Image: Former City of Montgomery County Police Chief Jim Napolitano (right) and his daughter (left).
Montgomery, October 23 – City of Montgomery Mayor Sara Countryman, Councilwoman Rebecca Huss, and City Administrator Jack Yates have successfully forced extraordinarily popular and successful Police Chief Jim Napolitano out of his job, even though a majority of the City Council backed the retention of Napolitano in the position during the secret deliberations at the end of the September 25, 2018, City Council meeting. Countryman, Huss, and Yates made it clear to Napolitano that they would register complaints against him constantly until he agreed to leave the City as Police Chief, as four high-level and mid-level city employees and one member of the City Council have confirmed on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
A police officer on the City of Montgomery Police force told The Golden Hammer, “It is such a sad day in the city of Montgomery to lose such a great leader as Jim Napolitano. I am just so tired of how the small town politics are still occurring. The back stabbing needs to stop. Jim Napolitano is the best Chief the city has ever had.”
Under the terms of the separation, the City will pay Napolitano his full salary as Police Chief through February 1, 2019, at which time his retirement with the City will vest. The City and Napolitano have executed mutual releases and agreed not to disparage each other. The City has also agreed, through its attorney Larry Foerster, to provide Napolitano with a favorable recommendation as he searches for new employment. Between now and February 1, Napolitano is official under “administrative leave with full pay.”
Both Napolitano and his wife Angie Napolitano declined to speak with The Golden Hammer, except Chief Napolitano said, “I was completely honored to work at the City of Montgomery as their Chief of Police for the five years I was there. I did everything in my power for better salaries, training, and morale, while I was there. Thanks to everyone.”
Napolitano’s comments seemed to avoid the tough issues the Chief has faced when Countryman came into office earlier this year with a promise that she would support the Chief and his Department but then almost immediately turned around and began to question him after she took the oath of office.
September 25 meeting: secret deliberations and secret votes
Executive sessions under the Texas Open Meetings Act are for informational purposes only. A governmental body is not to take any action inside the executive session and is not to “deliberate” meaning to discuss the pros and cons of specific proposals for action or policy.
During an almost two-hour executive session on September 25, however, the City Council went far beyond mere gathering of information. Mayor Countryman, Councilwoman Huss, and City Manager Yates argued against Napolitano’s continued employment and criticized his treatment of certain city employees who enjoy strong political connections to them, including Police Officer Tim Bauer. Huss had previously lobbied for the firing of Napolitano and his replacement with her ally Bauer.
While Countryman was careful not actually to take a formal vote, the City Council under her leadership did everything but that in the executive session. They debated whether Napolitano should continue as Police Chief. They then sought a “consensus” during which Councilmen Jon Bickford, John Champagne, and T.J. Wilkerson made clear they continued to support Napolitano as Police Chief, while Huss and freshman Councilman Dave McCorquodale were against Napolitano. As a result, Countryman, Huss, and Yates were unable to get the City Council to take specific action during the executive session or in the open session thereafter.
During all-day meetings prior to the 6 p.m. City Council meeting on September 25, Huss, Countryman, and Yates attempted to fashion some mechanism to force Napolitano out of office, as several city employees observed during their meetings. After they failed in the September 25 executive session to achieve their goal to get rid of the Police Chief and replace him with someone whom they liked politically, the Mayor, City Councilwoman, and City Administrator threw down the gauntlet to let Napolitano know they’d l0dge complaint after complaint about him until Napolitano relented his employment with the City.
Napolitano’s employment attorney negotiated a settlement with City Attorney Foerster. The City and Napolitano have finalized the arrangement, even though the City Council and Mayor have never disclosed to the citizens of Montgomery this major shift in leadership within City Hall.
Napolitano has continued to enjoy overwhelming support from the citizens of Montgomery.
Law enforcement representatives from the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office spoke in favor of Napolitano and expressed their appreciation for the professional manner in which the City of Montgomery Police conduct themselves and cooperate with other law enforcement agencies.
Napolitano is a highly respected veteran of law enforcement. He was an Agent with the United States Secret Service and worked on the Presidential Detail of President George H.W. Bush. Napolitano worked as a Sergeant in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office as well as for several other law enforcement agencies.
On October 22, 2018, yesterday, Napolitano served as the security detail for President Donald Trump during the President’s visit to Houston.
Former 3-term City Councilwoman Jenny Stewart, who remains one of the most popular and highly-respect figures in Montgomery politics, called Napolitano a “consummate professional” during a citizen comment she made on September 25, 2018, during the City Council meeting. During the September 11, 2018, City Council meeting, more than several dozen citizens came to the meeting to speak in favor of Napolitano as Police Chief.
The Golden Hammer has confirmed that the Montgomery City Attorney informed Napolitano after the September 11 meeting that the City of Montgomery deferred any action because they had failed to provide Napolitano with any written notice or information concerning why he was on the City Council agenda for a “no confidence” vote. Additionally, this newspaper has confirmed that, since Councilwoman Rebecca Huss was unable to procure the removal of Napolitano and his replacement with Patrol Officer Tim Bauer, a political ally of hers, she and Bauer intended to bring criminal charges against Napolitano with the Public Integrity Unit of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. No criminal action occurred against Chief Napolitano, however.
A gigantic citizen turnout for Montgomery Police Chief Jim Napolitano saved his job and convinced the Montgomery City Council to table the executive session to discuss whether to terminate him as Chief on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. After dozens of citizens expressed their support for Napolitano and after Napolitano made clear that he wanted to hold the executive session before the entire open meeting of citizens, which is his right under the Texas Open Meetings Act, Mayor Sara Countryman and City Councilwoman Rebecca Huss who had pushed for the termination ultimately had to table the action.
The vote to table any action was 4 to 1 with Councilman John Champagne voting against.
On September 10, 2018, this newspaper published an anonymous letter from a City of Montgomery employee. The employee was not Napolitano. Please see “Anonymous City Employee Letter Confirms Political Vendetta Against Montgomery Police Chief Napolitano, Who Will Fight For His Job At A Montgomery City Council Meeting Tuesday Night,” The Golden Hammer, September 10, 2018.
The letter is self-explanatory and sets the background for the hyperpolitical atmosphere inside the City of Montgomery City Hall. The letter follows:
I am authoring this letter to the Golden Hammer so it possibly gets out about the railroading of the most professional Police Chief the City of Montgomery has ever had. Chief Jim Napolitano, who currently serves as the Chief of Montgomery Police Department is being thrown on the chopping block by the following City officials and even one of his own subordinate officers: the Mayor Sara Countryman, City Council Member Rebecca Huss, City Administrator Jack Yates and Officer Tim Bauer.Where to start I guess would be explaining Yates and Bauer. Their relationship as friends began with Bauer becoming the code enforcement officer also known around the town as “Jack’s minion with the citizens.” City Administrator Yates would through harrassment have Bauer enforce certain City codes for certain people while others would not be harassed due to their social status in the City. Through this friendship blossomed the relationship that will come to light later in this letter.Bauer also became close friends with City Council member Huss through his relationship with Yates, as Yates and Huss are neighbors in the City. Now to explain Mayor Countryman in all of this. The ink was not even dry on the paper from Countryman being sworn in as Mayor, when Bauer was knocking on her door to become close with her using his relationship with Yates and Huss, since Huss and Countrymen campaigned together in the past City election and are friends.Bauer always has used his relationship with Huss and Yates to feel as he was above the policy and procedures the Police Department had in place. He would always go around the command straight to Yates by passing the chain of command. Well, now let’s get into the meat and potatoes.In recent events, Bauer took over the position of warrant officer for the City Court. Once Bauer took over this position, he decided to make his own schedule which was supposed to be Monday through Friday with 8 hour work-days. Instead, he changed his own work hours to Monday through Thursday coming into work around 10 and leaving around 3 every day. But Bauer was putting in records that he was working all 40 hours each week. Well the position of warrant officer was eventually done away with due to his not clearing the court warrants.At that time, there was one Police Officer that went out with a life-threatening illness. While that Officer was off-duty, Bauer took over his duties on patrol. Once the officer was well enough to return to work, on the sick officer’s first day back, Bauer was told by Chief Napolitano to stay on patrol with the Officer and help him as well as make sure he was 100%. Bauer threw a temper tantrum and walked out on the City and his coworker. When it came time to discipline Bauer, the Chief’s hands were tied by City Administrator Yates because of the friendship between Yates and Officer Bauer. The Chief did place Bauer back on duty as a Patrol Officer on night shift. This made Bauer extremely upset, because he did not want nightshift.Now we have the tone set, so here we go.Bauer has now got a vendetta against Chief Napolitano. Since Bauer is unhappy and upset, he is using his political relationships with Yates and Huss, as well as his new relationship, with Mayor Countryman to attack the Chief. On his what have been called “coffee meetings,” while on duty at all hours of the evening, with the Mayor at her residence, a lot of times when her husband is not at home, Bauer is going around the Chief and feeding partial information to Mayor Countryman. Bauer is also feeding the same information to Huss and Yates in retaliation.It is no secret that Huss, being a transplant from California [Publisher’s Note: Huss is actually from the midwest.] , is against the Police Department and is actually for getting rid of the Department altogether. She also has an open dislike for the Chief, because he does not cater to her beg and call as Huss sees fit. City Administrator Yates’ opinion is that he should have control of the Police Department and to this day ties the Chief’s hands on all Department operations. One example is that Yates cut the Police Department’s operating budget by a huge amount. As a result of the Yates budget cuts in the Police Department, no raises or new positions can be offered in the growing Montgomery community.The four of these individuals – Officer Bauer, City Administrator Yates, Councilwoman Huss, and Mayor Countryman – have teamed up to get rid of the Chief and attack him. The citizens of Montgomery are tired of these City officials doing as they please to suit themselves. Please, Golden Hammer, let this information get out. We as a community do not want to lose this Chief.