Pharr’s former police chief takes city to court over open records

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Andy Harvey

Former City Manager and Chief of Police Andy Harvey is taking his former employer, the city of Pharr, to court in an effort to compel the city to release a voluminous open records request he filed.

Harvey filed a petition in state court on June 9 in an attempt to get the court to compel Pharr to release his requested items.

Those items include emails and text messages between the former police chief and former City Manager Ed Wylie, former City Manager Anali Alanis, Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, former City Attorney Patricia A. Rigney and Human Resources Director Veronica Ramirez.

He also requested all receipts, purchase orders, canceled checks, debit card transactions, credit card transactions or other documents showing purchases made by the city from Irma’s Sweet Shop — a purchase that resulted in a heated confrontation between Harvey and Wylie on Aug. 2, 2022.

Police body cam footage obtained by The Monitor showed the moment that Pharr police responded to Pharr City Hall after an employee called to report what she thought was somebody “from the outside” causing a disturbance.

Harvey admitted to raising his voice at Wylie, but he denied making any threats which the former deputy city manager claimed in a complaint.

Following the incident, Harvey resigned from his position as city manager on Sept. 6, 2022 before resigning from his position as chief of police on Sept. 12, 2022, cutting all ties with the city of Pharr.

Harvey, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Hernandez in the last election, also requested all grievances and complaints filed against Wylie, as well as all “investigations into Ed Wylie, including witness statements, exhibits, photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings.”

Wylie, who retired from his position as deputy city manager in April, had previously been accused of sexual harassment allegations which were made public as a result of a lawsuit filed by the city in an effort to prevent said allegations from being released.

The city terminated its contract with Wylie on Aug. 1.

Among the other items requested by Harvey are all the “written agreements and transactions showing the City of Pharr’s purchase of any Hidalgo County EMS.”

Pharr city commissioners unanimously approved a second and final reading of the order establishing an Emergency Medical Services Department on April 26, 2021 following a ruling by federal bankruptcy judge David R. Jones that allowed the city to purchase all assets from the Hidalgo County Emergency Services Foundation.

On Aug. 22, 2022 the city of Pharr terminated its interlocal cooperative agreement to provide emergency medical services to portions of western Hidalgo County. On Sept. 23, 2022 the city laid off about 40 EMS employees.

Harvey submitted a Texas Public Information Act request for the items on Nov. 2, 2022. In response, the city filed a request for opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Nov. 30, 2022.

On Feb. 8, the Attorney General’s office determined that all the information “provided by the City in its Request for Opinion may be withheld”. The opinion was based on the city’s claim of pending litigation from Harvey.

Harvey’s attorney is arguing that the city did not provide “concrete evidence showing that the claim that litigation may ensue is more than mere conjecture.” He also argues that the former police chief “maintains a special right of access to his own complete personnel file and all documents and videos related to it as requested.”

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday morning.