By Gaige Davila
The City of Port Isabel and the Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation (PIEDC) are attempting to dismiss a lawsuit filed from a former employee of the latter.
Robert Salinas, former administrator for the PIEDC, sued his former employer and the City of Port Isabel for being fired without a proper grievance hearing, the lawsuit alleges. Salinas says his Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated by not receiving due process rights.
The City of Port Isabel and the PIEDC say in their motion for dismissal that Salinas has not established a “property right” to his continued employment within the city, because his employment could have been terminated at any time, or “identified an alleged due process right that even allegedly could be violated.”
The lawsuit was filed in the 197th District Court of Cameron County on March 23. The lawsuit moved to the U.S. District and Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of Texas on April 16, due to the federal violation alleged. Port Isabel Mayor Juan José “JJ” Zamora and PIEDC Chairman Calvin Byrd were served the lawsuit on March 27. The City of Port Isabel and the PIEDC filed their motion to dismiss the lawsuit on April 16.
Salinas, who was hired by the City of Port Isabel and the PIEDC as the Economic Development Corporation Administrator on March 4, 2013, is seeking between $200,000 to $1 million in injunctive relief, the lawsuit states.
Salinas’ firing stems from a fight that occurred outside Port Isabel’s City Hall a short time after the city’s 2018 election on May 5, 2018, where Salinas’ father, Rogerio Salinas, ran against incumbent Martin Cantu, Jr, Place 1.
As previously reported by the PRESS on March 10, 2018, Rogerio Salinas and Jose “Joe” Ochoa were arrested by Port Isabel police officers outside Port Isabel City Hall around 8:00 p.m., after a fight between the two and several others broke out around 40 minutes after the city’s 2018 election results were announced, according to Port Isabel Police Chief Robert Lopez.
The Salinas campaign team had made a campsite outside of City Hall, where they prepared for the city’s election results. The lawsuit alleges that Ochoa, described as “a close political ally of Commissioner Martin Cantu, Jr.” approached the group after the election results were announced and shouted, “I will see you in court [expletive]!” Salinas told Ochoa to leave, then Ochoa “lunged” at Salinas, the lawsuit states.
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