In a tense special meeting tonight, the councilors present and eligible to vote decided to hold a 3.12 hearing by no later than April 30 to discuss/dispose allegations against fellow council member Benny Martinez.
Allegations were brought to the City Manager’s office in the middle of December by fellow council member Dr. Catherine Rodriguez. Additional complaints were received from the City Attorney, Developmental Services, Public Works, and police officers.
In establishing the scope of the hearing, Council selected all allegations against Martinez as prevue of the hearing.
Mayor Chris Riley questioned if a forum existed to decide the course of action because Councilor Dr. David Edwards could not attend the meeting due to a family emergency.
The attorney for the City said the law recognizes the presence of Dr. Catherine Rodriguez and Councilor Martinez as being present and counting toward the number needed for a quorum.
Neither Rodriquez nor Martinez could participate in the discussions, deliberations, and votes in the special meeting.
However, because Dr. Edwards was not in attendance, Council could not convene in executive session to confer with the attorney. Therefore all information had to be discussed in open session.
Riley also expressed objections to the motion establishing the protocols of the meeting because the City charter requires the procedures of the hearing to be determined by ordinance.
The charter requires all ordinances to be passed after a second reading of the proposed ordinance.
According to the attorney representing the City of Leon Valley, the charter established the protocol of special meetings and the 3.12 hearing is a special meeting. Council can adopt additional protocols without having to hold two meetings to pass the protocols of the 3.12 hearing.
The attorney for the City will now draft a list of formal complaints against Martinez and present those to Martinez, Council, and the complainants.
The 3.12 hearing will be held as an open meeting with all parties allowed to make statements, Council members Jordan, Alcocer, and Edwards deciding the course of action.
At the conclusion of the 3.12 hearing Council can decide to take no action on the complaints (finding them unsubstantiated), censure the council member, or consider the council member in violation of the City Charter and his/her office vacated. If the office is determined vacated the Councilmember must resign and a vacancy will be created on Council.
When the list of formal complaints have been drafted, and the protocols published we will update the story to include that information.