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4 elected officials head to Padre

October 25, 2018 GMT

Three city council members and Mayor David Turner will fly to South Padre Island on the taxpayer’s dime to see the City Secretary receive an award.

All of the elected officials either failed to return a phone call seeking comment for this story or, in one case, cursed and threatened OA staff.

City Secretary Norma Grimaldo is being awarded Municipal Clerk of the Year by the Texas Municipal Clerks’ Association. District 1 City Council member Malcolm Hamilton, District 3 City Council member Barbara Graff, and District 5 City Council Member Filiberto Gonzales will be attending the event with her along with Turner.

When asked by an Odessa American reporter why he thought it was OK for a city council member to fly to South Padre using tax dollars, Hamilton responded by saying “I guess the same reason you’re asking me this stupid ass question. Hamilton then called the reporter a “f**king homosexual” and hung up.

After being called by OA Editor Laura Dennis, Hamilton threatened her by saying he would come down here “bitch” and get her off of his phone.

This isn’t the first time Hamilton has spoken threateningly toward an OA employee. The OA previously filed a police report against Hamilton after he published a Facebook post stating “You push me, and you get push off a cliff!”

Gonzales said he was going on the trip because he was invited and wanted to support Grimaldo receiving her award.

“Is it unjustifiable? I don’t know,” Gonzales said. “All I know is I was invited so we’re going to support her, that’s all.”

Gonzales then took issue with their trip being a news story,

“I don’t think it’s right for you to turn something positive into a negative just because you want to sell some newspapers, man,” Gonzales said.

City Attorney Gary Landers said that it is typical for city council members or city employees to travel on anything related to city business.

“As a city staff person or someone associated with the city, I think it shows the city council is wanting to say they support the staff, especially when the staff is doing good work,” Landers said.

Turner and Graff did not respond to phone calls requesting comment.

It is unknown at this time how much the tickets cost for the city council members attending. Google Flights show round trip tickets from Midland International Airport to Brownsville South Padre International Airport ranging from $600 to $722 departing Thursday and returning Friday. South Padre hotel prices range between $23 and $116 Thursday night.