Councilman William McKoy has called on the city’s legal department to prepare a resolution that will potentially pave the way for a vote of no confidence against council president Julio Tavarez.
McKoy said it’s incumbent upon the city council to examine the behaviors of its members and police itself. “If we don’t regulate ourselves no else is going to do that,” said McKoy. “I think, from my perspective, the case warrants a review.”
The call came as a number of city activists have demanded a no confidence vote on the council president over what they call “race baiting” on the part of Tavarez during a recent vote to appoint a city clerk and deputy clerk.
City activist Ernest Rucker demanded the council consider a vote of no confidence against Tavarez on Tuesday evening. He cited various reasons for the vote: “race baiting,” “race talk,” “hatred,” “asking one population to come against another.”
“When a member of your body has done the things Julio Tavarez has done you have a moral obligation to correct that,” said Rucker. He called on McKoy, the longest serving councilman, to sponsor a resolution for a no confidence vote.
“You must remove the stench of racism and shame that this council president has brought on you through race baiting and hate talk,” said Brent Nation, a city resident. Nation also urged the council to formally censure Tavarez.
A motion or vote of no confidence is a formal mechanism for expressing disapproval with the council president; the vote does not curtail or subtract power from the reigning president.
“The council has an obligation to indicate to him that that was inappropriate,” said McKoy. “If one is not corrected then we may go along to believe that conduct is acceptable.”
David Gilmore, open government activist, said the council has to separate itself from the president’s conduct, not just with the recent clerks selection, but for his missed meetings.
“I’m confident the people of conscience will vote the right way and set themselves apart from this cloud the council president has created,” said Gilmore.
When asked for his thoughts mayor Jose “Joey” Torres said: “I think the call for no confidence is opinionated.” He said it’s propelled by inflamed opinions on the part of the councilman’s colleagues and members of the public calling for the vote.
The impetus for this vote comes from an incident that unfolded last month, when the council appointed a city clerk and a deputy clerk. Tavarez pushed for the promotion of a Hispanic clerk Audrey Cartright, who had four years of experience in the city, over a black clerk Joan Campbell-Douglas, who had 15 years of experience with the city.
Tavarez at the time pointed out that the city clerk’s office lacked diversity and there was no Latino-Americans in leadership posts.
McKoy called for a discussion on the matter during the next workshop session of the council. Council members have not reached a consensus on the vote.
“Remember if you vote against this measure you are telling us in plain language you endorse his beliefs and actions,” warned Nation.
Julio Tavarez did not respond to a message seeking his comments for this story.
“He’s a big boy he can take it,” said Torres. “We hope that it sends a message that he has to do a little soul searching.”