Rene Reyna, who has worked for the town for 15 years, told the council he wanted his appeal to be heard in the open meeting – not in executive session behind closed doors.
Reyna’s termination was spurred by a letter from a woman who claimed “he looked at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.”
The employee put on the same sunglasses he was wearing the day he allegedly made her feel uncomfortable, and asked the council how someone could perceive a look from behind the dark sunshades.
Reyna said he came off his break and went to Commons Street where he and another employee were picking up brush. When the woman drove by, Reyna said, “I asked her one simple question. Would her husband be at the shop later?”
Reyna told the council the woman’s husband owed $750 in back rent and had been avoiding him and would not return his calls.
“I don’t charge that much; the rent is only $125 per month,” Reyna said.
On Aug. 7 at 11:30 a.m., according to the woman’s letter, “Rene Reyna went to my house on Commerce and left a letter.” He did not see or talk to anyone.
The woman claimed Reyna should “not come to our house on Commerce Street. That’s not his property.”
“I think she was mad at you and I think your supervisor wanted you out of there,” said Councilman Frank Hosey. “That’s my opinion.”
“No, sir, I don’t,” countered Kevin Shreckengost, Reyna’s supervisor.
Shreckengost claimed that he did not terminate Reyna. The mayor did.
“I followed the policy,” Jaso said.
“Any incident or complaint has to be proven,” Hosey said.
Jaso referred to a letter of reprimand put in Reyna’s personnel file two years ago. Reyna was placed on six months probation and warned that another complaint would lead to termination.
“This is what you decided in 2010,” Jaso told the council – but only two council members remain from that time.
Councilman Joey Heard, who was not on the council at the time, said the way the letter was written, he thought the reprimand was only valid through the probationary period.
“I was here and I don’t even remember what the intention was,” Hosey said.
Donald Kubicek, the city attorney who did not pen the letter, said the reprimand “wasn’t well written.”
“Texas is an at will state,” Kubicek said. “It doesn’t make any difference what it said... If you want to reinstate him, reinstate him; if you want to terminate him, terminate him.”
Councilman Lenny Anzaldua looked at the incident with another perspective.
“Using a city vehicle and wearing a uniform with a city logo is a no-no,” Anzaldua said. “Is that a firing offense? I don’t think so.”
“There are other things happening in city trucks like buying beer,” Hosey said.
Anzaldua pointed out the lack of a policy for a host of things.
Council member Karen Watts said if Reyna is reinstated, he should submit a letter agreeing not to take legal action.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Kubicek said. “Just go on with your business.”
The council voted unanimously to reinstate Reyna with back pay, give him a letter of reprimand for using a city truck and wearing a city uniform while delivering the eviction notice and place him on six months probation.
Water superintendent Bruce Dupray also opted not to go into executive session to discuss his three-month evaluation.
“I requested this hearing because I have a question for Mr. Dupray,” Heard said.
Heard wanted to know why it took so long to get water to the city yard and a home across the street.
“I’m disappointed it took so long to get them water,” Heard said.
James Bilger told the council that his mother-in-law has been without water for more than a month and was using a water hose to bring in water.
“That’s too long, seeing y’all had the part,” Bilger said.