Pictured is Assistant City Manager Sara Wilson's new office at the Rec Center. The move from City Hall was ordered by interim City Manager Ruben Maldonado less than one business day after Wilson raised questions about purchases made for the city from his spouse's business. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Asst. CM relocated after alleging ethics violations against Maldonado

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

One business day after she asked for an investigation into possible misuse of city funds by interim City Manager Ruben Maldonado, Assistant City Manager Sara Wilson was moved out of Alice City Hall Monday.

On Friday, Wilson sent a memo to Maldonado and the city council calling attention to purchases made from a company called Economy Awards.

"This memo is to inform you that I have requested an internal audit and review of purchases made from vendor Economy Awards. It has been brought to my attention that each purchase directly benefits your spouse, and therefore is a conflict of interest and a violation of our purchasing ethics," Wilson wrote.

"I have also been informed that you are now in your current position directing staff to purchase awards from this company.

"I am also sending this information to the Texas City Manager's Association for review, as I believe, if validated, these activities have also violated the ethics policy of our state association."

According to the city's purchasing ethics policy, "It shall be a breach of ethical standards for any employee to participate directly or indirectly in a procurement when the employee knows that the employee or any member of the employee's immediate family, has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement."

According to documents provided to the Alice Echo-News Journal, at least $1,465.25 was spent on items, including plaques and personalized clocks, from Economy Awards from 2004 to December 2006.

The documents do not indicate who authorized the purchases.

Maldonado was hired as the city's human resource director in 2004.

Wilson's letter detailing the possible violation was sent to Maldonado and the council Friday afternoon. On Monday morning, Maldonado informed Wilson, via a memo, that she was being relocated from the assistant city manager's office in city hall to an office in the city's recreation center.

In a letter written to Wilson Monday, and obtained by the Alice Echo-News Journal, Maldonado informed the assistant city manager that effective immediately and until further notice, her office would be on the second floor of the recreation center, located at the corner of Cameron and Seventh streets.

According to the letter, the purpose of the move is to "bring additional administrative presence to our Parks and Recreation Department that has numerous on-going projects."

Maldonado also wrote that Wilson would be expected to continue to attend all staff meetings and city council meetings, but that her "working day" would be at the recreation center.

"When your presence at the City Hall building is needed you will be so notified," Maldonado wrote.

Reached at her new office Monday morning, Wilson declined to comment on the relocation.

Repeated calls to Maldonado for comment were not returned Friday or Monday.