Absent: Council member (CM) Douglas Jiron & Lt. Gov. Antonio Chewiwi.
Meeting started at 9:07 a.m.
FOR THE RECORD JULY 9, 2013
CM Fernando Abeita stated that he wanted to make a brief statement “for the record.” The Council approved the agenda and President Michael Allen Lente called on CM Abeita for his statement.
CM Fernando Abeita made an immediate motion to suspend CM Juan Rey Abeita from the Council due to the recent DWI charges filed against him.
CM Joseph “Cougar” Lucero questioned why Abeita was making a motion when he said that he was going to make statement for the record.
Abeita stated that he used the wrong word and that he wanted to make a motion. He then asked the President to entertain his motion.
President Lente asked whether anyone wanted to second Abeita’s motion.
CM James Abeita stated that he did not feel it was appropriate for the Council to take any action against CM Juan Rey Abeita. He said that it was up to Juan Rey and his personal character to decide what he should do in light of the charges against him.
Abeita’s motion died because none of the council members supported the motion.
Secretary Verna Teller stated that she did not support the motion because she is a believer of innocent until proven guilty. She said the prior council suspended people without finding them guilty and that it was wrong. She did not want to do same thing. Teller stated that suspensions can easily become political and she did not feel that it was her place to suspend someone elected by the people. Teller said removing someone from the Council is for the people to decide. She said that if someone is found guilty, then maybe the Council could take action at that time.
Joseph “Cougar” Lucero said that he agreed with Verna in that it is political. He said there is “disparity” and that the Council did not do anything to other council members when the issue dealt with their “ethics” and “moral turpitude” rising to the point of suspending the Ethics Code. He said in that situation it was fact but the Council did not want to do anything.
[CM Lucero is referring to an incident involving President Michael Allen Lente and Vice-President Larry Jaramillo wherein an individual accused President Lente of physically attacking him about the use of irrigation water. When that issue arose, CM Lucero and his faction on the Council wanted to take punitive action against President Lente and Vice-President Jaramillo. But, Lucero’s faction did not have the political numbers to impose their political punishment.]
Vice-President Larry Jaramillo responded to CM Lucero by stating that you keep harping about what happened weeks ago. We haven’t been charged with anything. We haven’t been found guilty of anything. You should conduct yourself with some professionalism.
CM Lucero replied that, I’m not making a judgment. It is a fact that it happened. It was covered up for two days. And, two weeks ago, I requested that the Ethics Code be placed on the agenda. And, it hasn’t been done.
VP Jaramillo said that the Ethics Code had some problems and that it was something dangerous to the community.
CM Lucero replied that it was just a matter of revising the Ethics Code. He questioned why it was necessary to suspend the Code.
Governor Eddie Paul Torres interrupted the discussion. He requested that the President get back to the agenda.
President Lente agreed and he halted further discussion to move back to the approved agenda.
Governor Torres stated that he had a delicate issue to address concerning possible litigation involving the Fun Connection. [The Isleta Fun Connection is a bowling alley and it offers other activities such as laser tag and arcade games. It is located in the old Isleta Bingo Palace.]
Attorney Pablo Padilla stated that he was going to give legal advice to the Council regarding the matter.
So, President Lente asked me and Joe Anzara to leave the meeting while they discussed that particular issue. President Lente told us that we could come back to the meeting after they finished discussion of the Governor’s issue. Anzara and I left the meeting. But, I did not return.
By Christopher Abeita