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2014-07-10

Cardenas back on city agenda?

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera Director of Public Works Mike Cardenas




City watchers are advised to attend the special meeting of Bandera City Council slated for 6 pm, Thursday, July 10, as it looks like beleaguered Director of Public Works Mike Cardenas will be the subject of an executive session. Since the last closed session lasted three hours, those planning to attend should bring a book.
Apparently city officials have taken the advice of an interim attorney from the law firm of McKamie Krueger, LLP. This agenda items was phrased more artfully than a former one composed by Councilman Jim Hannah.
On July 10, council will deliberate: "the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee."
Hannah's ham-handed attempts to rid the city of Cardenas on June 19 went like this:
• "... to seek legal advice from the City's attorney on a matter for which it is the duty of the City's Attorney to consult with the City Council in private, in particular, the City's legal obligations related to investigations and responses to complaints raised against City employees.
• "To deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee, the City's Director of Public Works; and/or
• "To hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee, the City's Director of Public Works."
However, after Hannah's latest attempt to have Cardenas terminated went public, on Wednesday, June 18, he hastily requested that the poorly written items be removed from the agenda until "the City Attorney can attend in person rather than a telephone conference."
Additionally, using the Open Records Act, the Bandera County Courier obtained copies of complaints filed against Cardenas by current city employee Kerry "Joe" Frazier and former city employee Johnny "Red" Prevalte, son-in-law of Bandera Mayor Don Clark. Both sworn and notarized statements accuse Cardenas of misusing city equipment.
In his April 15 statement, Frazier wrote: "When the post hole digger was needed and was not available at the shop, jobs were cancelled or we had to dig by hand. Within the last 5 months, I asked the acting supervisor Ernest Martinez about this. I was told, 'Don't ask, it's none of your business' in a threatning [sic] tone."
In his April 16 statement, Prevalte noted that he "knew for a fact" Cardenas had been using the city auger post hole digger for his personal fence building business. "After Mr. Cardeness [sic] started his business, he had me help him load the city auger into his pickup truck so he could use it on a private job. This was not the first time."
Additionally, among other acts, Prevalte accused Cardenas of allegedly taking city cutting torch equipment away in his truck and never returning it, writing, "I have seen the torch rack mounted on a Cardenas trailer." According to Prevalte, other missing city equipment included new saws, a new table saw and other power equipment.
Prevalte offered no dates for his allegations. It is common knowledge that he took several extensive medical leaves and another leave of absence while being employed by the city.
Despite telephone calls, Cardenas did not respond to press enquiries for this article.
During a Feb. 13 meeting, late Councilman Nita Jenkins originally accused Cardenas of using city equipment in his private fence-building business - specifically "a posthole digger."
In her attack on Cardenas, Jenkins indicated she had documents that would prove that he had, in fact, absconded with a posthole digger. "I got you," she added for emphasis.
However, when the Courier filed an Open Records request asking for the documents of proof from Jenkins, any other member of city council or the mayor, all those responding indicated they did not have the requested documents. Hannah, however, failed to respond to the Courier's Open Records request.
It will be interesting if Cardenas, a 25-year city employee, survives this city council session. Additionally, after deciding Cardenas' fate, council will also deliberate in an executive session:
• "The deployment, or specific occasions for implementation, of security personnel or devices; or
• A security audit."