Galveston fires City Manager Steve LeBlanc
GALVESTON, TX -- The Galveston City Council has fired Steve LeBlanc, the city manager who guided the city's recovery following Hurricane Ike, after a poor performance review and his criticism of city leaders.The council voted 5-2 Wednesday night to dismiss LeBlanc, a Galveston native and engineer who had been city manager for 14 years.
Assistant City Managers Carolyn Cox and Brian Maxwell were named co-acting city managers. LeBlanc, 54, who made about $139,000 annually, will get a severance package and must be available to consult with city staff for 90 days.
During a performance review undertaken this month in open session -- at LeBlanc's request -- the city manager was criticized for his lack of interaction with the public and leadership issues, including his vision for the city.
LeBlanc later sent an email to city staff about a private conversation he had with Mayor Joe Jaworski that suggested some council members might want him out. LeBlanc also met with some city department heads.
"It's not an easy decision, and I am utterly distressed," said Jaworski. "We need skilled, experienced, professional management. I now believe Steve has been missing things and making mistakes that are human."
LeBlanc told the council that he was proud of his work record and that he had put his heart into the job.
"I will not quit," LeBlanc told the council before the vote, warning them that he had hired an attorney.
More than 30 people spoke in support of LeBlanc. Some held signs saying: "Please keep Steve."
Former Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, who was in office when Ike swamped the island city in September 2008, spoke in support of LeBlanc. "I firmly believe he is doing his best for Galveston and the city," she said.
Councilman Rusty Legg voted in favor of LeBlanc.
"I don't have the words to describe how disappointed I am in the council. I apologize from the deepest, bottom of my heart," said Legg, who was joined by Councilwoman Dianna Puccetti in supporting LeBlanc.
Councilwoman Linda Colbert, a critic of the city manager, referred to LeBlanc's email to the entire city staff about his conversation with the mayor about the possibility that he could be fired and to a staff meeting in which he asked whether anyone had been approached about becoming interim managers. Staffers had phoned Colbert to say they were intimidated and that LeBlanc had criticized council members, she said.
"How can we work together if we are going to be threatened?" said Colbert.
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