Members of Hispanic Community Outraged in City Council Meeting

Shouting, threats of arrest, a Bexar County Sheriff Deputy, and a Univision news crew were all part of a City Council meeting held on April 13, 2016.

The City Council is supposed to meet every second Thursday of the month, which would have been April 14th, but the meeting was cancelled and the April 13th meeting was scheduled instead under the title “Special Meeting.”

Within the audience of approximately 35 people, people voiced frustration over the meeting not including a “Citizens to Be Heard” segment that is required by city law to be apart of regularly scheduled City Council meetings.  Others were upset that the meeting was not being translated into Spanish.

As the meeting started, Cathleen Recio shouted from the back of the room asking what happened to the Citizens to Be Heard segment.  Members of the City Council ignored her, which led to more people from the audience asking about their lack of opportunity to speak to the Council.

The Council members themselves ignored the audience and some even refused to look at them.

When one woman in the audience stood up and began protesting the meeting, the City Marshal Jesse Gutierrez stood up and told the woman she had to be quiet.  She wouldn’t stop talking, so he walked across the room and threatened to arrest her.

City Marshal Jesse Gutierrez 1

Gutierrez was in regular clothes and showed no badge.  Members of the audience demanded to know he was and what authority he had to threaten someone with arrest.  When Recio shouted at him that he wasn’t the City Marshal yet, Gutierrez stated

As a Texas peace officer I have the ability to act

Gutierrez is a detective with the Floresville Police Department, but didn’t say anything about it at the meeting, or show a badge.

Jesse Gutierrez threatening to arrest woman for speaking

Jesse Gutierrez (left) threatening to arrest woman for speaking

Gutierrez then pulled out handcuffs and threatened the protesting woman again, saying

You’re about to be arrested!

Another audience member, Dawn Allison, stood up and started yelling at the woman, saying she needed to learn English and that “this is America.”

Tomasini (left) stopping Gutierrez (in orange) from arresting woman for speaking out

Tomasini (left) stopping Gutierrez (in orange) from arresting woman for speaking out

Alderman Doug Tomasini came forward and calmed the situation by telling Gutierrez that an arrest wasn’t necessary.

Bexar County Sheriff Deputy 2

Mayor Micki Ball requested Gutierrez to accompany her outside of the building.  When she returned she was accompanied by a Bexar County Sheriff Deputy.  The deputy didn’t say anything to the audience, but stood at the front of the room for a short time before leaving.

After the meeting was called back to order, members of the audience continued to shout frustrations to the City Council.  Most of the meeting was difficult for many people to hear because the City Council did little to stop members of the audience from talking.

Alderman BJ Gillespie made shushing noises to a man who was talking quietly.  The man shushed her right back and said “I’m not a dog!”

Ball calling the sheriff department

Ball calling the sheriff department

Because audience members kept asking about the Citizens to Be Heard opportunity, Mayor Ball told the audience they could have an opportunity to speak with the Council after the meeting was over.  One man began walking throughout the room with a sign up sheet for people who were interested in speaking.

When the meeting was over the man announced to the Mayor that he had a list of people who wanted to speak.  The audience watched as Ball ignored the man and even turned her back on him.

Members of the audience started shouting at Ball.  She turned around and stated the Council couldn’t hear input from the citizens, saying

We are not in a public meeting

Ball also told the audience that the City Council, by being present and not in a meeting, constituted a “walking quorum.”

After refusing to answer questions for a few minutes, Ball attempted to answer someone, but one man in the audience told her she missed her opportunity.  After that, when people asked her if she would be answering any questions, Mayor Ball replied

I’m not, because this gentleman said I missed my opportunity.

When the meeting was over, a Univision news crew was waiting outside and interviewed many people.  After the City Council members left the building, people went back inside to hold their own meeting about what had just transpired.

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9 Responses to Members of Hispanic Community Outraged in City Council Meeting

  1. karentanguma April 22, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    I certainly found staying after the meeting to answer citizen questions very necessary. The citizens I talked to had many concerns. I was among the last of the residents to leave. Keeping communications open is the key to our success as a city.

  2. oldworld April 23, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    If Councilwoman Tanguma feels communication is key to success, then why does she refuse to answer emails sent to her at the city web site. What good are you to the community if you can not respond or must have all responses/drafts approved by the mayor? You should have gone home with the rest of your associates. The people needed real answers, not sugar covered excuses and propaganda. Our impression of you was a “deer in headlights”, collecting information and giving few intelligent answers.

  3. karentanguma April 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    Since your name is oldword I do not know who this is and whom “our inpression” represents. Again, we can discuss your concerns per appointment or during or after the council meeting. As a doctor and wife of a newsman of 30 years, your description of me is certainly who I am. My citizen conversations were one on one and very productive. Please make yourself known so we can discuss you positive vision for the city.

    • karentanguma April 24, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      Typos noted here.Dr. TANGUMA

    • mcrendahl April 25, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

      Ms. Tanguma: First let me congratulate you for staying after that meeting to talk with citizens. It’s a shame that our Mayor doesn’t feel that same responsibility. However, you have not answered the question of why you do not respond to e-mails sent to the city council website. I understand you are new to the council, so let me give you a bit of background. Last year, we were told by several council members that there was an approved method of contacting the city council, i.e. b y using the e-mail section of the city website. The idea given was that would allow the individual members to better absorb the concern and ready a reply without the “grandstanding” (Mayor Ball’s word) involved with using the citizens to speak section of the meetings. This I have tried to do, with very slim results since that time. I’ve asked about the required CAFR audit, with no reply at all. Only after having received no response did I bring it up at a city council meeting, of course, still with no results. More recently, I wrote the city council with my concerns about the legality of the transfer of property from Waterwood Dev. to the WPPOA, and then the transfer of that same property from the WPPOA to the city, neither with the approval of the membership of the WPPOA. I did receive a reply from Doug Tomasini at that time, but nothing from any other member of the city government. My most recent missive involved the disaster that was the April meeting. I expressed serious concern that having that citizens to speak section removed sets a precedent that is alarming. I won’t go into detail here, as you have the exact wording already, but I do need to state that I recommended a possible solution that could help resolve differences. To date, I have received exactly zero replies to my e-mail. So, while I’m glad that your conversations were productive, I also understand quite well oldworld’s complaint that the council is not responsive to the citizens. Mary Catherine Rendahl

      • karentanguma April 25, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

        Hello Catherine, yes I do check emails at work daily (have no Internet at home), however, when emails go out to the whole council I check to see if the email has been addressed. I will be suggesting a couple of new ways to do this. Some cities use blogs on their web page where citizens can see the questions and the responses. It helps with transparency and the duplication of responses. I do apogize for my poor typing skills and a am old fashion and like person to person interaction. I steer away from the Internet as much as possible. With a nursing, counsing, and teaching career I am a people person not a technology person. As a new representative of the community I am still learning much. I thank all that you so. GOOD NIGHT.

  4. karentanguma April 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Since your name is oldword I do not know who this is and whom “our inpression” represents. Again, we can discuss your concerns per appointment or during or after the council meeting. My citizen conversations were one on one and very productive. Please make yourself known so we can discuss you positive vision for the city.

    • karentanguma April 24, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      There are typos in my first response so no your description of me is not accurate. This will be my last conversation on this site since it seems these tyoe of conversations should be during our city meetings. Good day to all the citizens of Sandy Oaks.

    • mcrendahl April 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Ms. Tanguma. Thank you for your response to me here, I apologize for not being quick to reply, I don’t check this website daily. I really appreciate you idea for a section of the city website for questions (even if there will be complaints as well) and the response, if any from members of the city council. That kind of transparency, along with the newsletter and the new translations of the agenda as presented at the April meeting should go a long way to help people see that the city council wants to communicate with all of it’s citizens. I wish you well in this endeavor. Thank you! Mary Catherine Rendahl