Tempers flare at Charlotte City Council meeting
Multiple heated arguments took place at the Charlotte City Council meeting held on Thursday, June 8. Mayor Anna Estrada and council member Christi Rankin clashed on several issues, leading to six tabled agenda items, several without motions or approval.
The disagreements began when deciding whether to appoint a city laborer as Animal Control Officer. Rankin felt the position should be open to the public, while Estrada wanted it to be a city employee. The mayor tabled the item.
The fiery discussions continued when Estrada recommended Tracy Zuniga, cousin of Public Works Director Jorge Zuniga, to be hired as a full-time laborer. Stating the council did not have sufficient information on the candidates, Rankin suggested tabling the item. Estrada said the item needed to be resolved that night.
Council member Patty Garza said it would be nepotism for Jorge Zuniga to hire Tracy, to which Zuniga responded that “his hands are tied” since they are family.
Estrada disagreed the hiring would be nepotism but still moved to table the item.
“Let’s just go ahead and table it. I will get attorney guidance,” Estrada said. “That’s what I mean about being prepared if this is the way it’s always going to be.”
Rankin took exception, saying “this is not how it’s going to be.”
“It’s always your way,” Rankin responded. “It’s never gone the right way.”
Estrada and Rankin had disagreements during four other items, including decisions on changes to city job descriptions, requirements for holding a city council position, and the employee handbook.
An amendment to the harassment section of the city’s employee handbook was up for possible action. Rankin said harassment within the city was an issue, while Estrada disagreed. Rankin said the city attorney recommended the additions to the handbook after the two spoke about issues Rankin saw.
Previously, the handbook only addressed sexual harassment.
“Not only to protect our employees, but also the city of Charlotte,” Rankin said.
Estrada and Rankin had another argument regarding the hiring, firing and discipline of city employees.
Rankin said the council decided last October to create a panel to deal with the hiring process, but it never formed. She added the panel could have assisted with the hiring of a laborer the council discussed that night.
“To throw that [hiring process] to us is not very fair,” Rankin said. “This would set a way to handle hiring, firing, and all this with the employees through the changes with the amendment. It’s just a better way of handling it.”
Estrada disagreed with the need for a panel, claiming the city attorney said as mayor she was in charge for personnel matters. Ultimately, the motion passed.
More personnel issues arose during the discussion of city job descriptions. Rankin said the changes would better detail employee responsibilities and alleviate micromanagement.
Estrada and Rankin disagreed on city employees’ ultimate manager.
“When high absenteeism is a problem, as a supervisor, as a CEO of this community, as an elected official, it is my responsibility to take care of the taxpayers’ money,” Estrada said.
“But that’s not your job,” Rankin countered. “That should be Jorge’s job. Jorge is in charge of the workers…But the ultimate decisions come to the council. The problem is you’re making decisions, and you are not consulting with the city council.”
Multiple times during the meeting the mayor alleged that City Attorney Jameene Williams (Denton, Navarro, Roacha, Bernal, Hyde, Zech) gave “wishy-washy guidance.” Upon phoning Ms. Williams at her office Pleasanton Express was informed that she was not allowed to speak to the press.
The Pleasanton Express will be uploading complete minutes and video of parts of the June 8 Charlotte City Council meeting to our website pleasantonexpress.com.