Coverage of Temple City Council Special Meeting for Judy Morales
Embattled City Councilwoman Judy Morales, facing charges over the destruction, removal or alteration of public information, refused to resign her position today, despite urging by fellow City Councilors. A public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday as the Council moves to remove her from office against her will.
Morales is accused of destroying emails and documents concerning her alleged illegal use of county resources to aid in her 2011 campaign for the office of Temple City Council Member District 2, then later requesting that emails and documents linking her to the activity be destroyed.
Due to a statue of limitations, the County cannot pursue the charges over Morales' alleged use of county resources. However, they have filed misdemeanor charges on the counts of data tampering. Morales faces three months in jail and up to a $4,000 fine if convicted.
This afternoon, the members of the Temple City Council met in a special workshop meeting to discuss Morales' future on the City Council. KTEM was there to cover the proceedings.
Members of both camps filled the crowd: both supporters of Morales and those in favor the petition to recall the City Council, penned by Mari Paul, who was herself in attendance. The tension in the air did not lessen as the workshop meeting began precisely at 3:00pm, after minutes of hushed silence from all those gathered.
Mayor Danny Dunn opened the meeting with a declaration that the Council reserved the right to go into private executive session at any time, but the warning was ultimately unnecessary, and all matters that followed in the next 18 minutes remained in public consideration and record.
Dunn thanked Morales for attending the meeting and offered his condolences that she should have to go through this hardship. All his further comments were less forgiving. He immediately asked for Morales' resignation from the Council, citing that he did not "trust that [Morales] was acting in the best interests of the city and its citizens," and further that City Council members must be "beyond reproach."
These sentiments were echoed by fellow Council members Tim Davis, Perry Cloud, and Russell Schneider, all of whom called for Morales' resignation. Schneider made a particular point to assert that the other members of the Council had never assisted Morales in her alleged fraudulent actions, perhaps a comment on Paul's petition.
Morales, however, stood her ground. "If I leave this seat, District 2 will be unrepresented, which I think is unfair," she stated. "I am not ready to resign."
In a moment that raised voices from the crowd, Morales threatened that she was willing to bring issues to light which the City Council would not want aired, though the nature of this dirty laundry went unsaid.
In the end, this wasc not enough to cow Dunn, however, who cited that, in Morales' refusal to resign of her own will, the Council could move to remove her with "good cause." When asked whether Morales' actions constituted good cause, the other Council members agreed immediately and unanimously.
Morales is entitled to a public hearing, which has been scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. KTEM will be following events as they unfold.