TIJERAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A village council meeting in Tijeras got heated Monday night. People took turns voicing their support for the Tijeras Mayor, who along with the Village, accused two women of stealing scrapbooks from a Senior Center, and then banned both from the center.
The Mayor’s supporters lined up to address council, but the other side didn’t get a chance to voice their opinions, and that’s when things got tense.
One after another, people addressed the Tijeras Village council in support of Mayor Gloria Chavez, over the scrapbook scandal that’s plagued the Senior Center.
“They made everyone’s life miserable at the center by writing negative articles in the local papers, disrespecting Mayor Gloria Chavez,” said Sue Kron, referring to Floy Watson and Doris Lark. Watson sat silently stunned in the meeting Monday.
Lark and Watson were accused by the Village of stealing scrapbooks from the Senior Center in January, that Lark insists she made and paid for.
Lark died last month, but a judge dismissed both women’s cases last week. However, it didn’t stop some from asking the Mayor to go after Watson again.
“We as seniors of the Tijeras Senior Center want the Mayor to file this case in civil court we want the council to support the Mayor in her decision,” said Kron. “Because this case was dismissed on a technical error on the part of the police officer, the case is not settled. The Mayor has the right to file the case in civil court as stated by the judge.”
“I was sorry that I didn’t see any of the councilors there in court to support the Mayor,” said another woman.
Some called for peace, saying this issue has divided the Senior Center.
“There’s a group of people that sit at one table and yes we all have the freedom of speech, but when it affects other people that are here that don’t want to hear what’s going on – once is enough,” said one woman.
After supporters addressed council, the Mayor adjourned the meeting.
Watson’s supporters didn’t get a chance to address council since they didn’t sign up three days in advance.
“I didn’t know you had to sign up for a discussion three days in advance, there’s no publicity on that,” said Fred Belk.
“You have this stacked on your side,” Belk told the Mayor, as she walked out of the room.
“Sore losers!” another woman shouted, when Watson’s supporters were asking to speak as part of public comment. The Mayor’s supporters high-fived each other, and a shouting match began.
“It just wasn’t right, it was unfair, and who’s going to do anything about it?” said Belk. “Floy Watson and our dearly departed Doris Lark didn’t have any justice tonight, there was no justice for these ladies who did absolutely nothing wrong,” added Belk.
Floy Watson said the meeting was hurtful.
“This whole thing has been horribly painful, it’s miserable,” Watson said. “If I’d stolen it, I’d give it back but I didn’t steal anything and Doris certainly didn’t steal anything, and they’re still smearing Doris’ name.”
Watson is still banned by the Village from the Senior Center. Her attorney, Terri Keller, also attended the meeting Monday.
“What we heard from those people was ‘we just didn’t like what they had to say at the center,'” said Keller. “(Freedom of speech) is the foundation of our country, this is a public facility and if people come in and there’s a group that just talks about things people don’t like, that’s no reason to ban them from a public facility.”
The Mayor told KRQE News 13 last week that council would discuss Watson’s ban at Monday night’s meeting, but that didn’t happen. It’s unclear when it will be addressed.
The Village Attorney said he is not responsible for the ban and referenced the Bernalillo County deputy in his memo to Watson’s attorney. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said they are not responsible for the criminal trespass, since the case was dismissed.
The Mayor left Monday night’s meeting without answering questions.