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2015-04-02

EEOC complaint & other council biz

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During the Thursday, March 19, meeting, Bandera City Council convened for an hour-long executive session, which centered on Kerry "Joe" Frazier's EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) lawsuit against the city.
When council reconvened in open session, Mayor Pro Tem Suzanne Schauman made a motion that the city allow the Texas Municipal League to proceed [in the matter] "and use discretion in the way the matter is handled."
Shortly after being terminated a second time by City Administrator Lamar Schulz on Dec. 14, 2014, Frazier, who formerly served as de facto manager of Bandera City Park, filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging he had been fired for "being too old and deaf."
In a Jan. 6 filing with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, Frazier formally claimed discrimination and retaliation by Schulz. The document alleges that Frazier was told he "was being discharged because my hearing is bad, I talk too loud and I am a whistle-blower."
For its part, city officials claimed Frazier's termination stemmed from two complaints, which the city considers unsubstantiated, received in September. One from a former city resident accused Frazier of "harassment," and another, from "Bob", alleged Frazier made numerous comments about "young girls in bikinis and female body parts."
After receiving the complaints, Schulz terminated Frazier for "inappropriate conduct." His termination came three months after the complaints were filed with the city - a fact not lost on Texas Workforce Commission personnel.
Schultz and Councilman Jim Hannah had represented the city during a March 12 mediation with Frazier and an EEOC administrator. In fact, a special city council workshop had to be somewhat delayed because the mediation process in San Antonio had taken longer than expected.
With the mediation and Schauman's motion now one for the books, it appears all that's left between Frazier and the City of Bandera is the inevitable monetary settlement.
In other business, despite some heavy lobbying by Schulz to increase park rental fees to recoup potential lost funds and offset budget shortfalls, council voted to keep rates at $1,000 per day.
Schulz had suggested "in season" fees for March, April and May prior to the Friday preceding Memorial Day and September after Labor Day through the end of the month be increased to $1,250. Peak season rates from the Friday preceding Memorial Day through Labor Day would have increased to $1,500 per day. Off-season rates would remain at $1,000.
"We want to make sure the city is compensated adequately," Schulz said - to no avail. Council was split on the decision with Councilmen Sheila Pumphrey and Hannah voting for the increase. Schauman and Councilman Charlotte Browning-Black voted to keep the current rates. Breaking the tie, Mayor John Hegemier voted against the rental increase.
Additionally, to drum up funds to purchase two 2015 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks, Public Works Director JR Higgins asked council to approve bids for equipment and vehicles no longer needed by the city.
To that end, a 2007 685B Lee Boy Motor Grader was sold under a sealed bid to Todd Anderwald for $37,770. Elliot Stanton purchased a 2007 L500 Lee Boy Tack Distributor for $4001 and a 1998 Chevy 1500 and 1998 Chevy 2500 for $1,301 each.
When Schauman asked if it were a good idea to sell the motor grader that could still be used in the park, Schulz informed her that the city does not have anyone to operate the motor grader at this time.
"If we use it just once in a blue moon, it's better to get the money for it," Hegemier said.
Council also approved a grant application in the amount of $75,000 to Texas Parks & Wildlife for the Silver Spur Skate Park.
Funds for the matching grant, which is designated for small cities of less than a 20,000 population, come from a sales tax on sporting goods and sports-related sales. The required three-related projects will include the skate park, a "play skate" area for children over six years and picnic tables to be installed near the skate park.
According to Schulz, the city's matching $75K will come from the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation and the current skate park trust.
It would appear the city's HOT fund (Hotel-Motel Occupancy Tax) cupboard is bare. Margaret Paradee, interim president of the Bandera Business Association, had intended to ask for an additional $3,000, but in the end, settled for nothing.
"I was told you had no money to give me," Paradee said to council, adding, "I haven't even received my first quarter [payment] yet." To ensure more HOT funds were readily available, she suggested that the city "fill the B&Bs or build a hotel."
Interestingly, when council held a meeting last year to discuss a developer's request for an off-premises sign for a proposed Best Western Hotel on Main Street, the BBA - Credo: "Helping Bandera Grow" - failed to send a representative to the meeting to speak in favor of the requested sign variance and hotel.