November 2012

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Police chief and captain on administrative leave

AISD News

Police Chief Terminated, Captain Resigns

City to Expand Water Line Project

Manvel Enjoys Two New Eating Establishments

Police chief and captain on administrative leave

November 7, 2012

 

Manvel City Manager Kyle Jung confirmed that Police Chief Ralph Garcia and Captain Duke Adkisson have been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. While details have not been made available, a source indicates an audit from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standard Education (TCLOSE) discovered irregularities that prompted the investigation. Jung said the city would be unable to comment further until the investigation is complete. Efforts to contact the chief have been unsuccessful.

Sergeant Art Chapa will be supervising the day-to-day activities of the department as the ranking police officer on staff. Jung indicated that all police department activity will continue as normal.

Chief Garcia has been the Chief of Police for more than 12 years. He joined the Manvel force upon the appointment of then chief Robert Schoener in 1998. In little more than a year, Schoener and the city parted ways and Garcia was offered the position. He has served as chief ever since.

For the most part Garcia has enjoyed good relations with the community. Recent years, however, have seen some strain in his relationship with city officials. In August 2010 the chief survived a no-confidence vote brought forth by then council member Gary Garnett who claimed the chief exercised poor judgment in his management of animal control issues, and in his hiring of his wife and her purported involvement in the decision by Manvel EMS to leave the police dispatch service. His wife was fired by the mayor in September of that year.

In December 2010 the Police Department moved into the former city hall building on Masters Road amid turmoil regarding the renovations needed to make the building suitable for its new use. Ultimately a new contractor was brought in to complete the work and the cost far exceeded original projections.

In June of this year the Chief battled city council on the City Manager’s budget proposal to eliminate the captain position in order to free funds for other city priorities. Jung made the case that the department is top heavy and some on council agreed that funds could perhaps be better spent on patrol officers. Council ultimately sided with the chief in sparing the position.

Under his direction Manvel has advanced from essentially a part-time force to one today that enjoys a fully staffed modern police department. High-tech communications, a report management system, and other current law-enforcement tools allow the city to handle most any crime it is faced with.

Garcia explained in a previous interview that he was interested in law enforcement even as a boy growing up in Hitchcock. After putting himself through the police academy, he quickly moved up in authority beginning as a jailer with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department and then a patrol officer with the City of Hitchcock. He served eleven years with the City of Dickinson and was appointed chief of the department at age 32.

Captain Adkisson joined Manvel PD in 2008 as a Detective/Sergeant after serving with the Alvin Police Department. He was promoted to Captain in 2010 after then captain Aaron Bell assumed the position of Fire Marshal/Code Enforcement Officer.

It is unclear when a resolution to the investigation will be realized.

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AISD News

November 14, 2012

 

The Board of Trustees for the Alvin Independent School District (AISD) approved the establishment of a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) as it prepares to address enrollment growth and future facility needs.  Recommendations from the committee will be presented to the Board not later than August 2013 to accommodate a possible November school bond issue.

 

The goal of the CAC is to involve members of the community with AISD staff members in evaluating the possible needs for renovated and/or new facilities for the purpose of supporting quality educational programs.  The CAC will provide recommendations to the Board after studying current facilities, educational programs, and information associated with student population growth in the district.  The report will address and prioritize both immediate and five-year facility needs based on established goals, charges, and parameters.  

 

In order to meet the most pressing facility need faced by the district, the Board approved a request from the district’s Director of Support Services, Pat Miller, for the funding of a new Elementary School, designated as Elementary #15, to be located on CR 59 at Kirby Drive in Manvel’s ETJ.  In making the request, Miller explained that funding approval is necessary now so that construction can begin in March 2013 in order to meet the prescribed timeline that will allow the school to be available for the 2014-1015 school year.  The land purchase for the school was completed in October 2011.  Utility infrastructure construction is near complete and construction drawings will be finished in December.  Each of these elements were part of the district’s 2009 bond referendum. 

 

In other District news, a public hearing was held to announce a Superior Rating awarded by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  The Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) is an accountability rating system for Texas school districts developed by the TEA.  The primary goal of the system is to assess the quality of financial management in public schools thereby increasing their financial accountability.  AISD received the systems highest rating, “Superior Achievement”,  for the school year ending in 2011.  It is the tenth consecutive year AISD has received the highest rating.

 

The Board of Trustees commended two Manvel High School students, Harrington A. McDowelle and Celina N. Perez-Learch, for being named Outstanding Participants in the 2013 National Merit Achievement Scholarship Program.  The students were honored  for scoring in the top 3% of the more than 16,000 African Americans who took the 2011 Pre SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 

 

Also commended by the Board of Trustees was the student council from EC Mason Elementary for being named one of 63 student councils in the state of Texas that received the 2012 Student Council Excellence Award.  The award recognizes outstanding achievement in community service, student leadership, citizenship, and school spirit.

 

The Board approved the district’s Vision Statement, “Alvin ISD is a dynamic learning organization committed to excellence for all students and every program” and five Core Beliefs:  “Trusting relationships in a safe and caring environment are vital to an innovative learning organization; A learning organization focused on excellence will continually transform to best suit the needs of our students and community; Through community support and engagement, quality public schools build and preserve a healthy democratic society; Every student is uniquely capable and deserves to be provided engaging, challenging and meaningful work; and Each student should be empowered to realize the opportunities that they have as 21st century learners.”

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Police Chief Terminated, Captain Resigns

November 21, 2012

 

Manvel City Council voted unanimously in support of City Manager Kyle Jung’s decision to terminate long-time Police Chief Ralph Garcia’s employment with the city. A press release issued by the city explained Jung’s decision being based on his lack of confidence in the Chief’s ability to effectively lead the Police Department. It went on to say that the determination grew from the discovery of various state administrative requirements not being adhered to, that the Chief failed to keep the City Manager informed of pertinent issues, and that the Chief disregarded instructions to not interfere with an on-going investigation.

In explaining his decision to council, Jung said that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) uncovered a “number of paperwork issues” in a recently completed audit including one officer lacking for more than two years the required authorization to legally work as a law enforcement officer.

Jung placed the chief and Captain Duke Adkisson on administrative leave with pay approximately two weeks before the decision to terminate them was announced. He explained to council that each was told to not have contact with city employees, not to visit the Police Department, and not to access city computers. Garcia’s city issued phone and tablet were surrendered and subsequently locked away at the Police Department. It was later determined, according to Jung, that both the phone and tablet belonging to the chief were remotely accessed, all the data and contents erased, and settings put back to their factory condition.

Notices of Complaint were produced by Jung and delivered to the Chief and Captain. Jung said that interviews with police employees and reviews of emails and voice messages between the department and TCLEOSE sustained three of the allegations against the Chief and two against the Captain. They were notified of the decision of termination on Friday, November 9. Each was offered the opportunity to resign; the Captain accepted and retired from the force while the Chief declined the offer.

Council member Adrian Gaspar, a veteran Houston police officer, has been a strong supporter of Chief Garcia and the Police Department. He told council that his review of the City Manager’s report “was right on the money.” In subsequent comments he expressed “shock at the disarray that the Manvel PD was in.” He elaborated that “no one wanted to take on the task to make changes and to take responsibility for mistakes made.” He claimed it “mind boggling” that they would rather fight the system than make the necessary adjustments to be in compliance.

Member Lew Shuffler expressed his feeling that the administrative issues could have been discussed, but deleting the data after the fact “is a serious issue,” he said, and called it a criminal act.

Member John Cox felt the administrative issues seemed to be more a matter of failing to “dot i’s and cross t’s” but the Chief’s deliberate disregard of the order to not interfere made his decision that “he’s got to go.”

Mayor Martin said that “anyone that deliberately deletes information, the first thing you think is they are trying to hide something.”

Council denied a request by Garcia for a severance package based on his more than 14 years of service to the city. Member John Cox expressed a shared feeling among members saying the city should make good on any accumulated sick time, vacation time, or holiday pay that the chief has earned but opposed any severance agreement.

Garcia described his dealings with council “as a mess for more than two years” and said he is relieved the matter is over with. “The politics have gotten too ridiculous,” he said. He expressed disappointment that he did not have an opportunity to defend himself at council meetings or during the investigation. He questions the objectivity of the process, claiming the “investigator”, whose identity he was not made aware of, never asked him or the Captain to explain their side of things. Relating his years as an investigator, he says everyone involved in the matter should have been interviewed. He says that neither he nor the captain was ever interviewed.

He believes the allegations were not supported by facts and that the City Manager represented things to produce a desired outcome. Council members, he feels, read Jung’s report and accepted it on its face with no additional investigation or inquiry. Garcia admits the circumstances make for a complicated issue but believes the outcome would have been different if he was afforded due process and given the opportunity to explain his perspective.

Regarding the erased data that bothered council members most, Garcia asserts that all the data claimed to have been removed persisted on department servers and that all the information on his office computer remained intact. He explains his action to remove the data as protecting his personal information. He claims his request to remove the information from his phone and tablet was denied by Jung and he was not comfortable leaving that information on the devices.

Garcia says he is taking it easy for now and enjoying a drop in his blood pressure. He will be seeking another law enforcement position and has already made some contacts. He says he has never sought out a chief position as his tenures in Dickinson and Manvel both resulted from unique circumstances and will likely not be looking for that position. “Being head of a department is not that big of a deal,” he says.

Sergeant Art Chapa was appointed the acting chief for a “short period of time” and Jung has already begun the process of finding a replacement, having received three resumes from a group of retired police chiefs. He expects to name an interim chief for sixty to ninety days while a search for a permanent chief is conducted.

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City to Expand Water Line Project

November 28, 2012

 

Manvel city council awarded a bid and authorized the City Manager to execute a contract and issue a notice to proceed for a waterline extension to Rogers Road. In the action, Mayor Martin said she considered it “long overdue” and “is pleased as punch that we finally have it.” Money became available for the project due to the already funded east side project coming under budget by over $30,000. The City Manager, Kyle Jung, explained that extending the 8 inch waterline underneath Masters (FM 1128) to the west and then about 30 feet down Rogers will allow a fire hydrant to be installed and the two closest water meters to be put on the new line. It also will allow the future extension of the line to the west thereby taking in all the structures along Rogers Road. Currently serving Rogers is a 4 inch line that was put in decades ago.

In discussing the low bid, Member John Cox reminded council of the Police Department relocation that went way over budget after accepting a low bid. He asked Jung, how the proposed bid can be so much lower than the others for the same material, saying it “kind of makes me uneasy when there is so much difference” in the prices.

Jung explained that the low bidder installed the line on Rogers Road to the east and asserted the numbers are very similar to what was charged before. He claimed to not be “overly concerned that the amount is significantly less.” Mayor Martin told council that the contractor has done many projects for the city, that he is familiar with the area and has all the required certifications and bonding that is necessary.

Council also approved several final plats for the Sedona Lakes subdivision consisting of approximately 61 acres in total. The approvals allow the development to commence with its Phase Two plans. Mayor Martin thinks Manvel is in a good market, informing council that Sedona Lakes enjoys a waiting list for their homes and the Lakeland development has already sold lots to homeowners even before the models have been built.

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Manvel Enjoys Two New Eating Establishments

November 28, 2012

 

Manvel city council recognized two new eating establishments recently opened in the city. Bamboo Wok was opened by owner Martin Lee on Hwy 6 next door to the city library. Mayor Delores Martin said the restaurant serves delicious food and considers the city “very blessed” to have them in Manvel. Member Lew Shuffler said that he and his wife recently ate at the eatery and both were “quite happy” with the food.

The other place of business recognized by council was Create A Cake which also is on Hwy 6 across the street from the Bamboo Wok. Rosemary Cervantes is the proprietor. Mayor Martin said she “does an awesome job of making these cake balls that you can’t stay away from.” “She also does beautiful cakes,” she exclaimed. Customers are able to stop in and purchase single serving items if they wish.

Mayor Martin went on to say that “we are a growing city and we will honor new businesses as they come in and thank them for choosing our city. I think that is the least we can do. If they are willing to work with us we should work back with them.”

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