City Councilman Victor Hernandez says LP&L Director Carroll McDonald told the council that the LP&L report there were about to see was done by quote, "the chinaman."
Hernandez says McDonald was referring to an LP&L employee named Gary Zheng, a man of Asian decent, who became a US citizen through naturalization.
"As soon as the statement was made, I said I find that rather offensive. What I found interesting is that the person who said it tried justifying why he made the remark in the first place which I found incredulous. I really do believe the city attorney being present should have spoken up and I shouldn't have been the only one. I think that incident provided the city attorney a good opportunity to step in and give the council a whole and the audience an opportunity to learn this isn't acceptable," said Hernandez.
NewsChannel 11 contacted City Attorney Anita burgess and she said "...this...as a situation occurs, I would be in a situation to be reactive and to be the advisor. Corrective action doesn't come from the attorney. But after the meeting last Thursday, Frank Morrison found the comment to be offensive."
"I made the comment to Interim City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and I told him I thought it was inappropriate and that he needed to take action. He subsequently did and I believe this situation is taken care of," said Morrison.
The city does have employee policies written in black and white. In fact the one NewsChannel 11 obtained is from their website. Under the city's disciplinary policies and grievance procedures it states that types of harassment include unwelcome statements, name-calling, or other verbal or physical conduct based on an employee's race, color, or national origin.
Gary Zheng or Carroll McDonald couldn't be reached for comment. Neither could Mayor Marc McDougal or City Councilman Tom Martin. However T.J. Patterson was available. "What's happened, happened. Let's move on from here," he said. "This is a personnel matter between Tommy and Carroll. They have discussed it. They have handled it, and it's over with," said Boren.
Hernandez said city manager Gonzalez gave Carroll a verbal warning, and it has been documented in city personnel files.