It was a packed house at the Alpine City Hall meeting Tuesday. Many residents and council members gathered to take action, after a recent water outage and the resignation of many city employees.
“There’s no transparency coming right now from the Mayor and the City Manager,” said one resident, Oscar Cobos. “So I suggest we work together for improvement, or we hand in letters of resignation.”
Cobos, along with over 160 residents of an apartment complex, Alpine Heights, went approximately 36 hours without water.
“I started making calls to my manager, and they said it’s a city issue. We have no Utilities Director, we’ve been fined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality not too long ago, about $40, 000. So all these improprieties are adding up. This is a complete disregard for human life – for the things that matter to us all. Water.”
Cobos says his attempts to bring these issues to the forefront have been glossed over time and time again.
“What we’re seeing now is a case of denial and deflection. It’s never them. And here, I wanted to mention that in ‘Information and Discussion,’ and the Mayor pretty much just shut me up.”
But residents are not the only ones voicing their concerns. Councilman, Rick Stephens, says he has seen the number of city employees decrease by half in the last 18 months.
“Employees leave managers, employees don’t leave their jobs. And for me, that was an early indication we might have a problem,” said Stephens.
Skepticism like Stephen’s started causing residents and council members to raise questions about the City Manager’s leadership. And after months of complaints, a motion to terminate her employment was put on the agenda.
“I think that if we have a good city manager, we wouldn’t have the problems that we have, period. I blame her for it,” said Councilwoman Lucy Escovedo.
But after nearly four and a half hours of discussion, with a 3-3 tie, the City Council voted to keep the employment of its City Manager, Jessica Garza. While Escovedo is disappointed with the outcome, she says she is not done fighting.
“I will be contacting the Attorney General so we can get more clarification. Since we’re a home-build charter city, we need to know if the Mayor had the opportunity to vote or not.”