Tumult at Hutto City Hall as city manager, ex-employees point fingers


Highlights

3 fired Hutto city employees have made claims of retaliation, harassment, discrimination, their lawyer said.

Hutto City Manager Odis Jones said the fired employees didn’t have skills to do their jobs.

Hutto City Manager Odis Jones reacted to allegations of discrimination by announcing he fired the city’s human resources director, an assistant city manager and a senior planner because all three lacked the skills for the job.

When he began his job in December 2016, Jones told a press conference late Thursday, “the city had not reconciled its checkbooks in over eight months, the city’s pension obligations had not been reconciled in approximately two years and the City Council had not approved a financial statement in almost a year.”

“Clearly this meant to me we did not have the skill set to get that done,” Jones said. “I have taken actions to ensure we do.”

But the lawyer for the fired female employees, Millicent Lundburg, said before the press conference that they lost their jobs due to discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Lundburg said the city’s former director of human resources, Amy McGlothlin and the former assistant city manager, Melanie Melancon, were fired in retaliation for reporting a complaint of sexual harassment and discrimination against Jones to the city’s mayor.

A former senior planner for Hutto, Wallis Meshier, was fired after she made a complaint about harassment, said Lundburg. Lundburg declined to say who Meshier said harassed her.

The three women sat silently with Lundburg at the press conference Thursday.

The former employees haven’t made formal complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but plan to do so, Lundburg said. Lawsuits against the city could follow, she said. Lundburg said she sent a letter Thursday to the EEOC giving a summary of the complaints. The employees were fired in February and March.

McGlothlin had worked for the city for 13 years, Melancon had eight years of experience with the city, and Meshier had worked for the city for at least a year, Lundburg said.

Tension began to build during the press conference, which was held after a Hutto City Council meeting, when Lundburg said that city officials had refused to meet with her last week for a mediation conference about the claims. Mike Shaunessy, the attorney representing the city of Hutto, yelled out, “The claims are unfounded” and “We are not going to settle unfounded claims.”

Shaunessy also said the city manager’s actions were “proper and legitimate” and accused Lundburg of trying to create a news story “when there wasn’t any news.”

Lundburg said she wasn’t responsible for calling the press conference.

Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul also said during the press conference the decisions the city manager had made were “appropriate and just.”

“We stand by him in light of all these allegations,” Gaul said.

Three Hutto City Council members issued a press release Friday saying they supported Jones’ actions.

“After hearing the findings from the independent, third-party investigation, performed by McGinnis Lochridge, demonstrated that the city manager’s personnel decisions were appropriate and just, I stand firmly behind our city manager,” said Council Member Tom Hines. Council Members Anne Cano and Nate Killough also voiced their support.

But former Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland, speaking during the City Council meeting Thursday, said “the actions of our city manager are embarrassing and disturbing.” Terminations and resignations from the city since Jan. 1 have made citizens question what is happening, she said. Information about how many people have been fired or resigned from the city wasn’t available Friday.

Jones’ most recent previous job was as director of the Public Lighting Authority in Detroit.

His other jobs have included city administrator in Obetz, Ohio; executive director of economic development for Cincinnati; chief executive officer for the redevelopment agency in Columbus, Ohio; and the director of real estate and development for the state of New Jersey.

He replaced Hutto’s former city manager, Karen Daly, who resigned in January 2016 after being accused of having broken relationships with the Hutto school district, fire department and county officials.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Williamson residents speak for, against removing Confederate statue
Williamson residents speak for, against removing Confederate statue

GEORGETOWN — Several Williamson County residents asked the county commissioners Tuesday morning to move a statue of a Confederate soldier off the courthouse lawn, saying it was intimidating and represented slavery. A few asked the commissioners to keep the statue in place. The commissioners took no action Tuesday after hearing the comments. The...
Austin nonprofit Care Communities to close its doors
Austin nonprofit Care Communities to close its doors

In a move that surprised some volunteers and stakeholders, Austin’s Care Communities announced that, because of financial challenges, it will stop providing free support for those living with HIV or cancer in Central Texas. The midsize nonprofit, which operated with an annual budget of almost $600,000, according to GuideStar.org, sent out a message...
5 Austin drinks you’ll want to snap before you sip
5 Austin drinks you’ll want to snap before you sip

Do you know where your next Instagram post is? If you’re thirsty, and your social media presence is looking dry, you can kill two birds with one beautifully crafted beverage.  These are five summer drinks that look as good as they probably taste, but I can’t say for sure because I have never tried any of them. Swirly. The Love...
Community news: Turn parking spots into small parks for a day

TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN Turn parking spots into parks Austin residents are encouraged to apply to organize an event for Park(ing) Day to generate public engagement and critical dialogue on the need for public, open spaces in urban areas. The event is held worldwide Sept. 15 and is intended to reclaim, reimagine and reinvent parking spaces as temporary...
DOCUMENT: Greg Kelley stopped lawyers from investigating other suspect
DOCUMENT: Greg Kelley stopped lawyers from investigating other suspect

A defense attorney who helped represent Greg Kelley wrote in an email that Kelley refused to participate in any investigation of a friend who is now considered a suspect in a child sexual assault — newly disclosed information that could mark the latest rapid turn in the case. A new court filing, obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV...
More Stories