By Jim Tortolano
A bitterly divided Westminster City Council on Wednesday night approved a new policy restricting the right to place items on the council agenda to either the mayor or a council majority.
The vote was 3-2, with Mayor Tri Ta and councilmembers Kimberly Ho and Chi Charlie Nguyen in favor with councilmembers Sergio Contreras and Tai Do opposed.
Any item considered by the council and not approved could not be placed back on the agenda for six months, except in the case of an emergency, the new policy states.
“Over the last six months,” said Ta, “I’ve observed that there were a lot of arguments over a few issues. It went back and forth over and over again. I don’t see that as efficient.”
He added that he would rather see the council spend its time on matters such as how to provide better and more services to the community.
The council members in the minority replied angrily.
“You’re taking it too far!” said Contreras. “This is absolutely absurd … this sounds like totalitarianism. This is extreme. We cannot allow this to move forward.”
“I respect your comments,” replied Ta. “But we debate, we argue over things that are not really important.” He promised that any “good ideas” would still make it to the agenda.
Do said, “I am speechless. A majority vote? Are you kidding? I never would have imagined the city would adopt the communist agenda of absolute power.”
The councilman began referring to the mayor as “Chairman Ta,” a title common to communist nations. “You don’t deserve the title of mayor.”
Discussion on the item continued for over an hour, with Contreras interrupting Ta repeatedly, pleading with him not to endorse the proposal.
“I can’t believe you’re going to support this … this is your legacy, you know this,” he said to the mayor.
The other councilmembers who backed the policy change only spoke briefly. Ho said she wanted the revision to make sure the item had “true interest on the part of the council.”
Nguyen said, “The decision on this item will surely have negative and positive effect on each member of the council. On the other hand, it’s probably a good idea to have a councilman bounce an idea off another council member first.”
The issue dominated the public comments earlier in the meeting. About two dozen speakers addressed the council on the matter, with most in opposition.
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