Longtime La Feria city manager fired after closed session

LA FERIA — Sunny Philip’s last day as city manager is Friday.

He is being forced to leave his duties after working for the City of La Feria for more than three decades.

“I am pleased with the fact I was able to give my 100 percent and I was able to touch the lives of everybody,” Philip said.

However, his departure is not his choice.

City officials unanimously agreed to terminate Philip late Tuesday night following two closed-session discussions.

Attorney Rick Navarro, hired by the city to evaluate the performance of the city manager, commented on behalf of the city.

“The action of the city commission is the action of the city,” Navarro said.

Navarro would not discuss any findings or what was talked about in executive session.

The commission discussed Philip’s performance with Navarro in executive session for nearly an hour Tuesday night.

Then the city commissioner came out of executive session and quickly went back into another to discuss the commission’s evaluation and a complaint against Philip with Philip himself.

That session lasted nearly three hours.

Philip said there was no finding or charges made against him by the commissioners about his work performance.

He said he told the commissioners he wanted to continue as city manager.

But the commission decided on a different direction.

They came out of executive session and made the motion to terminate him.

“The way I understand is city jobs are at-will employment and the city commission has the right to terminate the city manager without any reason,” Philip said.

The decision left Philip’s supporters stunned as the crowded commissioner’s courtroom remained packed to the very end of the meeting.

“I don’t like the direction this commission is going,” said John Hernandez, a former commissioner who served 21 years. “As soon as they voted to fire him, they tabled the rest of the items and walked out as fast as they could.”

Philip served as finance director for 10 years before being hired in 1993 as city manager — a position he held for 23 years.

It remains unknown why Philip was dismissal.

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