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Former city manager sues
by Gary Kent
Nov 30, 2013 | 138 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – Former City Manager Deborah Ballí has filed suit against the City of Beeville in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division.

The suit was filed on Nov. 8, alleging that she was improperly dismissed by the City Council three months ago.

Ballí was the third city manager to be forced out by the council in a little more than three years. The council voted 4-1 to approve the termination.

The suit, filed by attorney Jon D. Brooks of Corpus Christi, names the City of Beeville as the defendant.

“A new mayor was elected by the City Council, pursuant to the City Charter, in May 2013,” the suit claims.

The suit went on to explain that the mayor’s duties include presiding over City Council meetings and taking care of ceremonial duties.

Ballí claimed that by early July 2013, the mayor, David Carabajal, had begun to violate the charter and possibly state law by holding closed door meetings with the city secretary and “taking over city manager job duties and responsibilities with respect to city administration, supervision of city employees and conducting performance evaluations for city employees.”

Ballí alleged that she became concerned about her inability to remedy the problems internally, and she took her complaints to the city attorney.

The former city manager said she believed the attorney, Frank Warner, was the appropriate person to be charged with investigating the city charter and possible violations of it by city officials.

Ballí said Warner assured her he would look into the matter, but a few days later he said the investigation “did not go well.”

According to the suit, Ballí claimed that Carabajal said to Warner, “who does the city manager think she is?”

Ballí claims Warner also said the mayor had commented, “I am going to show her who’s boss.”

The attorney representing Ballí said in the suit that the quotes were paraphrased.

Within a couple of weeks of the meeting between Ballí and Warner, “on or about Aug. 10, 2013,” the former city manager claims that Carabajal tried to get her discharged from her job. But the mayor did not have enough votes to get a motion passed.

After that meeting, Ballí claimed, Warner told her “if you want to keep your job, you need to keep quiet about whatever the mayor is doing.”

Four weeks later, Ballí alleged, the council took up the matter again in executive session, and when the session opened Carabajal apparently had enough votes to have a motion passed.

Councilman George P. “Trace” Morrill, III made the motion to terminate the city manager and Mayor Pro Tem Libby Spires seconded the motion.

When the vote on the motion was taken, Councilman John Fulghum voted along with the other council members to terminate Ballí.

Only Councilman Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez, former mayor, voted against the motion.

Ballí had served as the city’s finance director since shortly after her predecessor, Tom Ginter, was hired to replace former City Manager Ford Patton. Patton had been forced to resign by the council.

In April 2012, Ballí was made interim city manager, and the council voted 3-0 to hire her full time for the position on July 10 of last year.

Ballí and her attorney claim that she had made “good faith reports of violations” to an appropriate law enforcement authority. She claimed in the suit that reporting her concerns apparently resulted in her termination.

Ballí and her attorney are asking that she be reinstated in her previous position and that she be paid lost wages in the past and benefits and lost wages also be paid in the future.

She and the attorney also are asking that the city pay her legal expenses.

Interim City Manager Marvin Townsend mentioned the suit in his report to the City Council on Nov. 26 and told council members that they all had been sent copies of the suit.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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