Odessa City Council votes to terminate City Attorney and City Manager

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 7:12 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Odessa City Council voted to terminate City Manager Michael Marrero and City Attorney Natasha Brooks; in a vote that was 5-2 for both.

Both requested a closed session for evaluation of their employment.

The vote caused outrage amongst many in the room not only due to their decision, but because the council did not allow for public comment before holding the executive session.

Public Comment was listed on the agenda, which is something that Attorney Gaven Norris of the Gaven Norris Law Office says is a clear violation of people’s equal protection rights.

“We saw a council that disregarded that process and engaged in the silencing of disenfranchising citizens’ votes by skipping a discussion the council knew we were here to speak on,” said Norris.

Norris got in a heated exchange with Mayor Javier Joven threatening the city with a lawsuit saying it’s already in the process.

“We have irrefutable evidence of behaviors that the mayor has engaged in on behalf of the city that violate the first amendment, fifth amendment and 14th amendment and the equal protections of all citizens of Odessa,” said Norris.

Another city employee, Downtown Director Casey Hallmark who worked under Marrero and with Brooks made heavy allegations against Joven, accusing him of intimidation and corruption amongst the council. She stood up for Marrero’s actions as city manager and Brooks as attorney.

“I’ve been bullied, I’ve been intimidated, that I’ve been screamed at by a grown man,”  said Hallmark.

“Why do you look confused, Mayor?  You’re the one that told me I need to quote ‘watch my back’ and the OPD is full of murderers,” continued Hallmark.

Odessan Gene Collins also said a few words, standing up for Marrero and Brooks’ work during their time with the city.

“Y’all are out of order for trying to run this city as if it was your corporation,” said Collins.

“You were elected to represent the will of the people, you didn’t come to the people and say we’re having problems. You went and hid yourself behind closed doors and said you’ve made a decision and I’m very appalled at that,’’ continued Collins.

Brooks had been with the city attorney’s office since 2015 and the city attorney since 2019.

Marrero, a native Odessan, had worked for the city for 28 years.

Before the meeting, there was confusion as to why or how the agenda item was placed on this week’s meeting and that confusion still hasn’t been cleared. There was no explanation from the council for the termination after the vote.

“After extensive review, it was determined that an adjustment needed to be made on the day to day leadership. We want to wish Mr. Marrero for the time of his service and commitment in this role,” said Joven.

Joven did not mention Brooks in his statement.

Dan Jones, the assistant city attorney who was appointed as interim attorney for Brooks and Agapito Bernal stepped in for Marrero. They stepped in to their new roles immediately after Brooks and Marrero left their chairs during the meeting.

According to District 2 Councilman Steve Thompson, it takes two councilmembers to put something on the agenda and the questions still linger as to why these two were terminated.