FERRIS: Mayor disciplinary appeal taken over by council

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By Sheila Hatfield / The Ellis County Press

FERRIS – One of the mayor’s duties, since around 2008, has been to hear and settle any employee’s disciplinary action brought forward by the city manager.

That changed at the last city council meeting, when a motion made by Alderman Bobby Lindsey and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Jay Walsh passed 3-1, to take the final appeal away from the mayor – and place it into the hands of the council.

Lindsey and Walsh have been trying to change the personnel policy – to having those actions brought before the entire council for action when they occur – since Mayor Swafford contacted and met with the Ellis County District Attorney’s office concerning a complaint brought against the two by resident Johnathan Hope, accusing the councilmen of trying to involve him in a scheme to get rid of the Ferris police chief.

At the last few council meetings, Swafford has literally begged the aldermen to postpone this action and give him the opportunity to restore their trust in him.

Councilwoman Sherie Chapman has maintained this agenda item was a behind-the-scene’s attempt for the two to find a way to “back-door” Police Chief Eddie Salazar and get rid of him.

The saga continued at the Monday, Oct. 1 meeting.

“Who requested this (agenda item) and why?” Chapman asked of City Manager Bill Jordan.

Jordan said Lindsey and Walsh did, and they felt like these actions should be heard by more than one person.

Councilman Clayton Hunter didn’t comment much this week, although he generally votes with Lindsey and Walsh, giving them the majority vote over Chapman and Councilman Rick Barrett, who was absent for this meeting.

“When a decision is made, it goes before a board,” said Hunter, then adding “I don’t think it’s personal.”

“It… was very personal at the last meeting,” replied Chapman.

The councilwoman said if the motion passed, and the chief was fired – she would be a witness in court that people on the council (conspired to do this).

Jordan said he and the chief had been working on their relationship, and Chapman said she wished the councilmen could get to that place – with the mayor.

“I’m asking you to reconsider and take no action tonight,” said Swafford. “I think it will cause more controversy.”

The motion was then quickly made by Lindsey, seconded by Walsh, and passed 3-1.

“If only the entire council had the integrity they are expecting of the mayor.” remarked Chapman.

Chapman also reiterated her stand on another controversial project of Jordan’s – the construction of a building to house police and fire departments.

Jordan wanted an approval vote to move forward on the only modular constructed facility presented to council – by RamTech – during the Monday, Sept. 17 meeting.

“This is the third time I’ve said it – I would like to have three bids on whatever kind of structure you want,” said Chapman.

The discussion went then to the various possibilities – brick and mortar, modular, or steel.

Chapman said the presentation and numbers they received from RamTech wasn’t truthful and, “We have never had three bids… ever – I would find that refreshing.”

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