UVALDE, Texas – A Uvalde resident appeared to discover a loophole in city policy that changed the course of a nationally watched vote during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Kim Hammond, who lives a few houses away from Robb Elementary School, testified against a motion to grant beleaguered Uvalde schools police Chief Pete Arredondo a “leave of absence from future meetings.”
“You said ‘we don’t have the power to fire him’,” Hammond said while speaking to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin and the rest of the council. “Let me give you a simple out.”
Arredondo has been blamed by state police officials for an “abject failure” and delayed response to the massacre that killed 21 people at the school on May 24.
The embattled Arredondo was elected to represent Uvalde city council district 3 in the May 7 election and was privately sworn in as a city council member on May 31, just one week after the shooting.
He has largely been in hiding since a few days after the shooting, and has not attended city council.
“Why the hell would you (grant a leave of absence)? Let him miss! Three meetings, he’s my councilman, let him miss three,” Hammond said. “Don’t waste any more time on him...Don’t give him an out. We don’t want him. We want him out.”
Uvalde City Council: Extremely inspired by the lady who lives 2 doors down from the school coming up w the plan to sack Arredondo. No leave of abs. If he misses 1 more mtg he's out. If he wants to keep his job he has to show. She studied & found a technicality no one else had. pic.twitter.com/uigygoDxMu— 🦉Serene (@MythSerene) June 22, 2022
According to city policy, Hammond testified, if Arredondo misses three meetings then a special election can be called and he can be voted out.
Hammond said Uvalde citizens wanted to do a recall petition to remove Arredondo from his council position but because he hasn’t been in the seat for 8 months — a recall petition couldn’t remove him.
“We had so much enthusiasm in it right away,” Hammond said of the petition. But after finding out that he couldn’t be removed due to his short time in office — she called it “BS.”
“I ask you, do the right thing and deny the leave of absence. Let Mr. Arredondo fall on his own sword,” the resident added.
After her plea, Councilman Ernest “Chip” King addressed the room.
“I’ve heard you guys and this bothers me a whole lot. I had an idea when I came in here that I was going to do a very short grant leave of absence...so you guys wouldn’t see him,” King said of Arredondo. “But I don’t need to talk a whole lot more. I make a motion we do not grant the leave of absence for councilman.”
The Uvalde City Council voted unanimously to deny Councilman Pete Arredondo’s request for “a leave of absence from future council meetings” following Hammond’s speech.