Former Lubbock leader, now in Irving, accused of suppressing open records

Published: Aug. 16, 2012 at 3:33 AM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:01 AM CST
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IRVING, TX (KCBD) - KCBD NewsChannel 11 has independently confirmed a report that Lubbock's former Assistant City Manager Tommy Gonzalez is accused of suppressing public records in his current job as Irving City Manager. Gonzalez was also Lubbock's interim City Manager before moving on to another job in 2003.

Last week the Dallas Morning News reported that Gonzalez was called a "petty tyrant" in a lawsuit by the Las Colinas Group, which is the former developer of a major entertainment district in Irving.

Now, KCBD NewsChannel 11 has obtained a copy of Las Colinas' complaint. It mentions prominent Lubbock residents Marc and Delbert McDougal. Marc was Mayor when Gonzalez held upper management roles with the City of Lubbock. And Delbert was the developer of a major project recently in Irving called Heritage Crossing.

The lawsuit says, "During the development process, City Manager Gonzalez pressured, solicited and received from Mr. [Delbert] McDougal free hotel suites and tickets to Texas Tech football games for his family..." Las Colinas is trying to make the case that Gonzalez used undue influence not only with McDougal and Las Colinas but also on others doing business with Irving.

"There is no basis for mentioning us in the lawsuit," said Marc McDougal.  "Tommy Gonzalez has never sat with us at a football game or even used our tickets.  We did get Tommy a [hotel] room [at the Overton] but he paid for it."

At the same time, a former Irving employee has come forward with an affidavit claiming that she left her job under duress because Gonzalez disapproved of her obeying the Texas Open Records Act. Brenda McDonald filed the affidavit as part of the Las Colinas lawsuit.

She claims that after the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys practice facility in May of 2009, an incident that injured 12 people, the Dallas Morning News made an open records request for Irving officials' Blackberry PIN messages. McDonald says that Gonzalez told employees repeatedly that they didn't have to turn over what they didn't have and "the clear implication was to encourage us to delete our PINs."

But McDonald was one of two employees who did turn over the messages, according to her affidavit. She quotes Gonzalez as telling her multiple times that it was a lapse in judgment for her to turn over her PIN messages.

Las Colinas is asking a judge to order City of Irving to not destroy or falsify any records. Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News says it reached Gonzalez via email who said, "It would be unprofessional to respond to a personnel matter."

The City of Irving has not yet responded with its side of the story in court records.

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