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City fires CVB director, media liaison

February 22, 2017

HARLINGEN — The city has parted ways with the executive director of the Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau who also served as the city’s public information officer.

After a year on the job, Melissa Landin was fired Friday for “insubordination or other disrespectful conduct,” according to the city’s notice of termination.

City Manager Dan Serna declined to comment on any further details of what he called a personnel matter.

“She no longer is employed with the city,” Serna said. “I don’t discuss personnel-related matters.”

Landin, who sent text messages to the Valley Morning Star to respond to questions, stated she submitted a letter to the city early Friday morning, but declined to disclose what she stated.

Before lunch that day, the city presented her with its termination notice, she wrote.

The notice signed by Serna states Landin was “insubordinate” in refusing to follow his directions.

“Unfortunately, these things happen,” Landin wrote in a text message to the Valley Morning Star.

Assistant City Attorney Alan Ozuna said the city was withholding the release of Landin’s letter to the city, requesting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to determine whether the city was required to release it as a public record.

The city’s termination notice states Landin “refused to follow (Serna’s) instructions” on Jan. 17 for preparations for Mayor Chris Boswell’s State of the City address on Feb. 3.

“You were confrontational and clearly stated your refusal to follow the directions of the city manager,” the notice states. “(T)his type of behavior is unacceptable at any level.”

Landin served as executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, charged with promoting the city for tourism. She also worked as public information officer, serving as the city’s media liaison.

In the termination notice, Serna refers to Landin’s previous resignation.

“This is not the first time that this kind of behavior has happened,” the notice states. “Previously, you had resigned your position and later changed your mind. The city manager was willing to give you another opportunity to fit into the management team but the incident described above convinces me that this is not going to be possible.”

Landin did not sign the termination notice.

In text messages to the Valley Morning Star, Landin stated the city did not “specify” any disciplinary concerns.

“Because I had never so much as had a warning, I asked administration to specify. They did not and would not,” Landin wrote in a text message. “In fact, I have numerous emails and texts complimenting my work from administration, fellow directors, other staff and community members.”

Landin stated she previously had submitted a resignation notice in which she gave the city ample time in which to train her staff.

“I had submitted a resignation notice with my last day being several weeks after it was submitted so that I may train my staff,” Landin wrote in a text message.

During that time, Serna allowed her the option to retract the resignation, she stated.

“Additionally, administration was very grateful that (I) was willing to stay to train staff and finish an upcoming event at that time,” she wrote.

In a text message, Landin thanked the city for her job opportunity.

“I enjoyed contributing to the city’s success and working alongside some equally dedicated individuals at the city and within the community,” she wrote. “I’m thankful for having been given the opportunity to contribute to Harlingen’s bright future.”

Landin, a former Brownsville city commissioner, took the job as public information officer after serving three years as public information officer for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.

Landin, who was hired as PIO at a salary of $47,500 in January, boosted her salary to $61,500 when she took the CVB executive director’s job about a month later.

Landin, who served as communications director for the South Padre Island Convention & Visitors Bureau from 2005 to 2009, had worked in public relations for more than four years.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com