Battle ensues over veterans officer
by Jason Collins
Oct 20, 2013 | 320 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘You are lying when you make statements like that. He wasn’t my candidate. You lied.’
Eloy Rodriguez, commissioner
‘You are lying when you make statements like that. He wasn’t my candidate. You lied.’ Eloy Rodriguez, commissioner
BEEVILLE – County leaders were gridlocked Monday as they debated whether to approve the hiring of a veterans service officer already working at the county.

Ultimately though, it seems as the employee, who has been working since the first part of October, is no longer employed at the county — assuming he was an employee, as even that is open for debate.

Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said, “(The job offer) has not been rescinded.”

Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez said, “It has not been approved.”

But as the week wore on, it came to light that even their decision not to approve the hiring was done incorrectly.

County Judge David Silva reports that, according to state statute, the court appoints the service officer. That position is not hired by the department as most other employees are, according to county policy.

However, this didn’t come to light until this week so the county leaders were going through their normal hiring procedure, which even has sparked debate.

On Friday, the court had another meeting scheduled this time to discuss the community affairs director.

At the end of last month, a three-member committee comprised of DeWitt, Rodriguez and Roy Galvan, who now heads community affairs and oversees that position, was formed to select a new veterans affairs officer.

The person selected was Anthony Ray Ferguson.

Galvan held that position until his promotion to department head recently.

Commissioner Carlos Salazar summoned up the dispute during the meeting, saying, “The department head decided that this is who he wanted and that is who he hired and we have two commissioners who don’t agree.”

Rodriguez, who said he feels two other applicants were more qualified, wanted to form a committee to look into the hiring process.

“Going by the job description and looking at the information turned in on the job applications, there are two candidates that are clearly a lot better than the one that was selected,” he said.

“Because of what we required, we had individuals that far and above better met those qualifications than the person that was hired.”

DeWitt said, “We have an individual that is qualified for this position. The interviewing supervisor selected this individual.

“This court several months ago... said it was up to the department heads to hire their people. They can put them on and it can come to the court for final approval.

“It was a good faith effort.

“The interviews were conducted, in my opinion, properly.

“This individual is on the job.

“He is doing the job.

“We have one commissioner who feels like the candidate he supported didn’t get the job so he wants to stop the whole process and unhire someone that we have hired.”

Rodriguez disputed this.

“You are lying when you make statements like that. He wasn’t my candidate. You lied.”

DeWitt pointed out that Rodriguez initially supported the hiring of the man.

DeWitt said, “The Honorable Commissioner Rodriguez said at the end of the interviews that he could go along with the candidate and now he has changed his mind.”

Rodriguez responded, “I changed it that same day.”

Ultimately, the court could not agree on anything.

Silva said, “I think the way this is shaping, we are still going to be deadlocked.”

And he was correct.

With only four members of the court present, Commissioner Ken Haggard was absent this meeting, there was never a majority vote.

Salazar, in explaining his decision and vote with Rodriguez, said, “Had I not had a group of veterans come before this court and object to this hiring... that tells me they are not happy with the process or the selection.

“That is why I am standing firm with this decision.”

Representatives from several veterans organizations were at Monday’s meeting and spoke during the public comment portion.

Armando Musquez said that the veterans had written a letter in support of Abel Esquivel Sr. for the position.

“It is our understanding that our letter was completely ignored and was not given serious consideration in the interview process,” he said.

Musquez said he had nothing against Ferguson, but could not support him as the best choice for the job.

“However, he is not an active member of the local VFW, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America or the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans of Bee County. He has never attended any of our meetings and he has never been a part of any event we have hosted in Bee County. He has never even come to introduce himself to us as a veteran.”

Another veteran George Varra, said, “I would like the matter to be looked into by some type of committee that would overlook the favoritism or political game. I have always believed that the best person for the job should get the job.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at
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