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Galena Park Council Meeting marked with dissent and shouts from audience

GALENA PARK POLICE CHIEF REESE MARTIN and Galena Manor resident Sharon Fuller argue over the microphone, and whether she can continue to speak past the 3 minute limit. Interim Police Chief Reese Martin took microphone away from Fuller. Friends of Fuller persuade her to sit down to prevent her arrest. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Blame laid on Mayor Moya; city attorney says they responded

Galena Park, TX. May 2, 2017 at 6 PM: Mayor Esmeralda Moya called the regular council meeting to order.

After the regular order of business was completed, Moya only allowed the citizens to speak for three minutes who had signed-in on the designated form requesting to speak.

Approximately a dozen citizens went to the podium to tell the mayor they had voted for her but were disappointed with her failure to reopen the Churchill center or to answer their questions at previous council meetings or to return their phone calls. The mayor patiently listened to each person’s complaints, but remained silent.

Some of the citizens speaking about the reopening of the center were, community leader Rosemary Coreathers, Precinct 208 Chair Sharon Fuller, Galena Manor Civic Club President Eronia “Taggy” Hall, former Commissioner Maricela Serna, , Galena Manor Civic Club Vice President Paul Winfield.

Galena Manor Civic Club Vice President Paul Winfield said, “It is deplorable that this City government can approve contracts to purchase property for 250 thousand plus dollars and not put a roof or fix the emergency back door on the Evelyn Churchill Community Center. This is an act of racism. The city government is racist, very! And when I say the city government, I mean the Mayor, the City Council and City Attorney. All have displayed racism attitude.”

“Here you are considering spending $45,000 on a splash pad that isn’t needed, but you won’t fix the Evelyn Churchill Community Center.”

“Last meeting we had a 2nd opinion from an air quality company give you recommendations on what to do and our city attorney stands up and say’s what’s our next move? It’s not rocket science, get your crews out there, and pull the plants up. He told ya’ll to fix the drainage around the building. You have done nothing since then and on top of that you turn the air conditioner off causing more problems with the building.”

“You can take our taxpaying money and spend it on frivolous programs that come out of yall’s head, but ya’ll can’t fix the building ya’ll own. You let that building go down and now you are punishing the black residents of Galena Manor. No longer will we stand for it. Each and every one of you will be held accountable come election time; this is not going to go by us.”

“You won’t work or come together, you won’t work with us…we won’t work with you. So now if you’re in this group of racist people on this council, fine we will deal with it.”

“You care more about the dog park, the dogs at the dog pound, than you care about these black elderly citizen taxpayers.”

Sharon Fuller, Precinct 208 Chair, said, “I will not refer to you as M A Y O R, as the definition stands for you have failed as a mayor.”

“You will be known as number 9. You may not make it to stay #9 or #10. (a reference to how many mayors the city had).”

“There is a definition for Elected Officials, you are to govern yourself accordingly democratically. What does that mean, the majority rules, if you could take the time and look up at those here, we are the majority. You have a city secretary that is writing you don’t really need to take notes. If you can take the time and look at us citizens, but you’re not going to look up for you are rude.

“I’m going to piggy back off Mr. Paul Winfield; you appear to be a racist. We didn’t have that problem when we had a white Mayor. Now what you are doing to your brown skin residents can be done to you. So here is what we are going to do number 9, if you can’t talk, you can walk. We gave you a chance.”

Fuller’s allotted three minutes was up but she wanted to complete her last sentence. Chief Reese disagreed and told her, “No, your time is up.” Fuller said, “I’m going to keep talking, if ya’ll have to arrest me, then arrest me, because you have refused to return our calls and answer our questions.”

After the meeting City Attorney Robert Collins said, “This can all be summed up in one word, HOGWASH.”

The city attorney said at the meeting of April 18th both he and Daniel A. Penaloza II, a certified industrial hygiene expert, made a report which answered all the questions concerning the condition of the building and explained what it would take to reopen it. Mr. Penaloza, according to Collins, said it would be dangerous to the health of anyone to use the facility until it was rid of the dangerous mold.

Collins said at the previous council meeting most all of these people came to it and said the same thing as they did at this meeting. So there wasn’t a need to repeat the same answers and information as had already been told to them.

“In regards to the city treating this issue in a discriminatory racist manner is not true. And for anyone to say because of their race or ethnicity they deserve a community center is racist on its face. No one based on their nationality is entitled to anything just because of their race that all of us aren’t equally entitled to. Woodland Acres doesn’t have a community center yet they’re not demanding one,” Collins said.

He said the city has an estimate of $2.25 million dollars to go in and properly cleanup and do mold remediation. The contractor who first went to the community center nine months ago was to only perform minor repairs and wasn’t licensed or qualified to remove mold. Collins said state law requires licensed and trained experts to remediate mold and it appears that contractor made matters severely worse because he exceeded the work he was to do. He gutted the entire building and caused mold to spread.