CRYSTAL CITY, Texas – Crystal City is scheduled to have its first City Council meeting since the FBI arrested many of the city’s leaders on conspiracy and bribery charges.
But the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting could be over before it begins. Councilman Joel Barajas said the council needs at least three members present to hold an official meeting, and he’s not sure if that many will show up.
Barajas is the only council member not under federal indictment. Mayor Ricardo Lopez, Mayor Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata and Councilman Roel Mata were indicted in the bribery case earlier this month. Councilman Marco Rodriguez was indicted on unrelated federal charges last month for allegedly smuggling undocumented immigrants.
Additionally, the City Clerk certified a petition last week that sought Lopez, Rogelio Mata and Marco Rodriguez’s recall. The petition predates any of their arrests by several months.
Lopez has indicated he plans to go, but the other three members have stayed out of the public eye in recent weeks. Roel Mata has reportedly resigned.
"Consideration and appropriate action on calling a special election to fill place 4 vacancy," which is presumably Mata's seat, is on the agenda for Tuesday night.
If enough members do show up for the council meeting, they are scheduled to discuss the recall petition and City Manager and City Attorney James Jonas’ employment.
There is also an item for "consideration and appropriate action relating to the appointment of temporary city administrator."
Jonas was also charged in the FBI bribery case, and his contract was one of the reasons petitioners listed in their recall petition. The petitioners said his contract of “over $220,000” was “over the amount that the City of Crystal City can afford.”
Lopez said last week that the certified recall petition needed to be presented to the council before the five-day window for the recalled officials to resign begins.
According to the city’s charter, the officials either have to resign or face a recall election. However, that election would have to be ordered by the City Council.