City faces more departures

The City of Odessa has lost a handful of upper-level employees over the last several weeks, including Interim Director of Finance Seth Boles and Director of Risk Management Enedelia Ortiz.

According to records obtained by the Odessa American under the Texas Public Information Act, Ortiz was terminated Sept. 8 for “disregard of public trust.”

Ortiz, who had worked for the city since June 1994, refused to sign her termination letter.

A subsequent open records request for all emails, memos and documents pertaining to Ortiz’s termination did not shed any light on the circumstances of her departure.

Boles resigned Sept. 29.

In announcing his resignation, Boles wrote “this letter will serve as formal documentation that my signature or facsimile signature may not be used as authorization for any and all City of Odessa business. Any use of my signature or facsimile signature is unauthorized and I assume no liability for any checks issued, grant submissions, contracts or any other pertinent city documents issued as of the date of this formal letter and date of resignation.”

Boles quit shortly after finishing up the FY23-24 budget for the city and he’s just the latest finance person to depart the city.

Assistant City Manager Cindy Muncy, who also spent much of her time dealing with the city’s finances, quit last December, one week after the council fired City Manager Michael Marrero.

Zackary Beseril, the City’s budget manager, submitted his resignation letter April 3 and Director of Finance Larry Fry retired effective May 31.

None of their resignation/retirement announcements contained similar language to that in Boles’ letter.

According to the city’s website, they’re still searching for a director of finance.

The city also saw the departure of Odessa Fire Rescue Training Captain Kris Norred. He retired effective Aug. 18.

Norred received a written reprimand last August after 13 cadets sustained severe blisters and cuts on their hands after being forced to “bear crawl” from the base of Central Fire Station’s driveway to the top multiple times on a day when temperatures exceeded 90 degrees.

An outside attorney hired by the city to re-investigate the incident concluded the recruits were actually forced to endure four days of abuse, with the bear crawl being the worst.

Now-retired OFR Training Chief Marty Moya received a five-day unpaid suspension in connection with the incident.

In addition, Odessa Police Captain Jerry Harrell retired Aug. 31 and Homicide Detective Sgt. Justin Caid quit Sept. 15, stating the city “failed to provide fair and equal compensation based on rank and tenure.”

Several other city employees have retired or left in recent weeks, with a few citing better opportunities and better pay elsewhere.

One traffic department employee wrote, “upper management seems to avoid maintaining proper synergy throughout the city and it has caused ripples of fear and loss of morale into the lower ranks.”

A Keep Odessa Beautiful employee quit without providing advance notice because she “was given warning not to speak to other employee at all or I would be terminated. Over the stress between between staff on KOB.”

According to the city website, they currently have 52 job openings.