Oak Ridge mulls decision on mayor's post
The Oak Ridge North City Council will discuss whether to replace Mayor Fred O'Connor at its meeting Monday.
O'Connor, who served as mayor since 2004, resigned Friday after deciding to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from a conflict of interest case. O'Connor, who serves as chief executive officer of Biofuels Power Corp., allegedly failed to adequately disclose that relationship to the city and to abstain from City Council discussion and deliberations on Biofuels matters.
He is entering into an agreement with the DA's Office, which involves fines and cost, on what was the accidental failure to file a conflict of interest statement," said O'Connor's attorney, Stephen Jackson of Conroe.
Jackson said O'Connor had worked for a parent company called Texoga and was initially assigned to a company called SafeFuels, for which he filed two conflict of interest statements. He was later transferred to another company called BioFuels and flat out forgot" to file the conflict of interest paperwork, Jackson said.
He wanted to bring a state of the art bio-diesel fuel company to the city," Jackson said. This is someone who wanted to benefit the residents of Oak Ridge North."
O'Connor is expected to enter his plea by the end of the month, Jackson said.
The saga over Biofuels and Oak Ridge North city government may not be over. Phil Grant, first assistant district attorney, said a grand jury is continuing to consider issues from the city.
There's still multiple issues with Oak Ridge North before the grand jury," Grant said. I expect then to be resolved by the end of March."
O'Connor resigned Friday, saying he was tired of the political infighting in the city over a sewer system project, Jackson said. But Grant said the resignation was a condition of his plea agreement.
The Oak Ridge North City Council is set to consider the mayor's position at a meeting Monday. O'Connor's term was set to expire in May, and there is no time for a special election. The City Council can appoint a member to serve as mayor until May or can leave the position vacant, said Oak Ridge North attorney Scott Bounds.
While the council is expected to consider the mayor's post at Monday meeting, it is not likely to appoint a new city manager. City Manager Paul Mendes was dismissed in December over issues involving the Biofuels Power Corp. In a split vote, council members cited issues with finances, contracts, city equipment and purchases as the reasons for the dismissal.
Since that time, two efforts to get Mendes reinstated with petitions signed by residents, failed.
The council is in the process of narrowing candidates for a new city manager, said Tony Butler, interim city manager.
A Montgomery County grand jury indicted Oak Ridge North Mayor Fred O'Connor in December for violation of conflict of interest laws. O'Connor, who serves as chief executive officer of Biofuel, allegedly failed to adequately disclose that relationship to the city and failed to abstain from City Council discussions and deliberations regarding business with Biofuels Power Corp.
The violation is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Source: Montgomery County District Attorney
Local Advertising by PaperG