Pictured, Sara Wilson

Wilson moved from City Hall to Rec Center Monday

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Many residents, including Rev. J.N. Ferrell, were disappointed to learn that interim City Manager Ruben Maldonado distanced Assistant City Manager Sara Wilson by removing her from her office and placing her in the RecCenter, seven blocks away from city hall.

"I have seen many things happen and this incident reminds me when I was in high school and our teacher said that character can be built with many kind deeds, but spoiled with one single act," Ferrell said Wednesday. "I have never witnessed verbally or otherwise any situation of this nature since I've been here."

That single act Ferrell is referring to is when Maldonado moved Wilson out of city hall Monday, one business day after she sent a memo to Maldonado and the city council inquiring about purchases made from a company called Economy Awards. The memo also said the purchases benefited Maldonado's wife, which was a "conflict of interest" and "violated the ethics policy" for Texas' association.

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

Ferrell said the community has questions.

"The community is asking the question that something must be happening in the wonderland of Alice," he said. "Here is this individual that came in. How can a person have the power to do what they want to do and that's it…I'm asking where does he (Maldonado) get the power to have control, not only in personnel, but also those things that belong to the city."

Ferrell said Maldonado's actions leave him puzzled.

"I admire Sara (Wilson) for controlling herself," Ferrell said. "You, go up there and when we need you, we'll notify you…it's a puzzle."

Ferrell is referring to the memo from Maldonado to Wilson that said, "When your presence at the city hall building is needed you will be so notified."

He said he would have thought that the situation seemed planned out.

"To me this is dictatorship," he said shaking his head. "I respect the mayor (Grace Saenz-Lopez), but there comes some doubts. I'm hoping that she continues to exemplify for the people and not just for (one) person."

Ferrell said that he doesn't like to get into the race game, but many questions are going unanswered.

"I've taken this opportunity to express my liberty and freedom of speech and I think there should be some explanation to the public for this abrupt situation," Ferrell said. "I admire (Sara), she's educated and I don't want to get in this race thing, but sometimes you have to. When the city hired Sara (Wilson), it was the beginning of an era, not because she is black, but because she is educated black."