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Have All Three Council Members Been Unfit To Serve? PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 05:47

The gloves most literally appear to be off for Maribel De La Torre as she fights for her survival with Mayor Brenda Esqueda to hold onto their council seats.

For residents however, they are out of patience after learning through media reports that restraining orders have been filed by former lovers, De La Torre and Mario Hernandez.

When De La Torre and Mario Hernandez' disagreement turned physical on Thursday, July 28, Hernandez called the police. The police saw evidence of the violent fight that took place in the room he rented in the home of an elderly San Fernando resident, since leaving his wife last year, to be with De La Torre.

"When I read that she had burst through the door and all that happened it was upsetting," said Jane Noltemeyer.

She said she rented the room to Hernandez because she believed he is a nice man and a good father to his 11 year-oldson and she felt sorry for him after he lost his business. She met Hernandez at the UPS store on Maclay that he previously owned before he filed bankruptcy.

Noltemeyer, a former actor has lived in the city of San Fernando for many years and is known as one of the city's colorful residents with an interesting old Hollywood past.

She's proud of her contribution to her craft and as a trailblazer as an independent woman working in radio and television.

She said that she believed renting a room to someone might help to give her a little bit of company although she said Mario was quiet and wasn't at home very much.

The physical violence that occurred between Hernandez and De La Torre has given pause to Jane and she said that this will be the last month that Hernandez will be staying in her home.

As the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol spoke with Noltemeyer on her porch outside of her residence following Tuesday's council meeting, Hernandez drove up.

"Appearing extremely agitated, Hernandez told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol, "You really think that I'll give you a comment? Really?"

"Why not give your side of the story Mario?" this newspaper asked.

As he approached the front door, Hernandez said in a hostile tone, "I'm a private citizen now, and I'll sue you and the publisher for harassment."

Noltemeyer said quietly, "I never saw him act like that before."

As The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol exited, Hernandez came back onto the porch and began to loudly query Noltemeyer about what she had shared.

The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol before going to his residence had first attempted to reach him for comment on his cellphone after learning that he was seen driving in front of the council chambers during the news conference and following the council meeting was parked in front of the middle school on Brand Street. He gave the "bird" to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol publisher who noticed him.

In papers filed by De La Torre she wrote that Mario Hernandez is currently under treatment for "Dissociative Disorder" a multiple personality disorder and even provided the name of the physician.

While Hernandez is now officially a private resident and has resigned his council chair, his former colleagues, council members Sylvia Balllin and Antonio Lopez are pleased that he has vacated his council seat, however, they are still calling for an investigation of the three, Esqueda, De La Torre and Hernandez

They along with other residents have wondered how the council majority have financially sustained themselves as none of them, they believe, are currently employed.

Residents have speculated that perhaps because they each have received a monthly stipend from the city, that they have claimed their positions as council members as jobs."

Council members receive a $500 stipend and health benefits from the city per month.

Mayor Brenda Esqueda, when pressed, claims to work at Facey Medical Clinic, but when the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol called the facility, they indicated she was not a current employee.

Esqueda's estranged husband Roy Esqueda said that the Mayor has little income and has been receiving small disability payments for distress.He wonders how the Mayor has managed to pay her bills each month. "The only legitimate money she receives is from the city and disability, and it's not very much." he points out. Esqueda with De La Torre's help attempted to get a restraining order against him, but the judge finding no evidence of a threat or danger denied the claim. "Maribel has given Brenda lots of advice, and Maribel has tried to intimidate and even threatened me," said Roy Esqueda.

"She once told me very vulgar things over the phone, telling me that I didn't know about how to handle a woman and she was even mentioning private parts," he said. "She even told me that she would kick my ass and asked me where I was."

Even more troubling, Roy Esqueda has also confirmed reports that the Mayor has had a history of emotional and mental problems and she checked herself into a mental ward at an area hospital last year. Esqueda, according to those close to the situation, was to be despondent over her relationship with San Fernando police Sgt. Alvaro Castellon and would fall apart when he couldn't see her especially during the weekends when he needed to be with his family. She had taken some pills that were not life threatening but it appeared to be a cry for help.

"When I was with her, taking her to the hospital for her emotional, physical and mental problems was routine," confirmed Roy Esqueda. "It got to the point where it seemed like it was becoming a weekly occurrance." he said.

Previously confronting Esqueda with the information about checking herself into the hospital, Julie Cuellar, Mayor Esqueda's sister intervened and told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol, "Everyone has problems."

But the situation begs many questions, including, how could Mayor Esqueda be too stressed to work, but okay to run the affairs of the city of San Fernando? How could she be allowed to continue to vote and act on police matters when she has continued her affair with a San Fernando police sargent which has posed a clear conflict of interest, especially when she prevented his superiors from placing him on adminstrative leave for threatening a police cadet?

Maribel De La Torre has had a history of violence, according to a family friend who requested that her name not be used. "She had an incident with her first husband, she said. Her family is a very close knit family, and I'm sure her actions are causing problems for them right now, especially for her sister, former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez who still wants to run for another office. She's (Maribel) also had problems at her previous jobs".

De La Torre previously worked as a Development Director at Granada Hills Charter High School and at Padres Contra Cancer.

From the council dais, De La Torre has insisted that both she and Esqueda are employed but does not offer specifics.

Mario Hernandez had not worked for months after filing for bankruptcy last year. While he owned the UPS business, after not paying his rent for months, he was evicted. He has not held a job since.

Residents have pointed out that Hernandez, unable to handle his personal finances was the wrong person for the job and he should have never been allowed to head up the city's budget committee.

With staff cuts looming and all of the city's turmoil, meanwhile, council members Sylvia Ballin and Antonio Lopez do not want to go forward on decisions regarding budget cuts at this time. Ballin said she does not feel comfortable being in closed session with De La Torre.

Next week: What Really Caused the Firing of Interim Chief Gil Carrillo?

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Last Updated on Saturday, 14 July 2012 10:58