Dwain “Moose” Whitfield will keep his job as a supervisor with the City of Glen Rose and will receive no discipline or reprimand despite having failed to disclose a crime conviction from his job application, a split city council decided Thursday.
The council voted on Whitfield’s employment status after a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall. The meeting was called after the Glen Rose Reporter on Friday ran a story on its Web site and on Wednesday in its print edition that Whitfield had been convicted of theft by check eight months before applying for a city maintenance job. However, when asked if he had been convicted of a crime within the last seven years on his 2005 job application "a question asked of all applicants for city jobs — Whitfield had checked “no.”
While the council was in open session, Mayor Pam Miller asked Whitfield, 40, if he would like the council to consider an agenda item to discipline or terminate him in a closed session or in public.
“Closed,” Whitfield responded. His wife, Sandra, who works for Adams Cleaning and cleans cabins at Oakdale Park, and other supporters sat with him on the front row of the public gallery.
Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Mitchell, Whitfield’s mother, recused herself from the closed session and vote afterward.
The mayor cleared the chambers of almost 40 people and the council met for about 50 minutes behind closed doors. Besides Whitfield and the council, City Superintendent Ronald Bruce, City Attorney Andrew Lucas and City Secretary Peggy Busch were present.
When the executive session ended and the council reconvened in an open meeting, council member Bob Stricklin moved to terminate Whitfield’s employment with the city. Council member Sue Oldenburg seconded the motion.
Stricklin and Oldenburg voted in favor; council members Chris Bryant and Johnny Martin voted against firing Whitfield.
In the case of a tie, the mayor casts the deciding vote.
“Based on the information provided, I move to not terminate Dwain Whitfield at this time,” Miller said.
Whitfield’s supporters shook his hand and some hugged. Those gathered who had hoped the council would fire or discipline him expressed disappointment. Some said they were “disgusted” and “appalled” by the decision.
“I think the mayor should be recalled,” one citizen said.
When asked after the meeting why he voted not to fire or discipline Whitfield, Bryant said, “There was no proven evidence of any wrongdoing.”
"As a member of the council, I believed it was in the best interests of the community and my constituents to relieve Mr. Whitfield of his duties," Stricklin said in a statement Friday. "Mr. Whitfield has worked hard to improve and maintain city assets, and no one likes to release a person of his or her livelihood. As an elected official, I was obligated to put this matter before the council. Any delay or avoidance of this matter would not have been prudent or responsible."
Bruce, Whitfield’s supervisor, said after the meeting that Whitfield will remain a maintenance supervisor. He had been in charge of overseeing construction at Oakdale Park, but Whitfield no longer will be assigned there, Bruce said.
Whitfield and his mother and supporters held hands in a circle in the Town Hall parking lot after the decision and said a prayer of thanks.
When asked if he had any comment, Whitfield responded, “No, ma’am, thank you, though.”
On Thursday morning, Whitfield’s friends had sent out a text message by cell phone urging supporters to attend the council meeting. Parts of the message were written in the shorthand of text messages:
“Certain parties want his job!” the message read in part. “The paper has tried to destroy his life and his families!
“He had gone thru sum bad times but has proven him self a great city worker that had advanced to supervisor…” it also read. “He is a great family man and friend! We hav all made mistakes and if u know Moose then u know how wrong it wud be to lose him! Please stand up!”
When asked how the city justifies firing Cindy King as manager of Oakdale Park for alleged discrepancies on her time sheet, without a hearing in an executive council session as Whitfield received, Bruce declined to answer.
Records obtained by the Reporter show that Whitfield was convicted on Nov. 24, 2004, for theft by check in Tarrant County.
According to the judgment and sentence handed down by Tarrant County County Criminal Court No. 6 in that case, Whitfield served eight days in the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth.
The date of Whitfield’s application for the city job was July 15, 2005.
The city’s job application stated that "a conviction will not necessarily be a bar to employment. Each instance and explanation will be considered in relation to the position for which you are applying.”
The back of the four-page application further stated: “I understand that if I am employed, any misrepresentation or material omission made by me on this application will be sufficient cause for cancellation of this application or immediate discharge from the employer’s service, whenever it is discovered.” The applicant then must sign and date the form.
According to the city’s personnel manual, page three, Section 2.05, an applicant shall be disqualified from consideration if he or she has made any false statement of fact on the application, depending upon the seriousness, willfulness and applicability of the false information to the position.
Whitfield applied for the city job less than a month after he received deferred adjudication on another offense, indecent exposure, on June 29, 2005. Again, deferred adjudication is not a conviction and Whitfield was not required to disclose that on the city’s job application.
Besides the Tarrant County theft by check charge that resulted in a conviction, Whitfield had been arrested twice before, once in Wise County and once in Montague County, for theft of check — meaning writing bad checks and not repaying the debts.
The indecent exposure criminal offense violated the probation terms of the theft by check deferred adjudication in Wise County, according to a motion to adjudicate filed by the Wise County Attorney on June 23, 2005.
"The defendant committed the subsequent criminal offense(s) of indecent exposure did then and there intentionally and knowingly expose his genitals or part of his genitals with intent to arouse and gratify the sexual desire of himself and did so recklessly and in conscious disregard of whether another person was present who would be offended and alarmed by such act," the motion read
Wise County Court at Law Judge Melton D. Cude on June 23, 2005, ordered a warrant issued for Whitfield for violation of probation. He posted a $5,000 bond on June 27, 2005, and was released.
On Aug. 1, 2005, less than a month after Whitfield had been hired by the City of Glen Rose, Judge Cude commanded Whitfield to appear in Decatur on Aug. 6 that year at 9:15 a.m. to show cause why his probation should not be revoked. On Sept. 6, 2005, the judge issued an order amending the conditions of Whitfield's probation and ordered his community supervision extended for two years, or until Nov. 9, 2007.
On Nov. 14, 2007, Judge Cude issued a "satisfactory order of termination," saying that Whitfield had paid all fines and court costs and complied with the terms and conditions of the deferred adjudication.
The indecent exposure arrest occurred after a 19-year-old woman and three witnesses called the Stephenville Police Department on May 31, 2005. They lived in the same apartment complex as Whitfield and accused him of repeatedly exposing his genitals and masturbating at his window overlooking the pool and in the open doorway of his apartment.
Police arrested Whitfield the next day. He pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and the Erath County Court at Law gave him two years deferred adjudication and a probation period of two years.
Because he was not convicted, Whitfield was not required to disclose any details of the arrest or probation on his city job application.
In other action at the special council meeting, Stricklin proposed that the city look into hiring a retired city administrator as a consultant to act as an interim city administrator in Glen Rose or to work part-time on as-needed, project basis.
Such as person with 25 to 35 years of experience could “help get the right procedures in place,” Stricklin said. He suggested asking an association of retired city managers to send some resumes that the could look at.
“They base their hourly (pay) rate on what we have budgeted for an administrator,” Stricklin said.
Martin said that such a temporary position would need to have an “out date.”
A retired city administrator who owned an RV also could stay at Oakdale Park to save costs, Martin added.
Stricklin said he planned to put an item about hiring a consultant to help the city on the next council meeting agenda.