Cotroneo Withdraws Acceptance of Employment as City Attorney - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Cotroneo Withdraws Acceptance of Employment as City Attorney

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

City Manager Ron Olson announced Monday morning that his original choice to lead the city's legal department, Roxann Cotroneo, had decided to withdraw her acceptance of the job.

It was all based on some personally revealing comments she made at a staff meeting that were deemed to be inappropriate by many who were there, and while Cotroneo technically left on a voluntary basis, another staff member was terminated as a result of the investigation.

While investigators determined that comments made by Cotroneo did not violate City policies, they did say they were inappropriate for an informal setting.

According to an anonymous email, Cotroneo was reported to have made inappropriate comments to City staff and attorneys during an informal meeting following her confirmation as the new city attorney. The author of the email said the staff members were offended by the comments and that they violated City policies and guidelines.

Olson said Monday at a news conference that Cotroneo was no longer interested in the job.

"Mrs. Roxann Cotroneo has withdrawn her acceptance of the offer of employment as city attorney," Olson said. "A new search will be conducted to permanently fill the position, and Mrs. Lisa Aguilar will remain in place as interim city attorney."

According to the investigation, there were five comments that the author of an anonymous email claimed were offensive and violated human resource regulations. Among the comments, Cotroneo said, "I'm 100-percent Hispanic."

Cotroneo told investigators the comment was a reference to comments made shortly before at the City Council meeting, where Dr. Hector P. Garcia's 100th birthday celebration was being discussed. She also stated that her husband's last name, Cotroneo, was Italian.

Another statement was that Cotroneo recently had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and that her breasts were "still tender." The email alleges that she positioned her hands in front of her breasts, forming a "hand bra," and moved her hands up and down.

Cotroneo told investigators that part of the statement was true. She was a cancer survivor and reconstructive surgery made her physically limited, and employees should not construe her not helping to open a door or lift something as being rude or her not caring.

Another of the statements was that she wanted the men, and women too, to know that she was happily married and that her husband is "so hot."

Cotroneo said she remembered saying she was happily married but denied the rest. Employees at the meeting remembered her saying her husband was either hot or cute.

Another item in Monday's news conference was that First Assistant City Attorney Alison Logan was terminated because of the investigation, but that her termination was not related to the allegations made against Cotroneo.

Logan was one of eight people who originally applied for the position of city attorney.

Olson stated that the investigation has made him believe that a review of the legal department is needed. City Councilman Chad Magill said he thinks the investigation should put an end to the controversy.

"I think so. I think that the key here is making sure that the investigation was proven and done so in a professional manner, and as we move forward, we go through the process of selecting a new city attorney in the near future," Magill said.

In the report, one individual who was at the meeting said the comments were not offensive and were all twisted and taken out of context. You can read the police summary of the report by scrolling down on this page.