Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett proved to be a man of his word Tuesday night, May 17, as the city council voted 3 to 2 to oust City Manager Stacy Williams.
A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to see the culmination of the conflict, which began after the appointment of Williams to that role. Named initially on an interim basis, councilmembers Carolyn McWaters, Doris Terry, and James Franklin voted to make it permanent in March.
Since that time, Boyett, who was not happy with those decisions, vowed to get rid of Williams, placing his removal on several council agendas.
Boyett’s beef with Williams initially stemmed from the nature in which he was appointed. There was never an official search held to find a new city manager, and what he felt was collusion by McWaters, Terry, and Franklin. The mayor’s sentiments have been shared by councilmembers Marilyn Clay and Danny Lee.
The conflict has led to an exchange of heated words during council meetings, as well as a fiery confrontation between the mayor and Williams. Video of that incident was caught on the body cam of a Cleveland police officer and began to circulate on the internet and several local FOX affiliates in Texas in recent weeks.
As council neared the end of a lengthy agenda, there was an item to discuss and take action, as applicable on the behaviors, actions, responsibilities, and authorities of Boyett. The item which Boyett accredited to McWaters, Terry, and Franklin was quickly dismissed.
“I’m gonna let that one go,” said McWaters.
Next up on the agenda was a closed executive session to address personnel matters related to the city manager.
Williams requested that the matter be addressed in open session, but City Attorney David Olson informed the council that they would need to go into executive session.
Upon returning from that brief closed-door session, newly elected councilman Eddie Lowery, who defeated Franklin on May 7 and was sworn in earlier in the night, made the motion to terminate Williams and appoint City Secretary Angela Smith as interim city manager.
Lowry, along with Clay and Lee, voted in favor of terminating Williams, while McWaters and Terry voted against the removal.
As some argument began between Boyett and Terry, the mayor denied Williams an opportunity to speak and proclaimed, “You’re gone. You’re fired,” to Williams and requested that he be escorted from the building. That request was denied as the meeting was a public forum.
Terry, who had been rather apathetic for most of the meeting, protested the decision to fire Williams and appoint Smith.
“Did you advertise, did you post it,” exclaimed Terry in reference to some of the claims made by Boyett about the hiring of Williams.
At that point, Smith spoke to the audience and made her case that her appointment was not planned and only temporary.
“I was asked prior to the meeting if I would act as temporary city manager,” Smith said as she assured those in attendance a search would take place.
Williams spoke to The Vindicator after the meeting.
“I’m disappointed. I was committed to the city, committed to the employees, committed to the taxpayers, and I’m disappointed.”
Williams will have to leave the city immediately and feels that he was not given due process and an opportunity to speak on his own behalf.
“I’m disappointed I got terminated under these conditions and that I was not allowed due process. Basically, I wasn’t allowed to make my own statement, or explain anything, so yeah, disappointed in that,” exclaimed Williams.
Boyett had previously expressed concerns over Williams receiving a “golden parachute” under the contract he had signed, but that appears not to be the case.
Council cited the city charter in their decision to fire Williams, and at least for now, he will receive no further compensation from the city.
When asked if he would seek any legal recourse from this point, he had no comment.