Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, under fire over his response to criticism of the city’s beleaguered construction permitting process, could face disciplinary action or be fired during a hastily called council meeting.
Mayor Eric Johnson and three council members have separately asked that the closed session meeting take place on Wednesday, which is typically a day of staff briefings. The mayor’s memo sent Friday says the purpose of the special called meeting is to “discuss and evaluate the performance and employment of City Manager T.C. Broadnax.”
Johnson told NBC 5 in a statement why he placed the item on the agenda for next week.
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“I believe it is time for a change in city management. Several of my duly elected colleagues on the Dallas City Council have made it clear in recent days that they also believe it is time for a change," Johnson said.
The memo was signed by council members Paula Blackmon, Cara Mendelsohn and Gay Donnell Willis.
Willis said she and council members Tennell Atkins and Chad West met with Broadnax on Wednesday and provided him the chance to resign.
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"We had the opportunity to avoid the drama that we’re in now," Willis said. "The courtesy of submitting a resignation was offered.”
Willis said her decision to no longer support Broadnax extends beyond permitting problems and includes the deleting of multiple terabytes of Dallas Police Department data in April 2021 by an IT employee during a server migration.
The Dallas council did not learn of the issue until Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot issued a memo four months later regarding possible impact to pending criminal cases.
"“I think everyone has been talking about permitting but you can’t eclipse the fact there was a data breach and there was knowledge about it for months," Willis said.
In a statement to NBC 5, Broadnax said periodic reviews of performance are critical to him and all city employees "to demonstrate progress and ensure transparency for our residents, taxpayers, and stakeholders."
"I am proud of the hard work which has led to the accomplishment of many goals related to the City Council’s eight strategic priorities and look forward to sharing the R.E.A.L. impact we continue to make to improve the lives of Dallas residents in ways that are responsible, equitable, accountable, and legitimate, together as One Dallas," Broadnax said.
Blackmon was appointed by the mayor to a review board in February charged with finding solutions to the permit backlog, but said Friday there was limited collaboration with Broadnax on the issue.
“I felt that I was more of a nuisance than I was a partner in trying to figure out solutions for that," Blackmon said. "I want my city manager to be my partner.”
It will require a simple majority of eight votes on the 15-member council to fire Broadnax.
On Friday, four other council members told NBC-5 they will not support removing Broadnax.
Council member Paul Ridley said the decision to hold a specially called meeting on Wednesday was "premature" because the council is still in the process of its annual review process for Broadnax, which includes meeting with a consultant to provide input for a June 23 scheduled review.
Ridley also praised Broadnax for accomplishing 11 out of 12 goals the city manager set for himself in his last review.
"Which I think is excellent," Ridley said. “And the 12th goal, which is building permits, there have been many impediments but he’s making progress on that.”
"I think this initiative will fail," Ridley added.
Council member Carolyn King Arnold called the decision to hold the meeting on Wednesday "distasteful."
"It’s definitely political. And this is a political season and I think it just gives folks another opportunity to do what I call grandstanding," Arnold said.
Council member Omar Narvaez called the timing of the memo "egregious", citing the process the council is currently undertaking to review Broadnax's performance.
"“We’ve been left out of a process that we haven’t even completed," Narvaez said. “I don’t think that’s right.”
Council member Jaime Resendez said Broadnax has made a positive impact in his southeast Dallas district which includes Pleasant Grove.
"When people ask me do we need a new city manager the answer for me is absolutely not," Resendez said.
Willis said her mind is made up to vote to remove Broadnax on Wednesday. She says the decision needs to happen before the council takes up approval of redistricting maps in a few weeks before the July break.
"To let this continue to drag on doesn’t make sense," Willis said. "Why wait? We need to move this forward, have the discussion and take whatever action we decide.”