Galveston City Council today voted unanimously to retain Brian Maxwell as interim city manager; but also voted 4-3, with Mayor Joe Jaworski, Dianna Puccetti and Chris Gonzales opposed, to interview candidates submitted by Texas First Group for interim city manager at Thursday's regular meeting. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
The special meeting had been called by Steve Greenberg and Elizabeth Beeton who said they made a mistake in the meeting that named Maxwell interim city manager.
“I wanted to hire an interim city manager, someone that comes in from the outside that looks at the overall picture of Galveston and without looking at any of the political issues, determine what they think we should be doing in Galveston,” Greenberg said. “So I just am really just going back to what I originally wanted to do before I made the decision last Thursday.”
“These are big decisions we are making for this community,” complained Council Member Dianna Puccetti, who said she also originally wanted an interim city manager from outside; but she went along with the majority of the city council which decided on Maxwell. “So, I find it very unprofessional and distasteful to be sitting here today trying to go back and have a do-over on a decision that was made just a few weeks ago.”
Jaworski agreed, noting that the city council has twice chosen to not enter into a contract with Texas First Group and adding that he has full confidence in Maxwell, noting that Maxwell has already made great progress in reform of the permitting process and has recruited a new police chief, based on the city council’s direction to do so.
After the unanimous vote to retain Maxwell, the city council voted 4-3 to interview candidates for the interim position on Thursday. Before this vote, Jaworski said he hopes that the issue is fully resolved after Thursday’s meeting.
“Can we hope that that’s the last time?” he asked.
“Well, I certainly hope it’s the last time,” said Council Member Linda Colbert. “Because I don’t want to go through this again.”
“Don’t count on it,” said Puccetti.
Jaworski said the problems between Police Chief Charles Wiley and the Galveston Municipal Police Association should not be a topic for city council discussion.
“We need every minute of our workshops and our public comments to be focused on recovery and creating a stronger economic base here and bring our population back and dealing with our public housing issues, dealing with our infrastructure issues," Jaworski said. "We do not need to have an internecine conflict expand between the chief of police and the union.”
The agenda for the special meeting included an item to “discuss Chief Wiley’s retirement and recognize his employment with the city as chief of police.”
The city council voted 6-0-1, with Chris Gonzales abstaining, to wish Wiley well on his retirement.
A final item to “discuss and give direction to the interim city manager on the hiring of a police chief” was requested by Maxwell.
“Guys, my point is that I don’t want to drag some candidate’s name through the mud,” Maxwell said. “Trust me, it’s not fun. It has happened to me and I don’t like it.”
The vote to give Maxwell support to act on the position of police chief was 5-1-1, with Beeton opposed and Greenberg abstaining. However, whomever Maxwell's appointment is, will be subject to confirmation by the city council.
A main area of contention for some members of the city council was whether Maxwell would be a candidate for the full time city manager’s position. He explained that he is not inclined to seek the position but had not ruled out the possibility. He said he wanted to give the city council an option if none of the candidates in a nationwide search for the position is acceptable. However, later in the meeting, when former council member Tarris Woods asked Maxwell about his intentions, Maxwell indicated that he no longer wants to be considered for the full time position.
“I’m not going to go through this again,” Maxwell said.