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Recall Elections Can Also Be Political Ploys PDF Print E-mail
Written by José Hernandez   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 02:55

A lot of interesting activity and unorthodox public decisions are occurring in the San Fernando City Council since the 2009 Recall of Mayor Julie Ruelas and me. It baffles the minds of concerned citizens who wondered why things have gotten so bad. They are afraid the actions of the Council majority, namely Maribel De La Torre, Mario Hernandez and Brenda Esqueda, may threaten the future of the City.

People are upset, demanding the trio resign.

The current fray in the City Council has a background that I want to share with the public. As the issues and problems have sufficiently developed, I am now ready to speak out.

The Back Information

In 2005, Los Angeles and neighboring communities were getting ready for the coming spring elections. In anticipation of the elections, Xavier Flores, President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), San Fernando Valley Chapter, sent a memo to the group membership reminding them of the elections. In the memo, Flores issued a dire warning that the elections could have the potential to create a great deal of division within the communities.

In San Fernando, people were already seeing a great divide among members of the Council, and that there was a widely held perception that council members Maribel De La Torre and Steve Veres were gearing up to take me out during the up-coming elections scheduled for March. I was up for re-election as well as Maribel De La Torre.

In his view, Xavier wrote: "One has to ask what role State Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez is playing in all of this, and it could be hard to imagine that her local chief of staff Veres and her sister [De La Torre] would be acting without her knowledge. The other question is why?"

Logically, Xavier concluded: "The answer, of course, is pure unadulterated power."

(The dispute was, in effect, one of power. Maribel and I had enjoyed in the past a good working relationship on the Council until I refused her suggestion to join her, her sister and Steve Veres on a coalition to control city government.)

Ruben Rodriguez, a seasoned Chicano activist, described Maribel's past behavior pattern as vindictive, restive, and reckless, exposing the city to some liability. He stated, "She doesn't know when to stop, and one day she could pay dearly as a result."

The Greatest Fraud

Maribel and I won the election campaigns handily in 2005. I won a fourth, 4-year term in office; Maribel won her second, 4-year term. Not surprisingly, Xavier's impending fears became real. After the election, the Council became adversarial and disruptive, especially when Maribel teamed up with Steve Veres and City Administrator Jose Pulido in blaming me for their own shortcomings.

There was a deliberate effort to cast me as anti-Semitic and unfaithful to the employees' union. But those accusations were off base. During a Council meeting, Xavier Flores told the Council that he had read all of the court depositions related to the lawsuit filed against the City, Julie Ruelas and myself, and found that among those responsible for causing the lawsuit were council members Maribel De La Torre and Steve Veres.

Maribel also accused Julie and me for mismanagement of the construction of the regional swimming pool, when the project had been approved unanimously. Maribel had spearheaded the expensive pool project and served as chair of the Council's Swimming Pool Advisory Committee. We were also accused of possibly transferring 5 city-owned downtown parking lots for $10 each, a mendacious political ploy.

There were no winners after the lawsuit and the recall. I may add that there were others who were responsible for the current state of affairs. Ironic, isn't it, that they haven't been criticized severely.

Recall leaders and sponsors should be asked, what were the benefits of the [2009] recall? They mounted a crafty recall plan against former College Professor Julie Ruelas and me. A recall election is a useful tool when politicians commit misconduct. But that was not the case in San Fernando.

The recall was the greatest fraud ever in town. Maribel and Steve Veres contributed $500 each to help finance the recall campaign committee. Voters chose Brenda Esqueda to replace me. Julie Ruelas, who had worked hard to prepare youth to live a life of significance, and I held impressive public service resumes that newcomers will need years to match.

The taxpayers' costly special election was held January 13, 2009, two months before the end of my 4-year term when I had planned to retire.

No government can remain stable for long when self-serving citizens act irrationally.

José Hernandez, Ph.D., is a former San Fernando city coun-cilmember.