It’s been a rocky road over at city hall in Huntingdon Beach, CA in recent months. Since winning a council seat UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz has been a nightmare for his fellow council members.
Ortiz, who ran on Trumpism, COVID conspiracy theories and Qanon cult slogans, has brought his divisive and unfounded rhetoric to his newfound position as Mayor Pro Tem. One issue that is causing an extreme amount of friction is Ortiz’s refusal to wear a mask at city hall, or any other public venue.
In explaining why he refuses to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Ortiz once referred reporters to a study of how mask wearing can be dangerous while working in enclosed areas of shipyards, due to the presence of rusting metal and drying paint.
Every legitimate scientific and medical institution encourages the wearing of face masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, a virus that has killed over half a million Americans.
Ortiz’s behaviour almost got him kicked from his role as Mayor Pro Tem via a vote of no confidence. However, his fellow council members eventually decided to cancel that vote, which elicited a tearful display of gratitude from Ortiz, who apologized for his actions and vowed to do better.
Things haven’t really improved since then.
At yesterday’s city council meeting Ortiz continued on with his anti-mask shtick, leading to arguments with other council members and Ortiz eventually bailing on the meeting. Video of those moments can be found in the thread below assembled by who else but Borrachinha Depot (aka @FullContactMTWF).
Huntington Beach City Council Meeting (March 29, 2021) highlights (thread) pic.twitter.com/osjJqVVAWz— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) March 30, 2021
The meeting went off the rails when council member Dan Kalmick (who lead the no confidence vote attempt), pressed Ortiz on whether he would wear a mask if they returned to in-person council meetings.
“I’ll show up and do my job,” said Ortiz. “If I get escorted out by the police for not wearing a mask then that’s your guys’ choice.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear, right?” replied Kalmick.
“I don’t want it to come to this,” said Ortiz. “It shouldn’t have to come to this. I mean, it’s our body it’s our choice. I mean, everyone always says that, but when it comes to doing it no one wants to do it. And yeah, inaudible being courteous to another person, but I’m not sick. I’ve never been sick. I’m not going to get anybody sick and if I have chills or the cold or sniffles or a headache or fever, anything like that I’ll go on Zoom, I have no problem doing that. I’m not going to put anybody into harm’s way. I would never do something like that.”
Ortiz then went on to list all the things he has been doing during the pandemic while not wearing a mask. “I live a normal life,” he said. “And I’m being executed because I’ve not worn a mask. This is mind-blowing what you guys are trying to do to me.”
Kalmick responded by saying he appreciated Ortiz “saying the quiet part out loud” and confirmed with the former fighter that he wants police to escort him out of city hall if he does not wear a mask.
Kalmick and other council members then attempted to have an epistemological conversation with Ortiz revolving around the fallacy or using anecdotes as evidence. Additionally, Ortiz was told that because COVID-19 is often asymptomatic his plan to only not show up if he has symptoms is misguided and dangerous. In response to this Ortiz bragged that he visited his 74-year-old mother every week.
Moments later council member Mike Posey unleashed a critique of Ortiz, which he abandoned in reaction to what Ortiz was doing on camera while he spoke.
“You’re supposed to ascend to the seat of the mayor, but I can tell you demonstrating this lack of leadership is not mayor’s material, it’s not even mayor pro tem material,” said Posey. “If you can’t be at the meeting to back up the mayor then why should you be the mayor pro tem. We had this discussion eight weeks ago. I followed up with you the week after that and nothing’s changed. It’s actually worse. And I don’t want to go down that road tonight, but you are one of seven—and you laugh! So you don’t take it seriously, good. And you smirk and you shake your head. So, you know... I’m done.”
Posey then supported the motion that all city council meetings remained virtual, due to Ortiz’s refusal to wear a mask. “We’re being held hostage by at least one who is [a] verbally recalcitrant council member who doesn’t have respect for his colleagues or the public and doesn’t want to be engaged with transparency or the public.”
Mayor Pro Tem Ortiz has had enough. pic.twitter.com/DFgBkTx2Vj— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) March 30, 2021
As the motion to remain virtual was being processed, Ortiz waved to the camera and then abruptly left the meeting.