Shakeup at La Joya City Hall spawns rumors about political retaliation

This article originally appeared in the Friday Aug. 9, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.

The city of La Joya fired Finance Director Gregoria Jackson and forced Fire Chief Frankie Joe Salinas to resign last week.

La Joya abruptly fired Gregoria Jackson on July 29, when the city eliminated her position. A policewoman escorted her from the building.

cityoflajoyalogo “As far as we’re concerned, she was a loyal employee for six years,” said her brother, former City Attorney Roberto Jackson. “Stellar job performance. No demerits. No complaints in her file. And the basis for her termination? It doesn’t hold any weight. Basically, they stated that her position was being eliminated.”

City Manager Jacqueline Bazan also forced Fire Chief Frankie Joe Salinas to resign after just nine months on the job.

Bazan apparently became concerned that Frankie Joe Salinas couldn’t juggle the La Joya fire chief position and his full-time job with the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department.

The La Joya City Commission, however, knew that Frankie Joe Salinas worked in Edinburg when he took the job. La Joya can’t afford to pay a full-time fire chief and doesn’t offer benefits.

Faced with the prospect of termination, Frankie Joe Salinas agreed to resign. He’ll remain on the job until Aug. 15.

Bazan didn’t respond to requests for comment. Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas didn’t return phone calls requesting comment.

Another key city administrator, Public Works Director Elizandro De La Rosa, also quit last week. After rethinking the decision, he returned to work.

The management shakeup may supercharge the November 2019 mayoral campaign.

Gregoria Jackson’s brother, Roberto Jackson, is a prominent supporter of former police Chief Isidro Casanova, who is running against Mayor Salinas.

Rumors spread that Gregoria Jackson lost her job because of politics.

“There’s something going on that just isn’t right,” Casanova said, adding that morale is low at City Hall. “And, of course, all that affects the services provided to the citizens of La Joya.”

Casanova questioned how the city of La Joya could function without a finance director.

“I mean, who is going to be handling the books now?” Casanova said.

Jaime Gaitan, a former state trooper who is also running for mayor, agreed with Casanova.

“So they don’t need a finance director anymore? How is that possible?” Gaitan said. “That’s a lame excuse, if you ask me. They need a finance director. There’s no way the city can run without one.”

City employees shouldn’t be hired or fired based on who they support politically, Gaitan said, adding that he hoped the decision wasn’t made for political reasons.

“It’s pretty sad if it is, because that’s not the right thing to do,” Gaitan said. “And they don’t have basis, legally, to do that.”

The resignation of Frankie Joe Salinas also spawned rumors.

Casanova said he heard a rumor that Frankie Joe Salinas had been forced to resign because he fired the mayor’s grandson from the La Joya Volunteer Fire Department.

Gaitan said that wouldn’t surprise him.

“Do I put it past them? No, I don’t,” Gaitan said. “Because that’s the type of people that I know that they are.”

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