Lubbock City Council Votes to Hire Outside Legal Counsel, Declines to Put City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld on Leave
At their meeting Thursday evening, the Lubbock City Council voted to hire outside counsel in the continuing drama between District One Councilman Victor Hernandez and Lubbock City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld.
The council approved the measure which directed Lubbock City Attorney Sam Medina to hire outside legal counsel in regards to the investigation and further proceedings regarding complaints made by City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld and Budget Director Pam Moon against Hernandez and complaints against Dumbauld from Hernandez.
A complaint filed by Moon against Hernandez was dismissed by the Lubbock City Council at a special meeting on Thursday, April 4th. Another complaint filed by Cheryl Brock, the City's finance director, was withdrawn by Brock. Brock stated that she was directed to file the complaint by Dumbauld.
In a statement released on Hernandez’s personal Facebook page prior to the meeting, he said that “As a result of City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld and Executive Director of Finance Pam Moon hiring local Lubbock attorney Jim Hund to represent their interests, I think it incumbent for The City of Lubbock to "lawyer up" so as to represent The City of Lubbock's interest."
He continued, saying “The trigger which prompted me to have a change of position in the hiring of outside legal counsel is partly based upon the situation having become adversarial. Being an attorney myself, I am confident that with attorneys involved (on behalf of all parties), the possibility of open and honest communication is now available.”
The Council also voted on a motion offered by District Six Councilwoman Latrelle Joy to place Dumbauld on paid administrative leave “until further notice.” The measure failed in a tie 3-3 vote, with Joy, Hernandez, and District Three Councilman Todd Klein voting in favor of placing Dumbauld on leave, and Mayor Glen Robertson, District Five Councilwoman Karen Gibson, and District Four Councilman Jim Gerlt voting against the motion. District Two Councilman Floyd Price was absent.
One person who spoke during citizen comments voiced displeasure with Hernandez’s choice to vote on a matter which directly involves complaints filed against him and made by him.
Bill Curnow said “As a member of your Community Services and Development board, I can’t vote on any issue involving money in which I have a vested interest, but it doesn’t say the same for you.”
He continued “So it was legal, but was it ethical, and I say it wasn’t. It created the appearance of impropriety, which at a time like this, you can ill afford. This has to be above board, this has to be done very carefully, and it has to be done expeditiously, but it has to be done ethically.”
Hernandez asked Medina if he had the legal right to vote on the issue, and Medina responded that there is no legal impediment keeping Hernandez from voting on the items.
“If I partake in this process through my vote, then I’m very well aware that I do it to the detriment of my own political career, and that’s how I frame it,” said Hernandez. “The price I could ultimately pay is a political one, but legally, I’m within my right.”
Curnow responded, saying “It seems to me that all too often, we say ‘well, I was acting within the law,’ when really you’re acting within a grey area…but it was disappointing.”
“I am fully aware and cognizant of the possible ramifications to my political career, but I also understand, and I hope the public understands, that I will defend myself,” Hernandez remarked.
Also, the Council did not discuss any items regarding to a possible FBI investigation into Lubbock Power and Light.
We’ll bring you more on this story from City Hall as it develops over the coming weeks.