Hutto City Council: City Manager did nothing wrong when firing former employees

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A leaked document that detailed an investigation into the Hutto city manager’s actions drew the ire of Mayor Doug Gaul and the rest of Hutto City Council in a written statement issued Wednesday evening.

“The report made by attorney Judy Osborn was limited and incomplete, and as a result, its conclusions are not accurate,” the release read, referring to a 14-page document regarding alleged misconduct by City Manager Odis Jones. The city said the document was leaked illegally to the public.

An unsubstantiated, confidential report with Osborne’s name at the top was anonymously delivered Wednesday to the Community Impact Newspaper office. The publication chose not to reveal details of the report until its authenticity can be verified.

“The initial administrative investigation performed by Osborn was later completed by the law firm McGinnis Lochridge, and upon the completion of the investigation by McGinnis Lochridge, the City Council determined the city manager’s decisions were just and proper, and that the city manager did nothing wrong,” the city release stated.

Community Impact Newspaper has filed a Texas Public Information Act request with the city of Hutto for the initial “administrative investigation” conducted by Osborn as well as the follow-up investigation from McGinnis Lochridge.

The Osborn report, in the form of a memorandum to city council members and the city of Hutto, in care of Mayor Doug Gaul, was dated March 6. The memo line said it is an “Investigation of Employee Complaints.” It also said “Confidential: attorney/client privilege.”

Several complaints have been levied against Jones by three females who are no longer employed by the city. The three former employees, Wallis Meshier, Melanie Melancon and Amy McGlothlin, attended the March 16 Hutto City Council meeting to announce through their attorney they filed an unverified Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination and a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission. EEOC and TWC must investigate the charges before a formal lawsuit can be filed, according to their attorney, Millicent Lundburg.

Wednesday’s release from the city of Hutto said City Attorney Mike Shaunessy has referred the matter to an outside agency for possible criminal prosecution pursuant to Chapter 39 of the Texas Penal Code, which prohibits current or former public servants from disclosing or using information that they obtained by means of their employment for non-governmental purposes for personal gain.

“It is unfortunate that disgruntled employees have behaved in this manner,” the release stated. “In final analysis, the City Council determined that the employment decisions made by the City Manager were legitimate and based on job performance issues with former employees.”

In a separate release earlier Tuesday, Shaunessy said, “these employees appear to have taken information they had access to only because of their positions as employees of the city of Hutto and disclosed that information for some form of personal gain.”

Jones, who was hired in November and started employment at the city in December, maintains the employees who have been terminated from Hutto lacked the skill set to move the city forward.

The city’s human resources director, public information officer, senior planner, police chief and two assistant city managers are among the employees who have resigned or been terminated since December.

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Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.
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