Andy Harvey said Tuesday that there’s more to his departure as city manager and police chief from the city of Pharr than just his resignation.
The former administrator said in an interview with The Monitor that he walked away from the city after problems with Ed Wylie, the city manager who preceded him — and who now serves in a deputy capacity following Harvey’s recent resignation.
Harvey also alluded to other financial issues that he said created a domino effect.
A public information request revealed Wylie filed a complaint against Harvey about a month before Harvey resigned from both posts within a week’s time.
The request produced a letter that Wylie sent to Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and the Pharr City Commission on Aug. 2.
Wylie, who currently serves as the deputy city manager, accused Harvey of accosting him about a check request he’d made.
According to the complaint, Harvey became upset after Wylie requested a check for $5,000 for cookies from Irma’s Sweete Shoppe, an act that Harvey believed undermined his authority.
Wylie wrote that Harvey began “yelling at the top of his lungs, slammed the door (and) continued to curse at me and call me stupid….”
Wylie asserted in his complaint that Harvey called him “f——-g stupid” and told him to “not undermine him again. That no one like (sic) me and I was under his control and he was my boss and not to talk to any commissioners and the mayor.”
He accused Harvey of kicking his desk, knocking over the desk chair and hovering over him and waving his arms in a “very threatening manner.”
Harvey, Wylie said, looked ready to throw a punch.
“That tactic was to get me upset and stand up to … take a swing at him,” Wylie wrote. “I stayed in my chair the whole time and it made him even madder. When he backed off and I was trying to get up to exit my office he blocked me in and came back at me. He finally walked out of my office threatening me that I was under his control, he was my boss and he was going to get me.”
The altercation allegedly lasted three to four minutes.
Wylie went on to write that he feared for his “safety, physical well-being and mental stability.”
When asked about the incident, Harvey admitted he raised his voice at Wylie, but he denied threatening the deputy city manager.
“I think that’s his opinion, that I went ballistic,” Harvey said Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s accurate. I think that I had a fierce conversation with him about something that I feel he was reckless about — spending taxpayer money to help out a local business given that we were deep into budget preparations and discussions where the city was hemorrhaging millions of dollars.
“He had the audacity to go make a purchase of cookies in the amount of $5,700 — undermining the city manager,” he continued, though Wylie’s letter said the check was for $5,000. “When I saw that, that really made me upset. One can argue that my actions were too much or not too much. That’s just the way I reacted that day. I was frustrated.”
Harvey said he felt there was no regard for the way taxpayer money was being spent, but he denied getting physical during the Aug. 2 incident.
“I respect Ed (Wylie) for what he’s done for the city over his long tenure, but I totally deny that I was physical or threatening to him,” he said. “I think his side is embellished, but I can also see why he’d say that given the elevated discussion. I, in no way, would ever do anything to harm anyone, but as city manager, I felt responsible for setting that straight.”
The former police chief said Wylie’s complaint was the beginning of the end for his time in Pharr. He said the incident created too much tension, so much so that he felt the need to resign from both of his positions, which he did on Sept. 6 and Sept. 12, respectively.
“That letter was the beginning of my realization that I was not going to be a good fit at this time as city manager,” Harvey said. “As the city manager, I need support and I need to be able to make decisions that affect the organization. It was evident that was not going to happen.”
And the rift was too far gone.
“Let’s just say that we were too far deep into this to safely say that we could come back and everything would be OK moving forward,” he continued. “I believe it was best to part ways with the city, a city that I came to love. I came here with the only intention of doing good for the city by lifting it up and everything we did not only at the police department but in my short time as city manager.”
Despite his shaky departure from the city, Harvey said he continues to be proud of the work he did as both chief of police and as city manager. He said that what transpired on Aug. 2 does not overshadow the work that he did with the city.
“I’m most proud that we turned a police department that was in disarray, and brought them together in a way that made them perhaps the most relevant police department in the region,” he said. “Doing some innovative things such as the mental health unit, and just really the overall approach to policing, I think we led the way when it comes to progressive, 21st century policing.
“I’m very proud of the changes that we did in the over two years that I served as chief of police. I believe that I set them up for success in order to continue what we have built, but I respect that they will make it even better moving forward.”