2018 emails allege Hall outburst

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Editor’s Note: It is the policy of The Liberty Hill Independent not to use anonymous sources except in the case where journalists believe a source’s safety is at risk if a name is revealed.

By MIKE EDDLEMAN

While Mayor Rick Hall continues to defend his decision to carry a handgun in City facilities and discount the impact that decision has on the comfort and security of city employees, there is evidence dating back to September 2018 that contradicts his assertion.

Similar to the angry outbursts alleged at both the 2019 City Christmas Party and the January Council retreat at the Canyon of the Eagles, two emails dated more than a year ago that were provided to The Independent, paint a similar picture about an incident that reportedly occurred in City Hall in 2018.

Below is an excerpt from one of the e-mails submitted to then-City Administrator Greg Boatright and City Attorney Dottie Palumbo:
“He (Mayor Rick Hall) said loudly WELL I MIGHT JUST TELL THE CHRISTMAS COMMITTEE TO RENT EVERYTHING WITH THE $30,000 THIS YEAR SO YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO STORE – all you are going to do is spend money for Art to pack it up and store it and I do not think this has anything to do with audit or fiscal responsibility – it is just a way of controlling EVERYTHING – you and Greg want to control everything. I continued to speak to him in a professional and quiet manner stating it wasn’t a control situation but it did not make him calm at that time. I said why don’t we schedule a meeting so we can visit with Greg about this – he said okay – when? I said in the morning at 9 a.m. He got ready to leave – he went toward the door with his back turned to me but when he got through the door he turned around said v{sic} loudly (it was heard downstairs) at me:

“OK – 9 a.m. I will be here and I am going to be here for another year and a half; I can be a pain in the ass or you all can work with he. He had both hands out and as he mentioned each group below he used his fingers to count off each entity/group: THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I RAN FOR MAYOR IN THE FIRST PLACE – BECAUSE THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND THE CHAMBER AND THE SCHOOL AND THE FOUNDATION AND THE CITY AND THE SCULPTURE COMMITTEE AND THE CHRISTMAS COMMITTEE AND JULY 4TH CANNOT WORK TOGETHER AND GET ALONG – NOBODY AROUND HERE KNOWS HOW TO WORK TOGETHER! SOMEBODY HERE AT CITY HALL HAS TO GROW UP AND WORK WITH PEOPLE!

“Then the Mayor was standing in the area between (two offices); (City employee) heard him and I did not know she had sent a text to the City Administrator to say he was needed at City Hall because the mayor is screaming at (City employee). Greg was at the WWTP (wastewater treatment plant) with Wayne and Perry Steger.

“As the Mayor turned to walk away, without any doubt, I saw the image/outline/silhouette of his handgun stuck in his belt underneath the gray t-shirt he was wearing. It didn’t seem as if it was in a holster – just stuck in his belt or jeans. At no time was I EVER disrespectful, discourteous or unprofessional. (City employee) had to be at an appointment but I did not know (they) went downstairs to get (a third City employee) to come upstairs ‘to stay with (me)’ because they thought it might not be safe for me to be (at that location in City Hall) alone. I assured them I was okay.

“I was told the Mayor carried a handgun with him both in City Hall and Municipal Court but it didn’t occur to me he would be wearing a gun if he was working outside. When (the other employees) were upstairs after the incident I told them I was, and would be fine, however, both (employees) stated ‘we are letting the City Administrator know that we are totally not comfortable with the Mayor carrying a gun in our presence and at City Hall – he has created a hostile work environment’. This is the second or third time I have heard that from City Staff.”

A second email was submitted by another employee recounting the details as a witness. Both emails were submitted 11 days prior to a mysterious item on the Sept. 24, 2018, City Council agenda. The item made public Council concerns at that time about the conduct of Hall, raising questions about what may have transpired to initiate the discussion.

The agenda item specifically mentioned Hall, stating, “Discuss and consider reports against Mayor Hall for explosive conduct, inappropriate language, intimidating conduct and for threatening behavior toward a City Council member and staff.”

The item was moved to closed session, and not discussed in open session following the closed-door meeting. No action was taken by the Council and The Independent was unable to obtain more information on what prompted the item at the time.

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