City Manager Adam Miles sent a letter to the Hewitt City Council in July accusing Mayor Ed Passalugo of a crime and acknowledging that Miles was among the staffers who had filed formal complaints against the mayor and a former councilman.
Emails obtained by the Tribune-Herald show Miles wrote the 1,900-word letter on July 22, the day before a closed-door meeting that Passalugo had called to consider Miles’ employment and discuss various complaints against the mayor and council members.
Miles filed the complaints during “the most difficult time of my 22-year career in local government,” Miles wrote in the letter, sent to every council member but Passalugo.
“I am forced to make this complaint because he is targeting me in retaliation,” Miles wrote. “I have no other choice.”
Miles on Wednesday declined to give details of those complaints against Passalugo and former Councilman Kurt Krakowian, saying the complaints are confidential and he wants due process to prevail.
In the week before the July 23 meeting, the city had received new official complaints from employees against Passalugo and Councilman James Vidrine, alleging official misconduct, retaliation and hostile work environment. Those two officials and Krakowian had already been the subject of numerous complaints by employees and Councilman Steve Fortenberry.
Miles completes 10 years with the city this month. His position as city manager is one of the few in the city the council has direct control to hire or fire.
In the letter, Miles wrote that Passalugo wanted to fire him along with Charles Buenger, an attorney representing the city. He states he’s had “high marks” on all his formal evaluations and cites examples of times he’s worked with council members.
In the letter, he sided with Fortenberry in accusing Passalugo of illegally circumventing the Texas Open Meetings Act through a “walking quorum,” or using a series of private meetings to gain council consensus.
“Clearly, this is retaliation because I am a key witness in crimes he has committed,” Miles wrote. “In fact, I am a whistleblower. You know Steve Fortenberry complained that the Mayor committed a crime and created a walking quorum. I am a witness to those crimes, and I have detailed records of Passalugo’s illegal actions that support Mr. Fortenberry‘s claims. Ed will likely come up with all sorts of reasons that I (and Charlie Buenger) should be fired. At the heart of it, he thinks if he can get rid of me then all this will go away for him and the City.”
Passalugo this month led an effort to replace Buenger, who has represented the city since 1981, though the outcome of that effort is still in question.
In the letter, Miles also took aim at Krakowian, who had stepped down July 13. He said Krakowian threw a “temper tantrum” at a May 21 meeting and yelled at city employees.
It was during that same meeting that Krakowian publicly called for Miles to step down without pay during the investigation of complaints against city officials.
Krakowian said Miles had a romantic relationship with Belinda Kay “Katie” Allgood, the city’s managing director of administration, who had filed a complaint against Krakowian.
City documents show the council has known for at least two years about the relationship between Miles and Allgood.
In the July 22 letter, Miles wrote that entire city departments have submitted formal written complaints out of concern for their jobs as people are anxious and fearful. He wrote that open records requests started flooding City Hall, some revealing emails many wished “didn’t exist.”
Six city employees and one council member since mid-May have filed 12 separate complaints against elected officials, including Passalugo, Vidrine and Krakowian.
Shortly after the initial complaints were filed, the council hired Fort Worth law firm Lynn, Ross & Gannaway to work with Buenger to investigate the allegations. The city has spent more than $41,000 on the investigation to date, Miles said. Of the total, about $24,000 has gone to Buenger & Associates and roughly $17,240 to the Fort Worth law firm, Miles said.
The results of that investigation have since been forwarded to the city’s insurer, the Texas Municipal League, but have not been made public.
The city council is expected to meet Monday night to discuss Buenger’s employment with the city.
The council motioned earlier this month to initiate conversations with another lawyer and firm, Mike Dixon of Haley & Olson. Dixon, who has been a lawyer with Haley & Olson since 1988, was prepared for an interview with the council last week until it was discovered Buenger’s employment status with the city was unclear. Passalugo and Vidrine have each declared they’ve lost faith in Buenger.