continued As White and Madrid argue the point, Arlene Moore, owner of Park Estate consignment shop and a building owner in the Village, walks across the street calling, "You hold him down, Terry, and I'll pummel him."
After some laughs and Village gossip, Moore brings up the parking issue again. "I supported the increase, but it's turned into a nightmare. Look at it," she points to the empty parking stalls. "It's been like this every day since we did it. And I hate to even say it, but yesterday we had our lowest sale day in ten years of my life. And I hate to even say it, but it is true."
Later, back in her shop, Moore says, "I think the raise was warranted because a lot of employees were parking out there and pumping their meters all day. Because at 25 cents an hour, it wasn't that expensive. But the raise was too much too soon, especially combined with gas prices recently."
As Madrid continues his walk through the Village, he points out the state of the sidewalk -- which he describes as "crap" -- and comments on certain businesses he passes. Outside Pete's Place, a bar that's been in La Mesa even longer than Madrid has been in La Mesa politics, he comments, "Scott inherited that place when his parents passed away. He doesn't do an effing thing to improve it. But it has its own bunch of loyalists who go there."
Outside of parking, the issue garnering the most attention in the La Mesa mayoral race is what's come to be known as the Chris Tanner incident. Earlier this year, a La Mesan named Chris Tanner, frustrated with the blasting going on at a large development site near his home, spoke at a meeting of the city council and hinted that councilmembers were weakening regulations to help the developer. In response, Madrid, with the blessing of three of the other four councilmembers, requested the city attorney to draft a letter to Tanner. The letter threatened litigation unless Tanner publicly retracted his remarks. The issue blew up in their faces when Tanner went public with the letter, claiming that the council was trying to deprive him of his right to free speech. The story was reported across the country. First Amendment attorneys contacted by media outlets agreed that Tanner had the right to say just about anything in council meetings.
At a subsequent council meeting, the three councilmembers apologized. Madrid refused to apologize. Instead he said, "I'd do it again." Asked how he feels about it now, he answers, "I am not going to vacillate. The allegations were so serious that some kind of action had to be taken. I had two colleagues of mine say, 'Just apologize and get it over with. It will go away.' But Mr. Tanner made very serious allegations. And even though somebody may think his First Amendment right was being abridged, by the same token, my integrity was being thrashed. So where do you draw the line?"
Maxwell describes Madrid's unapologetic attitude as "shocking," adding, "Beginning at perhaps the most fundamental level, we have a mayor who disrespects the Constitution of the United States. The Chris Tanner affair brought to light Art's contempt for the First Amendment. He was given a chance to apologize for what was clearly a violation of the First Amendment, and he decided not to do it. He said not only will I not apologize, but I would do it again. And this after the councilmembers who had followed him down this road apologized profusely. It gives you an indication of the man's chutzpah, his confidence that he will be reelected. And Art is a very good politician, and he hasn't been wrong about everything. But an extended tenure in office does things to people. And now I believe La Mesa has the burden of Art Madrid. People need a choice, especially after something as egregious as the Chris Tanner affair. That is why I stepped forward."