BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — At a special Brownsville Public Utilities Board meeting on Wednesday, the board accepted the retirement of CEO and general manager John Bruciak.

“I’m only surprised that the retirement wasn’t announced sooner,” said District 3 Commissioner Roy De Los Santos. 

De Los Santos spoke one-on-one with the 4 INVESTIGATES team on BPUB customers’ concerns Bruciak could receive a ‘golden parachute’ or big payday to leave.

In October 2022, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board voted unanimously to place Bruciak on administrative leave with pay for 60 days, following the release of a city-sponsored forensic audit of the utility’s failed $118 million power plant project.

“It wouldn’t just surprise me, it would probably outrage me if there was a golden parachute,” said De Los Santos.

Bruciak’s 60 days of admin leave lapsed 19 days without action being taken or follow-up to City Commissioners. The same week as the retirement announcement, De Los Santos voted in favor to remove BPUB Chair Sandra Saenz.

Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa (district 2) supported De Los Santos.

Commissioners Rose Gowen, John Cowen Jr., and Nurith Galonsky Pizana voted against removal.

Mayor Trey Mendez abstained from voting and Commissioner Pedro Cardenas was not present.

The vote wouldn’t have passed because the city’s existing charter requires a unanimous vote. Carlos Cascos, a member of the city’s Charter Review Committee hopes to change that rule.

“I’ve read the audit,” said Cascos, “There’s a strong appearance of impropriety. I’m surprised he wasn’t terminated.”

City Spokesperson Monica Tellum released a statement to 4 INVESTIGATES on the progress since the Tenaska audit, “The COB continues to work with BPUB, so that necessary actions are taken, and the utility company asserts to its core mission – serving the residents of Brownsville.”

Since the audit, the City of Brownsville has:

  • Approved roll-back utility rates to pre-Tenaska rates by a total of 22%.
  • Approved a temporary moratorium for the delinquent payment and or the disconnection for non-payment.
  • Created a Charter Review Committee to review oversight guidelines, and
  • Created City appointment members for a sub-committee with BPUB for other options related to the disposition of fees, rates, funds collected and overall operations of BPUB.