Simmering tensions on the Rosenberg City Council boiled over last month.
During a contentious special meeting Dec. 10, the council voted 4-0 to censure Councilman Isaac Davila. The decision came in light of his proposition to make random drug and alcohol testing mandatory for all council members as well as a laundry list of alleged violations committed since his election in May 2018.
Previously struck down twice with minimal discussion, the drug-and-alcohol measure passed during a regular meeting Dec. 3 – with the caveat of scheduling the tests before every meeting and Davila paying for them himself. A week later, the censure vote transpired.
Mayor William Benton heavily criticized Davila at the special meeting Dec. 10, calling him disruptive to the council’s ability to get work done.
“This is not the preferred way I would’ve liked to have dealt with it, but I’m not sure how else to get through to you,” Benton said during the meeting to Davila, who ran against him for mayor this year. “Every week you want to have ridiculous discussions instead of doing what you were elected to do, which is represent the people of your district.”
Davila cannot be let go from the council or anything similar by way of a censure, which is essentially a public reprimand. However, the lifelong Rosenberg resident believes there is an ulterior motive.
“The reason they did it was to try to get me to back off and embarrass me in some way,” Davila said Monday. “My friends and family know all these grievances (the council) put on me are all made up and manufactured.
“In some instances where there is a little bit of truth, they have stretched it beyond reason.”
Prior to publication, Benton did not respond to multiple email requests for comment.
At least one Rosenberg resident believes a finger has been pointed at the wrong man. Former Planning Commission chairperson James Urbish said the blame falls on what Davila characterizes as a largely hand-picked council, with several members serving their first term.
“You all have been doing a fairly good job of making yourselves look bad. … It’s a sad state of affairs that the council has devolved into,” Urbish said. “Now you’re going to try to censure one of us, when the fact of the matter is every one of you all probably deserves worse than that.”
Urbish also previously pushed for drug and alcohol testing on the council as well as for the institution of a code of conduct. He said discord within council was simmering long before Davila’s censure and is masking real issues in the city.
“We have to compromise to get things done in this city,” Urbish said. “… We’re having this game play every Tuesday night, and I’m sick of it. Forget censuring this man and get ready to go to work and get some stuff done.”
Former councilmember Alice Jozwiak echoed the sentiment of political dissent on the council impacting the community, while councilor Lisa Wallingford resigned just prior to the special meeting Dec. 10.
“We have got to stop the game playing, because it’s fixing to break wide open for this council, and it’s not going to be pretty when it does,” Jozwiak said. “As a citizen, I have had enough. This is ridiculous to do this tonight to a person.”
Davila has previously spoken out about perceived issues on the council such as alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act in addition to requesting the drug and alcohol tests and more.
“They have turned a serious subject into a circus,” he said. “When people don’t vote the way (the mayor) wants, then he goes after them. I’m one of those.”
Benton brought out a multi-page list of alleged infractions by Davila. Other council members have previously called Davila’s claims baseless, including his allegation that some members showed up to meetings with alcohol on their breath.
“With all due respect, we are all a little concerned about your behavior,” Benton said. “You’ve cost the city thousands of dollars, you’ve wasted countless numbers of staff hours and you’ve wasted council and the general public’s time with your baseless accusations. Your behavior is out of control and has to stop.”
However, Davila said he remains committed only to serving his city.
“When someone protests that much, they’re hiding something. I wanted to bring attention to this so that it would stop,” he said. “… I don’t hide the violations they do. I bring them out into the open and they don’t like it, so they try to shut me down.”
For more news and stories like this one, follow The Star on social media @FortBendStar