Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Truthful answer will help end controversy
On May 14, an unpleasant scene unfolded in the Victoria City Council chamber.
After former Mayor Will Armstrong announced his intention to withdraw from the runoff with current Mayor Paul Polasek, what should have been a quick meeting to canvass votes became an hourlong session of accusations, debate and the near creation of an illegal amendment.
During the discussion, it became apparent that four of the council - David Hagan, Joe Truman, Emett Alvarez and Josephine Soliz - might have spoken before the meeting and planned their attempt to thwart the process by which Polasek became mayor. To see if there was any truth to this suspicion, the Victoria Advocate filed several Freedom of Information requests asking for any city-related communications between members of the City Council leading up to the May 14 meeting.
For several months, three of these elected officials have been stonewalling these requests. Truman released his phone records to the Advocate. The records show multiple phone calls between Truman, Alvarez, Hagan and Soliz's son and former council member Gabriel Soliz. The pieces are coming together, and the best option these elected officials have is to release their records and put an end to this ongoing controversy.
Although District Attorney Steve Tyler has chosen not to pursue an investigation into this matter, we remind the council members that they have a duty to openly, honestly and in good faith represent their constituents in a public forum. Eventually, they will have to answer for their actions to the voters. Here are a few of the comments readers have posted on the Advocate's website about this matter:
• "... These council members have lied to the people of Victoria by saying they don't have any records (unless of course they deleted those records to avoid having to produce them). Clearly, there was communication and a lot of it. If they get away with it, as it appears they will with Tyler's help, then that giant sucking sound you will hear is Hagan, Alvarez, Soliz taking away every right you have as a citizen to expect transparency in government - the very premise they falsely used to get themselves elected. ..." - Cathy
• "All of these City Council members need to be voted out of office! If we can't trust them to be honest and do their job, then they don't deserve to hold their positions. They are all covering up something for their own reasons and can't be trusted." - Tabitha
• "Refusing to give up the records, that could be evidence. That doesn't sound legal to me. Truman's records indicate conversations between all four prior to the public meeting. Looks like the really guilty ones don't want to cooperate. There should be enough probable cause to force the issue. Steve Tyler, do your job; you would if it wasn't a politician." - Brian
These are what some of your constituents are saying, City Council members. Are you listening?
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.