FORNEY, Texas — A motion calling for the immediate resignation of Forney City Manager Tony Carson failed in a 4-3 vote during a special-called meeting Friday night.
Council members had met Friday evening to review a formal grievance filed by Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt against Carson — alleging the city manager had put social media optics over a public safety decision during the recent winter storm disaster. In it, Lunt states, Carson's behavior during that time are part of a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions which Carson allegedly fosters.
Allegations of Carson's behavior were echoed in letters sent to council this past week, including from the Forney Police Officers Association, Forney Professional Firefighters Association, and the Pekin, Illinois, Professional Firefighters Association — where Carson was last employed as a city manager.
In a motion Friday night, following a three-hour executive session, Council member James Traylor made a motion and called for the immediate resignation of Carson, stating he had lost confidence in the city manager. The motion was seconded by Council member David Johnson and the floor was opened for discussion.
"Given the events of the past week, I have personally have lost confidence in our city manager and feel as though his tenure should end as of today," stated Traylor.
"I'd like to say to the citizens of Forney how much I appreciate your interest and your willingness to communicate with us on this matter," stated Council member Kevin Moon. "Everyone's time is important and we know that its always convenient to watch these meetings. We work really hard up here and I know that you guys know that. I'd also like to remind everyone that as council we face extreme difficult decisions each time we have to make these. We automatically know that 50% of you guys are gonna hate us and the other 50 are gonna probably like us. So, the decisions that we make are not made lightly. So, with protocols we have to follow, city statutes to uphold, and rules regarding day-to-day operations, just like any other company, I'd like everyone to understand, I'm sure you do, that we do what we feel best. Each and every one of us as individuals. And whats best in the interest of the city."
"I would just simply state that this is a very, very difficult scenario that unfortunately has played out," stated Johnson. "Its most unfortunate. There is a bigger picture and issue tonight that we had to deal with. I think a motion will be coming later, I ain't going to assume all that. I too have concerns on operational leadership. I will go ahead and publicly say that the last city I worked, there were very eerie similar situations I see existing here that existed there. It was one of the reasons I retired and left that organization. Thank you."
"It has been a very tough week for the citizens," stated Mayor Mary Penn. "It has been a tough week for the city council. Its with a heavy heart and much to consider, that I have prepared a written statement so I don't leave anything out."
Penn's complete state reads:
"I am not here to ruin anyone's career or livelihood. As city mayor, I am accountable to our citizens, and community to make the best decisions as a whole. The whole situation adds yet another layer of division to our community and is a tremendous travesty that's devastating to our citizens. This is not okay. We must change direction.
To the citizens of Forney, I want to offer my sincere apology for the behavioral trends and the negative culture that has been put on display. You deserve better. My main goal from day 1 as your mayor has been to work hard to bring us together, not divide us. I have and will continue to strive for growing our city.
All Mr. Carson asked from the council and myself was that we support his decisions as city manager. While that seemed to be a reasonable request to agree to, I find it very difficult to support his decisions when he has clearly displayed that he is not supportive of his own directors’ decisions. In fact, the grievance that was laid out for this discussion outlines Mr. Carson gave direction to Public Works to continuously treat the Luminous Power Plant, which is private property. It is not clear to me the difference in treating the power plant versus the decision Chief Lunt made, as our Emergency Management Coordinator, to instruct public works to clear Walmart, Kroger, and Brookshires, also private property and considered critical infrastructure within the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. Mr. Carson’s management style is one where he chooses to embrace rank, giving overruling direct orders as opposed to trusting his leaders to make the choices that are best for our city’s safety and security. The fact is you cannot receive what you are not willing to give. In my opinion, this is the area where he has failed in his management of the city.
My vision for our city, is to bring about leadership that is seen as an opportunity to serve others, one that drives engagement and listens. You see, there are no hard fast rules when it comes to “how” we lead. We are charged with doing what we think is right and taking care of our citizens. While rules establish boundaries and are essential, they are often given to people who do not take responsibility for thinking on their own. The simplest, most applicable rule we should be following to shape our culture and our city as a whole is the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'
It is absolutely imperative that the action taken tonight positions our city to move forward with leadership that enables a culture of unity and growth. It is mission critical for someone in this role to provide our citizens and city employees with an attitude of servant leadership and cultivate a spirit of collaboration and empowerment.
After diligent thought, consideration, and prayer, I, Mayor Mary Penn, respectfully request for Mr. Carson to make the right decision and immediately submit his resignation as Forney’s city manager."
Mayor Pro-Tem Shaun Myers, Council member Derald Cooper, and Council member Robbie Powers offered no comment.
On a call for a vote to accept the immediate resignation of Carson, Traylor, Johnson, and Penn voted in favor. Myers, Cooper, Powers, and Moon voted against and the motion failed.
Myers then made a motion to approve the findings of the city attorney, in accordance with the formal grievance process, and authorized the attorney to provide those findings to Lunt. Cooper seconded the motion and Powers and Moon voted in favor. Traylor, Penn, and Johnson voted against.
There was no other discussion and the meeting was adjourned.
The Forney City Council's may again bring up the item in executive session during their regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, as listed in the posted agenda, to review the city manager's performance, among others. The council had also previously tabled raise discussions for the city manager, city secretary, and city attorney until that Tuesday meeting.