EDINBURG, RGV – Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, following an executive session, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors voted unanimously to relieve Agustin ‘Gus’ Garcia of his duties as executive director of the EDC, effective immediately.
No other details were announced by the EEDC board or City Council member Gilbert Enriquez, the EEDC president, when the board reconvened in public after the executive session.
Garcia’s position was discussed in executive session. The item was posted under “personnel” and described as “discussion and possible action on the duties, responsibilities, and employment status of the executive director.”
Immediately following the executive session, the EEDC board returned to public session. The motion to “terminate” Garcia’s contract was proposed by Edinburg EDC Vice President Mike Farias and seconded by EEDC board member Julio Carranza.
“I would like to make a motion to terminate Gus Garcia effective today, immediately, of his position as executive director of the EDC,” Farias said. After Carranza’s seconding of the motion a vote was taken with no further comment. It passed unanimously.
According to a report in the Advance newspaper, Garcia has a two-year “golden parachute” agreement in his contract. Under these terms, the EDC would have to pay Garcia two years of salary, worth $320,000, plus benefits, and the value of any unused sick and vacation leave. In his employment agreement, the newspaper states, this is referred to as the “24-month severance pay.”
Under the terms of the contract, had the EEDC board kept Garcia on as executive director for one year, during a period of transition, and then terminated his contract, Garcia would only have been entitled to one year of severance pay.
Before and during Garcia’s four and a half years as executive director of Edinburg EDC, Edinburg has been the fastest growing city in the Rio Grande Valley.
Just before the November city council elections, Garcia filed a grievance complaint with the City of Edinburg’s human resources department over the conduct of then-Edinburg council member and mayoral candidate Richard Molina and some of his campaign workers.
“This attack on my character and reputation have caused me great distress, and as a result I am no longer able to sleep,” Garcia’s letter stated. In the letter, Garcia stated that the Molina camp has accused him of stealing, collusion, and back-door dealing. In the bitterly-fought election, Molina defeated incumbent Mayor Richard Garcia.
Garcia, who graduated from UT-Pan American with a BBA in accounting, is a former Edinburg city councilmember.
The composition of the EEDC board was completely revamped following the recent city council elections. In a lengthy first meeting, the new EDC board last week grilled Garcia about the contracts EEDC had entered into with various lobbyists and consultants. They also drilled down on contractual obligations the EDC had with Santana Textiles, a Brazilian denim manufacturer, and projecs such as the Bert Ogden Arena, The Shoppes, La Sienna, Parks & Recreation Wellness Center, and city’s soccer practice fields. Garcia defended the projects. The meeting last more than five hours.
The new Edinburg EDC board comprises Enriquez as president, Mike Farias as vice president, Isael Posadas as secretary/treasurer, Julio Carranza and Noe Sauceda.
The Rio Grande Guardian will bring more information on the future direction of Edinburg EDC as it becomes available.