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Residents voice concerns on Brownsville city officials Commission accepts city manager’s retirement

Brownsville city officials discuss the concerns of local residents.
Brownsville resident Leticia Perez-Garzoria addresses her issue with former City Manager Charlie Cabler retiring with full benefits. The city commission accepted Cabler’s the letter of retirement. Robert Benavidez Jr./The Rider

The Brownsville City Commission has accepted City Manager Charlie Cabler’s letter of retirement despite the  opposition voiced by some community members via social media, including a resident who spoke out against him.

Cabler’s position was officially vacated during last Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Brownsville resident Leticia Perez-Garzoria told the commission she believes Cabler, who had been city manager since 2004, should be fired, rather than receive the full-benefit package from his retirement.

“My take on this is with City Manager Cabler? Fire him. Does he deserve a benefit package with all the ribbons? I don’t think so, but that’s my take, and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way,” Perez-Garzoria said.

Perez-Garzoria’s concerns come from an Audit and Oversight Committee Report released Oct. 2 on the Brownsville Fire Department and EMS Ambulance Services.

The report contains findings regarding non-emergency transfer services throughout the City of Brownsville, according to an Oct. 2 statement made by Cabler.

In his statement, Cabler denied being interviewed or asked to provide any information regarding the committee’s investigations and findings.

In an Oct. 3 meeting, District 4 City Commissioner Ben Neece disputed Cabler’s statement.

Later in that meeting, the City Commission approved receiving the Commission Audit Committee report regarding the operations of the Fire Department and EMS Ambulance Services. District 1 City Commissioner Ricardo Longoria cast the sole dissenting vote.

Carlos Elizondo, the city’s fire chief, was demoted to fire lieutenant last month.

Last week, a Cameron County grand jury returned an indictment against Elizondo, alleging that between May 22, 2010, and March 31, 2016, he unlawfully appropriated more than $1,500 but less than $20,000 from the Brownsville Firefighters Association Political Action Committee “without effective consent of the owner, and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, and the defendant was then and there a public servant, namely, a Brownsville firefighter, and such property appropriated by the defendant had theretofore come into his custody, possession, or control by virtue of his status as a public servant.”

Count II of the indictment alleges that between May 22, 2010, and March 31, 2016, Elizondo “did then and there intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly misapply property” with a value of  more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 “by making expenditures from the Brownsville Firefighters for Responsible Government Political Action Committee bank account(s).”

On Oct. 17, Elizondo surrendered at the District Attorney’s Office and was arraigned on two third-degree felony charges, theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary property. Associate Judge Louis Sorola set bond at $8,500 on each charge, according to a news release from the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.

Asked about Elizondo’s arrest, District 4 City Commissioner Ben Neece declined to comment on the situation.

Brownsville blogger Erasmo Castro told the commission officials have been making a “circus attraction” out of the city’s government, due to the increase in negative attention they have been bringing onto themselves, such as Cesar De Leon, City Commissioner At-Large “A,” who revoked his resignation earlier this month following leaked audio recordings in which he used racial slurs against two Cameron County assistant district attorneys.

De Leon was absent from last Tuesday’s meeting.

“Brownsville is making national headlines for all the wrong reasons,” Castro said. “The residents of Brownsville are being fooled by individuals who claim to want change, only to find out that the only change they seek is the extra change in their pockets.”    

Asked about the city’s plans to relocate the Jefferson Davis Highway Memorial, Neece told The Rider it will be put on hold until Mayor Tony Martinez calls a town hall meeting to further discuss the issue.   

The commission also authorized the Brownsville Metro Department to offer a Free Ride Day on Wednesday to commemorate Public Transit Week.

The BMetro bus service will operate fare-free for a day in order to promote public transportation to the community.

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