Former Port Isabel city manager Edward Meza has filed a lawsuit against the city, current mayor and city commissioner claiming he was fired for speaking up about alleged prohibited activity. Meza claims the three public officials would take city vehicles to their personal companies for maintenance.
“We would take the vehicles for public works, police department, they would just take it them. And I found out you couldn’t do that,” said Meza.
The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 21, 2016, says that current Mayor Juan Jose Zamora and City Commissioner Place Three Martin Cantu “directed and indeed continue to order municipal vehicles to the city defendants privately owned mechanic shops for maintenance and repairs which was a misdemeanor offense and a direct violation of the city charter.”
“It states there that if any commissioner or mayor does any business with the city that’s terms for termination,” Meza said.
Zamora declined to comment. CBS 4 News also reached out to Commissioner Cantu, but did not receive a response before airtime.
Meza was the city manager from 2008 until he was terminated in May of last year.
According to the lawsuit, he said it happened after advising the pair of the alleged violations.
In the lawsuit, it states “the timing and circumstances surrounding his dismissal clearly indicate that Meza was fired in retaliation for his statements about the city defendants and their corrupt self-dealing.”
The city released the following statement:
“This lawsuit is frivolous, and without merit. Our taxpayers have suffered enough during the past few years, and this abusive lawsuit only seeks to prolong their suffering. The City of Port Isabel expects to be vindicated in court, and will not have any further public comment on this matter.”
Following his dismissal, Meza said he spoke with City Attorney Gilberto Hinojosa about his severance package.
“I said okay that’s fine, I’ll just ask for my severance package. And he said ‘nope, it’s against the law. It’s against the state law. We cannot give a severance package.’ And I said, ‘wait a minute, you gave a severance package to the city manager that worked before me.’ And he said, ‘two wrongs don’t make it right,'” Meza said.
The lawsuit also mentions that Meza was deprived of his first amendment rights among other claims.