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

August 13th, 2010
Swallow resigns after city rejects ethics complaint


San Marcos City Councilmember Fred Terry, left, and San Marcos Director of Development Services Chuck Swallow, right.

Associate Editor

Chuck Swallow resigned as Director of Development Services for San Marcos on Wednesday, just one day after a complaint he filed concerning an uncomfortable work environment was rejected by the city’s ethics commission.

In his complaint, a letter to San Marcos City Attorney Michael Cosentino, Swallow alleged possible misconduct by Mayor Susan Narvaiz and Councilmember Fred Terry. Swallow also complained about Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer.

In a memo signed by Elizabeth Nash, who chairs the city’s ethics commission, Swallow’s Aug. 2 complaint to Cosentino was rejected because it was in the wrong form. The ethics commission gave Swallow until Aug. 18 to file a revised complaint. If Swallow does not submit a revised complaint by Aug. 18, Nash said in the memo that he can try the complaint again after the Nov. 2 election.

“The commission found that the complaint was defective in form because it did not specify any provision of the Ethics Ordinance or state conflict of interest law allegedly violated,” said the memo from Nash. “Based on this finding, the (Ethics) Commission dismissed the complaint as required by Section 2.444(b)(2) of the San Marcos City Code.”

Swallow said Thursday that he had no comment on whether he would resubmit his complaint. However, he also said everything in his Aug. 2 memo to Cosentino is accurate.

Moyer said Swallow resigned Wednesday without providing reasons for his decision. Swallow gave the city 30 days notice.

In his complaint, Swallow said that Terry sent numerous emails consisting of “inappropriate material of a lewd nature” to his personal account dating back to last summer. Swallow stated that he had informed Moyer of the instances on two occasions, with the last “inappropriate” email from Terry coming into Swallow’s inbox on July 14. Swallow said he had no desire to receive such emails.

“Shortly after I received the first of these emails, I had a visit with (Terry) and told him that as an elected official, he should not engage in such activity,” Swallow states in his complaint. “At the time, (Terry) flippantly ignored my advise by saying, ‘What are they going to do, unelect me?’ This practice has made me feel very uncomfortable and has, many times, made me feel awkward during my professional relationship with councilman Terry.”

Terry did not deny he sent Swallow the emails, but said it’s “what friends send to each other. It wasn’t derogatory.” Terry also said he can’t recall Swallow asking him to stop sending the emails.

Swallow further complained against Terry regarding an event taking place on July 22. Swallow said Terry scheduled a meeting with him, Assistant Planning Director Matthew Lewis, and Moyer. Swallow stated that Terry began the meeting by saying that he was coming to city staff as “just Fred and not a city councilman.”

However, said Swallow in his complaint, he began to take Terry as a councilmember once the latter began advising them that the public was losing confidence in the prospect of adopting the SmartCode. Swallow said Terry suggested ways the city staff should present the code in the future.

Terry said he was “shocked” at Swallow’s representation of the July 22 meeting and said he meant nothing more than a “true effort to bring help to planning staff.” Terry said he suggested city staff explain the SmartCode to residents in simple terms that were easily understood, and in no way was he intermingling in city staff’s affairs.

According to Section 3.08 of the San Marcos City Charter, “Except as provided for in Section 3.15 of this Charter (investigations by the city council), the council and its members shall deal with the administrative and management functions of the city solely through the city manager and other council appointees, as appropriate, and shall not give orders to any of their subordinates either publicly or privately.”

Swallow’s complaint also highlighted possible misconduct by Narvaiz stemming from an exchange with her husband, Mike Narvaiz, at City Hall.

Swallow said that as he exited the city council chambers after presenting an item to the council, Mike Narvaiz yelled out, “’Hey Chuck! … You’re still here?’” a question Swallow stated he answered with, “Why Mike? Do you know something that I don’t know?”

Swallow said the exchange occurred in the presence of 25 professional engineers and development employees.

“While I tried to handle this event lightly, the truth is that it was hurtful, intimidating, and harassing in view of recent events within the city government of San Marcos (namely former City Manager Rick Menchaca’s firing by a 4-3 vote in June),” stated Swallow in his complaint. “I felt like it undermined my integrity and reputation in the presence of the very professionals that I am called on to work with on a daily basis. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that if it was caused by any conversation that was shared between Mr. Narvaiz and his wife, Mayor Susan Narvaiz, that it raises a question of whether or not, Mayor Narvaiz has breached the Council-Manager provisions under the City Charter as it applies to directing or influencing subordinate employees.”

Susan Narvaiz said she couldn’t speak on Mike Narvaiz’ intent behind his words as, at the time, she was running a council meeting when the exchange allegedly happened. The mayor said she was unaware of the issue until she read the formal complaint. Susan Narvaiz said Mike Narvaiz and Swallow socialize outside of City Hall “as guys” and that Mike Narvaiz was surely “joking around.”

Susan Narvaiz said if ever she has a concern or complaint with any member of city staff, including department directors, she addresses those concerns to the city manager. She went on to say that she has not discussed any matters involving Swallow with her husband.

Swallow also complained against Moyer, saying that she has attacked him verbally and also has been critical of his ability to lead his department.

At the July 22 meeting, Swallow stated in his complaint, Moyer told him that he has been incapable of staying on top of key issues, to which he responded with several complaints about her management style, reminiscent of those of which Menchaca had been accused before being ousted. Among them, Swallow complained that Moyer was inaccessible and lacking in support and guidance. Swallow added, though, that the conversation “was very frank and somewhat elevated at times” and ended on a positive note.

Swallow said he was surprised by Moyer’s criticism, mainly because, he said, Moyer had told him a month earlier that he was doing good work and to continue business as usual. Swallow also said his last performance evaluation scored him “well into the eight range out of a possible 10 points.”

The following day, July 23, Moyer asked Swallow to sign a paper that detailed a work action plan and addressed several issues from the July 22 conversation, according to Swallow’s complaint. Swallow said he was surprised by the memo he was asked to sign, because he hadn’t believed the July 22 conversation was of a disciplinary nature. Because of the work action plan he was asked to sign on July 23, Swallow said in his complaint that he believed Moyer has been pressured to act “more swiftly” than called for by the normal protocol regarding disciplinary practices.

Swallow stated in his complaint that he and Moyer had three telephone conversations since the July 23 meeting. In two of those conversations, Swallow said, Moyer’s voice became elevated as she accused Swallow of not being on top of two issues that, he said, were outside of his span of control.

Moyer said she never meant to elevate her voice during the discussion and doesn’t feel that she did, though she does admit exhorting Swallow for “not performing as well as he could.”

Said Moyer, “I wanted him to rise to the occasion. We didn’t have heated discussions, and it makes me sad he feels that way.”

Swallow said Susan Narvaiz and Terry are invested in bringing him harm through acts of retaliation, compromising his 27-year career in public service.

“This is an act of retaliation that has been brought on by my reporting the actions of the Mayor’s husband for his act of harassment and attempt to publicly embarrass me,” Swallow stated. “I also am of the opinion that councilman Terry has influenced actions to be taken against me in response to the fact that I have previously reported his practice of sending inappropriate material through email correspondence.”

Swallow said in his complaint that he felt he was under attack and that the identified actions in the complaint have caused him physical anguish and mental absence at work.

“These attacks on me appear to be deliberate, calculated, and discriminatory,” Swallow stated. “They are at the very least, unprofessional and unethical. More probable is these are acts of harassment and hostility and they must cease and desist immediately.”

Swallow’s compaint against Terry, Narvaiz and Moyer.

The city ethics commission’s response to Swallow.

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56 thoughts on “Swallow resigns after city rejects ethics complaint

  1. This is Charles Soechting. Haven’t been on this site in a while but did think some perspective was appropriate. First, Chuck Swallow files a “complaint” which is very transparent—-he wants to be “forced” to resign so he too can collect a severance as he is a victim. I was the only public member that sat through the public part of the Ethics Commission meeting because a copy of the “confidential” complaint filed by Mr. Swallow had begun showing in San Marcos and being that I represent quite a few of San Marcos’ finest I thought that I should attend. Staff and Commission handled this complaint appropriately. A quick question, who amongst us has not said to someone “Hey, are you still here?” when you see the same person twice, at the same place over a short period of time? I was at church Saturday night and Sunday morning and saw a friend and that was my exact remark. In nearly thirty years of practicing and representing more public servants than a great majority of lawyers, this was the weakest and (OK, I shouldn’t use this word, but it fits) IDIOTIC and contrived complaint ever as it relates to the Mayor and her husband. However, the floating (meaning emailed to others so it would be public rather than the private nature contemplated), confidential (tongue in cheek) complaint (more tongue in cheek) was only designed to give any news media that knew about it a chance to find something to write about. I only hope that Mr. Swallow moves onto a venue that suits his management style and skills (boy, I don’t to live in that town). Good Luck Mr. Swallow, but from my perspective, you don’t help yourself get a job by filing this kind of conjured up, made up bs.

  2. I may be off, but from ‘reading between the lines” it appears that Terry was sending some sort of dirty or semi-dirty jokes to Swallow, as is habit for many people when they get something that they think is funny and want to forward it to their friends. Don’t see the big deal there.

    Then the mayor’s husband left a late meeting and asked Swallow “you’re still here” – a question that we have no context to. Was it after hours, when he would have been expected to have left for the day? Had Swallow recently announced to a group that he was leaving? Again, don’t see an issue here.

    Finally, an employee is called on the carpet before his boss and receives a poor performance evaluation, to which he responds not with “thanks for the criticism, I will do better” but by proceeding to tell THE BOSS what HE thinks SHE needs to work on. Not a formula for a good performance review.

    Admittedly, I am making some assumptions here, but it sounds to me as if Swallow has issues. I was always taught that when the whole world seems to be on your case it’s probably because YOU need to change. Looking at it from a third party perspective, when it’s one person against so many, the one who is by himself is likely the party who needs some self-examination.

    I guess in the end, I just don’t believe that people would bother with arranging a such a vast conspiracy against a low-level bureaucrat in a little place like San Marcos.

  3. Whatever the details, it looks like there is still some dysfunction that needs to be addressed.

  4. City Manager, City Clerk and now Director of Development Services, dysfunctional may be an understatement; choatic is the word that springs to mind.

  5. I think the demand for transparency is working. It’s starting to make our elected and appointed officials realize the public is watching their moves. This can be quite stressful for people who are used to languishing in mediocrity.

  6. If there is a chance that this isn’t the last of it, then maybe this lends some credibility to the decision to “rush” the city manager selection. I’ve worked in environments where leadership was in limbo. Things can deteriorate quickly, with good employees getting caught in the crossfire. People start asking underlings and peers to “take sides.” Mud gets slung. Folks too far down the food chain to even be named in this story could find themselves in a really tough situation and I’m not sure how long I would choose to subject them to that, if it could be avoided.

    Of course, this may be the last of it. I hope it is. There are some really great people in the trenches for the city and we owe it to them, to provide a stable and pleasant work environment (at a minimum), where their only concerns are doing a good job.

  7. At a glance, the ethics ordinance does not appear to cover anything like sexual harassment or hostile work environments. In fact, there are many issues (discrimination, handling of confidential information, gifts and bribes, child labor, privacy, accurate bookkeeping, safe work conditions, etc), which one would typically find in a code of ethics/conduct, which are probably documented and handled elsewhere, so the complaint (valid or not) appears to have been misdirected. Perhaps upon reviewing the ordinance, Mr. Swallow came to the same conclusion and is rethinking where (and if) to file a new complaint.

    Just a thought.

  8. Actually, gifts are covered, but I still believe there may be a broader Code of Conduct out there, somewhere.

  9. The Ethics Commission didn’t throw out his claim so much as they asked him to resubmit it using the correct form and format.

    We can debate the wisdom of such a body requiring complaints to be submitted in such a specific manner, but the article made it pretty clear that what he submitted was not in the format of an acceptable complaint and that the result was that the Commission was unable to even consider the content of the claim.

    Before we excoriate the Commission, let’s see what happens when and if he gets around to re-filing his complaint using the rules set forth for such a procedure.

  10. Ted: But then, in addition to our Ethics Rules, there ARE State and Federal laws one in any Management at any level MIGHT want to be on passing acquaintance with, if one wants to nit-pick or something. We may learn more about that, one day. I could once cite the US Civil Rights Code applicable to “depriving a citizen of rights under the cover of law,” or something like that. The Triple damages and penalties sort of draw one’s attention. Also former City Attorneys Mark Taylor and Lamar Hankins, who could be a bit fussy about the little things. And didn’t mind saying so, to Council, Administration, Staff, cops, or whomever might engage the City. (I could and would never criticize Mr. Cosenteno (?), having never met him, so don’t even jump there. And I hope for all our sakes City Hall is clean in regards to the Higher Law. But they do have them some mighty nasty teeth.)

  11. Valid points, Billy and Dano. I just don’t believe this commission is intended to handle complaints of this sort.

    Not according to the documents they cited, anyway.

  12. I never thought I would see the day where Chris North was defending and praising the most pro development Planning Director we have had in MANY years! Hell must have frozen over or something!

  13. There have been many recuesals on P&Z since I have been on the commission. Whenever a commissioner is not present for a vote after stepping out of the room, that is a recuesal. It is not announced ahead of time even though I personally think it should be so that the general public knows that commissioner so and so recused himself. Maybe that is something that Mr. Harvey should add to his transparency list.

  14. Good idea, Curtis. My experience was to announce to reason for the recuesal after the item was read into the record, and leave to the meeting room down the hall to watch on tv.

  15. I agree 100%. Chris and have suggested it in the past. I know you are good friends with Sherwood, why don’t you suggest it to him also. See, Chris, I am not the evil redneck you think I am!! 🙂

  16. It would seem like a good idea to announce it, but I am not sure about stating the reason. Imagine an issue comes up and a commissioner says “i need to revise myself, as my brother works for the developer (or, insert any reason). TThe developer’s request passes. People then speculate that votes may have been cast, in part, because of the revised commissioner’s announced interest. If the commissioner simply revised him/herself, there is less opportunity for impropriety and less fodder for conspiracy theory.

  17. Sorry about the sloppiness. Posting from a phone. Recused was replaced with revised, by the auto-correct.

  18. Another score for C. Seebeck, on the side of right. Way I learned it, one recusing him/herself formally addresses the real, possible, or possibly suspicious Conflict of Interest, gives up a singed piece of paper with a sentence on it for the record. Then one can in good conscience take a bathroom break or sit in the building somewhere, and come back when it’s over. Some even feel comfortable, having done that, to sit and listen to the discussion, unless there IS a conflict, in which case Emily Post might suggest on strolling totally away.

    Same thing goes for a final vote. You say aloud why you voted as you did, aye or nay, or ESPECIALLY “abstain.” That handily avoids a lot of suspicion or any appearance of default in one’s duty to the public, or lack of guts to say aloud.

    But maybe we’ve outgrown such things. ?

  19. I think the Commissioner or Council member should state something like this: “Mr. Chairman, I recuse myself for potential conflict of interest”, or something similar, and get up and walk out. That way it is on record that the person recused themselves for all to see in the future.

    Ted, you were not posting from an iPhone were you? Sounds like something my iPhone would do!

  20. I’m not going to comment on the allegations here, but I would like to note that Chris was slightly incorrect about Swallow being AICP. Swallow is not AICP; the only AICP in the department currently is Bill Couch.

  21. Bob- I agree- I think Chris North needs to be careful. I think it was a inflammatory remark that could lead to rumors…Chris, not sure if you understand how this could now involve you in this mess…

  22. Hell has frozen over. Chris North supporting P and Z and I agree with Charles. While I like Chris as a person, she has very little understanding of the process that the Ethics Commission has to follow. Following proper procedure, even if you personally may not like the result is what makes the process work and leads to a just result. I may not have supported either Mayor Habingrather nor deanexation but we made sure that we followed the procedure that we were given to follow. I am so glad the Elizabeth Nash followed the procedure rather than having a public verbal lynching.

  23. Are you saying, cms, that we have gone from a whole Department of certified public planning professionals to ONE? Having been very active in the State organization, TXAPA and the NPA for many years, and on the Education Foundation, which educates and updates the AICP’s for almost as long, I assumed we still had the best Department in the State. (Of course, skeptics may check either the Scorebook at TXAPA, or the Awards on the SMCC Wall, for the indolent.) Their teacher/mentors are the very best in practice and universities. Titanic names, like Dr. Kent Butler and Dr. Fritz Steiner, of UT; Dr. Chuy Hinojosa, of A&M; Ralph Bender, of SA; our own former Director Frank Robbins; Round Rock geniuses like Joe Vining; and a whole host of SWT scholars of planning, like Dr. Robert Larsen and Dr. Frank Rich (See CONA Founders) of TXSTATE.

    We have seemed to drift in the direction of, “We don’t need your steenking certified professionals! We have thngs to do in the dark!” Quick and dirty and for the moment, to put it clearly. This Couch fellow must be getting very lonely, and maybe a bit nervous about his career. Surely he must have bitten off his own tongue by now. Do we put out Planner vacancy notices also announcing you don’t actually have to BE one? Oh, Lauuuu-rie? (Our longtime Director of Human Resources, Carolyn Liner, would not know, as she has taken retirement.)

    This situation, as it seems to be continuing, is far worse than BAD. It makes us easy prey, not only for vultures, but also for other cities, us just sitting dumbly and saying, “Yowza,” time after time. Sort of like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Maybe we need to summon higher resources, like Todd Votteller or Bil West, of GBRA. Maybe Andy Sansom, of TXSTATE. Maybe Glenn Longley, likewise, of EARDC. Maybe the folks at the Edwards Aquifer Authority (Mark Taylor) or the Department of the Interior/Fish and Wildlife (Elissa Shull) or Texas Parks and Wildlife (Randy Moss). Maybe Harry Bishop, Senior, of the former Edwards Underground Water District. They all operate under the shadow of a national landmark lawsuit, which they all helped us to win, over resource conservation and serious, Long-term Planning. They supposedly CANNOT lie OR drop the ball, and they have the official and scientific data, not just paid engineering and planning hacks with bought information. Do THEY know these issues? Maybe they have been sort of fenced out of the discussion until the Approval vote is already taken? INQUIRING minds are a terrible thing to waste.

    Somebody told me today that nobody remembers what that curious little water well-head in the side parking lot of The Rivers Center at Aquarena is–a saline-zone test well identifying the proximity of the Bad/Salt water line of the Edwards to the Main San Marcos Springs, which s less than 300 meters. Mr. Bishop can be thanked for that crucial science, and as a career Federal Conservation Biologist in addition to EUWD Director, he KNOWS things that cannot be dismissed.

    Also, I was told that the City has plans to drill a sewer line beneath the Lake bed, incredible as THAT cost and risk is, to serve new developments to the south and east. And yet another, squat in the direct and immediate Sink Springs Drainage Basin, along with a huge and hugely expensive road through the same area, to serve another one of our Quick Deals yet to make it into full daylight, but coming soon as another fait accompli,. The general run of affected citizens (ALL of us, now and ever after.) are to be told, “Well, there have been public meetings for a long time. Sorry you didn’t attend any!

    By the way, we also still likely have access to both the lead lawyers in the “Mother of all Lawsuits,” both the winners and the losers. And Chuck Bailey, LLD, Bob Bullock’s point man on the Edwards legislation. (Notably, Dr, Votteller, mentioned above, was both the Court Monitor in the GBRA/Sierra Club lawsuit which saved our River (1989-93), and the very FIRST Ph.D. from “the Rising Star. His Dissertation is an encyclopedic compilation drawn from his Monitor duties and his research. It is THE compendium of info. Weighs a ton and is not very exciting to most, but serves as the lasting reference, except for more current research.)

    The internal Personnel issues at City Hall,sadly and finally, will be resolved, without the help of the Peanut Gallery or the career assassins or the outhouse wits. The damage will be superficially borne by individual scapegoats, but in the long haul, it will affect everybody. Our future is only as good and wise and fore-thinking as the leaders we choose. Assuming anybody bothers to focus clearly before voting, or, for sometime now has been the case, to vote at all. This one is not about paid PR or elevating one’s BFF. We’re going to be going “all in” on it, thanks to the current incumbents.

  24. Oops! Forgot, fellow scholars, to give credit where credit is due and leave a proper trail: Dr. Votteller’s Dissertation is entitled “Rock From a Stone: The Limits of Sustainable Development of the Texas Edwards Aquifer” (TxState Univ., Feb. 23, 2000). And Votteller’s mentor at the LBJ School, Lt. Governor William P. Hobby, gave that job over to Dr. Joe Moore, Jr., the Federal Super Fund Toxic Site Cleanup Manager, later of UT-Arlington, then first Court Monitor for the Federal District Court in Midland, then TxState. Not too shabby a credential, AICP or not.

    I can only assume that Messrs. Menchaca and Swallow, nor anybody else down there ever asked, or felt free to ask, or was even informed HOW to ask. Come on, partisans, let’s do this.

  25. Billy, that is correct: San Marcos has gone from having a gaggle of certified planners, with perhaps the most concentrated planning knowledge of any city under 200,000 in this state, to a single lonely AICP. That is not to say that the staff currently there are bad, unqualified, etc. Several are quite knowledgable and carry significant institutional knowledge of San Marcos, but the tremendous workload and other external pressures have limited their abilities to display their complete knowledge or technical prowess. Some have alternative certifications that are a little more topical-based, like through the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU). A couple of current staffers are probably close to being ready to sit for the AICP exam, or perhaps would have by now had it not been for the workload. But the lack of AICP planners does create some perception issues and certainly sends a message.

    I have to hope that Swallow’s departure, regardless of the authenticity of his accusations, somehow signals the end to what another poster has described as “chaos.” Sadly, I fear this ongoing instability will continue or even worsen into November as the political rhetoric comes to a boil.

  26. dammit David! Here we go again.
    Do you think it was a conflict of interest on the part of Mayor Habengreither to cast a vote from the dais to Dis-annex his own home? Was it his financial gain to not pay property taxes to the City of San Marcos on the home he owned and raised his kids in, the home he lives in to this very day?
    Yes or NO?
    There is no applicable state statue mumbo jumbo to confuse the good folks on the EC.
    It’s a pretty straight question for the Ethics Commission to answer in a very simple way, with no real consequences except to say “don’t do that again” at the very least.
    You did nothing and tried to turn it into a trial at the Hague.
    And i’ll ask the same question to everyone! What do you think? was it a conflict of interest- yes or no?
    And hell has not frozen over. I am in support of not a single vote cast by the abomination>
    (worthy of causing loathing or hatred) we call our Planning and Zoning Commission>
    As I have said many times before, 9 WHITE GUYS most of whom build stuff or buy and sell stuff, should NOT be the sum of our most powerful Commission. It’s bad government at best, illegal at worst.
    Good to hear from you again, David! Want to help me sue the City for something> take your pick!

  27. Lets just call it like it is…. Swallow is good friends with Menchaca.. Menchaca came here from Midland. Swallow followed.( here is where “the wannabe Good Ole Boys” network starts in San Marcos).
    Menchaca performs poorly at his job…. forced to leave his position with the city… The implosion begins…
    Rick and swallow are good ole “Midland Buddies” probably were both members at Midland Country Club or maybe even Green Tree country club where all the good ol boys from Midland Hang.
    Menchaca has one last chance to get at our mayor.. but really? Through her husband Mike? Really? Anyone who knows Mike Narvaiz or has simply talked with him knows he did not mean a thing by “Your still Here?” Give me a break ! Im sure all the REAL “Good Ole Boys ” from Midland are laughing at you rick and chuck saying… Is that all you got? Glad they no longer live here .
    Come on Chuck… Im sure you experienced lots of bigger put downs while attending Midland High School back in the 70’s! And to think , this wasnt even a put down but a simple question…

    Chuck… your alegations are weak at best. Quit letting rick be your puppet master and man up. Cause when its all said and done… You will be standing alone.

  28. Well, Elena, that explains a lot! I didn’t know that. But it sheds light on why he was such an ineffective planner, and let his staff take all the hits and force them to make seriously bad recs to the P&Z.
    That said, nobody deserves to be treated like that, and he felt strongly enough about it to raise the issue publicly.
    Who would do something like that, expose themselves that way, if they did not believe in what they were doing.
    I believe him in so much as these things happened and he was offended by the events.
    Doesn’t mean I think he was good at his job. He wasn’t.

  29. Maybe, this is the last comment in this threat. I know none of the principals involved in this issue well, nor do I have information not disclosed already in this venue. Unless the principals here were friends before their involvement in their official positions with this city, I would question the propriety of either sharing emails, unofficial and particularly off-color ones, with the other. It is a form of fraternization, a term that comes from the military in which a higher ranking person relates inappropriately with someone of lesser rank. Substitute position for rank and that expresses my view within the context of a city or any other non-military bureaucratic structure.

    Addressing the expression, “Your (sic) still here?” Maybe it is a west Texas thing, an ethnic thing or a lawyer thing, but in my 63 revolutions around the Sun, I have never heard that expression used outside of a co-worker finding someone working late to complete a project and it was a declaratory rather than an interrogatory. In the declaration between workers, there was no malice expressed or intended. Maybe the two or more involved in the current controversy shared a friendship before becoming officially involved.

    So, if any of the principals to either of these alleged happenings fraternized or expressed malicious intent, I would relegate all of their utterances; past, present, future; not worthy of consideration and kick their butts out of city hall, if I had toy poodle-sized dog in this hunt.

  30. Well said and very accuracte Elena.

    Chris as you said, he was not good at his job. Rick brought him here, gave him a contract (as a Director??), and protected him as he failed to perform. Rick is gone and can no longer protect him. Laurie calls it like it is and takes him to task on his shortcomings. Chuck, in concert with Rick I’m sure, trumps up ethics allegations as a smoke screen for his own issues which Laurie is trying to deal with right in the middle of budget process. Now he has resigned….

    I never really worked with Swallow but come on….someone sends you email you find offensive? The button is called “DELETE”. Sit down with the sender (more than once if it offends you that bad and happens repeatedly) and tell them to knock it off. A man asks “are you still here”….and this troubles you? Really? Charles summed that up best in an earlier post.

    The ethics allegations are a joke and a last jab by an ineffective Director on his way out the door. I really hope this follows you as you seek a new career in another city. A true professional would have simply turned in notice and walked away….not trump up this kind of nonsense.

    Let’s save the ethics commission for real issues like council members leaking information to the press while executive sessions are in progress, council members texting during open council meetings and secretly getting who knows what type of information on issues being debated in open session, and council members voting to retain a city manager who had been identified in an internal city investigation of ordering staff to change the scores and ranking of businesses who had submitted responses to an RFP for on-call engineering contract.

    I’m still waiting (rather impatiently at this point) for SMLN to write a story on the RFP investigation and post the city’s investigation online for everyone to read. I for one am very courious to hear Mr. Thomaides’ explanation on why he voted to keep Rick employed as the CM knowing about the RFP investigation, his declining performance evaluations, his council mandated performance improvement plan, the allegations of a hostile work environment, and the fact Rick hid the RFP investigation from the council for a year.

    Steve Harvey, I think this is right up your transparency alley….

  31. Your correct Chris… He wasnt… Maybe just another way of swaying the fact that “he wasnt” to something else. Lets take the light away that I wasnt good at my job by starting another controversy… Fail..

  32. Mr. Haney, once again, you shine in the darkness. While I have always deeply respected you and your knowledge and conscientiousness. But I do worry about you. Your “dog” seems to have grown is size in the last week, from a Chihuahua to a poodle, in your words. That may mean you standards and ethics are being aroused.

    As for the ongoing character assassination(s): I taught logic for years to an audience of often apathetic and ungifted college students, and I believe I have spotted some faulty premises, which can either lead nowhere or to inevutably false conclusions–the rooting out of which is the whole OBJECT of formal logic. On a rich background of “Arguments against the Person” or Ad hominem arguments, I see also: Guilt by association, well-poisoning, circular logic, ” guilt by association, stereotyping, “After This, There for Because of This” (post hoc, ergo propter hoc), false premises, question-begging, etc. I would fail Ms. Duran outright, and soundly.

    I, too, came from West Texas. Born out there–came here to ESCAPE, if you will. I know how things are done out there. I am yet fascinated by the Menchaca OBSESSION that continues to enfold us. And, just to show I can work either side of the street logically, I ponder to myself, “Are these people secretly in love with and courting Chris North, or do they merely need to see a shrink about their rage and inner conflicts? She seems quite issues-driven and willing to learn, if she can just shake the turd-throwers and hatchet-persons.

    Is data-driven policy out of fashion Passe, here in our town? Or something?

    When doing character assassination or the other kind, one should avoid self-endangerment by using a sharp weapon, not a sack of doo-doo or a stone. Now once more, what REAL issues do the growing number of firings, resignations and retirements of City Staff tell us, exactly, about the current M.O. at City Hall? As cms says, there would seem to be a virus in the public trust down there, potentially a fatal one. Now, where were we, again?

    Not, please, in the name of the Mother of God and all that is Holy, back in Midland!

  33. Fail my butt billy…..And nobody is in love with Chris more than Chris is… come on .. you know this!

  34. Just to clarify… Chris Norths boyfriends name is Chris… That is what I meant by Chris loveing Chris… No offence.. Sorry Chris North…. MY BAD!
    But I stand by what I said regarding the issue at hand

  35. Maybe we can get together a cage-ring Jello wrestling match, a public benefit for the poor in SM? But I repeat myself again–that is all irrelevant to the issues NEEDING TO BE DISCUSSED HERE. I must confess I might fancy a good old-fashioned hair pull, but not on my time or at my expense. Or at other serious people’s. It would seem neither of you, for whatever reason, can ever learn a thing from one another–only CN seems interested in listening and fact finding, and she may be wrong. But she do come prepared. And Lord knows, she can smell out problematic ethics. Think SHE’S bad about being a stickler? I know a few other ladies in the community that would even make CN blush. But they are not present, I think, and thus have not chimed in.

  36. Whatever billy… I have good info coming from people in Midland that know the 2 very well. Rick is the puppet master… and swallow is his puppet. They just need to let it rest… neither one of them did a good job for our city and that is a fact…. lets get back at “who we think” got us fired. It has nothing to do with job performance, it , at this point has to do with grasping at straws to ‘get back” at people they felt have wronged them…

  37. By the way… Yes I was born and raised in Midland and Yes you are right billy “ALL IS HOLY BACK IN MIDLAND !”

  38. Well, I have keen interest in the issues behind the issue here for good cause. At one time, I could go anywhere in the State or US and be proud and confident that we could stand beside ANY city our size, and many much larger, in full knowledge that our professional staff, which should serve as the compass, rudder and sea-anchor for the politicos, could compare with pride. We geniuses on the dais then could reliably make informed and DATA-DRIVEN decisions and initiatives. We could Plan, Manage, and carry out policy with the best of them. When I left, I left confident.

    I drifted along in peace, just keeping abreast and informed for a time. Then really odd if not amazing things started to emanate from CH, some of which I personally would not have endorsed or agreed with. Now and then, I’d hear somebody wanted to “spend time with the family,” or “do other things.” People do that. But as the tempo increased, there seemed more and more irregularities, including some of our best Staff gong away in similar fashion. More bizarre initiatives and policies from Councils. More seasoned Administrative Heads vanishing.

    Being curious, and good friends with these worthy public servants, I called a couple or three to wish them well and talk. The stories they told sounded little like the public releases. They had been “in it for the duration,” it seemed, and loved this place they had done so much to make and make/keep special. But the real reasons they left ranged from “I just could not stand it anymore” to “I didn’t seem to fit the needs of the politicians anymore” to “It was either leave or go into open public conflict, which wouldn’t do me, SM or them any good. It was just easier to leave.”

    Thus the “Menchaca Affair” caught my mind, at about the same time that some of the politicos were braying about how wonderful they were, and producing, in my opinion, eye-poppingly bad, ill-advised, Policy not sustainable into a future that I follow and track obsessively. From the broad view taught me by professional planners and ED specialists and scientists–more how the community fit in with data and trends most folks never even have to think about. Now, in a big stinky bundle, come all the big-money politics, the questionably-done but not questionaBLE “deals” rushing by under cover until the grand unveiling, and on and on.

    Being awakened, I began to look more closely. The first question, which has since raged here and in the streets, was “what is the hurry to sew ’em up before the public gets wind?” Next question was how very many people, like myself, knew absolutely NO DETAIL OF ANYTHING down there, even the diligent ones who keep abreast and “go to things” and visit the Meeting and Agenda case at City Hall. You could shoot a cannon-load of BB’s anywhere in town and not hit a soul who could offer anything more than “talking points” and hearsay.

    No matter the EXCUSE that “Well, gosh, we’ve had all these meetings and stuff for ‘x’ amount of time. If you didn’t know or get to listen and participate, it is on you, not us.” An increasingly frequent refrain. One I don’t take lightly, being convinced the people are the ultimate BOSSES, the panjandrums and nobility the SERVANTS and trustees. (Mama told me that when somebody told me not to worry, THEY were “taking care of my interest for me,” always look twice–there will likely be a rat or a snake in your kimono. Or a jackal waiting outside in the dark to pick your bones. I was especially unnerved that even folks who had GONE to the meetings and followed the proceedings still had no questions answered truly and satisfactorily. Completing the agenda and clearing the room seemed to them to have been more important than the actual process. Staff seemed “unprepared” for open questions, and would “go all GW Bush” with their responses and body language. Would promise “we’ll get back to you on that” and never follow up. Looked a lot as if they had ORDERS what to divulge and what to recommend. Dignity all taken away,

    Thus my amazement when real journalists returned to the Chambers, NS started doing investigative work and layng it out, and certain diligent citizens began to speak for the public, rather than throw them smiles and lollipops. If the current order of business suits the majority, so be it. If not, there must be CHANGE, and slowing, and explanation. NOW. Before the CRUCIAL upcoming election, and before the pending business of the City can be rushed through in advance of the changing of the guard. By 2 Nov., we are in a cocoon of “done deals” and closed files.

    Right or wrong, I see the community I love dangling from a spider-thread, right near a match. And if people see that as an extreme position OR statement, I think I can assure that they have not seen beyond the flash or behind the curtain. SM really seems to be poised on a watershed between the future we deserve, and carrion left in the sun. The stakes are really THAT high. The situation is truly extraordinary and precarious, if one thinks the heritage and legacy of this place means a damned thing. Being swallowed whole by the metro folks and losing both control and identity to them will close the book on what SM has been for the oft-repeated but seldom appreciated !2-15K years.
    The spirituality and heart of this place is what is on the line, boys and girls. In the interest of, time after time from the podium in the most recent meetings, what people have called “money before people, and BIG money for the few.”

    Our elected leaders have been making us the “Pretty. Near. Perfect” whore on the street. ALL of us. And those leaders who HAVE resisted have, like the staff and “ordinary” citizens IMHO, been voted down, shouted down, marginalized and cast out. We do NOT have to ask or beg for Fairness, Justice, Equity, Ethics, Balance or Sunshine. Together, we OWN and can DEMAND and ENFORCE those things. Steve always asks whether we even CARE enough to show up and DO it. I was taught early that the genius and the peril of American Democracy is that the tiny-but-equal ones WILL get what they demand, sooner or later. That if they demand little, they will get little. Ex nihilo, nihil fit: “From nothing comes nothing.” FOI requests to get ordinary public information, INDEED!

  39. Why don’t you just put these allegedy emails from Terry to Chuck in print for all to see and judge? FYI, for the uninformed, the emails ARE public information under the TExas Open Records Act if they were sent by Terry on a city computer (unlikely) OR sent to Chuck’s city computer (likely). Transparancy? Yes, that’s what TOMA is for! Use it Newstream and print the emails (that’s news). Then we will know if Chuck is telling the truth or just upset that Rick is gone and wanting his own $$ settlement from the city. How simple.

  40. Very good point Max… doubt if NS will go after those email… wont benefit them or their “group” in any way… or should I say “team”

  41. Good thought on trying to get the emails to assess the accuracy of the accusations. The problem is that Terry allegedly sent these emails to Swallow’s PERSONAL email account, and odds are that Terry didn’t send them from any kind of city computer. I’m actually a bit surprised Swallow didn’t release the emails to the media after getting his initial ethics complaint bounced back. Personally, I’m not particularly interested in the “dirty email” part of the complaint unless there is documentation of Swallow’s requests that Terry cease sending them. I’m more interested in the accusations regarding charter violations contrary to the philosophy of Council-Manager form of government–and that accusation is going to have to rely on the testimony of others since I doubt there is much in the way of documented evidence. It is not what you know, but what you can prove. I seriously doubt there are any completely innocent parties in this, though I’m pretty skeptical of Laurie Moyer actually getting hot under the collar.

  42. In response to T Nichols’ input several posts earlier in this thread (somebody pointed it out to me this afternoon), I specifically asked the Mayor about this in the Q&A session after the Executive Session last Tuesday. She said the RFP was indeed a factor in Menchaca’s termination, but not the only one. Elsewhere, I heard from some people that the RFP was mishandled in several ways (“bungling”), but that the charges of “bid rigging” were vastly overstated.

    You are right, we the citizens should understand what is behind more of the big important decisions we hear about after the fact. If somebody else wants to dig deeper into this particular RFP mishandling situation, I believe it involved RFP 209-050 On-Call Engineering Services for Parks and Public Facilities Projects, which was issued Fall of 2009.

    I may consider filing an FOIA request myself to obtain more information on this, but I’m personally more concerned right now with what’s going on in the City Manager search, the Paso Robles development, and overall transparency and open government.

  43. In other words, Steve is not interested in doing anything that may expose anything negative for Thomaides.

  44. Is he the only one capable of filing a request? One could just as easily say the same about the other side – in other words, nobody wants to do anything that might unravel the conspiracy theory.

    So far, it seems like one person knows which RFP it is and one person thinks he knows.

    T Nichols, have you sent the information to Newstreamz? If so, have they responded to you?

  45. Eric, nice try, but between my battle with cancer, and family obligations, and trying to get Open San Marcos up and running, there is only so much energy I have per week. Do you even know me? If you have some time, come to the 7pm meeting this evening at the Public Library and say hello. Participate if you can. It is the “Transparency in Local Government” meeting that my wife Debbie and I are hosting and facilitating.

  46. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER - San Marcos Local News

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