Oh, come on. You can’t fire a police chief and expect people to be satisfied with no explanation whatsoever.

The Hitchcock City Commission on Monday fired Police Chief Clay Kennelly “for job performance and loss of confidence.”

What was that about?

Obviously, with a split vote, there’s debate about whether the firing was justified.

The refusal to comment because of legal reasons is just a complete abdication of responsibility — elected officials have a responsibility to keep voters and taxpayers informed.

Of course it’s a legal problem if you get into the intimate details of a personnel file. But when a person holds a position of public trust, such as the position of police chief, questions about what led to a “loss of confidence” are completely fair.

And if elected representatives refuse to answer fair questions, how can you pretend to have accountability in government?

Left completely in the dark, residents of Hitchcock are going to wonder about the recent controversy over the proposed mass gathering ordinance, which would have required permits for large gatherings.

And, if that wasn’t what got Kennelly in trouble, Hitchcock residents might wonder about the proliferation of game rooms in the community. And they might wonder about the fact that the Hitchcock Police Department was not notified in advance when the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement officers conducted a raid aimed at curtailing illegal gambling.

Residents of Hitchcock deserve more of an explanation than they were given. If they don’t demand it, they are going to have to learn to live in the dark.

Kennelly was the second public official who has left office under less than clear circumstances within a month.

Barbara Derrick, the superintendent of the Hitchcock school district, departed mysteriously with a settlement of $120,000.

The school board approved the agreement, but no one said why Derrick left. The only explanation the public got was a statement that said Derrick’s employment situation was “resolved to all parties’ mutual satisfaction.”

Some explanation.

At a glance

The Hitchcock City Commission voted, 3-2, to fire Police Chief Clay Kennelly.

FOR: Lee Sander, Fard Abdullah and Glen Manis

AGAINST: Mayor Anthony Matranga and Randy Stricklind

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.


(5) comments

Miss Priss

Here's the deal .....

You've got some folks on that council who think they own the city of Hitchcock. I'm not talking about Anthony Matranga but others who have been long term elected officials who "think "they have the pull to threaten law enforcement into doing nothing about the illegally ran game rooms and various items that they know nothing about - overbearing personalities.

Have you noticed how no one in law enforcement has done one thing about the game rooms in Hitchcock in the last two years? It's disgraceful.

Marylee Ellison

I have lived in Hitchcock THIS time about 3 years...the proliferation of game rooms is a big surprise. I'm out early in the mornings and even at that hour (7am or thereabouts) there are cars in several of the gamerooms on Hwy 6...and the one a block from the police dept is always full. Personally, I have never been in a gameroom so can't comment there...but I've read San Leon and Bacliff have regular raids, even a murder committed in one a couple of years back...but they seem to give lots of folk something to do...used to be bars, now it's gamerooms...

Marylee Ellison

I meant to add that it would be nice if they could be legal ...from what I understand of game rooms, cash is paid out to patrons and that's illegal gambling...? I'm ignorant of the game rooms, as I said...what makes a game room legal? Lots of folk will sure miss them.

PD Hyatt

Herb.... This is Hitchcock and things like what you wrote about have been going on ever since this town was built and I seriously doubt that it will ever change, nor will you ever get an explanation of the 2 firings that you have questioned.

Keith Meier

There are some past members of the council who still run things. It seems Kennelly was fired by the ex Chief who must have an ax to grind and maybe Sander who didn't like Kennelly because Kennelly knew what he was doing better than did Sanders. Kennelly is a good cop and a great administrator. He brought pride back to this department along with some decent equipment for the offices to work with. Too bad he couldn't convince the council to help out with the pay. Once again Hitchcock has taken a step back instead of forwards. Some things never change.

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