Kemah Cops Are Finding Out About Fighting City Hall
It's been about one month since we reported on the four Kemah police officers who were laid off and filed grievances with the city because the officers weren't buying the story that they were simply victims of the economic downturn and Hurricane Ike.
Attorney Greg Cagle, who was retained by the officers, hinted at a lawsuit last time we spoke with him, and theories on why the officers were let go included their association with a police-officers association and some arrests that were unpopular with city officials.
Hair Balls has officially decided that the case is at a standstill. According to Dick Gregg, Jr., the Kemah city attorney, the grievances were no good because there was nothing to appeal since the officers weren't punished, just laid off. According to Cagle, the only option now is a lawsuit, but he said that might not be the best move.
"If you're a police officer and you sue your employer, it can cause a lot of misery for future employment," Cagle told Hair Balls. "It's like the kiss of death."
We were in Kemah last week looking at some documents we requested after city official Bill Kerber yelled at us for asking why the cops were fired, but didn't give us any answers. There wasn't much, if anything, in the documents that revealed why the officers were fired, but we did get a glimpse, if small, at what it's like working for the Kemah Police Department.
For instance, none of the cops had much of a disciplinary file, but one officer was punished for shining a green laser light in the eyes of a sergeant while he was trying to park his car, and another officer got in trouble for spreading rumors about "a certain medical condition" of a co-worker, aimed at embarrassing him. When a sergeant openly criticized the department and the police chief, he was suspended for two days without pay.
The most serious offense was the officer who got paid to work security at the Kemah Boardwalk during the same hours he was getting paid to patrol the city.
Cagle also requested documents from the city, including all e-mails sent or recieved by Mayor Matt Wiggins since the beginning of this year. When we asked Cagle if there was anything worth mentioning in those files, he said no, because there were no files.
"I think the mayor is the only person in the world that has indoor plumbing but doesn't use e-mail," Cagle said.
The city is hosting another strategic planning meeting on August 15 to address the $400,000 budget shortage, and Hair Balls plans to continue our coverage.