Last Update: Thursday, May 23, 2013
|As the City Turns …|
|Written by Diana Martinez|
|Thursday, 17 January 2013 05:54|
To no one's surprise, the saga of recalled council members continues. City Hall begins the new year with more of their antics.
Former Mayor Brenda Esqueda was described as throwing a large tantrum at City Hall on Friday, Jan. 11, when she showed up to pick up her final check. When she was told to turn in her city council key and badge in exchange for the check, she "went ballistic."
City Hall employees described her as being "out of control" and quite perturbed that she had to wait in the reception area like a common citizen, rather than having her usual run of the place. "She had such a tantrum and made a scene," said one City Hall employee.
She claimed that she had lost her badge that identified her as a San Fernando city council member and in the end, despite her loud protest, she was forced to sign a police report stating that her badge was lost.
The scene that Esqueda made was topped this week, however, by the latest buzz provided by her recalled council colleagues, Mario Hernandez and Maribel De La Torre, who have filed two claims against the City of San Fernando.
One of the claims is reported to be for a whooping $10 million. They are alleging the city's police department mishandled their reported incident of domestic violence. The case went to the L.A. District Attorney's office, which resulted in a battery charge against De La Torre. The case was thrown out of court last month after Hernandez who said he didn't want to testify against De La Torre, went missing.
De La Torre claimed she didn't know his whereabouts but dramatically provided soundbites to media, urging police "not to hurt him and claimed to have "talked to his therapist." De La Torre told the media that she wanted Hernandez to "get the help he needs," and maintained that her part in the physical altercation was "in self defense."
In the police report filed by Hernandez, an angry De La Torre, who didn't want him to leave on a weekend religious retreat, physically assaulted him and said that she "could f-- --- kill him." Hernandez' injuries were photographed by the police department, while De La Torre later turned in her own photos of her reported injuries to police according to her attorney Robert Steinberg. But now the two are unified once more, in a case they are literally banking on against the city.
In the claim, De La Torre is asking for compensation that reflects her back and future salary, although De La Torre and Hernandez have both had a somewhat checkered work history. Hernandez shut down his UPS business in San Fernando and filed bankruptcy last year.
"I believe the case is without merit," said interim City Administrator Don Penman, "but the case will have to work itself through." He said he could not comment further, and directed the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol to the city attorney. But, City Attorney Maribel Medina had already put the brakes on releasing the details of the claim to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol and is redacting information before allowing it's release.
Meanwhile it's Penman's job, however, during his temporary stay with the city to lift the financial rug and give an accurate accounting of what's been paid and what hasn't, and whether the city's debt is really $1.1 million or far worse.
He did confirm that the city is currently in arrears with the Los Angeles City Fire Department to the tune of $526,000 and he will be meeting with them on the matter. Prior to the recall election, Esqueda, De La Torre and Hernandez were pushing to contract an independent company to provide fire services to the city but it was not made public that the city was in arrears.
Looking into the financial condition of the city isn't new for Penman. He was San Fernando's city administrator in the 1980's for several years before moving on to Baldwin Park and Arcadia, where he retired.
Penman's been temporarily pulled out of retirement to replace City Administrator Al Hernandez, who was placed on administrative leave Dec. 7. While the current council is critical of Hernandez' performance, it looks like he will be allowed to exit with a nice retirement package.
Councilmember Jesse Avila previously told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol, "We had no choice but to abide by the terms of his [Al Hernandez] contract."
Penman told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that an independent audit by the firm Teaman, Ramirez & Smith has been conducted for 2012.
And he'll need some time to go over the audit and other information but he said he plans to be transparent in his findings.
"He may not want to lift the rocks to see what's underneath," said Councilmember Sylvia Ballin, "but he'll have to."
And so the city turns....
|Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 18:40|