By Mike Linn
Municipal Judge Fred Arnold told the Portales City Council on Tuesday that he wants to discuss the reasons why police officers refuse to file cases in his court.
The elected judge said he would like to try and discuss the situation at a public hearing, which could take place in June.
A mediator, Arnold said, is not necessary.
Mayor Orlando Ortega accepted the offer of the judge, who fined three police officers earlier this year for not showing up to their court dates.
Arnold said the officers continually missed court appearances; police officials said the officers had valid reasons for not attending court.
The difference of opinion has yielded its share of negative consequences: An empty Municipal Court for more than three months, and an overworked staff at the Magistrate Court, where Portales police officers have decided to file their cases.
Arnold said he feels a public hearing is the best place for such discussions, where both parties can “lay their cards on the table.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The council accepted the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision denying Linda and Victor Baca’s desire for a zone change for their property at 1663 S. Roosevelt Rd.
The Bacas wanted to change the zone from single family residential (S-I) to Multi-Family Zone (R-2), which would allow for apartment buildings to be built.
At the May 5 planning and zoning commission meeting 18 people spoke against the change, while three spoke for it.
In a letter of appeal to the city, the Bacas addressed the public unpopularity of their desire to change to R-2 by writing that the decision “should not have been based on biased popular opinion, but on facts…”
“It’s politics. I’m not sure who is rubbing elbows with who and that some people are working with each other. It’s a buddy system,” Victor Baca said.
The Bacas said they wanted to build an apartment — that would have been near the Western Skies subdivision — to house professionals and possibly students.
The odds, however, were equally stacked against the Bacas Tuesday night, as the council room was overflowing with more than 25 irregular attenders against the appeal.
Councilman Donald K. Shafer said he’s heard more complaints on the zone change than on many other items as a councilman.
But Linda added there had been similar complaints with the zoning of Wal-Mart and Oak Manor, but those two divisions were approved.
“Why isn’t there consistency?” Linda said after the council voted unanimously against the appeal.
Some of the reasons planning and zoning turned down the original application were as follows: the possible increase of parties, loud music, crime and area transients.
The Bacas say they are considering other options which may include appealing to the courts to investigate the situation more.