Background checks to be conducted in Rio Hondo after city manager fallout
Fri, 23 Sep 2011 04:00:00 GMT —
Hipolito Cabrera's July job application for city administrator in Rio Hondo omits the fact that he's been convicted twice for driving while intoxicated, according to results on a Texas Department of Public Safety criminal history search. Employers who do background checks on applicants can get the same public information. Turns out Rio Hondo does none for city applicants. Alonzo Garza is mayor. Ryan: "Do you usually do background checks on employees before they're hired?" Mayor: "You know what... I don't think so." Ryan: "Do you think that has to change?" Mayor: "Yes it has to." The city application question reads: "have you ever been convicted of violation of any local, state or federal law?" Hipolito left the section unanswered, despite application guidelines found right above his signature that read how omissions, may "void" the application. "Once an application comes in we need to review the application," the mayor said. "We need to have somebody really look at it and not take advantage because he works here and he's done that before ...
We have to look at the application." Hipolito is allowed to drive a city administration vehicle. Some people consider his past convictions, which stem from arrests in 2006 and 2007, a liability for the city. Hipolito wouldn't address his criminal history with Action 4 News and tried to immediately escort the reporter out of his office. Before that happens, he admits on camera that it's only common sense to do a background check on everybody. He also blames a lack of current policies in place for not doing them in Rio Hondo. Ryan: "What about the water works guy... The maintenance guy... Are there background checks done on them? Administrator: "Not that I know of." Ryan: "What if somebody is a child molester?" Administrator: "I know that exactly because I dealt with that before." The city administrator did not violate any laws by omitting an answer on his job application. In fact, according to our Action 4 Legal Analyst John Blaylock, It's up to the potential employer to further screen the applicant. In this case in Rio Hondo, the mayor readily admits commissioners did not. Ryan: Should more scrutiny have taken place for a man overseeing operations?" Mayor: "Yea... Yea... The commissioners... Somebody dropped the ball on this." The commission is responsible for hiring the city administrator in Rio Hondo. Hipolito has a say for all other positions. When asked if application omissions, like the one on his, would be acceptable to him when making a hiring decision, he answered no. Ryan: Potential employees whether it's sanitation, public works... You name it... Should they answer that question have you been convicted of a crime?" Administrator: "They should." Ryan: "You didn't. Why didn't you then?" Administrator: "It wasn't a felony... So I didn't think I needed to." Ryan: "But it doesn't say felony on the application." Administrator: "No it doesn't... That was my reason for doing it." And his reason will be questioned at the next city commissioner meeting. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. The city administrator is expected to be placed on the agenda for executive session. The mayor says he'll push for major changes to the hiring process citywide following this Action 4 News investigation.