Chowning Gets Big Settlement, but Debate Continues - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/4/04

Chowning Gets Big Settlement, but Debate Continues

"I was thrown out with the garbage because I'm 50 years-old and a woman," said Sharlett Chowning.

Inflammatory statements from the woman who won a $400,000 settlement from the City of Lubbock. "One day somebody said, 'You make too much money for a woman, you're out," she said.

Tommy Gonzalez' Statement
Tommy Gonzalez' full statement regarding Sharlett Chowning's dismissal, and the City of Lubbock's budget.

Angry and bitter, Chowning is convinced that the man who fired her, former Interim City Manager Tommy Gonzalez, did so because she was a woman, 50 years-old, and made more money than him. "Tommy had said before that I made too much money, I made more money than he did and that no woman should make more money," she said.

"Just prehistoric," said Gonzalez. Categorically denying all of Chowning's accusations and declining an on-camera interview. Defending his honor but staying out of the fray. Instead, releasing a statement.:

 "The city of Lubbock faced the largest budget deficit in it's history; because of this I was asked to make some very difficult decisions that impacted our employees and their families. I regret the loss of every job and how it affected our employees. However, the budget had to be balanced or the citizens of Lubbock would have faced a tax increase. Race, ethnicity, gender, or age did not play a factor in any decisions made to balance the budget. A state district judge ruled on this matter twice citing - city policies and procedures were followed."

"I was not let go for performance," asserted Chowning. For his part, Gonzalez cites the budget as the primary motive for the 70 layoffs he implemented while Interim City Manager. But as to Chowning's performance, sources tell NewsChannel 11 about an IT Department customer service survey taken while Chowning was at the helm. The results were less than flattering:

  • Bottleneck in management
  • Poor customer service
  • Responses so personally critical of Chowning, that the surveys were stopped.

"I don't have any problems with Tommy personally. He's young, he needs to respect people more. He's got some growing up to do. He needed some mentoring and he didn't get it," said Chowning. "You don't have any problems with him? you just stated..." said NewsChannel 11. "I do, I do have problems with his action," said Chowning.

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