Mayor Bill Benton said council member Isaac Davila is abusing his power. But Davila insists he’s worried for his life.
After Rosenberg Police Chief Jonathan White presented the police report to council at its monthly workshop meeting, Benton wanted to touch on open records requests.
“It’s my understanding that councilor Davila did an open records request on three of his colleagues — I am one of them — and on two private citizens,” Benton began.
White said he didn’t have that information on hand.
“All right, well, I have that information with me,” Benton responded. “It’s one thing when you target your colleagues, Isaac.
“But it’s another thing when you start targeting civilians and private citizens — one of which is your own constituent.
“I think it’s an abuse of power.”
Open records are documents in the possession of a governmental entity that are supposed to be made available to members of the public upon request.
However, a governmental body is not required to answer questions, perform legal research or create new information in response to a records request.
“The only reason I asked for these requests on the private citizens was because you have these people come in and attack me at the meetings,” Davila contended.
Benton said that was a lie.
“It is true!” Davila reacted.
“You had one of them come up to the dais up here verbally harming me, He’s here now. He yells at me from the audience. He looks dangerous. I know he carries a knife. I don’t know what he’s going to do, so I checked him out.
“You have someone else come up here and I know you have them speak against me. I wanted to see if there were any violations that didn’t go all the way through and were covered up by you.”
Benton said Davila was abusing his position as a councilman. Davila stressed that there was no abuse on his end.
“I have a question for the chief,” council member Richard Olson chimed in.
“You have a national system that allows officers to do background checks on citizens. What is that called?”
White explained that system is only used for special circumstances.
“Isaac somehow got dates of birth for five people sent by him on Sept. 16 to the PD and requested all of our information,” Olson said.
“Is it possible he got those dates of birth from a city employee?”
Benton interjected, asking where Davila got Benton’s, Olson’s and council member Jacob Balderas’s dates of birth.
Isaac clarified that he learned the information from city council applications, Facebook and Fort Bend County crime files.
“Y’all are getting awful close to the edge of this agenda,” City Attorney Grady Randle warned council. “This was a police report, not a discussion on open records requests.”
Davila said he was unable to get any personal information about the Rosenberg residents.
“I think you used confidential information to try to get public information,” Benton accused.
“Well, I face an abuse of power with y’all,” Davila shot back. “So, I have to check everything that y’all have done to see if my life’s in danger from one of you guys.”
Benton said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“You have been on a witch hunt ever since you’ve been a member of this body.
“I have served here for almost nine years with some very abrasive people and I have never, ever experienced anything like this.
“I cannot recall a time any councilor or mayor doing an open records request on their colleagues’ criminal records. That is the most spiteful, vicious thing that I have ever experienced in this process.”
Davila insisted that he was checking to see if he was in danger.
“Targeting political opponents is what tyrants do,” Balderas said. “You can target me all day long, but Rosenberg citizens is crossing the line.”
Davila said hiring citizens to speak out against him is crossing the line as well.
Council agreed to bring this item back for formal discussion.