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Carpinteria City Council Postpones Discussion on Whether to Force Out Armendariz

Council decides to wait until all members are present before voting on a resolution; Armendariz to be arraigned Wednesday

Carpinteria residents were ready Monday night to voice their opinions regarding Councilman Joe Armendariz, but they never got their chance.

Councilman Joe Armendariz
Councilman Joe Armendariz (Alex Kacik / Noozhawk photo)

The Carpinteria City Council decided to delay discussion on a resolution that could strip Armendariz of his committee assignments, publicly reprimand him for his conduct and ask him to resign.

Councilman Brad Stein was absent Monday night due to illness, and the City Council determined it would be better to vote on the matter when all members were present.

“It’s a very serious issue, and it’s probably a good idea to do it when all the council members are here,” Mayor Al Clark said.

He apologized to the public, and the majority of the crowd stood up and left.

“Shoot, I was looking forward to this,” Armendariz said.

Armendariz was charged with driving under the influence after crashing his vehicle Dec. 2 on Highway 101 near Padaro Lane. Test results showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.18 at the time of the wreck, more than twice the legal limit.

It was his second arrest on suspicion of DUI since he has been on the City Council.

After the December crash, Armendariz was hospitalized for two days with a compression fracture in his neck, a concussion and significant bruising. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Armendariz has said he intends to serve out the rest of his term ending this year and will not seek re-election.

He has been asked to resign, but the City Council does not have the authority to remove Armendariz. Therefore, Stein, Clark and city staff prepared a resolution similar to a ballot initiative, with a petition and signatures required for a recall election.

The resolution would adopt a Code of Ethics; issue an official reprimand in response to Armendariz’s conduct; revoke his committee assignments; limit his activities as a representative of the city; prohibit him from driving for city business; and ask him to resign.

“On Dec. 2, 2011, Councilmember Armendariz by his own admission was driving while under the influence of alcohol, was arrested and has been charged with under the influence of alcohol, this being the second time that Councilmember Armendariz has been charged with this crime while serving as a City Council member,” the resolution states.

There was lengthy discussion regarding the Brown Act at the beginning of the meeting. Armendariz asked if public comment is a safe harbor against defamation, libel and slander.

“There is a civil code section, which seems to create a safe harbor for speech in a public meeting,” City Manager Dave Durflinger replied.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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