FORT WORTH (AP/CBSDFW.COM) — Dallas-based attorney Stephen Kennedy announced that he has issued a demand letter to the City of Fort Worth, Texas today demanding that the City follow its City Charter and hold a public hearing regarding the termination of Joel F. Fitzgerald, Sr., Ph.D.
The City Charter for the City of Fort Worth, Texas states that when the City Manager seeks to terminate a director, the director is entitled to a public hearing before the decision to terminate is made final. Here, Dr. Fitzgerald, the first African American Police Chief for the City of Fort Worth, was terminated by means of a memo from the Assistant City Manager, Jay Chapa. The decision was not made in writing by the City Manager. Furthermore, the decision to terminate Dr. Fitzgerald was made final immediately. Kennedy contends that Dr. Fitzgerald was denied procedural due process, because the City denied Dr. Fitzgerald his right to a public hearing prior to his termination becoming final.
The City Charter provides the following:
In case of removal after six (6) months’ service, if the director removed so demands, a written statement shall be made by the city manager of the reason of his removal, and the director shall, if he so demands, be given a public hearing by the council before the order of removal is made final. The statement of the manager and any written reply of the director thereto shall be filed as a public record in the office of the secretary of the council.
Kennedy contends that the Police Chief is a “director,” that he was employed for more than six (6) months, and as such, was entitled to demand a public hearing. “Because the City did not follow its own City Charter, the decision to terminate Dr. Fitzgerald is invalid,” Kennedy said.
Through the letter, Kennedy demands that the City follow its charter by doing the following: (1) reverse the decision of the assistant city manager terminating Dr. Fitzgerald pending a public hearing; (2) accept the letter as Dr. Fitzgerald’s demand for a public hearing before the City Council; (3) hold a public hearing regarding Dr. Fitzgerald’s termination; (4) require a roll-call vote by the City Council regarding the question of whether Dr. Fitzgerald should be terminated; and (5) pay Dr. Fitzgerald for all salary and benefits lost during the time of his improper termination.
“The City Charter is like any other law on the books. It must be followed and enforced. David Cooke and Jay Chapa cannot selectively decide to ignore the City Charter. Police officers expect and demand that citizens of Fort Worth follow City Ordinances on a daily basis and, if they do not, they get arrested. The same logic applies to the City Council, the City Manager, and the City Attorney,” Kennedy said. “A city without laws will fast become a city of outlaws,” he said.
Kennedy Law, P.C. is a business litigation boutique with nearly 32 years’ experience in trying business cases in Texas and throughout the United States. Kennedy Law represents prominent clients in business litigation and intellectual property disputes.
The City of Fort Worth has since responded and sent a letter back to Fitzgerald’s attorney that he, “failed to timely invoke his rights” under the charter.
He also said council isn’t authorized for a vote he asked for.
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