By Jim Tortolano
At another marathon meeting that stretched over seven hours, the Westminster City Council voted late Wednesday night to officially censure Mayor Tri Ta.
The vote was three to two, with Ta and Councilmember Chi Charlie Nguyen opposed.
Discussion and argument – punctuated by insults and angry cross-talk – took nearly an hour.
Councilmember Tai Do asked the council to consider the action based on Ta’s purported comments, primarily in the Vietnamese language, claiming that the mayor has been “kicked out of his office” by the council majority and is officially “officeless.”
According to Do, Ta’s comments on local TV and in YouTube videos were “false and defamatory.” Part of Do’s request for a motion of censure is his claim that Ta drove around the city in a white SUV that he described as his “mobile office.”
He also claimed that Ta –while acting as mayor – urged voters to sign a petition to recall some members of the council.
In response, Ta called Do’s allegations “completely irrational” and accused him of lying about what the mayor had said. He denied urging his supporters to support the recall and sought to explain that what he meant by not having an office was that after the council voted to relocate council offices from City Hall, it was in doubt where his new office would be located.
What followed was a verbal free-for-all in which council members fired accusations against each other and made frequent interruptions. Chi Charlie Nguyen, in claiming that the council majority was telling lies, said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Manzo commented that the infighting at the meeting was “disgusting” and a “cancer on the city,” comparing it to adolescent bickering.
The council’s action to censure was the second time in the last two months it acted to reproach one of its own.
At a seven-hour meeting on Dec. 8-9, the council majority censured Chi Charlie Nguyen for a range of alleged misconduct including using offensive language, being argumentative and disruptive at meetings and waging a “dishonest” campaign in favor of recalling other council members.
Censure is a symbolic gesture expressing disapproval, but it has no legal force. A formal resolution of censure will come back to the council for final approval.
The next meeting of the council is schedule for Wednesday, Jan. 26.