Abilene asks mayor, council to sign affidavit about email leaked to KTXS

(MGN/City of Abilene)

The City of Abilene has asked Mayor Anthony Williams and all six city council members to sign an affidavit stating they did not leak an email to KTXS about the severance packages paid to former Zoo Director Bill Gersonde and former Animal Services Director Mirenda Walden.

Earlier this month, KTXS reported Gersonde and Walden were paid more than $68,000 to leave the city.

Gersonde retired Nov. 27 amid an investigation into harassment complaints filed by zoo workers.

Walden resigned Dec. 4 during an investigation into complaints about the way she treated staff at the animal shelter.

KTXS filed an open records request for copies of the severance packages.

While waiting on the city to respond to the request, KTXS obtained a copy of an email written by City Manager Robert Hanna to Mayor Anthony Williams and the city council alerting them that KTXS would soon be getting details about the severance packages.

The email also explained why Hanna made the decision to offer the severance packages.

RELATED: 3 Abilene animal advocates mentioned in internal email sent by City Manager Robert Hanna

After our story aired, City Attorney Stanley Smith contacted Williams and all six council members asking if they leaked the email to KTXS.

Everyone said they did not leak it.

But that was not good enough for the city.

Smith has now requested everyone sign the affidavit, including Hanna and himself.

Williams said he has done so and is asking council members to do the same.

"I have signed an affidavit saying it wasn't me," Williams said. "I think it is appropriate for each of us to do so. Everyone who was involved said they didn't send it. I think it is very, very appropriate to put pen to paper and say that."

KTXS asked the city for a copy of the affidavit as well as:

  • Who has signed the affidavit?
  • What is the deadline for signing it?
  • Is there a penalty for not signing it?

We were told:

"Under advice of the City Attorney, and due to the potential liability concerns brought about by the release of attorney-client privileged information to KTXS, the City of Abilene will not comment further on this matter until the City Council has an opportunity to discuss this issue in executive session on January 10, 2019."

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