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Allegations that City Hall did not act on vote
Cotulla City Councilor Eloy Zertuche said in an interview Tuesday, November 2, that he expects to resign his elected seat at the table, citing conflict over City Hall action on expenditure votes.
The councilor said he had spoken with Mayor Javier Garcia and had announced his intention to resign.
If Zertuche vacates his seat, the remaining city councilors may name a replacement or choose to leave the seat empty for six months until the next election. Zertuche’s current term in office expires in May 2022.
A council nominee to the seat will be required to run for election next spring in order to keep the position.
Zertuche had yet to submit a formal letter of resignation to City Hall on Tuesday morning. He said one reason for his decision to resign is that the municipal administration failed to act on a council decision that time clocks be installed for every city department.
Zertuche said a September council vote on the purchase of several paintings by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa was acted on more swiftly than the vote to install time clocks, and at an expense more than ten times that of the devices. He added that he believed the cost of installing time clocks should have been approximately $2,500.
“I spoke to the mayor, and I told him that I thought it was his fault that action hadn’t been taken on a council decision,” Zertuche said.
At City Hall this week, however, administrator Larry Dovalina said that progress has been made on the installation of time clocks and on implementation of a policy that requires every city employee physically to punch a time card upon beginning and ending a work shift.
Dovalina said that delays in the purchase and installation of the machines has been due to what he described as unforeseen circumstances. The contractor chosen by the city to install the time clocks, Dovalina said, had become ill with coronavirus and had been unable to perform the job as swiftly as expected.
“We called the time clock vendor in Corpus Christi,” the city administrator said this week. “He was sick; his family was sick. We are waiting on him. Meanwhile, we have asked a local person to install a citywide time clock system that works.”
Dovalina acknowledged that there were flaws in a time clock system used by City Hall in its former office building at 117 North Front Street but said that progress on a universal time clock policy has already extended to all of at least one municipal department.
“We all agreed on this,” the city administrator said of the council’s directive and the time clock installation, “and we are moving in that direction.”
Zertuche also said on Tuesday that “name-calling and unprofessional behavior” by city staff played a part in his decision to leave office. He declined to give further details.
The city administrator said on Tuesday that he hopes elected officials take notice of the same caution he gives all paid city staff regarding life in the public arena.
“We work in a fishbowl here,” Dovalina said. “I tell all the staff here that work for a municipal government, in any office, is a very public existence. If you can’t stand to live in a fishbowl and face criticism, then you shouldn’t be here.
“I think the same lesson should apply to elected councilors,” the city administrator said. “It’s a very public life. You have to be ready for that.”