FEBRUARY 28, 2008
The longtime mayor of a southern California city is dismissing a shameful incident, in which he was found by police lying drunk on a public sidewalk, as “unfortunate” and has promised never to do it again.
Police found the five-term mayor (Art Madrid) of the San Diego County city of La Mesa lying in his own vomit on the sidewalk next to his sports utility vehicle. A fellow city employee, who was also intoxicated, was discovered by police in the driver’s seat of the mayor’s vehicle.
The embarrassing incident has led residents and other public officials in the upscale city of about 60,000 residents to call for Madrid’s resignation and question whether police gave him and his drinking pal special treatment.
Rather than arrest the mayor and his city employee companion for public intoxication, La Mesa Police officers quietly drove the drunken public officials home. Public intoxication is an offense under California law and most police departments arrest violators or haul them to detoxification centers.
Officials from other law enforcement agencies in surrounding areas frowned upon the way La Mesa officers handled the incident, saying if a drunken person decided to get into a car and then killed somebody, people would come after the department.
The veteran mayor has become a liability for La Mesa, according to the vice mayor who has called for Madrid’s resignation pointing out that no one will take him seriously after this embarrassing incident. Madrid refuses to resign and is actually planning to run for a sixth term in 2010.
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