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Montebello Sues Ex-Council Members Over Waste Hauling Deal PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 04:18

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The city of Montebello has sued three former council members for allegedly steering a contract to a trash hauler in return for campaign contributions.

The city filed the conflict-ofinterest complaint Monday against former council members Rosemarie Vasquez, Kathy Salazar and Robert Urteaga. Ex-City Administrator Richard Torres is also named as a defendant.

None of the defendants could be immediately reached.

The complaint focuses on an exclusive waste hauling contract awarded to Arakelian Enterprises Inc., a Sun Valleybased company, in July 2008. Salazar, Urteaga and Vasquez cast the deciding votes.

The city is seeking a court order requiring those "found to have been financially interested in the AEI contract to disgorge to the City all amounts they received from AEI,'' the suit says.

Either shortly before or after his November 2007 election to the council, the suit states, Urteaga contacted an AEI official suggesting he submit a proposal for an exclusive contract. At the time, Urteaga was saying publicly that he was against such a pact.

After Urteaga became a member of the council, Torres also suggested to AEI that it ask for an exclusive agreement and the city administrator later helped negotiate the terms of a contract, the suit says.

Montebello officials believe Vasquez "voted for, and possibly signed, the AEI contract with the expectation that AEI would financially support her re-election,'' the suit states. A form AEI filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission stated that it contributed $45,000 to Vasquez's re-election campaign, according to the suit.

"Despite being heavily financed by AEI, the city's voters rejected Vasquez and did not return her to the City Council for another term,'' the suit states.

Montebello officials also contend Urteaga and Salazar voted in favor of the AEI contract hoping their future campaigns would receive support from the company, according to the complaint. The suit notes that AEI contributed more than $350,000 to try and prevent a voter recall of the pair, but both were ousted from office anyway in February 2010.