Mesa City Councilman offers $2K to drop DUI disciplinary hearing

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(Source: City of Mesa) (Source: City of Mesa)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

On Thursday, Mesa City Council plans to hold a special disciplinary hearing to discuss Councilman Ryan Winkle future with the City. He was arrested for DUI in Tempe back in May and had a blood alcohol level of .22 percent. 

Last week, Winkle's attorney, Tim La Sota sent Mesa City Council a letter, offering an alternative to the hearing. 

[RELATED: City Councilman Ryan Winkle's DUI already costing Mesa $36,000]

In the letter, Winkle is offering to pay $2,000 to the City of Mesa's general fund, or to the charity of the City's choice by Oct. 1, in exchange for the cancellation of this hearing. Winkle is also offering to forego drinking any alcohol for the remainder of his term.

To date, the City of Mesa has spent nearly $48,000 in legal services stemming from the disciplinary investigation. 

[RELATED: Mesa City Council moves forward with disciplinary process of Ryan Winkle]

La Sota believes moving forward with the disciplinary hearing will only cost the taxpayers more. 

In the letter, Winkle's attorney also warns the City Council may not have the power to remove him, because city policy allows for removal only if court ordered jail time is longer than 30 days. 

Winkle has already served his required 6 days in jail and has paid his own $17,000 in fines and attorney's fees. The letter says Winkle has "been screened for additional alcohol abuse services," and no longer drinks. 

[RELATED: BODY CAM VIDEO: Councilman arrested for DUI was 'obviously intoxicated,' wife said]

"It sounds like the councilman has paid his dues, he's paid heavy fines, he's served his jail time, he's done everything required of him by the law," said political analyst Barry Dill with First Strategic Communications & Public Affairs. 

Mesa is a traditionally conservative city, so the fact that the Democratic Councilman is still facing removal makes it seems like a political issue, rather than a legal one, to Dill. 

"In this scenario, it's quite possible for someone on the council to appoint a friend or a buddy of theirs," said Dill.  "So shouldn't the voters be the ones who decide during the next election whether or not they want to keep the councilman in office? Or they could start a recall." 

[PDF: Letter to Mesa City Council]

La Sota ended his letter saying, "A public show trial full of completely unnecessary material that only a person who loves gawking at car accidents would enjoy would reflect poorly on the City of Mesa," he wrote. 

City of Mesa spokesperson Steven Wright said in an emailed statement, "Any consideration of such a request would still have to be heard by the council during the disciplinary hearing."

In a statement, Winkle said:

"In the weeks since my DUI arrest on May 6th, I have done everything possible to apologize to Mesa's residents and my colleagues on City Council. I have eliminated alcohol from my life entirely, participated in hours of counseling, and served my sentence at Tent City. I am working hard to repair the trust and relationships damaged by my awful decision to drink and drive that night.

My hope is that the Council decides that fair discipline includes giving me the chance to continue to serve our City. 

Whatever my colleagues decide and wherever my path leads, I know it will always lead to service for the people of Mesa. Few things in life have filled me with greater purpose or greater hope. Representing my community on our City Council has been one of the greatest honors of my life."

            -Councilman Ryan Winkle 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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