Last Update: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Commentary- Recall San Fernando 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Campanella Jauron   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 02:05

The residents of the City of San Fernando have always taken great pride in our city. As the figurehead and namesake of the world-renowned San Fernando Valley and one of the state's oldest and most established communities, this city has always taken a place of prominence in the story of California.

As such, we have a history of community involvement and activism that is admired and emulated throughout the region. We do not suffer fools lightly and take our responsibility for ethical governance very seriously.

In San Fernando, we know our neighbors and frequently discuss local issues. When the same topics of conversation became repeated throughout our neighborhoods, we began to take notice.

Why did a past city council, led by long-time Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre, decide to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on a swimming pool, without considering the cost to operate it to its fullest potential? And, why did they turn over its management to an outside company with no previous experience?

What made that same group of councilmembers think that redesigning Maclay Avenue to limit local traffic, causing a negative impact on Maclay merchants, was a good idea?

How could a city council reward a police lieutenant, who so blatantly dishonored his uniform by preying on a teenaged cadet, with a promotion to police chief, and then allow him to take a leave of absence until his planned retirement? Have they not heard of sexual harassment laws?

Who led the council to consider an ill-conceived plan to create a private fire department, without considering the legal ramifications?

Why is it acceptable for a member of the council, our new mayor, Brenda Esqueda, to have an on-going, very public personal relationship with a member of the police department and then make decisions about the future of that department?

How can the council majority purposefully keep their two colleagues in the dark regarding issues of great importance to the management of our city?

When did this august body decide to spend well over a half a million dollars on a proposed unfenced, unsupervised skateboard park that will not only be too small to accommodate its users, but is adjacent to one of our busiest ingresses in the city and will not serve the girls and young women of our community?

For far too long, we tolerated many of these ideas because we believed in the good will and integrity of our representatives.

And then, our former mayor, Mario Hernandez, blew the lid off our trust by announcing from the council dais that he and member De La Torre were involved in a sexual relationship, thereby destroying our belief that their integrity was intact.

While the personal conduct of our council members is not in and of itself a breach of public trust, it is indeed symbolic of their lack of good judgment.

When the issue of our public safety came to the forefront, many community members could no longer sit by quietly, waiting for the council majority to wake up smarter. We started talking to one another about what our recourse might be.

We began going regularly to council meetings and asking the council to heed the advice of community leaders, including two of our most respected former council members, Doude Wysbeek and Salvador Ponce. Our attempts were met with disdain, with one member openly ignoring the sincere statements made during the public comment segment.

Our next attempt was to ask the offending members to resign gracefully, to allow San Fernando to heal with some dignity. Our city had become a laughing-stock, a telenovela of international proportions. That plea was also ignored.

As a last resort, and with great regret, several dozen residents and business owners finally decided to mount a recall drive. Believe me when I tell you that this was not a decision made lightly or with any pleasure. We knew it would be time-consuming and arduous, but we felt we had exhausted our alternatives.

Members of our community no longer trust the administrative capabilities of the council majority. They have made too many decisions behind closed doors, even as recently as last month, when they hired another interim police chief without public input.

Their failure of leadership even extended to their inability to justify a water rate increase, causing many residents who have never before been involved in community issues to come forward to protest the way the process was imposed upon us.

San Fernando residents are responding in great numbers to the recall of Council members Maribel De La Torre, Mario Hernandez and Brenda Esqueda. With over 75% of the needed signatures already collected, which will force a recall election, the residents are determined to take back city government and restore an environment of integrity and fiscal responsibility to City Hall.

Linda Campanella Jauron is a member of the 2012 San Fernando Recall Committee.

MIKE TERRY/SFVS

The recall committee in San Fernando is working to unseat new Mayor Brenda Esqueda, former Mayor Mario Hernandez and Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre have stepped up their efforts and have started to place Recall signs at various locations throughout the city. Signs have been placed on the front yards of residents on Colonel, Kalisher, Huntington, Orangegrove, Harding, Workman, North Brand and Fourth and Eighth Streets.

May 23rd is the deadline for the committee to obtain the 2,029 signatures required to hold a recall election. On that same ballot, residents would vote for new candidates to fill those seats.

Share
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 08:12