Being “Anglo” cost David White? Edinburg councilman sues his own city; claims he was unfairly demoted at PD
EDINBURG – Edinburg City Councilman David White says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday (May 20) that his city should pay him more than $200,000 but no more than $1 million for his demotion as chief at the Edinburg PD two years ago, prior to his election to the city council in a runoff race last November (2019).
Why should the city be on the hook for that much money?
“The City of Edinburg, by and through Mr. Guerra, demoted Mr. White because he is Anglo/Caucasian and part of a protected class (age 53).”
That’s according to the city councilman’s lawsuit.
Meaning, according to the lawsuit, White was demoted because he’s an Anglo and getting on in years. The man who replaced him, Cesar Torres, former career officer with the Texas DPS, is, according to White’s lawsuit, “of Mexican-American descent,” and is “younger than Mr. White.”
Approximately a year prior to the November 2019 election (October 2018), White had been demoted from chief to lieutenant, with no loss in pay, by then-city manager Juan Guerra who said, basically, that White’s performance was unsatisfactory based on public safety rankings by city posted on national websites such as wallethub.com. At the time, White’s supporters said those safety rankings were not a reliable metric by which to gauge White’s performance as chief. Besides, his tenure with the city, more than 25 years, should count for something; and in January 2018, White’s “Employee Performance Review” had found that he was “meeting expectations.”
David White retired the month prior to his November 2019 election, after which the city council majority -- Gilbert Enriguez, David White, and Homer Jasso – voted against Mayor Richard Molina and City Councilman Jorge Salinas to pay Guerra, the same guy who had demoted White, $250k to step down from his city manager position.
Shortly before he left his administrative post, Juan Guerra still defended his demotion of White in late 2018, saying that when White was still the chief, Edinburg was the highest paid PD in the region and had one of the worst public-safety ratings based on “three or four data-driven grading websites.” During the 10 months following White’s demotion, Guerra said in November 2019 that his decision to demote White has been proven correct by the current data that showed crime in Edinburg had dropped by approximately 20 percent after the new chief, Cesar Torres, had been hired.
The $250,000, with health benefits, by the way, paid to Guerra, represented one year’s salary. When he left, he still had two years left on his contract.
White’s lawsuit, filed by Mario Ruiz with the McAllen-based Ruiz Law Firm PLLC, the city of Edinburg violated Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code “in that his demotion was motivated by unlawful discrimination. Specifically, Defendant (the city) violated (Texas Labor Code 21.051) because he is white/Anglo/Caucasian.”
If found guilty by a state jury, the city of Edinburg should ante up not only attorney’s fees, court costs, a punitive award (between $200k and $1 million).
Damages suffered by White, according to his lawsuit, include: back pay; interest on back pay; compensatory damages, including pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses.