Roma council addresses rumors surrounding mayor

ROMA — A possible investigation into the Roma mayor did not go forward after all, though the city council members held a heated discussion on the matter during Wednesday’s meeting.

The discussion was set to be held in executive session, behind closed doors, but Mayor Roberto A. Salinas opted to have the conversation in front of the public.

Councilman Jose G. Cantu, who had requested that the discussion on Salinas’ conduct and consideration of a possible investigation into him be placed on the agenda, explained it was prompted by concerns from citizens.

“We just wanted clarification on what’s going on, what the city says,” Cantu said. “Just want to know the truth and if there’s any allegations, this is just so that you can talk to us.”

But Salinas pushed Cantu to be clear on what the allegations were.

“Right now my question is what is the allegation or what is the evidence?” Salinas said.

“Well, that’s why we want to give you the chance to let us know what was going on,” Cantu said in response.

“What’s going on with what? I don’t understand, you haven’t asked any questions,” Salinas said, asking if the inquiry had to do with his retirement from Citizen’s State Bank where he served as president and CEO.

Cantu acknowledged the rumors were about his “surprise retirement” from the bank and asked Salinas why he left the bank.

“After 34 years, I decided it was time for retirement,” Salinas said, clarifying he was not forced by anyone to resign.

When Cantu asked if Salinas could continue working with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, which regulates banks nationwide to which Salinas said he could.

But Cantu pressed on and questioned whether that answer would remain the same if the council chose to subpoena records from the FDIC to which the mayor assured that it would.

“It seems to me this is all based on rumor and hearsay,” the mayor said, adding that he’s heard plenty of rumors about the other council members. “Maybe we should conduct investigations into each other?”

However said it wasn’t investigation but simply wanted to give him a chance to explain the situation to them.

“My explanation is that I decided to retire after 34 years of employment,” Salinas said.

When it came time to take a vote on the issue, the council declined to take any action.

A measure that was approved during the meeting was a hiring freeze for the police department, though it was passed by a three to two vote with Salinas and Councilman Clyde Guerra voting against it.

Councilmen Cantu, Gilberto Ramirez and Joel Hinojosa voted in favor of the hiring freeze.

“I discussed some of the issues with the PD and they’re telling me that we can operate with what we have,” Cantu said, adding that he wanted to shift away from hiring officers and instead focus on compensating the officers appropriately.

“It’s an issue that has repeatedly come up as a reason for our officers leaving,” he said. “We need to offer the officers that we have, competitive pay raises.”

The mayor raised the issue of pay raises during a January workshop during which he notified the council the police department was seeing a loss in officers.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the mayor said he didn’t have a problem with not hiring officers but said he felt a council-imposed freeze infringed on the city manager’s role as the personnel manager.

“It’s not the role of the city council to get involved in personnel matters,” Salinas said.

Despite his and Guerra’s opposition, the freeze was approved and will be in effect from March 11 to May 15.