highly of the way Ballí had conducted herself earlier this year during meetings of a special committee that the council had appointed to study alternative water sources for the city.
Healey had been one of those appointees.
Ballí had been appointed interim city manager in April 2012 after the council voted to terminate Ginter.
Ballí came to the city as the director of finance at about the same time the council hired Ginter. She was a certified public accountant who had worked in the budget department for the City of Corpus Christi.
Council members had discussed Ballí’s fate almost a month ago during a two-hour executive session. She said at the time that she thought she might be fired as council members discussed her fate behind closed doors.
But the council took no action on the agenda item at that time.
This most recent decision came shortly after the council emerged from an executive session lasting just under an hour. The council chamber was almost full of spectators who apparently had attended the meeting to witness the city manager’s fate. Most had waited in a break room and in the hallway at City Hall during the executive session.
The action came shortly after the council voted to accept the resignation of City Attorney Frank Warner.
The local attorney had taken that job 23 years ago to replace former City Attorney Robert Nogueira, who had served there since the 1950s.
Warner said his resignation will become effective on Nov. 1. He said the city attorney’s position was taking up too much of his time.
“I’d like to say I enjoyed every minute of it,” Warner said. He told the council that he will turn 60 in February. “I just can’t do it any more.”
Warner told the council that his wife, former District Attorney Martha Warner, had said she would be able to take up the docket in municipal court.
“I’ll be around,” Warner said. I just won’t be city attorney any more.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.