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City CouncilMayor Tran calls Councilmember Dominguez a “disgrace” & threatens her with a...

Mayor Tran calls Councilmember Dominguez a “disgrace” & threatens her with a censure

At this past Tuesday’s Milpitas City Council meeting, Council discussed the possibility of converting the Turing Apartments (located at 1355 McCandless Drive) into low- and moderate-income housing. 

This topic has been under discussion in the past. In November of last year, Council directed staff to work with the Turing Project Team and further evaluate the proposal. 

After a couple of hours spent focusing on the item, things took a turn when Councilmember Karina Dominguez expressed her thoughts on the issue and delved into her personal story. As she spoke, Mayor Rich Tran repeatedly interrupted her, saying she was “intrusive” and a “disgrace.”    

“I don’t make $100,000. I don’t own a home. I am one of two renters that sit on this council,” said Councilmember Dominguez. “I share that with you…because I am the voice of the missing middle in the city of Milpitas. Because it’s so expensive to live here.” 

The issue on the table was important to Dominguez because, as she said, she exists two paychecks away from homelessness, which is something she believes many in the city can relate to. Her goal, as she told The Beat in an interview, is to work with Council to find solutions to bring affordable housing into the city so that residents don’t have to leave. 

“I am your children,” said Councilmember Dominguez at the meeting. “Literally, Councilmember Chua and Vice Mayor Montano, I could be your daughter.” 

At that point, Tran interrupted Dominguez, asking her not to attack anyone on the dais.  

“You’re a disgrace. Either you’re going to carry on or focus on the business at hand, or you’re going to keep attacking people,” said Mayor Tran. 

Dominguez stated that she wasn’t attacking, just sharing her personal story. She continued on, as the mayor interrupted her by banging his gavel and at times raising his voice. 

“This isn’t an attack on anybody, Mayor,” said Dominguez. “This is simply asking you to hear my story and allowing me to be vulnerable because my story reflects the thousands of voters who voted for all of us in the City of Milpitas, and who are working class families.” 

In the end, Council voted to hold off on the vote and to continue discussion for the next meeting. 

Speaking to The Beat after the meeting, Councilmember Dominguez stated: “I don’t want anybody to see [the video of the meeting] on Tuesday and think it’s okay to name-call and yell in any setting. It’s not. It’s wrong to yell at a strong woman.” 

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Tran took to his Facebook page, where he announced that he would be making a motion to censure Councilmember Dominguez for “violating the Milpitas City Council Code of Conduct unless she refrains from attacking other members of the City Council.”

 

 

But the vast majority of commenters on his post weren’t buying it; they claimed that the Mayor himself was the one initiating the attacks. 

When asked how she feels about the mayor’s attempt to censure her, Councilmember Dominguez stated: “I welcome it. It’s evident this threat is coming from a person unfortunately who is unprofessional. We saw his behavior on Tuesday. I’d wear it as a badge of honor that represents what strength and honor look like, and what being a powerful woman looks like.”  

A few hours after that initial post regarding a motion to censure Dominguez, Mayor Tran posted on Facebook again, saying that he would also make a motion at the next meeting to limit debate to three minutes per Councilmember for each agenda item. 

 

 

When The Beat reached out to Vice Mayor Carmen Montano to ask if she felt attacked by Dominguez’s words during Tuesday’s meeting, she responded: “Yes. It was out of line. She kept going off topic and talking about her life. And when she brought in my and Councilmember Chua’s name, saying we’re old enough to be her mother, it was uncalled for. It was ageism. It’s not the first time she’s done that to me.”  

After learning of Montano’s statement, Councilmember Dominguez questioned why the Vice Mayor would sit there silently at the meeting and not say anything, while the Mayor lashed out at her.  

“Why didn’t she raise her voice, if she felt that way?” asked Dominguez. “She stayed mute.” 

As he’s soon to be termed out as Mayor, Tran has announced he will run for a seat on the Council in this year’s election. Vice Mayor Carmen Montano will run for Mayor, and has been endorsed by Tran. 

Although Karina Dominguez’s council term is up this year, she has not yet made any announcements about running in the upcoming election. 

 

 

 

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Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro is the winner of a 2022 Golden Quill Award for her Education journalism. She works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works mostly with nonprofit organizations and educational entities to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also the author of “Fierce Woman: Wake up your Badass Self” and “Magic Within: Womb-Centered Wisdom to Realize the Power of Your Sacred Feminine Self.” Her YouTube channel features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

28 COMMENTS

  1. 25.6% of Americans score high on authoritarian worldviews and behaviors. Such top-down, father-knows-best relationships are appropriate for some roles and professions — like the military, of which Mayor Tran is part. In a democracy, and especially a democratic institution like the City Council, authoritarian behavior is counter productive. Fortunately we have a chance to replace Mr. Tran with someone better suited to the co-equal collaboration expected of elected officials. https://hartmannreport.com/p/why-trump-cant-be-ignored-and-must

    • Any meeting must have a leader (Robert Rules of Order) and Tran is it. Voting is a democracy, not the meeeting as a whole. He has the AUTHORITY to manage the meetings according to the rules. He has the right and responsibility to maintain order and she’s clearly not on board with the rules. If she can’t control herself (I’ve seen her screech several times) she needs to go. Her diversions clearly are counterproductive.

  2. Thank you Mayor Tran for putting Milpitas first. We are so done with the bad behavior of AP and KD, who think it is okay to waste public time and money and put their own special interest before that of the people who they are meant to serve. Playing a damsel in distress is getting old really.

  3. Mayor Tran please allow council members to speak her views, thought. Please don’t be jerk, she is bringing fact where people are suffering.

  4. I have no problem with limiting the time a Councilperson can speak before the other Councilpeople are allowed to share. I think 3 minutes is too short for some of the complex issues that they face. But, I would have a problem if there was a time limit placed upon anyone; if someone wants to speak after all others have been given a chance, they should have that right. There is an accepted way to stop discussion and that is to have a person make a motion to either move to a vote (it is called “Calling for the Questions)” or close the discussion. Once the motion is seconded, and a discussion on the motion is completed, the entire council can vote to either continue or limit the discussion.

  5. Tran’s following the rules of the meeting and if she can’t keep her comments within the time limit, the same as everyone else, and stay on subject, she needs to go. Personal stories are fun but counterproductive to the purpose of the meeting.

    • Don, correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think the “rules of the meeting” include a time limit on Council member comments. As a member of the public, I used to get 3 minutes to express my viewpoint. After complaints about the length of Council meetings, Mayor Tran unilaterally decided (like an authoritarian would) that public comments would be limited to 1 minute. That seemed ironic because, at the time, he was more guilty than most of rambling on. Does he still do that?
      .
      As for your assertion that Ms. Dominguez did not “stay on subject”, the subject was “low- and moderate-income housing” which she was addressing using her own experiences. Could you be more specific about what she said that was not on subject? Or are you objecting because she is an assertive woman that stands up to bullies?

      • The rules of the meeting do have a time limit if Tran says so. He’s the meetiing Chairman, he makes the rules. Rules for public comment may differ from rules for Council Members. Since Tran is the meeting Chairman, he is charged with maintaining order and Dom is out of order. The meeting isn’t a Democracy. Voting is. Her personal opinions and feelings don’t substitute for actions on the purpose of the meeting. She needs to go.

        • Don, you may want to make up your own rules about how meetings are conducted, but Robert’s Rules of Order do not work that way. In particular, the meeting Chairman does NOT make the rules. The body, unless voting to use some other rules, must follow RRoO. In particular, Section 43 (pages 385 – 399) specify the rules for discussion. My observations of Mayor Tran is that he does not know the rules. Clearly, you do not either.

          • They enter into an agreement, at the beginning of each meeting, to abide by Robert’s rules. How well they comply with those rules is a function of the personalities involved. These meetings have turned into squbbles rather than functioning government.

            Business meetings are for business, not personal stories. Save those for the campaign trail. Stick to the agenda. Work for the people who elected you. Save the drama for when you’re not getting paid by the taxpayer.

  6. There is not time limit as to how long council members can speak. They spent 3 hours discussing weed abatement but did not have the time to listen to over 100 contituants. I apreciate council member Domiguez sharing her story. It shows she understands and has lived experiences of what a lot of us are up against everyday. It shows she’s human.
    I have watched Tran cut off and talk over members of the public. He’s cut me off personally when I attended my first council meeting upon first moving here. When its comes to homelessness, affordable housing or his personal obnoxious behavior he is condisending and just plain rude to anyone who disagrees with his point of view. It is disgusting, unprofessional and just plain rude. I would like to know who limited the public speaking time? When was that voted on? Or was it his unilateral decision? That in itself is telling the public that the city has no time, or desire, to hear their views

    • Actions speak louder than words. Ever hear the expresion, “Moving at the speed of government.”? Dom is one of the reasons for it. She’s the one screeching for action on homlessness yet delays action through demanding that she be the center of attention with her “poor me” story. Would you let her go on for 12 hours doing that? Great, she’s been is a renter. A lot of us have and more can’t even afford rent. We got that but it doesn’t help, especially seeing how well she lives. Now move on to action. Tran was right. She needs to go. She’s distracting from solving the real problem she’s crying about. Put a sock in it and take some concrete action.

      It’s stupid to consider converting existing housing to low income housing when the real problem is LACK OF INVENTORY FOR PLACES TO LIVE! Build more housing to solve the issue. Supply and demand. Increase the supply, prices come down and everyone is happy, except the real estate agents and landlords.

      • “Now move on to action.” Yes, that would be great. Your support of Mayor Tran suggests that he is acting. Based on what I have seen, he is not. Perhaps you can point to actions that he has taken to increase the inventory of places to live — that are affordable! Until you do, “put a sock in it”, and stop complaining that our elected representative Dominguez is pressing for real solutions rather than kicking the can down the road (like Tran so commonly does).
        .
        BTW, unless I am mistaken, there is enough housing inventory in Santa Clara County to accommodate all of the homeless. The problem is that our capitalist system allows property owners to let desperately-needed housing remain empty. I am particularly upset with out of area and foreign investors that care about profit, not people.

        • “Perhaps you can point to actions that he has taken to increase the inventory of places to live” Sure I can! What about the new homeless hotel? Wasn’t there a place voted for on Sango Ct. for construction of low cost living? The City is even collecting penalties from developers to help the homeless (whatever that means) if they don’t build enough low income housing (LIH). There’s your sock.

          Supplying more housing for everyone is the answer, not converting exising housing to LIH. Expedite building permits for multi-family dwellings.

  7. Huge Thank you to Mayor Tran for this. Dominguez is a constant crybaby at these meetings and needs to go. She does more harm for Milpitas than good.

  8. Karina Dominguez is not perfect, but she is a human with lived experiences who is trying to encourage change with a council that has been run by an unprofessional self-righteous adolescent – and to be clear, I am referring to Mayor Tran. He has been running the Council based on emotion and obviously favors certain people. I hope Dominguez does run for Council again – even Mayor, and I hope we get fresh council members as Milpitas continues to grow. I am not sure why Montano felt offended by a statement that is realistic – that she could be Dominguez’ mother – only someone in denial of their own reality would be offended by that. That said, I’m not surprised that Tran is endorsing her for Mayor.

    • At the meetings, in accordance with Robert’s rules which they all agree to before the meeting starts, the Mayor is the Chair of the meeting and therefore in charge. He has to make sure that attendees follow those rules and has the authority to rebuke anyone who does not follow those rules, including censure. From what I’ve seen he’s trying to herd cats. Too much right brain use and not nearly enough left brain activity. He needs a firm hand to get people’s attention off themselves (personal story). Dom et. al. get loud and talk over others rather than playing by the rules. Keep an open mind but not so much that your brains fall out. As I said above, “Business meetings are for business, not personal stories. Save those for the campaign trail. Stick to the agenda. Work for the people who elected you. Save the drama for when you’re not getting paid by the taxpayer.”

      • Donald, clearly you know how you want the meetings to run. However, your vision does not accurately correspond to Robert’s Rules of Order, in particular, Section 43 (pages 385 – 399) specify the rules for discussion. My observations of Mayor Tran is that he does not know the rules. Clearly, you do not either.

        • You can cherry pick all the words from whatever document you wish without actually quoting the verbage. However, I will quote: “One of the fundamentals of Robert’s Rules is to appoint a chairperson or presiding officer to lead the meeting and to keep everyone on the agenda.” https://www.ibabs.com/en/roberts-rules-of-order/cheat-sheet/ So you see, the mayor is the Chairperson, is in charge of the meeting with all the powers of the mayor and has to preside ofer the BUSINESS MEETING. He’s in charge, if you don’t like the way meetings are run, vote him out. Otherwise, look at meeting results, not meeting drama.

          • While you may want to ascribe to the Chairperson authoritarian powers, RRoO does not support you. Nor does it support your objection to the way that Council member Dominguez expressed her support for affordable housing.

          • “RRoO does not support you” Really? How so? What part of “to keep everyone on the agenda.” (a quote from them) dose it not support?

          • Oh please, I’m not gonna do your homework for you. I can cite the same website and say it does support me and not be nasty about it. Where in there does it say anything about the chairman not being in control? I’ll wait.

  9. Donald, this is your homework, not mine. You make the assertion that the Chairman controls more that the rules say. You seem to think that the Chairman can limit what Council member Dominguez can say or talk about. I say that is wrong. Now, it is up to you to prove I am wrong. Otherwise, we will assume that you cannot.
    .
    The bottom line is that Council meetings are a democratic process, not an authoritarian one like you apparently prefer.

    • To quote you: “While you may want to ascribe to the Chairperson authoritarian powers, RRoO does not support you.” Again, where does it say that? All I’m asking you to do is point to me where it doesn’t support me. You said it now support your claim. If you can’t’ you’re exressing your OPINON, not facts. Point to the paragraph and verse which supports your claim. It does or doesn’t. Put up or…..

      Where does ROR support your position? Again put up or….

      Business meetings are a democratic process organized in accordance with Robert’s Rules where the mayor is Chairman and has the responsibility to keep the meeting on agenda. He has the responsibility and duty to terminate any discussion that deviates from the agenda, and I’m sure personal stories are not on the genda. If any member does not abide by the Chairman’s directives (refuses to comply with the meeting rules in RRoO) they are out of order and must be dealt with in accordance with the rules. Don’t like it? Sorry. Those are the facts Jack! You’ll have to learn to live with it.

  10. Dominguez is out of order speaking about other council members. Calling out their age and using that to guilt them. Debate on the merits of the issue, make a decision, and move on. She is almost as worst as Phan, that guy can’t get a sentence out in less than 3 minutes.

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