Roma council to consider probe into mayor

The Roma City Council is set to consider whether to launch an investigation into Mayor Roberto A. Salinas during Wednesday’s meeting.

The possible action by the city council is listed on the meeting agenda under the executive session portion of the meeting, which also includes an item to discuss the mayor’s conduct.

Salinas said he didn’t know what the investigation was about but speculated that Councilman John G. Cantu had gotten wind of a rumor regarding the circumstances surrounding Salinas’ retirement from Citizens State Bank.

Last month, Salinas resigned as the president and CEO of the bank, the details of which have not been made public.

“He heard a rumor and based on that rumor, he wants to conduct an investigation,” Salinas said.

The mayor firmly denied that the rumors had any merit.

“I know for a fact that he has no evidence,” Salinas said of Cantu. “Being that everything they do is political they may proceed with (the investigation), but I don’t see that it will go anywhere.”

Councilmen Cantu, Joel Hinojosa and Gilberto Ramirez have often found themselves opposing the mayor and Councilman Clyde Guerra on some of the most politically contentious issues brought before the council.

But while Cantu confirmed that the mayor’s job at the bank was the focus of the possible investigation, he said it was nothing more than trying to get to the truth.

“It’s just to see what happened,” Cantu said. “We just want to know the truth, that’s basically it.”

“Hopefully, there’s nothing, that’s what I’m praying,” Cantu added. “But we just want to know that truth because we don’t want for it, if there’s something going on, to affect the city of Roma.”

The city council meeting on Wednesday will also address ongoing problems at the police department.

During a January workshop, the mayor notified the council that the department was seeing a loss in officers which he said was due to low wages.

At the time, Roma Police Chief Jose H. Garcia confirmed one officer had left for another agency and at least three others were preparing to leave.

Cantu said he was recently informed that two officers had, in fact, left the department but bemoaned the general lack of notification for when the city hired or fired employees.

“I don’t even get informed if someone is hired here or there,” he said. “So we just want to put a little bit of a stop to that and get more info.”

Complicating matters further is an ongoing investigation into Garcia, the police chief, and City Manager Crisanto Salinas that was prompted in August by a letter signed by several police officers. The letter, dated July 15, 2019, detailed various grievances with the department’s leadership.

As part of that investigation, the city council has met with each officer individually, a process which Cantu said should be concluding soon.

“We will conclude it and after that, if we feel the need to hire more officers, then we will,” Cantu said. “But what I’ve heard from the sergeants that I’ve talked to, we have enough for now.”

That appeared to be in line with what the city manager had heard from his talks with people at the police department, concluding that a hiring freeze would not negatively affect the department right now.

“It’s basically a matter of the department rearranging the personnel so they can have enough people to cover all the shifts,” Salinas said. “So I don’t see a dramatic need to replace them immediately.”

As for hiring and firing generally within the city, Salinas said that was solely his responsibility.

“They don’t have a say so on who gets hired and who doesn’t,” he said referring to the council, adding they didn’t need to know. “I’m the way who runs the day to day operations so I know who left a department and who is being replaced and all that.”

The council will vote on those items during Wednesday’s meeting, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at city hall.