BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Brownsville Public Utilities Board on Monday voted unanimously to place its CEO on administrative leave with pay for 60 days.
Jaime Estrada will take over as interim CEO.
The decision followed a public outcry, voiced in the board’s Oct. 10 regular meeting and again on Monday, to place CEO John Bruciak on leave without pay after the city released a forensic audit of BPUB’s failed $118 million power plant project.
Brownsville residents who attended the meeting were not satisfied with the board’s decision to place its CEO on paid leave.
“What came out of executive session was a slap in every, every citizen of Brownsville’s face. It’s a slap in the face to suspend someone with 60 days — with pay,” Brownsville resident Ezequel Silva told ValleyCentral’s Derick Garcia after the decision. “When people don’t even have the money to pay the bills. I mean, there’s not even words for it.”
As previously reported by ValleyCentral, Brownsville city commissioners released the candid review on Oct. 5, detailing how the utility board in 2011 raised customers’ electric rates to fund a plan to develop and operate an electric-generating facility, through a deal presented as being a partnership between BPUB and Tenaska, a Nebraska-based energy company.
At Monday’s special meeting, BPUB met in closed session to consider the “employment, evaluation, reassessment, duties, or discipline of [John Bruciak] the Chief Executive Officer.”
Last week’s Oct. 10 public meeting heard strong criticism from residents who expressed they wanted Bruciak to be disciplined after the release of the audit.
Monday’s special meeting began with public comments. Residents had a maximum of five minutes each to speak. Last week, those comments centered solely on the audit.
Another item on the closed meeting portion of the agenda allowed BPUB officials to talk with its legal counsel about any pending court and administrative litigation matters regarding the city’s forensic audit report.