It was a virtual sparring during a live city council meeting in the South Bay.
Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran was seen yelling at a councilmember and then a council member accusing the mayor of bullying and harassment. Tran said he was just defending a citizen.
Councilmembers tell NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo that this has been going on for years and to finally came to a head at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
As the Milpitas City Council questioned an applicant about a proposed car wash this week, councilmember Anthony Phan raised some concerns.
Get a weekly recap of the latest San Francisco Bay Area housing news. Sign up for NBC Bay Area’s Housing Deconstructed newsletter.
That’s when Tran decided to raise his voice.
“You need to focus,” Tran said during the virtual meeting. “Everybody’s watching now. Ask a real question. Can we have a break? This is a lot.”
That’s when councilmember Karina Dominguez, who has sparred with the mayor before, tried to come to her colleague’s defense calling for a break.
It was a request Tran quickly denied minutes later, Dominguez spoke out again
Dominguez told NBC Bay Area that she left the meeting following the incident. She called out sick to work the next day as she was still shaking from the incident.
When asked if she thought Tran was a bully.
“In my perspective, yes. Absolutely,” she said.
Tran sees things very differently when he was asked if he was a bully.
“Look, we have parliamentary procedure Robert Rules of Order,” he said.
Tran told NBC Bay Area that this all started because he was coming to the defense of a senior citizen, whom he felt was being belittled by certain members of the council.
“For folks to disregard what happened to one of our guests, a senior citizen, Mr. Hansen, that’s just wrong,” he added.
But Dominguez said that bullying has been the mayor’s pattern. She says she even filed a complaint with the city manager and city attorney. But she was told there’s nothing they can do because the mayor is not a city employee as he was elected.
Tran has two years left on his term and said after that, he’s done with politics.