The hot item on the council’s agenda, a veritable hot potato, was item 85A, which is a proposal to eliminate the unpopular and controversial downtown Property and Business Improvement District more commonly called PBID.
So hot an item it was that Mayor Miguel Pulido and councilpersons Michelle Martínez and Vince Sarmiento abstained from voting on the item. Pulido, Martínez and Sarmiento all cited a conflict of interest in disallowing them to vote on the matter. Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Álvarez mentioned that this was not the first time that councilpersons removed themselves from voting on the matter.
Pulido and Sarmiento mentioned the businesses that they own in the downtown, and Martínez said she could not vote due to her residing in the PBID. Martínez and Sarmiento also said that the City Attorney advised them not to vote on the disestablishment of the PBID because of those stated conflicts of interest.
Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Álvarez challenged the City Attorney for advising members not to vote on the intent to eliminate the PBID and said that she could force another council member to vote on the item if allowed to within the guidelines of the Fair Political Practices Commission. Álvarez also stated that councilwoman Michelle Martínez may not qualify for removing herself from a vote, or that she may not cite a conflict of interest, because she is not a home, property or business owner in the PBID. Instead, Martínez leases an apartment in the downtown and this may require her to fulfill her voting duty on the City Council.
The City Attorney was asked to take action on a Fair Political Practice Commission report by next council meeting to determine what limits Álvarez has on forcing another councilperson to vote on the item. A failure to vote on the matter on the Council’s behalf eventually results in the elimination of the PBID.
The removal of Pulido, Sarmiento and Martínez left only Álvarez, and councilmen Sal Tinajero and David Benavides to vote on the matter. Thus, a stalemate was the end result. Another vote, that of councilman Carlos Bustamante’s, was missing due to his arrest today on charges of sexual misconduct.