Houston City Hall

Allegations were made, insults lobbed and obscenities thrown out last Tuesday night at Houston City Hall.

It was a meeting of the Houston City Council, where the agenda was to discuss filling employee vacancies, but most of the 25-minute meeting involved hearing from three city workers — two of them departing. Mayor Willy Walker called the meeting.

The city is advertising for five vacancies — Water and sewer superintendent Harley Coulter is moving from the community, municipal court clerk and accounting employee Angie Long has accepted a job elsewhere, Dustin Hartman, a water-sewer department employee, will become the county’s maintenance supervisor and a fourth opening is in the public grounds department. Additionally, four of the six members of the council fired Administrator Scott Avery at its May 16 meeting. Applications are being accepted. Avery and his wife were among those looking on during the meeting.

A personnel committee, comprised of the council  members Sam Kelley, Sheila Walker and Don Romines, was set to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, to begin work to fill vacancies.

Carol Pittman, a part-time city hall employee, was the first to express her displeasure with city government when she read from a printed statement — which took aim at the last council meeting, particularly Alderman Don Romines, who she said was disrespectful to the mayor and an insurance salesman, calling the episode a “****show.”

She alleged that employees were leaving because of the “chaos going on within the city.” She added, “I feel certain board members have gotten together and caused turmoil causing them to seek jobs elsewhere. There’s so many rumors going out there that we all feel like we are in line for termination.”

Angie Long, the court and accounting employee, said she just couldn’t continue to come to work every day and “feel like I have to walk on eggshells. I’ve heard rumors, talking that you know I was next and I just can’t do it.”

Long pledged to continue keeping municipal court operating for its monthly meeting and would remain to help the city with accounting matters afterhours until a permanent employee was hired and trained.

Coulter, who said he had worked for the city for 23 years, turned in his resignation to City Clerk Heather Sponsler on May 17. Coulter said he spoke to only one council member following his announcement. He wondered why no one had reached out to him to discuss it. Coulter passed out statements he reported that came from encounters he had over the years with Aldermen Kevin Stilley and Romines.

“I just want to see if somebody’s gonna own up to this,” he said reading from quotes that contained vulgarities allegedly coming from the elected officials.

Coulter and the aldermen butted heads over disagreements occurring during Coulter’s tenure — ranging from Romines’ then ownership of a car wash with a defective backflow device to a Stilley household water problem.

“I’m not gonna let two people on this council (Stilley and Romines) decide my future in my career,” Coulter said, who highlighted other grievances.

Stilley responded that Coulter has been lucky to keep his job following a previous attempt to fire him under a different council and Mayor Tottingham, who sought the termination. A past city administrator refused.

The council adjourned into a closed session.

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  1. If a company has high turnover and a hostile workplace, It’s management’s fault. In this case it sounds like the ”management team” (Mayor and council) is the source of the acrimony among the people that actually keep this city running. Maybe instead of special meetings we should hold a special election. Just a thought.

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