A regularly scheduled City Council meeting was punctuated Tuesday night when Laura Kayata, the interim chair of McKinney’s Watchdog PAC, spoke during the public comments segment.
Kayata, who founded the Watchdog group, told council that the group is 989 members strong and growing and that the group has filed a formal ethics complaint with the International City Manager’s Association in Washington D.C. against City Manager Jason Gray. Kayata said she believes that Gray has violated the city managers code of ethics in his role as city manager.
The PAC has accused Gray of “cronyism and corruption at City Hall” and has said that the group will not rest until Gray is removed from his position.
Kayata was followed by Keith Clifton, a local business executive and member of the McKinney National Airport board of directors. Clifton, who previously served as chair of the McKinney Economic Development Corp., said that McKinney is a community that has much positive energy that we must focus on the positives.
In his eyes, Clifton said, the city has made progress in the area of job creation, and “Gray has been at the forefront of this.” He said that the accusations of the Watchdog group have no substance, adding that “this type of criticism isn’t constructive, it’s grandstanding. I will get to the bottom of this. I will not tolerate this.”
Gray responded to the accusations at the end of the council meeting. He said that he has become aware of rumors of corruption in city government and assured the public that he is unaware of any such corruption in any segment of the city. Gray also said that he “welcomes” the investigation by the ICMA and asked that the Watchdog PAC share the information with the public.
Gray also addressed the continuing concerns of the citizens that surround his hiring of McKinney Police Chief Joe Williams. Gray gave Williams the job upon Gray’s removal of former Chief of Police Doug Kowalski in Oct. of 2012.
“I have worked with Chief Williams in three different communities. There is a high level of trust between us,” Gray said, elaborating that he had “confidence” in Williams’ ability to do the job.
Gray also commented that he and his entire staff have “an open door policy” and invited the public to discuss any concerns they have with him directly. He also reminded citizens that the city has created the position Director of Community Engagement, the purpose of which is to “extend outreach to encourage, engage and celebrate citywide community participation and dialogue among McKinney citizens, business owners, local organizations and stakeholders.” The position is held by Ty Lake.