DALLAS – The Dallas City Council voted to part ways with City Manager Ron Foggin in a 5-to-4 vote Monday night. The termination followed Foggin’s annual performance evaluation and was effective immediately.
Council President Micky Garus, who voted in favor of the termination, said it was enacted under section 10 of Foggin’s contract with the city and is a “no cause” termination.
Along with Garus, councilors Terry Crawford, Bill Hahn, Jackie Lawson and Paul Trahan voted for the termination. Councilors Jim Fairchild, Kelly Gabliks, Jennie Rummell and Ken Woods Jr. voted no.
When asked the reason behind letting Foggin go, Garus said the city is “moving forward and is hopeful for future opportunities.”
He said the majority of the council wants to move in a different direction with the city manager role.
“This was just a really difficult decision for all of us,” Garus said. “It wasn’t made lighthearted, (but) under a lot of thoughtful deliberation. But we’re confident in the future of Dallas and looking forward to the opportunities that are yet to come.”
The vote took place in open session following more than three hours of discussion in executive session.
Following the vote to end Foggin’s employment with the city, the council turned to appointing an acting city manager to fill duties until an interim city manager could be put in place.
Lawson recommended Ted Cuno, the city’s building official, to serve in the role until an interim city manager is appointed.
“The rest of the leadership is all too new for that position,” Lawson said. “Do we need to call Ted and ask him that first?”
The council recessed it’s meeting to call Cuno before voting to appoint him. Garus and City Attorney Lane Shetterly talked with Cuno, and he agreed.
“Ted asked if I would meet with him ASAP,” Shetterly said. “I told him I would come over tomorrow morning and talk about what it means to be acting city manager. … Be prepared – when we’ve done this before, it’s taken a few special meetings to get through it. This gets us a start. With your permission, your authority, I will have that conversation with Ted.”
The vote to appoint Cuno got complicated.
Councilors Lawson, Rummell, Trahan, Garus, Crawford, and Hahn voted for Cuno as acting city manager.
Woods, Fairchild, and Gabliks voted no.
Lawson asked if the council could “reconsider” its vote on Cuno.
“What kind of message are we sending Ted if you voted no?” Lawson asked.
She requested a vote on reconsideration – which means having the council re-vote on the motion. That request passed 5 to 4.
“I know there are strong feelings about the decision to terminate Ron, but we are moving forward beyond that now, and Ted is more than qualified to help us with the short-term spot that we are asking him to be in,” Garus said. “I think to help support him, it would be really important to have a strong unity on the council. I just don’t understand why the three of you would vote no on that. It seems vindictive.”
Woods explained his concern with putting Cuno in the position.
“I have a personal history with Ted. It goes back 10 or 15 years,” Woods said. “When he was overlooked for a promotion and tried to file a complaint against the city but didn’t.”
He said he’s worried that Cuno might not be qualified to serve in the position.
“He wasn’t good enough to be a senior building inspector, but now he’s good enough to be the city manager?” Woods said.
When asked, Woods declined to discuss the specifics of his concerns in open session. Gabliks offered a different reason for her vote.
“My vote isn’t against Ted at all. I know it ends up being (against him). Really my vote is a protest vote,” Gabliks said. “I would have no problem telling Ted to his face.”
Lawson asked Gabliks to reconsider her vote.
“Kelly, if it’s not against Ted, then please vote what is appropriate for the actual vote,” Lawson said. “It’s not fair to Ted.”
Garus asked Shetterly if it violates the city’s charter to cast a protest vote.
Shetterly said no. The charter says councilors cannot abstain from voting.
“We don’t get into motives with votes,” Shetterly said.
The second vote tally was the same as the original.
Shetterly said the next step is to find an interim city manager, but the council didn’t need to address that formally on Monday.
“When we find an interim city manager, we will need to have a contract. It will take another city council meeting to approve the contract,” he said. “You may want to interview, and there will be some negotiations.”
The next regular meeting on Dec. 18 was cancelled, and Shetterly said councilors should be prepared to gather for a special meeting, which allows for more timing flexibility.
Greg Ellis, the former city manager for Independence and a former economic development consultant for Dallas, was suggested as someone that could fill the interim city manager role.
“I can call Greg and see if he is available,” Mayor Brian Dalton said.
The council adjourned at about 10:45 p.m.