City Manager Morris Madrid suppressed public comment on mask wearing at the July 22 meeting.
He refused to read into the record a letter signed by 20 people asking that City police force enforce the Governor’s mask rule. Madrid put the petition aside, stating his office “had handled it.”
The City Commission was silent, allowing Madrid to censor public comment.
However, Mayor Pro-Tem Brendan Tolley, later in the meeting, revealed the letter had been written by Donna Catterick and Paula Green and they had circulated it getting 20 signatures before turning it in to be read as public comment. “They asked me to read it aloud,” Tolley said, but he did not do so.
At the last meeting, July 8, the City Commission tasked City Attorney Jay Rubin, City Manager Morris Madrid and Chief of Police Mike Apodaca to meet and determine if local law enforcement had the authority to enforce the Governor’s order.
Apodaca said a local ordinance was needed to give local police the authority to enforce the Governor’s order. Rubin said Attorney General Hector Balderas’ letter stating local law had the authority to enforce the order was sufficient.
Madrid and Rubin did not give a report on any legal research they may have done in the intervening two weeks at the July 22 meeting and Apodaca was not in attendance.
Madrid simply stated that each officer would decide for themselves whether to issue a citation enforcing the Governor’s mask order.
He also said shoppers who refuse to wear a mask or leave a place of business may be cited for trespassing, which would be heard and ruled on by local Municipal Judge Bobbie Sanders.
Madrid pointed out citing someone into local court vs. “handing someone a piece of paper,” citing them with an infraction of the Governor’s order, would probably be more effective.
Tolley, at the end of the meeting, said he saw the email string between Apodaca and the petitioners. Apodaca said he got “clarity” from the Attorney General’s letter that local law did have authority to enforce the Governor’s order, “and he has given the directive to enforce the order,” Tolley said.
Balderas’ letter is attached to this article for the readers’ information.