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Mayor vacates offices; Lauer changes locks

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JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press

WILMER - New City Administrator Thom Lauer took control of city hall Friday, following an altercation between him and Mayor Linda Root.

Root said Lauer 'body slammed' her against a wall, causing her to drop her crutch.

Lauer denied assaulting her and said he was just trying to get into city hall and do his job.

'All I did was walk in beside her, I didn't push at her,' he said. 'I went in-between her and the wall - I didn't shove her against the wall. I don't want to cause a stink, however, I'm being paid to do a job and I'm going to do it.'

Root, who uses the aid of a crutch because of several previous operations, was taken to Lancaster Regional Medical Center and said she had photographed evidence of the bruises.

'He body slammed me against the wall, and my crutch fell on the floor,' said Root.

Lauer was appointed as the city's new administrator Thursday, Dec. 19 at the regular council meeting.

He reported for work the next morning and said when he left to talk to the department heads of the city, Root arrived at city hall and refused to let him back in.

Root said he was not supposed to take office until a budget amendment was made.

'Where are we going to get the money? We have no money in the budget for this,' said Mayor Root, who reacted in disbelief at the hiring.

This attorney said at the meeting the city cannot put Lauer to work, 'until money is available.'

Lauer had a different interpretation, saying he was appointed, 'to secure city hall, take over day-to-day operations and report to the city council immediately.

'They want to know the financial status of the city and they put me in there [to find out] and manage the day-to-day operations,' Lauer said. 'He [attorney] said the city can do a budget amendment next week.

'She [Root] has basically shut down city hall and made it unavailable to the council.'

The Dallas County Sheriff's Department was called following the altercation, but Root said deputies told her there was, 'nothing she could do about it.'

She said the deputy told her Lauer could even shove her and it was not assault.

Texas law states a licensed peace officer can commit an assault and be charged with a Class 'A' misdemeanor. Lauer is Wilmer's former police chief.

She removed her personal belongings from city hall and said she could not allow herself to be in this kind of physical jeopardy.

Lauer changed the locks on city hall and demanded city hall employees to turn over their keys.

As for the mayor, she said she won't be coming back, except for city council meetings.

'I'm going to stay home until May,' she tearfully said. 'I give up, I can't do it anymore.'

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