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Austin city manager finalist Platt drops out

TV stations reported that Platt agreed to renegotiate his contract as city manager of Kansas City, Missouri

HomeCity of AustinCity ManagerAustin city manager finalist Platt drops out

Kansas City TV station KMBC 9 News reported this morning that the City Council of Kansas City last night voted for Mayor Quinton Lucas to negotiate a new contract for City Manager Brian Platt.

TV station KHSB reported that “city hall sources (said that) Platt has agreed to renegotiate a contract extension and will withdraw his name from consideration for the city manager job in Texas.”

Platt did not return phone and text messages this morning to confirm that with the Bulldog.

Kansas City Press Secretary Sharae Honeycutt told the Bulldog the TV stations used anonymous sources and may have overstated things.

Honeycutt said the city council met late last night in executive session, then came out and voted to authorize renegotiation of Platt’s contract. That meeting video is expected to be available on the City’s YouTube Channel. She emailed a brief press release adding, “No terms are agreed upon. No contract is signed.”

Down to two finalists?

Kirk Watson

Mayor Kirk Watson did not immediately return the Bulldog‘s request to comment for this story.

Platt was recently named as one of three finalists competing for the job of Austin city manager. The other finalists are Dallas City Manager Terrence (T.C.) Broadnax and Denton City Manager Sara Hensley. Hensley previously worked as Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department director.

The Texas Tribune reported February 21st that Broadnax said “he will step down from his post” but did not specify a date. Broadnax is still listed on the city’s website as city manager. WFAA.com reported February 21st that his last day at work will be June 3rd.

Platt’s current employment agreement with Kansas City executed December 3, 2020, was for a term of four years ending December 7, 2024. The agreement, obtained with a public information request, provides Platt with an annual salary of $265,000 for the term of the agreement. In addition he gets to use a city car for both city and personal business, plus he can be reimbursed for health insurance premiums not to exceed $7,500. He was authorized an additional $11,000 for expenses to move from his previous job in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was business manager, the functional equivalent of city manager.

Watson’s March 5th newsletter announced the three finalists picked from among 39 applicants. They were scheduled to participate in meetings with the professional city staff March 25th, a community town hall that evening, and interviews with the City Council the next day.

Platt target of whistleblower suit

Platt brags a lot on his city manager’s webpage about great accomplishments since taking the job more than three years ago.

But Platt is currently embroiled in a whistleblower’s lawsuit filed August 22, 2023, against the City of Kansas City. The pleadings claim that he told members of his communications staff it would be okay to lie to the media about the number of lane miles to be resurfaced in the new fiscal year. (Cause No. 2216-CV27734) A pre-trial hearing is set for May 17th and a jury trial is scheduled for June 5th.

“Mr. Platt suggested lying to the media and specifically asked, ‘Why can’t we just lie to the media?’ ” When told, “That’s not a good idea. We shouldn’t do that,” he responded, according to the pleadings: “Why not? In Jersey, we had a mayor who would just make up numbers on the fly from the podium and no reporters ever called him on it.”

The communications manager who resisted Platt’s strategy, Chris Hernandez, is the plaintiff in the whistleblower suit. In September 2022 Hernandez was demoted and moved out of a management role, although he lost no pay. Hernandez retired from the City of Kansas City September 30, 2023. Hernandez is represented in the lawsuit by attorney Lynne Jaben Bratcher of the Kansas City firm Bratcher Gockel Law LC.

This story was updated at 4:55pm March 8, 2024, to reflect reports that Broadnax is resigning his post.

Trust indicators: Ken Martin has been covering local government and politics in the Austin area since 1981. Email [email protected].

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