As originally reported by us, Joe Molinar has been accused of harassment. Yesterday, in a nearly empty city council chambers, city council voted to issue a letter of admonition to Joe Molinar. After meeting in executive session, Alexsandra Annello read the admonition into the record at 5:16pm.
The motion called for the issuance of a “letter of admonition…as a result of a complaint of harassment” made against Molinar. The letter of admonition, which will be drafted later states that Molinar must take training on discrimination and harassment and if he were to violate the code of conduct again, council can order his removal from committee assignments.
The motion was seconded by Brian Kennedy.
Before the vote was taken, Cassandra Hernandez asked that a competing item be voted on. The competing item was to “issue a letter of reprimand,” instead of the letter of admonition to Molinar.
City council voted five to two to issue the letter of admonition against Molinar. Henry Rivera and Isabel Salcido voted against the letter of admonition and Molinar, although present, did not vote on the matter.
After the council voted on the letter of admonition, Cassandra Hernandez asked council to vote on issuing the letter of reprimand. Rivera had seconded the letter of reprimand when read by Annello. Annello said that she had not put forth a motion on the letter of reprimand but had just read it telling council that if the motion to issue the letter of admonition failed, then council would vote on the issuance of a letter of reprimand.
Hernandez then moved to issue a letter of reprimand, which had been seconded by Rivera. However, because the motion to issue the letter of admonition had passed, she was told that she first had to make a motion to reconsider the item, before council could entertain her motion for a letter of reprimand.
Confusion then ensued with the representatives not clear on what motion had been adopted.
Hernandez then made a motion to reconsider the item and Salcido seconded the reconsideration motion. The motion to reconsider the item passed four to three. Canales, Hernandez, Rivera and Salcido voted in favor of reconsidering the item. Annello, Fierro and Kennedy voted against reopening the item.
Annello then read into the record the original motion to issue a letter of admonition again.
For the second vote, Alexsandra Annello, Chris Canales, Art Fierro, Cassandra Hernandez, Brian Kennedy and Henry Rivera voted in favor of issuing the letter of admonition. Isabel Salcido voted against and Molinar did not vote. Rivera had changed his vote in the second round.
A reprimand is more severe than an admonition, although according to the reading of the motions by Annello, both carried the same penalties. The letter of admonition can be issued for a minor infraction that a letter of notification is not sufficient according to the ethic ordinance.
Tommy Gonzalez was not at the meeting during these votes.
As we originally reported, two sources on condition of background provided details to us about the accusation against Molinar. We asked Molinar for comment on Saturday, but he told us that he could not comment on the issue. According to our original reporting, the issue of harassment involves Molinar asking a staffer of the city manager’s office to dance with him at Thanksgiving.
Details of the harassment charge were not read into the record and Molinar refused to comment on the matter.
During yesterday’s agenda item where city council fired Tommy Gonzalez, Cassandra Hernandez insisted multiple times that the Molinar item be discussed before or during the executive session items about Gonzalez’ employment contract. Hernandez had issued a press release last week about a harassment charge against Molinar without naming him. When added with her deliberations at city council yesterday leading up to the firing of Gonzalez, her actions suggests that there is a connection between the two council items.
A source has told us that the Molinar matter was some sort of “retaliation” against Molinar for adding his name to the agenda item that led to the firing of Gonzalez. Molinar refused to comment to El Paso News and no other information has been released.