City Hall feud in Patton Village heats up

Published On: Jul 05 2012 06:13:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 05 2012 06:50:19 PM CDT
PATTON VILLAGE, Texas -

Things are getting prickly between the mayor of Patton Village and police officers who may be laid off.

Mayor Pamela Munoz called an emergency City Council meeting on the Fourth of July to call for a vote to lay some of the town's police officers. On Wednesday, Munoz said she wanted to lay off 10 officers, but on Thursday she told KPRC Local 2 that she wanted to lay off just two officers.

Munoz could not get a quorum after resident Leah Tarrant complained that citizens were not given a proper 72-hour notice and a council member refused to participate.

"Once I stated it had been illegally posted, Mr. (Billy) Crittenden got up and walked out," Tarrant said.

Tarrant is part of a watchdog group formed after Munoz and six other Patton Village officials were indicted on corruption charges. Tarrant is also one of Munoz's political opponents. Tarrant ran against Munoz for mayor and lost the election.

While she awaits trial, Munoz still runs city hall. She said that the city simply can't afford the 31 police officers on the payroll.

One of the officers who would lose her job was hired two weeks ago. She's assigned to oversee the police department's evidence locker. According to sources, she found discrepancies that suggest methamphetamines and pills were missing, and she reported those to Munoz. Shortly after that, Munoz began calling for job cuts.

"They have hired numerous police officers at the last two meetings, and then they don't have the funds to pay these officers? We thought it was really strange," said Tarrant.

Munoz denied that there is any connection between her wanting to lay off police officers and the investigation into missing evidence. She said it's strictly economics.

On Thursday, the town's police chief called in Texas Rangers to look into the evidence locker situation.

Munoz is scheduled to appear in court on July 26 on charges that include theft by a public servant and abuse of official capacity. She said she won't make a plea bargain, but she will ask to go to trial.