TATUM — Tatum council members voted to move future council meetings once again to the community building at 508 E. Ash Street in order to accommodate the larger number of people who have been attending recent meetings.
Tatum Mayor Amy Gutierrez was absent from the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday and Mayor pro tem Ron Smith led in her stead.
Smith started the discussion item by saying he had concerns over heating and cooling bills for the larger community center, which would cause increased financial strain on the city. He also gestured to those in attendance in the gallery, saying those in attendance seemed to be accommodated space wise.
Councilor Leisha Joiner said the attendance was lower on Tuesday, because residents thought the meeting was cancelled.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Tatum City Hall announced the regular scheduled meeting was cancelled do to not having a quorum.
A quorum is the minimum number of members of an assembly who must be present at any meeting to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.
In the case of Tatum council, there must be three members of the governing body present.
Smith said he was told calls and texts were sent out to Councilor Paul Ramirez and Leisha Joiner. He said city hall staff advised him they could not get ahold of Ramirez so the meeting was cancelled.
Ramirez said the only communication he received from City Hall on Tuesday was the text saying the meeting was cancelled.
Smith acknowledged there were apparent communication errors.
Joiner said once she received a text the meeting was cancelled she reached out to Ramirez and Smith, discovering both were available Tuesday to proceed with the meeting — meaning the only person planning to be absent was Gutierrez. The other council position is currently vacant.
The gallery at town hall on Tuesday evening was full and a few people were left standing as all seats were taken.
Joiner gestured toward the assembled crowd and said she would like the meetings to move so that people could be comfortable and have a place to sit while attending the meeting.
Ramirez said until “things” die down, he thought it was also best to move the meetings.
A vote was taken, both Ramirez and Joiner voted to have the meeting moved to the community building.
Also taken was a vote on an amendment made to the town’s policy and procedure book in January of 2022.
The amendment added in January, 2022 stated employees are prohibited from recording conversations with other employees without the other employee’s knowledge — including cell phones, tape recorders or any other means.
“This amendment and addition was originally put in place after former Police Chief Mae Jackson recorded a conversation between her and Gutierrez weeks prior to Gutierrez taking office as mayor,” said Joiner. “The discussion between the two was very heated.”
The council voted to strike the added amendment because it goes in opposition to New Mexico State law — stating New Mexico is a one-person consent state, said Joiner.
Joiner said multiple people have voiced concerns in regards to applying for a position at the Tatum Police Department because they wanted to know what protections would be in place against firings like the former police officers.
“We made the choice to take the addition out as a way of protecting our employees in the future,” said Joiner.
The vote was unanimous.