Temporary restraining order puts Leal, Reeves back on board
District Judge Ben Hardin issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that will allow Vidala Leal Rodas and Ronny Dean Reeves to continue to serve as commissioners of the Bay City Housing Authority.
Hardin found that “irreparable harm is imminent if the court does not issue injunctive relief to preserve the status quo and to permit the authority to perform essential functions.”
The restraining order authorizes the authority to “pay all current routinely occurring obligations including payroll and obligations incurred in the normal course of business including the $10,000 replenishment retainer to the plaintiff’s attorneys.”
The order states “Bay City Mayor Mark Bricker may immediately send new 10-day notices to Leal and Reeves setting administrative hearings pursuant to and in compliance with the statute.”
The injunction allows the Bay City Housing Authority to meet and consider routine business only but the authority is prohibited from conducting or acting upon any non-routine business, including the composition of the board, termination of staff or any issue related to the lawsuit.
This injunction stems from a lawsuit filed against Bricker that deals with his effort to remove Leal, Manning and Reeves from the Bay City Housing Authority board. It alleges the decision was unlawful and denied the board members due process.
The lawsuit stems from Bricker’s removal of Manning from her position with the board Dec. 14. Commissioner Ronnie Reeves was also removed from the commission on the grounds of “inefficiency.”
In documents obtained from the city of Bay City, Mayor Mark Bricker removed Manning from the Bay City Housing Authority after Manning failed to resign from the post.
“As a result of the hearing, there were a lot of factors that were discussed and she has agreed to resign her post by Friday or I will remove her from the position,” Bricker said.
According to the lawsuit, “Mayor Bricker is assuming the role of a judge when he conducts an evidentiary hearing on removal. It’s improper for him to preside over a removal hearing when he is a fact witness to the very allegation that he finds in support of grounds for removal. Plaintiffs request the right to take Mayor Bricker’s sworn deposition to disprove his false factual accusations and further requests the court require a substitute fact-finder such as the Mayor Pro-Tem to conduct the due process removal hearing.”
A temporary injunction hearing is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 7 before the 130th District Court in Matagorda County.