San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 24th, 2010
Split council terminates City Manager Menchaca


San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz, left, and City Attorney Michael Cosentino, right, confer in City Clerk Sherry Mashburn’s office at City Hall following a meeting in which the San Marcos City Council voted to fire City Manager Rick Menchaca. Photo by Sean Batura.

Executive Editor

By a 4-3 vote at the end of a session that was all but secretly held, the San Marcos City Council fired City Manager Rick Menchaca Thursday night, effective immediately.

Asked about what brought on the council’s decision, San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said the council was not at liberty to discuss it because it’s a personnel matter. Other councilmembers later said they were bound by legal considerations to not discuss the firing.

Menchaca will be compensated as provided by his contract, which includes his unused vacation and sick time. However, Menchaca said later Thursday night that he has not signed an agreement for six months of severance pay and will explore his legal options.

Following an executive session lasting two hours and 14 minutes Thursday night, Narvaiz asked for a motion as to whether to terminate Menchaca. Several seconds passed before Councilmember Fred Terry motioned for the firing. After a slightly shorter wait, Councilmember Ryan Thomason seconded the motion.

Councilmember Chris Jones joined Narvaiz, Terry and Thomason in voting to fire Menchaca. Councilmembers John Thomaides, Gaylord Bose and Kim Porterfield voted against the action.

The council did not make a provision as to who would serve as the next city manager, or who would serve during an interim period until a permanent city manager is found.

The meeting took place in a back chamber behind the regular city council chamber, rather than in the regular chamber or the staff meeting room where the council normally often holds workshops. The meeting also was not televised either on the city’s public access station or on the city’s web site.

San Marcos City Clerk Sherry Mashburn posted the meeting outside City Hall Monday at 6 p.m., as required by law. Mashburn said she also posted the meeting at the same time on the city’s web site. However, the agenda was only on the MuniAgenda utility on the website and came up only after several attempts. The agenda was not posted on the city clerk’s page of the website that normally posts them, and email subscribers to the agenda did not receive it.

The city hired Menchaca effective on May 1, 2008 at an annual salary of $170,000. He had been out of work for a year after seven years as the city manager in Midland.

Said Menchaca as he took the job: “This community here, where it sits, not just physically, but also in its state of evolution, with the university (Texas State University), its education systems and its transportation systems, I believe it has the right, key ingredients to be the community it wants to be.”

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50 thoughts on “Split council terminates City Manager Menchaca

  1. I was not a fan of Rick and wanted him gone. That said, I am really concerned by The Process.
    This meeting was unethical at best and probably illegal.
    We now have no City Manager, and Susan is in charge for the next four months.
    god help us.

  2. No Susan is not in charge… there is a assistant city manager. And there are “retired” city managers all over the state that will be chosen from to come in and fill his spot until another one is hired ! Remember the vote was 4-3…. JMHO!

  3. Narvaiz isn’t in charge–this is still a Council-Manager form of government, which means power transfers to the assistant city managers. There should be a protocol set-up internally to handle when the city manager is out that identifies a pecking order for who serves as “Acting City Manager.” If history is an indication, it will likely be Collette Jamison due to her previous period as Interim City Manager and experience running the budget process. With budget season already underway, bringing in an outsider on an interim basis isn’t very likely.

  4. I had a gut feeling he wouldn’t last until November. Unfortunately, I still don’t have the slightest idea what caused this. First PEC, now San Marcos.

  5. I was concerned about how he was allowing things to happen in city business that seem primarily motivated by mistress Susan’s desires, but now this? I think he started to see through the shady dealings going on… So she got him canned. Good for the city or not- it’s Her way or the Highway. I guess we will see how it plays out. B. Franklin what do you think?

  6. Well, at least now we know who are the real “reliable team members” behind a lot of the goofiness. Those “all but secretly held” meetings are beginning to cost the community more all the time. Does anybody care to guess what we all gain in return for the severance package? I suppose we might ask any of the other several fairly recently deposed administrative heads who have left City Hall “to spend more time with their families.” Oh. I forgot. Another secret matter–better for everybody if everybody involved clams up, OR FACE THE WRATH.

    PS: cws, you might spread the word around about how the Charter–our Constitution–allots the power, since there are many who still think SM is a monarchy. This being an election year, it would be a good time to remind the Council well in advance of what voters/citizens/taxpayers are thinking and what THEY want. Waiting till after elections costs citizens their voice for so long they forget what has been done in the flurry of BS and people-pleasing that accompanies the election process. Run up those flags. Now. Whatever your opinions.

    Those who care, pray for Patrick Rose and Senator Wentworth, in the meanwhile. The game is afoot.

  7. Why is everything city related always a conspiracy with newstreamz? Apparently by some peoples facebooks post… everyday citizens already knew about this! So it wasnt a secret! Give me a break ! I found out by a facebook post that was posted about an hour ago… So who leaked it… people already knew about it ! Way before it happened !

  8. unlike elena, some of us don’t have powerful friends. I guess the people who are facebook friends with the right people would have known about it, but if you checked the city website or waited for your email, you wouldn’t. must be nice to have the right friends on facebook. but you are out of luck if you’re an ordinary disenfranchised citizen.

  9. Is it common to fire a city manager and not cite the reason(s) behind the termination of their position? I’d like to know the reasoning behind each individual council member voting the way they did.

  10. Pingback: Menchaca says he will explore legal avenues - San Marcos Local News

  11. Well Hmmmm… I didnt know a thing about it until I read it on someones FB page that posts on here quite often. So maybe you should become FB friends with people that post on here regularly and I guess you will be informed of such things before they happen…

  12. “San Marcos City Clerk Sherry Mashburn posted the meeting outside City Hall Monday at 6 p.m., as required by law. ”

    6 p.m. on what day?

    There used to be an advance posting requirement of at least a day or more, even for emergency council meetings, in order to preclude such ramrod backroom deals such as this, and to give some measure of public awareness with respect to our governmental process at City Hall.

    When did this change?

    How and by whom?

  13. The city also quietly released an RFP for a management company to takeover operations at the municipal airport. The RFP term was very short and somehow eventhough there are tens of dozens of companies that should have responded only one made a submission. This likely happened because the “chosen” San Marcos elites want these guys and only publicly announced the RFP as a formality but didn’t search in earnest for true proposals. It’s another example of how business is done in San Marcos- under the table. I think it’s time to clean house and put someone else in charge.

  14. I wasn’t aware that Facebook posting was an acceptable substitute for the traditional forms of transparency, like open meetings and proper posting/distribution of agendas.

    Elena, your question boils down to “Why do you think there is a conspiracy, if certain people knew what was going on ahead of time, through back channels?” The question seems to answer itself.

  15. I can see it now. “Don’t Mess With Susan” bumper stickers. Followed by “Don’t Mess With Rick” bumper stickers after COSM settles. And others will sport “San Marcos What A Mess” bumper stickers.

  16. Looks like Menchaca’s management style and poor communication skills finally caught up with him. I applaud the council for taking action.

  17. It is official, San Marcos has descended to bannana republic status. The whole idea of a city manager form of government is that the city manager runs the day to day operartions of the city, with policy being set by council. He is not to fired on a whim. The only way a city manager should be fired like this is if a huge impropriety is discovered. If that is the case we have a right to know what it is. If not this, we should all be very disturbing by what happened last night. I am not on facebook, and I should not have to get on facebook to know what is happening in my city.

  18. How do you know there has not been a huge impropriety? Why don’t we give it a little time to let the facts come out? Maybe they are being mum for legal reasons and potential law suits? I know of a number of folks that work for the City that were absolutely at their wits end ready to quit from the Managers extreme micro-managing of every tiny little thing. Let’s let the dust settle a little before jumping in and lynching the city council.

  19. Most of the calls for lynching (if you can really call it that) are over the lack of transparency, of which this is VERY far from the first example.

  20. Podunk as I still believe it was, over in Kyle, the mayor managed to fire a city manager who rubber her the wrong way, without any semi-secret last minute meetings. At least over there, the former manager, and the citizens, knew what was going on.

  21. “flurry of BS and people-pleasing that accompanies the election process. Run up those flags. Now. Whatever your opinions.
    Those who care, pray for Patrick Rose and Senator Wentworth, in the meanwhile. The game is afoot”

    So should things that come out of a politicians mouths during campaign season just be interpreted as pure lip service? Your right that opinions must be known and loudly but what if criticism of officials and flag raising doesn’t make a difference? Its just received, ignored, and politics/campaigns as usual. Both Rose and Wentworth seem to be able to deflect and win, no matter the flags.

  22. Menchaca’s overbearing management style and poor communication skills finally caught up with him. I applaud the Mayor and council for taking this difficult action for the benefit of the city’s employees and citizens.

    By the way, I’ve tried to post this 3 times. Am I being censored by the media?

  23. Sean, it took 3 attempts, several hours, and an email to the publisher before my comments appeared. It could have been normal delay, but I was begining to wonder.

  24. Dear Relieved;

    If you are not a regular poster, then your comments are moderated. Thus the delay.

    If you are a regular poster, you then become “trusted”, and your comments will appear immediately.

    There is also a URL and profanity filter that will immediately delete your post..

    If you post under a new ID, then the above holds true as well.

    Most of this started when Newstreamz changed its name to San Marcos Local News.

  25. Lol @ The “Don’t mess with Susan_ Rick” bumper stickers. It could also be ” Team Rick” or “Team Susan”. I want to know the thoughts behind Mr. Thomason, Mr .Terry, Mr. Jones and The mayor. I have to add I believe Mr. Mencheca has made valid points. Oh “Team Mencheca”. If only Our city wasn’t tainted. It will catch up. The information will be released. There will be demands. Can the city council handle this. By the way. I am tired of this crap. Anyone else? With the ethical people who have been let go or fired from a position with the city under this mayor it is about time someone question her team. Who manages the mayors?

  26. Jerry: People seeking election sweat every vote–even that increasingly large group who believe they can buy office with a flood of money (which research is showing doesn’t often work out (Ask Giuliani and the self-funded cosmetics gazillionaire.) The most critical to them are people who let them know they are being watched by a significant number of people who either respect or revile their public platforms (PR) and their often wildly inconsistent record of voting and behavior.

    When they identify either a supportive or an enemy force lurking out there, that becomes the top of their to-do list, lest they get caught off guard and dumped for not listening. Even if they insist on answering pleas or charges or whatever with BS, that in itself can be fatal to their egos and ambitions. One really well-delivered blow to the gut, if based on fact OR falsehood, can ruin their day if they have no credible responses. So long as there are numbers of people with facts behind that blow that can’t just be blown off with something like “Ahhh, the AARP and ACLU–they don’t have enough money or numbers or dirt to do and damages, they are just a nuisance to be ignored.” Think of
    guerilla warfare, in which one knows for sure neither how many there are or who is about to ambush them.

    Maybe the most delicate way is to present it to them as, “I will commit fully to whomever commits with me. Be glad either to help or hurt you. You choose.” And of course, asking directly, in public, with an audience, can elicit the most amazing results, most favorable to the dutiful citizen and the body politic. Anybody can lie to a single person or unified group–harder when everybody is in the room, unless the questioner makes an accidental jackass of HIMSELF.

  27. Duwbsduwbs-
    “As lovable Betty White said, “I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, it sounds like a huge waste of time. I would never think that people on it are losers, but that’s only because I’m polite,”

  28. This situation reflects poorly on the Mayor and City Council. They are responsible for the City Manager being effective. They unanimously brought Rick on board, and then (apparently) mismanaged the relationship between Council and City Manager.

    Nobody is aware of any huge singular missteps by Rick, and since the Mayor and City Council do not want to explain anything about their “all of the sudden” (as it appears to us regular citizens) decision, then we are left to ponder, in the absence of information. We wonder whether due process was followed.

    And what does it mean when we read elsewhere that City Councilmember Fred Terry said the evaluation process was “long and drawn out” and the city council is “tired of having to go through this process.”

    Were the Mayor and City Council progressively becoming disappointed in Rick’s performance, and if so then did they hold appropriate dialog sessions? Or did the Mayor and City Council simply decide that, for whatever personal or political reasons, they wanted a change?

    Did they hire the “right” person and then flubbed the oversight? Or did they hire the “wrong” person and let things fester for far too long?

    We’ll probably never know, since the matter may become a legal imbroglio, and a “deal” reached, the details of which are then sealed away from citizen view.

  29. Just so everyone knows, the firing of Rick Menchaca although sad (anytime someone is unemployed that is sad)was justified and the right thing to do. Rick Menchaca will always only care about what is best for Rick Menchaca. He is not a leader, no one in this organization would follow him into battle. On numerous occasions, he has let his staff take the blows for his decisions. I am sorry but to be a leader you have to stand up for what is right or at least the decisions you have made. We have great people in this organization who have truly made this City a better place to live. People in this organization have been miserable since he got here and that just isn’t right, people should not be afraid to come to work. People who have been in this organization for a long time and who have always been considered “ROCKSTARS” by their supervisors were abused and ridiculed by this man within days of arrival. These individuals were not even given a chance to prove themselves. That is what is sad. Regardless of whether you like the Mayor or don’t like the Mayor, she made the right choice. The happiness of the organization should be a priority of the San Marcos City Council. This is the first step in proving that they believe that.

  30. “And what does it mean when we read elsewhere that City Council member Fred Terry said the evaluation process was “long and drawn out” and the city council is “tired of having to go through this process.””

    The word on the street is that the former manager has been under review for quite some time now. Take a look at the previous council agenda and you will frequently see “personnel matters” in the executive session section. Word is that that was this same issue, hence Terry’s remarks.

    Not much is going to be discussed by council sine there is a promised law suite by the former manager. Pretty common when there is a possible law suite to be advised by your attorney to simply shut up and not comment to anyone.

  31. Otto, thanks for the additional information. Yes, I remember seeing what seemed to be a lot of Executive Session entries during the past couple of years that would say they are discussing the, “Duties and responsibilities of a public officer; to wit: City Manager…” So, from now on, whenever I see this, I will know it means the City Council has concerns or issues with the City Manager, indeed.

    However, we also read, “Menchaca said he has received positive evaluations of his performance throughout his time in San Marcos.” Terminating somebody should never be a surprise to the person being fired. Yes, some could say that statement is posturing by Rick, but surely there is a bona fide trail of written performance appraisals (and other documentation) for the City Manager.

    Elsewhere we read, “Menchaca’s contract featured a clause that allowed him to be terminated without cause at a public meeting.” So, I guess it really doesn’t matter whether there was progressive and documented discipline involved, or not. The Mayor and City Council members may feel like we citizens are being too “nosy” about this development, but the way this came down sure makes us wonder about City Hall.

    Without further information, it seems either the Mayor and City Council hired the “wrong” person and were not managing it properly, or they hired the “right” person and did not manage things properly. Well, the common thread is that the Mayor and City Council did not oversee the City Manager properly.

  32. To Lisa Benson, Some of the happiest times of my life have been a result of unemployment.

    What’s truley sad is the lack of respect or understanding of the legal process by our city. Slick Rick, good or bad, is not the problem. The frustration grows from the inability to adhere to the process. This leaves us with no option but to wonder what other laws are not followed.

    Remember, we’re supposed to be a nation of laws.

  33. Well said Lisa. You could hear the collective sigh of relief at City Hall Friday morning. You folks that have such an axe to grind with Susan are really barking up the wrong tree on this one. This is not a political issue. It is an issue of how a manager treats his employees, staff and citizens he works for. Susan and three others had the guts to see the damage being done and do something about it. The only word that describes the other three is sad.

    I seem to remember John being very upset with Rick and several people when the police and fire contracts were signed last year. John knows Rick was wrong for our City and the damage he was doing to a great workforce. But, John (along with Kim and Gaylord) let politics get in the way of protecting City employees (especially female employees) from Rick’s explosive management style, ego, and controlling behavior.

    Get off your Susan bashing wagon for a few minutes and commend her, Ryan, Fred and Chris for doing the right thing! Thank all four of you for having the guts to do the right thing for the right reasons.

  34. “being very upset with Rick and several people when the police and fire contracts were signed last year. John knows Rick was wrong for our City and the damage he was doing to a great workforce”


    GIVE ME A BREAK !!!!!


    Menchaca was probably feeling the heat already, and that keeping his new job here in San Marcos was a highly conditional situation even then.

    His concerns were warranted, I would say.

    Word also has it that Menchaca was even a limiting factor with regard to some of the more outrageous and incredible deal wranglings that Susan has been trying to push through.

    And now that he’s gone, HOLD ON!!

    LOOK OUT because HERE IT (SHE) COMES !!!!!!

    You’ll see some ugly ghosts of the past rear their heads before November.

    Mark my words.

    I’m no great fan of Rick Menchaca,

    but let’s at least lay the blame where the blame should fall.


  35. And…

    How about an explanation of how Kim Porterfield (who usually votes in lockstep with Susan) could not in good conscience, go along with Mayor Susan, on this one?

    I do reluctantly give Porterfield credit for that.

    The other (spineless?) council members predictably caved in to what has been described in the past as “unbelievably tremendous” pressure.

    Even though Kim’s NO vote was only symbolic, and was only a matter of record in this case, and was not a swing vote,

    at least she can still look herself in the mirror the next morning.

  36. Only Kim can answer for her decisions, but I would bet if Rick was treating one of her family members the way he treated other city employees, she would have been the first vote instead of Susan. All of the Council was keenly aware of his issues and how he treated people but some just chose to ignore it. Politics (“anything Susan does I won’t do”) were behind some of those 3 no votes, even though they knew it was the right thing. That is sad. It should have been 7-0 and there would be no Susan bashing…but that would not make for good political folly for your mayoral candidate/current sitting council member John….so he votes no to create drama.

  37. Very well;

    I’ll leave all of that with you.

    By the way, what IS your connection with Midland?

  38. Maybe it had to do with Kim and Rick being really good friends to the extent that they carpooled each other kids to school and what not. I think it was more “personal” than political for Kim

  39. Let us not forget the issue here. If they had a good, legal reason for firing Rick Manchaca, they should let us know what it is ASAP.

  40. Does this mean Kim is going to vote in favor of what Suan wants her to do because Susan did her a favor? This is getting old.

  41. I find it interesting that some individuals are leaving comments based on the City Manager’s management style and yet others note the personality of Mayor Narvaiz. It’s obvious that the friends of both are posting comments to push their own agendas. Lisa Benson for example has posted the same exact comment on several newsites and Otto, well he’s just Otto. The forest in the trees is right there for all to see. Mayor Narvaiz and company are in some way connected to the developers in the immediate area. The Buie tract, Craddock Avenue Partners, Pam and Bucky Couch etc… Then if you follow the smell down that trail you find SmartCode and changes to the city’s land use guidelines, the Mayor’s need to affect the Historical districts and areas adjacent to downtown for obscure businesses. If that is not enough for you look at the peripheral players like the P&Z Commissioners and the Council members that live in the area affected by the Buie tract development, Chris “switch voter” Jones. Put all the pieces together and you find the real reason Rick Menchaca was fired. The council moved on it 2 days after the SmartCode was postponed? Come now, could it be that the City Manager couldn’t agree and therefore was ousted? I challenge anyone reading to dig a little deeper.

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