Council president Flavio Rivera came under heavy criticism from his colleagues on the City Council on Tuesday night for scrapping a no-confidence measure against mayor Andre Sayegh.
Four council members had introduced the no-confidence measure against the mayor citing numerous administrative failures earlier in the month. Last Friday, Rivera unilaterally removed the item from the agenda.
“Why would you make such a decision without even being part of the council discussion?” remarked councilman Michael Jackson on Tuesday night. He claimed Rivera “conveniently” skipped the workshop meeting last Tuesday.
Rivera said he had taken the Covid-19 vaccine that day and that was why he did not appear at the meeting. In his place, council vice president Lilisa Mimms presided over the meeting. Mimms allowed the item to get on the agenda after discussions with her colleagues at the public meeting.
“Don’t have me lead the meeting and arbitrarily take it off,” said Mimms. “The council has been put in a very compromising position.”
“I have never seen a council president remove an item from the regular meeting agenda that was discussed in the workshop,” said councilwoman Ruby Cotton, longest serving member of the City Council.
“This is extremely wrong,” said councilman Alex Mendez.
“Come on, what’s going on council president?” said councilman Shahin Khalique. He said Rivera assisted in drafting the no-confidence measure by identifying some of the mayor’s major failures over the past two and half years.
“Without hearing anyone’s concerns, you just arbitrarily decided to take it off,” said Jackson. He also suggested introducing a no-confidence measure against Rivera. “You’re not the dictator.”
Jackson accused Rivera of “partnering” with the mayor. He claimed Rivera overstretched his authority.
“I was given a legal opinion that I could do so, and I did,” said Rivera. As president Rivera sets and controls the City Council’s agenda.
Mimms raised questioned the validity of the legal opinion issued by the Sayegh administration.
Jackson tried to introduce a motion on the floor to add the item to the agenda. However, he needed unanimous support to add the item on the day of the meeting. His effort failed after councilman Al Abdelaziz, a close ally of the mayor’s, voted against adding the item to the agenda.
Six council members could have overridden the council president’s decision the day before the meeting.
There is only four guaranteed votes – Mendez, Maritza Davila, Khalique, and Jackson – for the no-confidence measure. Officials said if they can muster six votes, they can bypass the council president and call for a special meeting to consider the measure against the mayor.
Even without the no-confidence measure on the agenda, the City Council rebuked the mayor by repealing his sewer reforms by a veto-proof majority on Tuesday night. They said Sayegh poorly executed the reforms, leading to massive increases for homeowners. He also did little to fix the problems that were created by the sewer changes, they said.
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