HR firm: Copperas Cove councilman contacted their office
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The owner and operator of Texas First Group, the firm engaged by the City of Copperas Cove’s Human Resources Department to fulfill a request for interim city manager candidates back in January, confirmed that a Copperas Cove city councilman contacted him regarding a potential candidate.
Kerry Sweatt with Texas First Group responded to a request by the Leader-Press, if any Copperas Cove city council members had contacted his office regarding interim city manager candidates, and if so, who?
“There was a bit of confusion when I sent several resumes as one potential candidate initially said he was not available, and later said he was interested. I received a call from one of the City Council members asking about that individual; however I do not remember the name of the Council member,” Sweatt replied.
Sweatt did not give the name of the “potential candidate” that the council member inquired about.
At the Tuesday, April 3 city council meeting, former city councilman Matthew Russell called out place 3 councilman Dan Yancey in citizens’ forum, stating on more than one occasion Yancey “interfered with the daily operations of city staff” and said that on several occasions Yancey allegedly “attempted to have the Copperas Cove HRC director put an unqualified candidate as one of the top finalists for consideration for the Copperas Cove interim city manager position” and also stated Yancey had “contacted the contractor hired by the city of Copperas Cove to find interim city manager candidates and attempted to influence this organization to select his candidate as one of the top candidates for interim city manager.”
When asked by the Leader-Press if he had a response at this time to Russell’s allegations, Yancey said he thought it best to wait until the appropriate time to do so.
The Leader-Press submitted an open records request to the City of Copperas Cove for any record, written or electronic, of Yancey’s interactions with the city’s Human Resources Director, Roy “Jeff” Davis or other city staff, but did not receive a response as of press time on Thursday.
In the Copperas Cove city charter, among the prohibitions for city council members is that “neither the council nor its individual members, including the mayor, shall give any orders or direction, public or private, to any officer or employee who is subject to the direction and supervision of the city manager,” which would include the city’s director of human resources.
However, in the same section of the code, it states the prohibition “is not to preclude the council or its individual members, including the mayor, from conducting a dialog with city staff where the spirit and intent is not to interfere with the management and administration of the city.”
Texas First Group assists cities like Copperas Cove with interim management needs, providing individuals with municipal government and management experience such as former Economic Development Department interim director, Mark Marquez, and the current interim city planner, Gordon Browning, who were both engaged by Texas First Group for the City of Copperas Cove.
Ultimately, instead of selecting an interim city manager candidate from Texas First Group, the Copperas Cove council voted to keep interim city manager Ryan Haverlah in place and directed him to put out a request for proposals for firms to conduct a search for a city manager.
At the close of last week’s meeting, place 2 councilman James Pierce Jr. called for the matter of city council members’ accountability to the charter to be placed on the agenda for next week’s April 17 meeting. Those discussions could likely take place during an executive session.