Port Arthur city manager calls it quits

Port Arthur City Manager Brian McDougal in spring 2016

For the second time in as many weeks, the Port Arthur City Council convened behind closed doors Monday, Nov. 13, “to discuss the duties, responsibilities, discipline, or dismissal of the city manager,” Brian McDougal, who was hired under a different make-up of elected city officials in 2015. The agenda item, requested by Councilmember Harold Doucet, had also been placed on the non-public executive session portion of the agenda for deliberation at the council’s Tuesday, Nov. 7, posted special meeting.

The first time McDougal’s job position was to be discussed, however, there were some questions as to the forum. Pursuant to Texas Government Code, City Manager McDougal, being the subject of the hearing, was given the opportunity to require the governmental body to conduct an open meeting discussion.

The city manager originally invoked the right to hear the deliberation in open session after the matter was first slated for deliberation in executive session. In a letter sent to the council dated Nov. 7, McDougal asked for the matter to be heard in front of the public through his attorney, former judge Cory Crenshaw.

By Nov. 9, two days after the first meeting was to occur, correspondence was received by the city that a closed-door meeting would be allowed for future discussion of the city manager’s position, attorney Val Tezino reported to the council prior to the Nov. 13 meeting.

Coming out of executive session after approximately two hours of discussion, the City Council emerged from private talks to take a vote to accept McDougal’s resignation, effective Nov. 21. McDougal would not be returning to the day-to-day functions of his job, though.

“The parties agree that Brian McDougal will be placed on administrative leave with pay” until Nov. 21 from the date of the resignation acceptance, Tezino said. “The city further agrees to accept a separation agreement with Brian McDougal according to the terms agreed on by the parties.”

While no formal announcement has been given by the city reps as to all the elements of the separation agreement, reports so far are that McDougal will receive one year severance pay as well as attorney fees. Public Information Officer LaRisa Carpenter did not return calls for comment as of press time.

“In accordance with the city charter,” Tezino additionally reported, “the assistant city manager, Jimmy Johnson, will serve until an interim city manager is appointed.”