A public hearing is scheduled 5 p.m. Thursday to address the potential impeachment of Temple Mayor Pro Tem Judy Morales. This move comes after an 18-minute special called meeting Monday during which Morales refused to resign despite council members expressing disappointment with the mayor pro tem’s conduct and the impact her controversy has brought to city governance and other operations.
Last week, Morales turned herself in to the Bell County Sheriff’s Office upon being charged with Destruction, Removal, or Alteration of Public Information, a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and/or county jail confinement of up to three months.
Today’s meeting was to address “the charges filed by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department against Mayor Pro Tem Judy Morales and the impact of those charges on her Council duties.” The meeting, initially posted as to be conducted in executive session, took place before the public although no public comments were heard.
In calling the meeting to order, Mayor Danny Dunn thanked Morales’ for her attendance and expressed his “condolences for going through this” before asking Morales for her resignation.
Dunn’s comments were followed by Councilman Tim Davis who spoke of how the “council must be beyond reproach” telling Morales that he does not trust she is “acting in the best interests of the city and its citizens.”
Councilman Perry Cloud similarly expressed disappointment noting that “deleting public records is a serious offense” and that all could have been avoided had Morales not covered up her use of public resources.
Russell Schneider, the council’s senior member, denied that the council ever supported Morales in her efforts and again reiterated how her fellow council members waited to take action, but that it’s now time to resign calling the months-long controversy a distraction at meetings, for citizens and with staff time.
In response, Morales said she is not ready to resign citing major issues with which she’s concerned about within the city. She also repeatedly referred to her years of public service reminding that this commitment was performed without being a local business owner.
When Morales stated there were city issues she did not wish to “bring to light in this public forum,” supporters nodded in agreement while others audibly questioned the statement as a threat.
Morales told the council “you need to look at the whole picture before you come to judgment.”
Dunn responded that Morales’ actions are “tearing the city apart.”
“To all of us singularly, you have admitted guilt, been untruthful. Actions are making it more difficult for us to govern,” he further explained. “If you are unwilling to resign at this time, I am willing to remove you for good cause.”
Section 4.15 of the city of Temple charter specifies these “rules of the city council”:
The City Council shall determine its own rules of procedure, and shall compel the attendance of its members, and with the concurrence of four (4) members constituting said City Council, may impeach a member, and may remove him from office for good cause. Any Councilmember subject to removal for good cause may request a public hearing of the charges against him prior to removal from office.
Per Morales’ request, a public hearing is scheduled Thursday.
In addition to the pending criminal charges, Morales’ three-year term is set to expire in May. With having filed for re-election and with no opponent, she could return to office within 60 days.
Meanwhile, all city council members face recall, in part, due to the Morales controversy.
Removal from office will not necessarily bring immediate closure to Morales’ public office service nor to the controversy it creates.