Mart Police Chief Paul Cardenas, soon to the be the city’s sole police officer, publicly responded to a citizen complaint against him Monday, telling the city council that he did not release private information that was used in a social media fight.
Cardenas opted for an open hearing at the council meeting to allow resident Elizabeth Andrews to air her grievances. She said that Cardenas gave a Mart resident friend information that was used on Facebook to belittle her and upset her family.
Andrews claimed Cardenas belittles people in Mart in conversations around town, and she does not believe he is an honorable man. She said the conversations on Facebook reignited her fears about the man who previously assaulted her family before he fled the country.
The police chief denied releasing any information and denied any misconduct on social media or with police business. He said Andrews was not being truthful about their interactions.
Cardenas said he doesn’t have a social media account, but the online fighting is dividing members in the community.
“This is a social media storm that was created not by me, by everyone,” Cardenas said. “Both parties and we try to defame each other using negative rhetoric and proxy people, and I’m sorry that you want to link me to that, but you can’t.
“I’ve done everything fairly, honestly. I’ve abided by a lot of things and I’ve upheld that oath that you gave here tonight and I’ve done that faithfully.”
No action was taken on the complaint Monday. Mayor Len Williams said the council will listen to the advice of City Attorney Charles Buenger in moving forward with the complaint.
Discussion came after four of the police department’s five officers resigned last week, citing dissatisfaction with pay and interference of city leadership. One resignation will be in effect Thursday while three of the resignations take effect Sunday, according to the officers’ resignation letters.
The council on Monday agreed not to collect police overtime payments that were determined to be overpaid due to a miscalculation, which had been an issue in the resignations. The council also swore in Trevor Baize as a new councilman to replace Rhonda Honeycutt.
Also Monday, McLennan County Chief Deputy David Kilcrease said deputies met with city officials to discuss the possibility of county coverage while Mart lacks a police force.