It appears Lubbock will soon have a new Deputy Fire Chief. In a four to three vote, the city council approved the creation of a second Deputy Fire Chief.
Mayor Tom Martin tells us the new Deputy Fire Chief will oversee emergency management for the city. As of Thursday Kevin Overstreet is Lubbock's Emergency Management Director. But he is no longer the Joint-Coordinator of Emergency Management for the city and the county as of the end of November. Something Overstreet is now appealing in a letter to the city council, Mayor Martin and County Judge Tom Head.
"They recruited me in '06 to oversee emergency management for city and county," Overstreet said. At the time, that appointment came from Lubbock County Judge Tom Head and then Mayor Marc McDougal. But now there's a new mayor.
"It's my responsibly to determine how the emergency operations of the city go and I feel that it needs to be split and I feel the fire department is the appropriate place to assign it," Mayor Tom Martin said. Martin says the new position would oversee emergency management for the city. Overstreet currently holds that job. He is also Lubbock's Director of Animal Services.
"I feel that trying to do two jobs as one is taking away from the efficiency, there for I think it's better to assign that to the fire department to a deputy chief and I think it will be much smoother," Martin said.
However, Overstreet disagrees. "He's a former police officer, I'm a former police officer you know we're used to doing multi tasking and he knows that. It's not so involved for me that I can't handle the job," Overstreet explained.
In a letter to the city and county Overstreet points to his official investigation to be the cause for his removal from the appointed position as the joint-emergency management coordinator for the city and county. "I was advised of some pretty serious stuff going on here at city hall which required me to notify the FBI. And we also notified the Texas Attorney General's Office of some other issues outside of that," Overstreet said.
Overstreet would not comment on the subject of those investigations. However, we do know in May FBI agents carried out a search warrant at city hall. According to the warrant, the agency is investigating conspiracy, wire fraud, and health care fraud.
Thursday councilwoman Linda DeLeon voted against creating a new Deputy Fire Chief position. She says its retaliation lead by the mayor that ties back to the FBI investigation. "Going after Kevin Overstreet. Well we've gotten rid of Anita Burgess (former City Attorney), putting pressure on the city manager. Look at the elevation on Becky Garza. This is all something that smells," DeLeon said.
Martin says establishing a second Deputy Fire Chief is not retaliation. NewsChannel 11 has learned Clinton Thetford with the Lubbock County Sheriff's office currently holds the joint city and county emergency coordinator position. Judge Head and Mayor Martin appointed him last month. Judge Head tells us that could change once someone fills the new Deputy Fire Chief position.
The second reading of this ordinance will take place at the next council meeting this month. If passed, Mayor Martin tells us he hopes to have a new Deputy Fire Chief by the beginning of the year. Martin says Overstreet will be in charge of Lubbock Animal Services.
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