On Wednesday, October 13, Mayor Chuck Homan, as instructed by city council, met with Assistant Chief Carl Bragg and notified him that he was relieved of duty. Mayor Homan told Bragg that a letter explaining the cause for his dismissal would be forthcoming. The timing of his firing on the day after council had addressed citizen concerns about too few police officers and 12-hour shifts caused outrage among some citizens, who questioned why council did not announce the decision to fire Bragg when they emerged from executive session at their October 12 meeting.
In response to these questions, City Attorney Eddy Rogers expressed surprise that anyone questioned the process regarding Officer Bragg’s termination. According to the Texas Municipal Code, “at-will” employees of the city, including police officers, may be terminated by the mayor at the direction of council without a vote. “Due to recent controversy about the police department expressed in and outside of city council meetings,” Rogers divulged, “City council decided to review the performance of the senior police officers, and after that review, the mayor sought direction from the council, and council authorized the mayor to request Officer Bragg’s resignation and if Officer Bragg chose not to resign, to terminate him. The mayor should feel free to consult with and get direction from council on personnel matters, which is what he did; none of that had to be done in a public session, and that’s the law. During any given year several city employees are terminated for various reasons, and most are not even discussed with council. The city sees no reason why the reasons for any employee’s termination should be discussed in public, in part to protect the feelings and reputation of the terminated employee. The decision regarding Officer Bragg to authorize the mayor’s actions, was, in my opinion, thoroughly discussed and considered—and in full compliance with the law.”
Tina Gourley, a longtime supporter of Bragg, told this reporter that he asked her to be present as a witness when he was terminated, and that she subsequently helped him clean out his office, removing items he had bought to furnish the new police station on Blanco Avenue, including a bookcase he had built. According to her, there was no reason given for his termination. In a phone conversation with Bragg, he was reluctant to give any information, on the advice of his attorney. However, he did say, “I wasn’t given a chance to defend myself.”
Council member Rebecca Howerton said, “I feel that it was a very unwarranted decision. I want the people of this town to know I do not agree.” She recounted listening to council deliberating in executive session and telling the city attorney, “Do not say the decision was unanimous—I do not agree with it.” She explained that she saw Bragg’s job description and that he was doing his job as an investigative officer. “He was an investigative officer—if you don’t investigate, you can’t catch criminals. Our city council thought he should be out writing tickets.” Mrs. Howerton expressed concern for the outcome of Bragg’s pending cases.
Council member Bobby McClung, on the other hand, expressed confidence that Bragg’s termination “will open up a better spirit of cooperation between the police department and the city and enable us to better fill the department’s needs.” In answer to concerns about too few officers, McClung said a reserve officer has been called into fulltime service. He concluded, “He (Bragg) is going to be replaced, and the department will be stronger at the end of the day.”
Council members Danny Ray and Al Turner also expressed hesitation to discuss the firing, pending litigation. Ray added, “It’s tough for Carl, but it’s good for the city of Blanco.” Blanco Police Chief Milton Willmann also declined to comment, based on advice from city attorney Eddy Rogers. As reported in the October 6 Blanco County News (“H. S. Pranksters Zipped to Court”), Bragg was the investigating detective in the zip-tying incident at Blanco High School, which resulted in fines for the students involved.