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Tito Ortiz made a career and name for himself out of fighting in Huntington Beach, long before he was elected to the city council, netting the most votes in last November’s city elections.
Yet just two months after taking office, Ortiz may be in for his first loss as a city councilman, with his colleagues poised to rescind the title of Mayor Pro Tem, a largely ceremonial title they unanimously gave him back in December.
The position means Ortiz is the council member that fills in for the Mayor if ever needed and runs council meetings – a task others on the council don’t think he can do.
Over 42,000 residents cast their ballot for the former mixed martial artist and UFC Champion before he was sworn into office.
Newly elected Councilman Dan Kalmick said due to a quirk in the way the council traditionally organizes itself, Ortiz was selected unanimously as the Mayor Pro Tem.
“The last two months since we did that he’s done nothing to try to be successful in that role. No show, no calls to meetings, not responding to staff. Besmirching businesses in town. Not wearing a mask,” he said. “The residents elected him to the council and I respect him to remain on Council. But I don’t want him representing me as a council member.”
Now Mayor Kim Carr, Councilman Mike Posey and Kalmick want the council at their Feb. 1 meeting to consider a vote of no confidence in Ortiz, strip him of that title, and find another member of the council to serve as the new Mayor Pro Tem.
Click here for the Zoom link to Monday’s meeting.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Ortiz has failed to perform at a level expected for this position and has demonstrated little commitment to serving in the role with honor and dignity,” reads the report from the Mayor and the two other council members. “His unprofessional demeanor and poor judgement have raised concerns among residents, local business owners, and his fellow council members.”
Ortiz has not returned requests for comment.
Kalmick said the effort to remove Ortiz is bipartisan.
“This isn’t a Democrat takeover. Conservative Republican Mike Posey is signed on to this,” he said.
Ortiz has sparked controversy in his brief time in office so far for his refusal to wear a mask, which health officials have urged the public to do.
Earlier this month, the councilman attended the city’s strategic planning meeting through Zoom from his car in the parking lot because of his unwillingness to wear a mask. Ortiz posted on his Instagram page that day that Mayor Carr did not let him attend the meeting at the Huntington Beach library without a mask.
“I go in for the meeting and Kim Carr says you can’t go in without a mask,” Ortiz said in his post. “Now I got to do it through Zoom. Great way to start the new year off! Embarrassing.”
After that Ortiz posted on his Instagram page that local eatery TK Burgers would not let him grab a bite to eat unless he wore a mask.
“I’m not wearing a mask. TK Burger you lose my business, you lose (Huntington Beach’s) business,” he said in the video.
Then Carr took to Instagram posting pictures with her daughter at TK Burgers wearing masks.
Ortiz has since apologized to the establishment on Facebook for letting “his emotions get the best of him.”
“I understand this is a small business and I would never want to ruin that business. I apologize to TK Burgers for my decision,” the post reads.
Kalmick said, following the resolution in place, Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize would be next in line for the role and that he would support her but “doesn’t want to count votes before they happen.”
At the same meeting where the council will consider removing Ortiz as Mayor Pro Tem, they will discuss an anticipated lawsuit over state mandated housing goals that would require the city to zone for over 13,000 new homes in the next decade in closed session.
In open session, they will consider maintaining the city’s membership in the Orange County Power Authority.
The meeting can be attended to on Zoom or watched on the city’s website and will take place on Monday Feb. 1 with the closed session starting at 5:00 p.m.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam