Mayor Pat Hallisey said he wants an item on the Dec. 13 council agenda to consider firing City Manager Mark Rohr and City Attorney Nghiem Doan.
This could be the first test of League City’s newly configured council following the Nov. 8 election. Hallisey ostensibly has more allies now and perhaps the necessary votes to fire the two.
Hallisey has said for weeks that he has lost confidence in Rohr and Doan and argues the two have worked in concert against him.
Rohr said Wednesday he wasn’t surprised by the mayor’s plan and characterized it as retaliation. Doan declined direct comment about the mayor's plan to have him fired.
The three have been in open conflict for months, making accusations and counter accusations.
• In July, Doan got city council members to sign a letter accusing Hallisey of using a gender slur against former Councilwoman Heidi Hansing and committing acts of sexual harassment against women employed by the city. The letter demanded that Hallisey apologize or face a formal ethics complaint. Hallisey denied the accusations and declined to apologize.
Doan, who filed the complaint in August, has said Rohr directed him to seek the letter and set the agenda item seeking council authorization to file the complaint.
None of the women involved filed complaints themselves.
An attorney hired to investigate the complaint reported in October that Hallisey hadn’t committed any ethical breaches or acts of harassment and suggested calling in a mediator.
Meanwhile, Hallisey has argued the council and Doan violated the Texas Open Meetings act by drafting and signing the letter outside of a posted public forum. Doan has denied that his and council’s actions broke the law.
• In September, Rohr accused Hallisey of breaching the city’s charter by discussing an economic development prospect that was supposed to be confidential and violating the city’s council-manager form of government, in which the city manager runs day-to-day operations. Doan included an item on the council agenda to authorize an investigation into Hallisey’s actions, but the council voted against the measure.
Hallisey has also cited secrecy and lack of information from Rohr as reasons to consider his dismissal. His plan to put firing two of the city’s top administrators before the council came to light Tuesday as The Daily News was reporting an email exchange in which Hallisey was attempting to gather copies of Rohr’s “work product.”
Rohr said Wednesday he had been expecting the move.
“I am not surprised,” Rohr said in an email. “In fact, I predicted the mayor would attempt this in an Aug. 20 email to council detailing some of his charter and council rules and regulations violations, where I stated at the memo’s end, ‘I am concerned that I will be subject to retaliatory action, in the near and distant future, as a result of raising this concern.’ So, I am contractually obligated to the city to report charter violations and encroachment on duties, and I find myself in this situation as a result.”
Doan also responded by email.
“I am unaware of any agenda item being proposed by the mayor or any other member of the council to terminate my employment with the city, so it would be inappropriate for me to offer any comment at this time,” Doan said. “I remain committed to providing the highest level of legal services to the city council and the professional staff of League City.”
Hallisey asked the city secretary’s office Tuesday for copies of all Rohr’s “work product” since he became city manager in March 2014.
“The city of League City owns these work records,” Hallisey wrote Tuesday in an email to Rohr. “I want to see them and have them returned to the custody of League City. Thank you, and there are no good excuses as to time. This city deserves to know your activities. We pay you a lot of money, and yet have no record of your work product.”
Work products can mean a variety of different things, Rohr responded in an email. He asked the mayor for clarification to save staff time in responding to the request.
“Pat, I am not trying to be evasive on your request,” Rohr wrote Tuesday afternoon. “I am trying to understand what you are requesting, so I can respond.”
The council as a whole provides the city manager’s direction, Rohr said.
If the council fires Rohr or if he leaves the job voluntarily, records and important information could be lost, Hallisey said.
“I believe that work product is important to a smooth transition,” Hallisey said.
It takes two members of council to get an item on the agenda, even for the mayor. In the council-manager form of city government, the mayor is a member of council. Hallisey said Tuesday he was confident the agenda would include an item considering firing Rohr and Doan.