Gayle Cooper

Former Palestine Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Gayle Cooper

Already facing more lawsuits than it has in at least 15 years, the city faces yet another lawsuit from Gayle Cooper, the former director of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation.

In a suit filed with Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Carl Davis, Cooper is asking for $2,397 in reimbursement charges she alleges the city owes her. The amount covers Cooper's out-of-pocket costs for attending two economic development conferences in fiscal year 2019, as well as interest accrued, and court costs.

On Monday, Cooper declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Cooper resigned in August, stating City Manager Leslie Cloer told her she would fire her if she didn't quit. “The council is simply not interested in economic development,” she said then. “If they were, they'd support the PEDC. Instead, they put up roadblocks.”

Cloer told the Herald-Press Monday the case had not yet been presented to her or the city council.

Cooper's lawsuit marks the eighth in what Mayor Steve Presley has called, “a combination of bad luck and high employee turnover in key leadership positions.”

In addition to the small-claims suit, other litigation against the city includes ongoing legal action against Jerry “The Lawnmower” Laza, who has filed a countersuit against the city.

Last November, Union Pacific Railroad sued the city to abrogate its 150-year-old contract with Palestine. At stake is 65 local jobs.

City officials also appealed a more than $500,000 judgement after Lone Star Equipment won a lawsuit against the city a year ago for breach of contract.

Baze Chemical also filed suit against the city last month, alleging the city threatened to shut off water to its fire suppression systems if Baze did not pay a $50,000 bill.

Baze officials argue they never used the 1.5 million gallons of water they were billed for. Shutting off water to the fire suppression system, they said, violates the company's 2016 contract with the city.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs for current lawsuits, the city faces losing millions of dollars in judgments.

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