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Thu, 03 Jul 2014 20:16:00 +0000
(GALENA PARK, Texas) -- The former administrator for a small city in Texas refused to vacate his City Hall office this week even though the newly appointed mayor fired him as her first official act and then had the building locks changed.
Galena Park Mayor Esmerelda Moya said she immediately handed a termination letter to City Administrator Robert Pruett after her swearing in Tuesday.
“He didn’t take that very well,” Moya, 45, told ABC News Thursday morning. “He is now refusing to leave the building and telling the staff to isolate me.”
Pruett, who did not respond to ABC News’ multiple requests for comment, has since left the building, City Hall staffers said Thursday afternoon.
Moya, who was elected mayor June 25, said City Hall has long been run by a “boy’s club” with Pruett at the center of it.
The mayor previously worked with Head Start programs for the Harris County Department of Education.
Moya said Pruett has so much power in the city that the police hesitated to come to City Hall when she called 911 Thursday morning out of fear for her safety after word spread around City Hall that she had fired the administrator.
“Many city commissioners here were handpicked by him,” Moya said. “When they heard he [Robert Pruett] was fired, they started yelling at me and coming up to me. I called 911, but the police were reluctant to come.”
When a police officer finally arrived, she said, Pruett told the officer: “If someone needs to leave, it’s her, not me.”
Moya said that as she waited for a police officer to come, the city police chief was sitting with Pruett the entire time in his office.
“The people put me here for a reason,” Moya said. “My citizens want him gone.”
Moya said Pruett has asked the staff not to speak with her, but some of them have been sending her messages, asking her not to fire them.
“They are terrified. ... I understand," Moya said. "They are going through enough already.”
Pruett told ABC News station KTRK-TV in Houston that the mayor can’t fire him without a vote of city commissioners and believes that she may not have the votes.
It’s unclear whether his termination requires commissioners’ approval.
But Moya said she is not budging, and will meet with her attorneys to discuss the next steps.
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