Wednesday, January 23, 2008

About time

I'm amazed that the man still thought he might be kept despite his so-called resume "fluffing" where he claimed three degrees from the University of Maryland which were actually purchased online from a college mill offering degrees for life experience. Give him a Doctorate in Chutzpah.

I guess all of us can get a Doctorate in having screwed up something in our life at some point in time. Or how about a Masters of Regret degree? Some of these places even offer fake transcripts.

The possibilities are endless.

Eagle Pass manager is shown the door
John MacCormack: Express-News

EAGLE PASS — The City Council here fired interim City Manager Glen Starnes on Tuesday, with many hoping the termination will close a bizarre and embarrassing municipal misadventure.

"I hope this ends it," Mayor Chad Foster said as the council prepared to vote on the firing. "Our challenge now is to restore confidence in the city government."

Starnes, 42, hired last summer, was absent Tuesday night, having cleared out his office days ago. Even so, he did not accept a quiet invitation to resign.

As late as Monday, Starnes was hoping the council would overlook his resume "fluffing," and keep him on the job based on his good work over the past six months.

"I will send a package to council today to beg forgiveness and ask them to look at my qualifications and determine if they can keep me employed," he said Monday. "My resume was wrong. I'm guilty of that. I was really hoping my work would outweigh that issue. I know I am the right man for the job."

In a lengthy interview, Starnes did not bluster or deny the fictions on his resume. He praised the council and spoke of his fondness for Eagle Pass, while also alluding to earlier misdeeds and deceptions.

"I have a very shady past. I never tried to hide that, and I've been trying to change some of my ways," he said, adding that a series of heart attacks convinced him to reform. "I haven't been a good person. I've been pretty much a liar and a cheater all my life. But the high road is not the easy road."

Starnes said he sent the hastily composed resume to Eagle Pass last year with little hope of a response and was surprised to eventually be offered the job.

"I put down there what I thought they wanted to see. It was irresponsible. It was stupid. I think they would have hired me with my real resume, with my experience in the securities industry," he said. "I felt I could do the job. I'm bilingual. I have some experience working in governmental agencies. I studied Eagle Pass to see what it needs."

Starnes was hired to the $85,000-a-year job in July, based on the credentials and his strong personal presence.

His resume listed three degrees from the University of Maryland, four years as an assistant city manager in Converse and a decade as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Jack Fields in Houston.

But even though all of that was false, the lies went unnoticed for five months, as Starnes resolved a series of daunting city problems. Along the way, he won the unanimous support of the council and many residents, as he supervised 350 city employees and managed an $18 million budget.

"This guy was sincerely doing a good job," Foster said. "He wasn't local and he was objective. We haven't had someone from out of the county as city manager in nine years."

Starnes' false resume, however, was exposed in December with a tip to Foster. Despite this revelation, the council initially backed Starnes and appeared ready to hire him permanently.

A wave of public anger and protest, much of it harshly voiced on a blog shared by hundreds of Eagle Pass supporters, apparently caught the council's attention. Support for the well-spoken city manager evaporated.

A native of South Texas with a career as a securities broker and financial adviser, Starnes said he worries about ever getting another job after the fiasco.

"I'm very frightened about my future. I don't think anyone in the state of Texas will hire me. I've never been so scared in my life," he said. Last week, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge stemming from the false claims on his resume.

Foster said candidates to replace Starnes will be thoroughly vetted by an outside firm, with the process to begin next month.

"This has never happened before in Eagle Pass. We're from a part of the country where you kind of take a fella's word," he said, vowing recent mistakes will not be repeated. "First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on me."