TRINITY — Following a code enforcement report earlier this month during the regular January meeting of Trinity City Council, a council member confronted staff members regarding comments made about the city manager.
Councilman Jack Carico asked Marc Allred, the city’s planning director, to clarify remarks Carico said were made by staff members to contractors, including one about City Manager Debbie Hinson. After discussing a sewer tap that was requested by a city resident and a separate request involving a contractor, Carico asked Allred directly why he concealed advice given to the contractor.
Specifically, Carico alleged Allred encouraged the contractor not to communicate with Hinson about a project on which they were working. Further, Carico attempted to persuade Councilman Tommy Johnson to verify the claim.
“Tommy, step in here Tommy,” Carico prompted. “Did he say it? Did he say it, Tommy?”
Johnson did not offer an answer and seemed unwilling to discuss the matter at that particular point in time. As Carico continued, Allred began to say something about being “unaware” of something pertaining to the councilman’s claims, but he was unable to finish his comment.
Carico was advised by the city’s legal counsel to cease discussion of personnel matters in open session, and was instead encouraged to do so only in closed session. Carico immediately responded by making a motion to enter closed session. That motion died due to a lack of a second.
After his motion to amend the agenda failed, Carico said he would continue with further discussion pertaining to related matters, including “something else I need to talk to Debbie about.” Mayor Richard McNabb cautioned that no further discussion would be had regarding personnel in open session.
“You watch me,” a defiant Carico said. “You watch me, you watch me! Tommy knows I’m telling the truth, but he’s not willing to speak up. I don’t come up here to make accusations without knowing the facts. Debbie, that’s why I’ve been wanting to talk with you since November. If nobody wants to do [sic] nothing, let the city go to hell in a handbasket; I don’t care.
“If they’ll do this behind the city manager’s back and city council’s back, what else have they done and what else will they do?”
Hinson told Carico that she would be glad to discuss the matter with him if he stopped by her office. According to Hinson, Carico asked her to meet him away from city hall previously. She cautioned, however, that all council members needed to be made aware of issues pertaining to the city, as did she.
Carico agreed, saying that is why he attempted to contact her and why he brought the matter before council this month. McNabb told Carico that the city attorney had already suggested he submit his concerns to Hinson in written form. He encouraged him to do likewise.
“It’s like I said the last time you [sic] was upset, Jack,” McNabb said. “The place to start is to see the manager. She runs the place.”
Carico replied that he called her in November, notifying her of his concerns. He said that he told her he’d rather show her what was going on than tell her over the phone.
“Why should I go with one council member when I work for all, Jack?” Hinson asked. “I do not want to get in the middle of a personnel issue. If you have a personnel issue, and it’s with somebody on my staff … then you need to come to me and I will talk to them.”
Carico repeatedly asked Johnson if he was “man enough” to speak up the next time an issue arises. Johnson refused to offer a response to Carico’s requests and the meeting was adjourned.
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.