Hewitt’s former city manager constructed a story line intended to smear the Hewitt City Council in an effort to save his girlfriend’s job, according to a newly released report prepared by the city attorney to summarize an external investigation.
City Attorney Mike Dixon released the summary Friday, which the council asked him to prepare based on findings from a Fort Worth law firm that investigated complaints against the council last spring and summer. An attorney with that law firm signed off on Dixon’s 12-page summary.
According to the summary, it was released to shed light on a largely one-sided story and to offer transparency on what has caused recent turmoil among Hewitt leaders.
When the council asked for the public summary from Dixon, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Fortenberry said he would prefer to hear a public presentation from Julia Gannaway, who conducted the investigation for Lynn Ross & Gannaway LLP. Gannaway provided a closed-door presentation to the council in June but did not provide a written report.
The story outlined in the new report starts in May with council members discussing the upcoming budget. Council members were considering cutting the position held by Belinda Kay “Katie” Allgood, the city’s managing director of administration. Shortly after the talks, Allgood and another city employee filed complaints against Mayor Ed Passalugo, now former council member Kurt Krakowian, and council member James Vidrine.
The contents of the complaints were not released, and “the public’s imagination ran wild and the individuals who questioned Allgood’s position and salary had their reputations tarnished regardless of the veracity of the complaints or whether there was support for any claims of discrimination,” the report states.
Former City Manager Adam Miles took actions against the council and the city’s interest and told employees he hoped the city would fire him so he would end up owning the city, the report alleges.
The document states the complaints were not credible. It alleges Miles told employees Allgood would make so much off her claims against the city she would never have to work again, and that he called council members derogatory terms.
The report also notes no complaints had been filed against the mayor or any council member before May 2018.
Though Friday’s report questions the complaints’ credibility, it states Gannaway concluded there was evidence some incidents happened as Muske and Allgood reported them. It would be up to their attorneys to prove whether the incidents included any violation of employment laws, the report states.
Miles could not be reached for comment.
The city separated with Miles on Nov. 5, agreeing to pay him an $88,000 settlement.
“Even if the councilmembers were bad people — no employee can constantly criticize and vilify his boss and expect to keep his job,” the report states.
Allgood’s attorney, Ryan Johnson, said Friday that Dixon went to great lengths to establish something well known to city employees and the council — that Allgood and Miles were in a consenting, adult relationship not prohibited by city policy.
“Clearly, Dixon has approached this so-called ‘investigation’ with the desired result in mind — denigrate the character of the female accuser, Katie Allgood,” Johnson said.
The report was released with the council agenda posted ahead of a special called meeting for 7 p.m. Monday at Hewitt City Hall in which the report is to be presented.
Fortenberry said he was digesting the summary but that its content is as he expected.
“This is full of false statements, and it continues to blame the victims of Passalugo’s egregious acts,” Fortenberry said. “This is not what was reported to the council at the conclusion of the Gannaway investigation.”
Fortenberry said the report also does not include the audio recording he used in his complaint against the mayor, evidence he said shows Passalugo violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. Fortenberry’s Open Meetings complaint against Passalugo was outside the scope of the Gannaway investigation and therefore, outside the scope of Dixon’s summary.
Allgood also filed a discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division against the city alleging she received disparate treatment from Passalugo, Vidrine and Krakowian. Allgood’s coworker Cassie Rose Muske, former parks and media coordinator, filed a similar complaint. Muske resigned her position with the city Sept. 28 and received a $20,000 settlement form the Texas Municipal League Risk Pool, the city’s insurer.
The council authorized Dixon Dec. 17 to compile the report released Friday. Several residents responded during a Jan. 7 council meeting by saying it would be a duplication of Gannaway’s effort.
Allgood’s and Muske’s complaints against Passalugo and Krakowian allege working relationships with female employees were “sexualized, inappropriate, offensive and discriminatory.”
Allgood also alleges men in similar positions before her were paid significantly more.
She was hired by the city as a part-time intern in February 2015. She graduated from Baylor University in May 2015, and was made special projects coordinator, a job that did not previously exist, according to the report. Allgood became the human resources director within six months having no experience or credentials, according to the report. Two months later, she was given the title managing director of administration, another position that had not previously existed. Allgood’s salary increased 78 percent between May 2015 and October 2018, according to the report.
“The trajectory of positions and compensation Allgood enjoyed is pretty much unheard of in municipal government and has never been seen in Hewitt city government,” the report states.
Allgood directly reports to the city manager, who oversees all city employees.
Relationship in question
The report states Miles never met with this city council and informed members of his relationship with Allgood.
“Indeed, one of his top department heads advised Miles repeatedly to come clean to the Council with no success,” according to the report.
This council learned about the relationship through an anonymous letter in November 2017, according to the report. Miles did not deny it but indicated the letter was from someone he fired, according to the report.
In June 2018, Fortenberry and former council member Alex Snider told the Tribune-Herald the council had long been aware of Miles and Allgood’s relationship and that no one raised an issue with it.
“We’ve known that Katie and Adam were dating, and he brought that out early on and all we did was speak to our lawyer and made sure everything was on the up and up,” Snider said at the time.
Snider, who served on the council six years, also said the council at the time reviewed Allgood’s compensation to ensure it was even with similar positions and there was no appearance of impropriety.
Though council members at the time decided it was OK, Friday’s report asserts the relationship did in fact violate the city’s personnel policies and the city manager’s code of ethics.
“It was contrary to all rules of common sense and created a nightmare for the management of the city,” according to the report.
Johnson, Allgood’s attorney, said the city council was unsatisfied with the Gannaway investigation which “found that Allgood had been subject to discriminatory conduct.”
He said that is why the council fired longtime attorney Charlie Buenger, who recommended hiring the firm for the investigation.
“Dixon’s criticisms of Allgood and her relationship with the city manager clearly qualifies as sexual harassment and discrimination in and of itself,” Johnson said. “Dixon’s plan for the city of Hewitt seems to be as follows: ignore the results of the original investigation conducted by real professionals, pay off the male city manager who was in a position of authority and crucify the female city employee who has been the subject of discrimination.”
Johnson said newly-elected Councilwoman Erica Bruce’s “personal observations and opinion on the subject would be worth more than Dixon’s pathetic attempts to dig up dirt on a female employee who made a discrimination complaint.”
Bruce could not be reached for comment Friday.
Before she was on the council, she emailed Miles on May 15 describing a council meeting in which she said Passalugo was demeaning, disrespectful, and discriminatory toward female employees.
Also before she was on the council, Bruce publicly called for Passalugo and Vidrine to resign.
The report ends with a “thoughts and recommendations” section that states the city needs more detailed employment policies, training for the council in interpersonal communication skills, and that is should address Allgood’s “title cluster.”
“Under the Incompatibility Doctrine, one cannot hold a position and at the same time hold additional positions that are supervised by the original position,” the report states.