lunt

Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt

FORNEY, Texas — In a grievance filed Sunday, and obtained by inForney.com on Monday, Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt says City Manager Tony Carson put social media optics over public safety concerns during a historic winter storm this past week.

A majority of the grievance is centered around events of and the city's response to the winter storm disaster which began February 14 but, Lunt states, Carson's behavior during that time are part of a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions which Carson allegedly fosters.

Carson, in response to an inForney.com request for comment on this story, stated he was unable to comment because this is a personnel matter.

According to the grievance, by February 19, the Forney Police Department and Forney Fire Department had responded to 13 calls for service in grocery store parking lots for stranded motorists and injury and fall calls. That same day, an elderly woman had fallen in the Wal-Mart parking lot, hit her head, lost consciousness, and was transported to an area hospital.

While the City of Forney had been clearing and treating the parking lots of the Luminant power plant, assisted- and long-term care facilities, and the helicopter pad at the hospital, Lunt says he made a public safety consideration — as the Emergency Management Coordinator and in concurrence with Fire Department Chief Briggs and a Public Works Department supervisor —  to clear and treat the parking lots of Wal-Mart, Krogers, and Brookshires as these three locations were heavily trafficked and provided basic, life-sustaining food and pharmaceuticals. Public safety personnel also reported their own falls during these calls for service.

Less than an hour after making that decision, Lunt says he received a call from Carson admonishing him for the decision but was never asked why or what public safety considerations were made which led to the decision.

"Mr. Carson said that he did not want to deal with pictures of us clearing some private parking lots and not others," stated Lunt, in the grievance. "At no time did Mr. Carson ask for my reasoning or an explanation."

During that same phone call, Lunt states he offered his explanation, a summary of the public safety calls and injuries, and how these locations differed from other private property locations within the city. Those explanations were dismissed, according to Lunt.

"...I cannot see how I could be reasonably expected to disregard a bonafide public safety need supported with multiple calls of service, observed conditions, and the heavily congested natures of these specific locations," stated Lunt. "I find it inconsistent and hypocritical that city resources were utilized to treat the Luminant power plant, a location in which we received no public safety calls for service, as well as the helicopter landing pad at the hospital, but were not allowed to treat these parking lots to improve safety for citizens and first responders."

"Mr. Carson's decision to overrule my request for Public Works to treat these parking lots dismissed legitimate public safety concerns and hard data that jeopardized the safety of citizens and first responders."

In addition to this incident, Lunt states there have been a number of calls and meetings, during his tenure with the City of Forney, in which Carson treated him unfairly, unreasonably, and with poor supervision, leadership, and communication skills.

"As I previously mentioned, this interaction that I have described in great detail is far from an isolated incident. I feel particularly mistreated and unsupported as a public safety professional leader regarding this particular incident, but unfortunately it has become somewhat of a rolling expectation as to when the next outburst will occur," states Lunt.

"Decisions that overrule seasoned public safety leaders that jeopardize the safety of citizens and first responders are unacceptable and inexcusable," he stated. "I feel that I would be remiss in my duties as your Chief of Police and Emergency Management Coordinator to fail to notify you of these issues."

Lunt's most recent accusations have not been unique. Following our reporting on the City of Forney's mismanagement of Coronavirus Relief Funds and possible violations of the CARES Act, a number of current and former employees and local business owners contacted inForney.com and took to social media — describing similar treatment including censorship, cronyism in hiring practices, hypocritical decision making, condescending and poor leadership, and barring city employees from doing business with local retailers and restaurants which had conflicts with Carson and/or a former elected official.

According to Lunt's grievance, the City of Forney Personnel Policy Manual requires, as part of filing a grievance, to list "specific remedial action request."

Lunt suggested three remedial actions for the Forney City Council's consideration: Establish a comprehensive performance improvement plan, which would include intensive training and oversight for Mr. Carson to improve his communication, leadership, supervision, and management skills. Such a plan should include the assignment of a mentor to assist in the application of positive communication, supervision, management, and leadership skills in daily tasks and interactions with staff with regular progress reports submitted to the Council; Reassignment of Mr. Carson's responsibilities to a non-supervisory role; or Request Mr. Caron's resignation as City Manager.

To read the complete grievance, as obtained by inForney.com, read below:

"Dear Honorable Mayor Penn, Forney City Council Members, and City Attorney Mr. Thatcher:

The purpose of this letter is to initiate a grievance against City Manager Tony Carson. The grounds under which this grievance is levied are from the City of Forney Personnel Policy Manual, Section 7.04, which states in part:

No adverse action will be taken against an employee for exercising the grievance right. A grievance may be filed by an employee on one or more of the following grounds... improper application of rules, regulations, and procedures (but not the rules, regulations, and procedures themselves); unfair treatment; improper application of fringe benefits; improper working conditions, or any violation of state or Federal law (p.82)

On Friday, Febrauary 19, 2021, I was serving as the Police Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Forney during the winter storm disaster that began on February 14, 2021. Warnings regarding the impending weather were well known, and I, along with several others across the City had been preparing for the winter storm for several days. Friday, February 19 was the 12th straight day that I had been working with most days well in excess of 12 hours.

As the Emergency Management Coordinator, I was acutely aware of the overall status of the disaster and the many ways that is was negatively affecting public safety across the City. Since the beginning of our response to the disaster, I, along with members of the Police, Fire, Pubilc Works, Technology, and Facilities departments, and Mr. Carson, as well as every member of the Executive Team had been in continuous communication through a variety of means.

By February 19, we had worked 13 calls for service in grocery store parking lots for stranded motorists and injury/fall calls. On February 19, an elderly female slipped on the compacted snow and ice and lost consciousness after hitting her head in the Wal-Mart parking lot. She was ultimately transported by ambulance to the emergency room for treatment. Police and Fire professionals reported dangerous conditions at the entrances/exits to Brookshires due to compacted snow and ice and the steep grade from the roadway into the parking lot. There were several stranded motorists and crashes at this location though no injuries or fatalities. Public safety professionals reported falling down on several of these calls.

Mr. Jeff Olson, a supervisor in Public Works, had reported treated the parking lots of long-term care facilities due to first responders having difficulty accessing those facilities in the past. This week and as a result of the winter storm impacts, Mr. Carson had informed me of his requests to Public Works staff to continuously treat the Luminant power plant due to the electricity crisis and ensuring that Luminant employees could safely get in and out of their facility — a decision I supported. On February 19, Wal-Mart leadership, while members of our Police and Fire departments were on-scene working the injury/fall call for the elderly female, asked if the City could assist in clearing their parking lot due to the number of public safety issues that had occurred. Public safety professionals in the field confirmed that the conditions at Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Brookshires were dangerous and in need of treatment.

From our own observations, requests for extra patrol due to crowds from store managers, as well as numerous social media posts, these three grocery stores, which provide base, life-sustaining food and pharmaceuticals, were the most heavily trafficked and congested locations in the City of Forney. Our main thoroughfares had been treated and were passable. Based upon all of these factors, I spoke with Mr. Olson and asked about Public Works' ability to treat the parking lots of Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Brookshires. Mr. Olson concurred that there was a public safety need and agreed to provide treatment. We also discussed this decision in the Emergency Operations Center, and Fire Chief Briggs also concurred. My requests to treat these parking lots were provided to Pubic Works shortly after 10am.

At 10:42 am, I received a call from Mr. Carson on my cell phone. Mr Carson said, "Hi Chief, I got a call from Kyle [referring to Mr. Kyle Groves, Assistant Public Works Director] that you directed Public Works to clear the parking lots of Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Brookshires." I responded, "yes sir." Mr. Carson said, "we can't treat any private property." Mr. Carson went on to say that in the future, I needed to make him aware of decisions I made that would affect him. Mr. Carson went on to say that he had received requests from Mama's Daughter's Diner regarding when the City of Forney would clear their parking lot. Mr. Carson said that he did not want to deal with pictures of us clearing some private parking lots and not others. At no time did Mr. Carson ask for my reasoning or an explanation. When Mr. Carson finished his admonishment of my decision-making, I apologized to him and stated that I was sorry for making what I believed to be a public safety decision that caused him difficulty. I then offered my explanation, which included the summary of the calls for service and injuries that have been sustained as well as how these locations differ from others in the City. Mr. Carson dismissed my explanation and reiterated that we could not treat private property of any kind, and he reiterated the need to consult with him prior to making any decision that would affect him. Mr. Carson used an example of Chic-Fil-A and what if they requested the City to clear their parking lot. I again apologized, and we discontinued our conversation. I then informed Public Safety staff that we would not be able to treat those parking lots, and I requested officers to notify the managers of all three locations.

This telephone conversation that I had with Mr. Carson was unfair, demoralizing, and consistent with a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions in which he fosters. Mr. Carson's tone was condescending, rude, and non-collegial. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue nor grievance with receiving critical feedback regarding my performance as a subordinate, to include decision-making. However, I believe Mr. Caron's treatment of me on this call, as well as a number of other calls and meetings since I have served as a subordinate to him, have been unfair, unreasonable, and with poor supervision, leadership, and communication skills.

Regarding this call, Mr. Carson had not made me aware of an expectation not to treat any private property, nor had any member of the Public Works department. In fact, Public Works had information me as the Emergency Management Coordinator of having treated private parking lots at long-term care facilities to assist our Fire apparatus in accessing those locations in the past. Moreover, Mr. Carson himself had informed me of directing Public Works to treat the parking lots of the Luminant power plant during this disaster. Public Works cleared the helicopter landing pad at the hospital in Forney. There was no way possible for me to have known that Mr. Carson was dealing with requests from private entities such as Mama's Daughter's Diner or others to clear their parking lots (except Luminant). Even if there was some way for me to have known this information, I cannot see how I could be reasonably expected to disregard a bonafide public safety need supported with multiple calls for service, observed conditions, and the heavily congested nature of these specific locations. I find it inconsistent and hypocritical that city resources were utilized to treat the Luminant power plant, a location in which we received no public safety calls for service, as well as the helicopter landing pad at the hospital, but were not allowed to treat these parking lots to improve safety for citizens and first responders. Mr. Carson's decision to overrule my request for Public Works to treat these parking lots dismissed legitimate public safety concerns and hard data that jeopardized the safety of citizens and first responders.

As I previously mentioned, this interaction that I have described in great detail is far from an isolated incident. I feel particularly mistreated and unsupported as a public safety professional leader regarding this particular incident, but unfortunately it has become somewhat of a rolling expectation as to when the next outburst will occur. As a leader charged with the public safety of the City of Forney and coordinating our emergency response to disasters, this type of working environment and inconsistency are unnecessarily stressful and demoralizing. Decisions that overrule seasoned public safety leaders that jeopardize the safety of citizens and first responders are unacceptable and inexcusable. I feel that I would be remiss in my duties as your Chief of Police and Emergency Management Coordinator to fail to notify you of these issues. I hope that you have found this grievance to be well-reasoned, factually supported, and based truly in my desire to provide the best possible service to the citizens of Forney, you as its elected leaders, the City Manager, and to the men and women who have been entrusted to me under my command.

The City of Forney Personnel Policy Manual requires as part of filing a grievance to list "specific remedial action request." In my opinion, there are three options that may bring about a successful resolution that I am presenting for the Council's consideration.

  • Option 1: Establish a comprehensive performance improvement plan, which would include intensive training and oversight for Mr. Carson to improve his communication, leadership, supervision, and management skills. Such a plan should include the assignment of a mentor to assist in the application of positive communication, supervision, management, and leadership skills in daily tasks and interactions with staff with regular progress reports submitted to the Council.
  • Option 2: Reassignment of Mr. Carson's responsibilities to a non-supervisory role.
  • Option 3: Request Mr. Carson's resignation as City Manager.

Sincerely,

Mica A Lunt

Chief of Police & emergency Management Coordinator"