CALEXICO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - On Wednesday, the Calexico city council voted to eliminate the city’s COVID-19 committee in a three-two vote. The public had the chance to explain their concerns and are worried this could affect how the city moves forward with COVID-19 mitigation.
This vote comes as both the city and county are struggling to get vaccines to residents due to severe weather across the Country. It was a debate between keeping COVID-19 meetings in place versus using the city staff’s time more wisely.
Mayor Pro Tem Javier Moreno led the motion citing reasons like committee’s inactivity, redundancy of information sharing, and the use of valuable staff resources.
“Ensure that the resources used by the city staff are used appropriately. I, therefore, make a motion to suspend the Ad Hoc committee indefinitely,” Moreno said.
Raul Ureña is opposing the request to dismantle the committee.
“When we approved our Calexico COVID committee, El Centro was inspired and also passed their El Centro COVID committee. Fast forward to the present day and now we're saying well, El Centro is going to keep theirs because they're smart,” Ureña said.
The discussion over this became rather heated when council-member Raul Ureña tried to ask a couple of questions in support of keeping the designated committee, Moreno declined to answer saying he is not obligated to do so based on council rules.
Ureña: "Who's gonna keep the county accountable for differences in discrimination, if not the COVID committee? That's my question to the proponents of this motion?"
Moreno: "I am authorized to answer but I'm not obligated to answer."
Ureña: "I know you don't like to answer your questions go ahead and proceed with the vote.”Calexico City Council meeting - 02/18/21
Mayor Rosie Arreola-Fernandez claims the duties of this committee are repetitive.
“There are no reports given to us and is repetitive. All the information that you're getting, we're getting it every Friday from the county. You take time away from our city manager and you take time away from our city clerk," the Calexico mayor said.
I spoke with councilmember Raul Ureña, he claims committee responsibilities do not consist of much.
“Outside of posting the agenda, there was no stop time use by the committee,” Councilmember Ureña said.
Mayor Pro Tem Moreno released this statement Thursday night.
Citizens of Calexico,
We’re experiencing difficult and challenging times during this pandemic. It’s times like this that we need to work together to help Calexico overcome this health crisis. We, the City Council are concerned for the health and safety of our city employees, our families, our friends and neighbors, and our business community. As clarification to suspend the Covid-19 Committee, the City Council voted by a majority vote to suspend the committee indefinitely. The decision was made due to the committee’s inactivity during the past weeks, including the redundancy of information sharing, and the use of valuable staff resources, as well as the racist remarks by Councilman Raul Urena. We know Councilman’s Urena to be a dedicated public servant, who cares deeply about the health and safety of our city. However, we need to make sure, the leaders on this council represent our community values, and of this city. When racism is used and weaponized against a fellow council member, it is designed to silence them and destroy their credibility. It’s important that the citizens of Calexico understand that the City Council will not tolerate racist comments and such behavior. We are grateful to be part of this wonderful community and our City Council will continue to provide the highest level of service to our citizens.
Mayor Pro TemPress Release regarding termination of COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee
Although there isn’t a formal committee anymore there is still work to be done.
“We're still going to continue to work because the needs are urgent. There's nothing that stops us from continuing to work. The only effect that this has the disbanding of the covid committee is, unfortunately, a lifting of the transparency requirements,” Ureña said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tien Vo, a member of the shuttered committee, says he’s continuing to fight for the city.
“For me, the committee is just a label. I really don't need the committee to work with. I have been working by myself for a long time, but it's good to have the city join with us and help,” Dr. Tien Vo explained.