Injunction granted: Court decision temporarily reinstates ousted city commissioners

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

A court hearing was held last Friday at the Cameron County 444th District Court regarding a temporary injunction being sought by Port Isabel commissioners Juan Jose “J.J.” Zamora and Martin C. Cantu to allow them to continue serving on the city commission. Zamora and Cantu were dismissed from office following a majority vote of the commission during a special meeting held April 13. The vote was held after allegations the two men had violated section 2.02 of the City Charter by allegedly profiting from the City.

Port Isabel City Attorney Robert Collins, Brownsville attorney Frank Perez, and attorney Christopher Lewis spoke on behalf of the defendants — Commissioners Maria de Jesus Garza and Guillermo Torres, Mayor Joe E. Vega, and the City of Port Isabel. Attorney Gilberto Hinojosa represented both dismissed commissioners.

The court first looked at an issue regarding the constitutionality of a statutory provision of the City Charter, which outlines the removal process following a conviction. If the provision is deemed constitutional, then a vote of that caliber should only occur during a regular meeting not a special meeting, according to the plaintiffs, who cited the Charter in their argument.

The defense argued that the April 13 meeting qualified as a regular meeting, with the exception that it occurred one day earlier than typically scheduled. The defense advanced the argument that the amount of notice given for the rescheduled meeting , as well as all actions which occurred during the meeting, warranted the session being considered a regular meeting.

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