Articles regarding Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman

Complaint filed with state bar over Central Basin attorney

by Peter Fullam, Whittier Daily News

A complaint to the state bar seeks an investigation into Central Basin Municipal Water District’s hiring of attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman as legal counsel to the district, according to documents obtained by this news organization.

The complaint alleges Alvarez-Glasman has numerous conflicts of interest due to his representation of two district board members and a former employee who has a complaint and lawsuit pending against the district.

It also claims that the process the district used to hire Alvarez-Glasman was a violation of the Brown Act, and that Alvarez-Glasman has overbilled the district in the past.

The complaint alleges that Alvarez-Glasman engaged in actions that were essentially payoffs to friends and clients — all of which hurt the district financially and were not in the best interests of the district’s ratepayers.

However, Alvarez-Glasman, in a telephone interview Friday, denied any impropriety or wrongdoing.

“All representations have been obligated to under the professional rules of conduct which are the rules that govern attorneys,” he said.

“I will let the state bar review the complaint,” Alvarez-Glasman said. “I am quite confident that all of the requirements of the state bar have been met, and I think this is nothing more than an effort by whoever filed the complaint to attack the members of the board.”

Raul Murga, a Pico Rivera resident and longtime community activist, said Alvarez-Glasman should not have been considered for the position in the first place due to conflicts of interest.

“His affiliation with (former Pico Rivera city manager and district general manager) Chuck Fuentes and (former Pico Rivera city councilman and district assistant manager) Ron Beilke, and him being city attorney of Pico Rivera would definitely be a conflict of interest,” said Murga. “I don’t even see how they could consider him for the position.”

Last year Alvarez-Glasman appeared in Bellflower Superior Court on behalf of Director Arturo Chacon, who was facing arrest after a judge issued a $30,000 bench warrant.

Murga spoke in opposition to the appointment at the district board meeting July 28, when the board voted to table a request to approve a contract with Alvarez-Glasman. The contract was approved at the following meeting.

District officials declined to comment on the complaint.

“With respect to General Counsel services, there was an open bidding process for these services and it adhered to District policy,” spokesman Joseph Legaspi said in an emailed statement.

Director James Roybal, who voted against hiring Alvarez-Glasman, said the contract was improper and had not been vetted by an independent law firm.

Eight law firms applied for position, and that number was whittled down to three by a board committee. The action may have violated the Brown Act, Roybal said.

Director Leticia Vasquez said Alvarez-Glasman should not have been hired due to conflicts of interest.

“He has refused to disclose the facts and circumstances of his representation of Chacon and Beilke,” she said. “He’s supposed to provide all that information to the board so that we can decide if he can adequately represent the best interests of the board and its ratepayers, and in my opinion, he cannot.

“He’s there to represent the best interests of his clients, and that’s Art Chacon, Ron Beilke and Chuck Fuentes.”

The board voted to hire Alvarez-Glasman on an interim basis May 8 in a 3-1 vote, with board members Roybal opposed and Vasquez absent.

Chacon cast the deciding vote.

James Markman, an attorney for more than 40 years and city attorney for Brea, La Mirada and Rancho Cucamonga, questioned Alvarez-Glasman’s representation of Chacon, but said Chacon’s vote in favor passes legal muster because Alvarez-Glasman is not a source of income for Chacon.

Alvarez-Glasman said politics was at play in the complaint.

“The state bar addresses issues of lawyers, and my record is spotless as an attorney in my 36 years of practicing law,” he said. “This is not any more than a political gamesmanship by whoever filed the complaint.

“I’m going to rest upon my spotless career as an attorney,” he said.

Ironically, the vote to hire Alvarez-Glasman came just over a year after the board voted to fire the law firm.

Alvarez-Glasman currently is city attorney in Bell Gardens, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Pomona and Yountville. West Covina voted against renewing a contract with Alvarez-Glasman last week after a 10-year relationship. Many in the community blame Alvarez-Glasman’s firm and his friends on the City Council for running up more than $11 million in legal fees in recent years, said City Councilman Fred Sykes.

He has also been city attorney for — and an elected member of — the Montebello City Council, where Chacon’s brother Hector Chacon is on the school board.

Bell Gardens, Montebello and Pico Rivera are in the Central Basin district.

On Aug. 13, the Central Basin voted to extend an interim contract paying Alvarez-Glasman’s law firm $100,000 over six months. Because he represented Beilke when the former city councilman was convicted in 1989, Alvarez-Glasman recused himself from representing the district in Beilke’s lawsuit.

The district is paying another firm $228,000 over the next year to handle that case.

Beilke, who was hired by Fuentes on Dec. 27, 2012, claims in his July 23 suit that he was wrongly fired because he engaged in whistleblowing, a protected action, during the time he worked at Central Basin. He was terminated Aug. 24, 2013.

Beilke was actually at work for six days, according to the district.

Fuentes, who was fired as interim executive office of Central Basin in 2013, has a lawsuit pending against the district and Roybal claiming they violated a confidentiality agreement by revealing a $50,000 payment the district made in exchange for a promise not to sue the district for wrongful discharge. Roybal, who opposed the payment, said the district didn’t break the contract, so the payment amounted to a gift of public funds.

When contacted, neither Fuentes nor Beilke would not comment on Alvarez-Glasman.

The next meeting of the Central Basin board of directors is at 10 a.m. Monday at 6252 Telegraph Road, Commerce.

Whittier Daily News, August 23, 2014


Arnold Alvarez-Glasman out as West Covina’s city attorney

By Jason Henry, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

West Covina’s city council will vote Monday to accept the firm Jones & Mayer as the new City Attorney, replacing Arnold Alvarez-Glasman’s firm.

The council received 23 proposals for the job and narrowed it down to a final six, but Alvarez-Glasman and Colvin did not make it to the interview phase, according to a staff report.

The council decided in closed session to go with Jones & Mayer but must vote on it publicly for it to take effect.

“These guys, Jones & Mayer, stood out to me from the very beginning,” said Councilman James Toma. “Their firm only represents public agencies, so I think there is less chance of conflict with them with developers and other companies doing business in the city.”

Attorneys for Jones & Mayer represent the cities of Bishop, California City, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, La Habra, Westminister, South Pasadena, Whittier, Blythe, Maywood, Grand Terrace and Upland. West Covina would be one of its largest municipal clients.

They also provide legal counsel to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the state police chiefs,’ state sheriffs’ and the state peace officers’ associations.

If approved, Attorney Kim Barlow, who now represents Upland for Jones & Mayer, would become the city attorney. The contract would last three years and cost the city $13,125 per month for up to seventy hours of legal service, with left over hours rolling over month to month. The city may pay up to $195 per hour for certain services.

Last year, the city budgeted roughly $96,000 per year, or $8,000 per month, for Alvarez-Glasman’s 50-hour retainer, but Toma suspects they’ll save money by not having to spend as much time researching topics or outsourcing to other firms with more expertise.

“Anytime you get a good, quality law firm, they’re going to save you money,” Toma said. “These guys are a good, quality law firm.”

The cost will ultimately depend on how much litigation the city becomes involved in, something its council members said is impossible to estimate.

Toma said their 40-year background in municipal law and the size of the law firm — not too big but not too small — should prove valuable.

Councilman Fred Sykes noted he believes the new firm could help the council avoid the extensive litigation they’ve experienced in the past. He said he’s been impressed with them from his experiences with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. They will bring a fresh start to the city, where many community members blame Alvarez-Glasman’s firm and the past councils for running up more than $11 million in legal fees in recent years, with most of the money going to Squire Sanders, an outside counsel brought in to deal with the city’s lawsuits against Ziad Alhassen.

“We don’t need friends giving us advice about friends,” Sykes said. “That’s an opinion we’re trying to avoid. We just want the facts without the waters being muddied by ties.”

Alvarez-Glasman received a 30-day notice that his contract would end at Monday’s meeting, but the council will vote Tuesday to bring him on a special counsel while it wraps up some of the cases he has worked on for years, according to Councilman Mike Spence.

“I wish it was easy to get out of every case that we’re in, but it is my understanding that the new city attorney is going to evaluate all the cases and where it makes sense for Glasman to wrap it up, I think that’s what the plan is,” Spence said.

The city will pay between $165 to $185 per hour for non-litigation projects and between $175 to $195 per hour for pending litigation matters, according to a special counsel agreement slated to appear before the council Tuesday.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, August 17, 2014


South Gate City Attorney's Aides Donated To Campaigns

By Sharon Hormell, Staff writer

When he applied for the job of city attorney in 1993, Arnold Alvarez-Glasman promised to avoid involvement in South Gate politics.

But last year, three of his paralegals and his secretary donated $5,750 to the campaign committees of Mayor Albert Robles and Councilman Bill Martinez.

Because the campaign finance reports that Robles and Martinez filed with local and state governments did not accurately list the donors' occupations and their employers' name, as state law requires, it is not apparent from the public documents that the donors worked in Alvarez-Glasman's private Montebello law office.

Robles, whose losing 1994 campaign for the state Board of Equalization received $4,000 from the workers, and Martinez, whose City Council campaign received $1,750, could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls requesting interviews. There is no indication that Alvarez-Glasman got anything from the council in return for the contributions his workers sent.

Alvarez-Glasman's mid-1993 resume seeking the South Gate post said, ''Mr. Glasman knows that a good city attorney will be sensitive to the pressures of the elected officials, yet will avoid playing politics or counting votes''

Asked if his office workers' donations to Robles and Martinez might make it appear that he was politically favoring the pair, Alvarez-Glasman likened the contributions to those that might be made by a city employees' union.

''There is no inappropriate activity whatsoever. Campaign contributions are everyone's First Amendment right,'' he said.

According to campaign reports, Alvarez-Glasman himself did not donate to any South Gate council members last year. He said he made a donation in his own name of more than $100 to Robles' council campaign committee in March.

In January, the council gave Alvarez-Glasman a 25 percent raise, increasing his hourly fee from $100 to $125 per hour to handle city and redevelopment issues.

At that rate, he still earns less than the average rate of $145 per hour charged by his predecessor, William Rudell at the firm of Richards, Watson and Gershon. Depending on the complexity of the issue and the attorney assigned, South Gate was paying Rudell's firm $105 to $250 per hour. The council changed city attorneys in 1993 as an economizing move, several council members said.

State law says candidates who receive $100 or more from a donor must truthfully disclose the donor's full name and address, occupation and employer. Candidates and their treasurers sign the reports, swearing under penalty of perjury that they have used all responsible diligence in preparing the forms, said Fair Political Practices Commission spokeswoman Jeannette Turvill.

Failing to disclose the real occupations and employers of donors is an illegal practice informally known as campaign money laundering. The Fair Political Practices Commission can levy fines of $2,000 per offense against the donor and recipient, or turn cases over to the District Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution.

The FPPC does not confirm, discuss or deny ongoing investigations, so Turvill would not say if the agency is researching South Gate council campaigns or Robles' failed 1994 state Board of Equalization campaign.

However, South Gate City Clerk Nina Banuelos said an investigator from the FPPC had requested Robles' council cam paign finance records dating back to 1991 as part of an audit of all candidates in the Board of Equalization race.

''People have the right to know that the companies and their employees are supporting a particular candidate,'' Turvill said. ''If the disclosure (report) is not accurate, that can be a deliberate attempt to defraud the voters.''

On the required forms, Alvarez-Glasman's three paralegals were listed as working at three different paralegal or secretarial services bearing their last names and their home addresses in Chino, Chino Hills and Arcadia, although none holds an official county permit to do business as those firms.

The secretary, who lives in Monterey Park, was identified as working at Alvarez-Glasman's firm, but her occupation was misidentified as an attorney on the campaign disclosure form.

Two of the paralegals could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls to their homes and office. The secretary and the third paralegal said in separate interviews that they made the donations voluntarily and were not reimbursed, but each declined to discuss the circumstances or reasons for writing the checks.

Alvarez-Glasman said he knew of the donations by his workers, ''probably, in passing, they may have mentioned it,'' but stressed, ''I had nothing to do with that, and it is up to you to decide if it is a coincidence.''

Because he is also a Montebello City Council member, his office often receives mailed requests to donate to political campaigns, and it is up to each individual to decide whether and how much to give, he said. Those who donate receive no benefit and incur no penalty if they don't give, he said.

No employee is reimbursed for a political donation, he said, declining to say how much he pays his secretary and paralegals.

According to campaign finance reports, none of his office staff has donated to any sitting council members of Montebello, where Alvarez-Glasman has held office since 1985, or Pomona, the other community he represents as city attorney.

Long Beach Press-Telegram, June 20, 1995


Council decides on law firm

By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - The city hired a new redevelopment attorney on Tuesday, replacing the lawyer it hired four months ago to fill the post.

Law firm Burke, Williams and Sorensen, which began its public law career in Montebello in 1938, beat out four other firms vying to represent the city's redevelopment agency.

The other firms were Best, Best and Krieger; Alvarez-Glasman and Colvin; Kane, Ballmer and Berkman; and Richards, Watson and Gershon. Each were interviewed by the council at Tuesday's meeting.

Contracts for the new law firm have not been negotiated.

Bonifacio Garcia, a former attorney for Burke, Williams and Sorensen, was hired in April to represent the city and its redevelopment agency. He remains as the city attorney.

The decision to bring on a separate agency attorney was sparked by a request by Councilman John Nunez, who said having two firms representing the city and the redevelopment agency will avoid conflict of interest concerns.

The unanimous approval on Tuesday for Burke, Williams and Sorensen came after a failed motion by Mayor John Tran and Nunez to hire Alvarez-Glasman and Colvin.

Council members and residents expressed their apprehension about bringing aboard partner Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, who represents West Covina, Bell Gardens, Pomona and Pico Rivera.

"I have a real problem with Glasman and his involvement in politics," Councilwoman Margaret Clark said, referring to Alvarez-Glasman and his interest in Montebello politics.

Alvarez-Glasman pulled papers Aug. 3 to run for city treasurer, but later said he decided not to run after discussing it with his family.

"It doesn't matter that he withdrew it. It shows that he's still involved with politics," Clark said. "We don't need this kind of politics in Rosemead."

Alvarez-Glasman, a former Montebello City Councilman, has also served as city attorney for Baldwin Park, Montebello, South El Monte and La Puente. However, his contract was not renewed with these cities after new council majorities came aboard.

"He is a fine attorney," said Baldwin Park Councilman David Olivas, who voted to oust Alvarez-Glasman. "I felt it was time to make a change, but it had nothing to do with \ service to the city."

Among the firms, Alvarez-Glasman was the only one to give campaign contributions to existing council members, according to campaign finance records: $1,000 to Tran in 2004, and $1,000 to Councilwoman Polly Low in 2007.

Clark said this was also another reason why she would not vote for Alvarez-Glasman.

Low, however, said that receiving campaign contributions is no guarantee on a vote.

"Just because council members receive a contribution doesn't necessarily mean they will absolutely vote because they've received money," Low said.

Tran, who just before voting for Alvarez-Glasman, added, "$1,000 does not buy my vote, Maggie."

Pasadena Star News, August 15, 2007

Grand Jury Report Faults City Management

By Mike Ward, Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Grand Jury has accused the city of Pomona of sloppy management, poor staffing, neglect of affirmative action and failure to resolve financial issues that "threaten to overwhelm the city's resources."

In a report released this week, the panel says the City Council hired an inexperienced city attorney without any formal evaluation process, approved redevelopment deals with the county that could be financially ruinous and agreed to sell land at a bargain price to a private developer without consulting the city's finance director.

The basis for the report is a detailed analysis of city management by the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse. It found an understaffed and under-financed city government making decisions with too little information and relying on employees with inadequate technical expertise.

Mayor Donna Smith said many of the criticisms, which are based on a study that ended in June, are out of date. For example, she said, the city has solved its most pressing financial problems by halting planned reductions in the city utility tax.

City Administrator Julio Fuentes said many of the grand jury's criticisms are valid and that many of its recommendations are being carried out. In fact, he said, the city was working on reforms before the grand jury completed its analysis.

"The city is on the right track," Fuentes insisted. But, he added, "You don't turn an organization around in a year and nine months," referring to his own hiring in 1989 and to major personnel changes that followed.

Eight members of Fuentes' 12-member management team have worked for Pomona less than two years.

The grand jury report does credit the city with recent progress.

"City leaders appear ready to take a new direction, one that will lead (Pomona) away from the controversy, charges of favoritism and negative work environment that were so prevalent two years ago," the report says.

Suzanne Proctor, who headed the grand jury committee on government operations while the study was being done, said she hopes the city will do more with the report than it did with recommendations from the 1987-88 grand jury, which found numerous shortcomings in the city Redevelopment Agency. None of the recommendations from that report were carried out, Proctor said. "Not one."

The new report should fare better, because Pomona asked for the grand jury study and paid two-thirds of its $90,000 cost. The county paid the rest. The city had no control over the findings.

The recommendations were approved by the 1990-91 grand jury before it disbanded in June, but the report was not released until this week in order to give Pomona officials time to review and respond to it.

Fuentes on Monday released a 19-page response to the 160-page report. In general, he stressed the city's extensive efforts to put new policies and procedures in place and to put the city on solid financial footing.

The grand jury report said the city has not developed a long-range financial strategy, even though it "faces several substantial and immediate financial risks." Pomona's financial problems are more acute than other cities, the report said.

The grand jury compared Pomona with four other Southland cities of roughly the same size -- Pasadena, Ontario, Riverside and Torrance. The panel found that Pomona has the lowest revenue per capita, but some of the toughest problems. It has more violent crime than any of the other cities, ranks just behind Ontario in population growth and has the second-highest unemployment rate.

To compound its financial problems, the grand jury noted, the city has been steadily reducing one of its major sources of revenue, the utility tax. In addition, the city faces a $4-million shortage in its fund to pay legal claims and a $10-million under-funding of pension obligations.

Fuentes said city officials are doing long-range financial planning, even if no written strategy is in place. Since the grand jury report was written, the City Council has increased the utility tax and other fees and has ordered a study that could lead to higher charges for numerous city services.

The grand jury found that one reason for under-financing is the diversion of property tax revenue to redevelopment projects. Then, the report said, the Redevelopment Agency made a bad decision to share its revenue with the county.

The panel said Pomona's agreements with the county, signed in 1982 and 1988, are "a source of significant financial loss and could be an even greater financial burden in the future."

The complicated agreements, negotiated by the city to obtain the county's help in developing a regional mall, will hurt Pomona financially unless construction begins by July, 1993.

But the mall site is contaminated with hazardous waste, which must be cleaned up. To complicate matters, there are malls proposed in nearby Chino and Chino Hills.

If Pomona's mall is not built, the city will have to repay loans to the county at 7% interest and will have lost other revenue without deriving any benefit.

The grand jury recommended that the city renegotiate the agreements. Fuentes said the city has tried to renegotiate but has no power to force the county to change the terms.

Other issues raised in the report:

* The city adopted an affirmative action policy in 1988 but has no program to carry it out and no system of monitoring compliance. As a result, the grand jury said, the city could face lawsuits over its failure to adhere to minority hiring agreements for the Police and Fire departments.

Fuentes acknowledged the city's tardiness on affirmative action but said a plan will be ready for adoption by December.

* The council hired City Atty. Arnold Glasman and his firm, Glasman, Colvin & Adams, on an interim basis in 1989 and permanently a few months later, although neither Glasman nor his partners had any municipal legal experience.

The grand jury said the council interviewed five firms for the job without setting criteria, then allowed Glasman to approve the form of his contract without outside legal review.

Fuentes said Glasman was versed in municipal law from representing private interests in business transactions with cities and redevelopment agencies.

Councilman Tomas Ursua said the city hired Glasman because he was low bidder. Ursua said Glasman was not his first choice but "we're saving money and the guy works pretty hard."

* The City Council agreed to sell land to a private developer for $620,000 below its appraised value without consulting the finance director or following formal policies or procedures.

The deal involved five acres that the council agreed to sell to San Dimas Mayor Terry Dipple and his partner, Brian Barbuto, last year for $805,000.

The deal was in escrow for more than a year before the council canceled the sale over the objections of Dipple and Barbuto. Fuentes said the sale was a policy decision the council was entitled to make.

* The Redevelopment Agency paid $244,500 to a contractor to work on cleanup of the regional mall site without a written contract. It also failed to monitor costs on other projects.

One law firm that was supposed to get agency approval for any rate increases nearly doubled its hourly rates over six years without any notice to the city.

Fuentes said the agency has established policies and procedures that will require written contracts and monitoring of costs.

* The city has failed to set goals for department heads and to evaluate their performance.

The grand jury said that one department head had not been evaluated in nine years and that the goals established for some departments were so vague (the Police Department is instructed to deliver services in a "realistic, sensitive and positive manner") that it is impossible to measure performance.

Fuentes said previous administrations neglected performance evaluations and admitted that he did not pay much attention to them when many jobs were vacant. Since most of the jobs have been filled, he said, evaluation systems have been put in place.

* The Redevelopment Agency and the community development department are understaffed and the Redevelopment Agency lacks technical expertise.

The grand jury said the city should hire a deputy city administrator, whose responsibilities would include overseeing these agencies, and should fill other vacant positions.

Fuentes said the council has authorized a new deputy city administrator position and the community development and redevelopment staffs are being beefed up.

* The city's coffer for paying insurance claims is under-funded by $4 million. The grand jury says the city's risk management program, which handles worker's compensation and other legal claims, "lacks cohesion and direction."

Fuentes said the program is more comprehensive and better organized than the grand jury suggested. He said he will recommend that the city use new revenue to solve the funding problem.

In addition to the criticisms, the grand jury issued several commendations.

The panel said the Police and Fire departments respond to emergencies just as quickly as departments in comparable cities, although other cities have larger departments.

Fuentes said the grand jury recommendations are helpful and that the study was worth the cost, even though the findings were not surprising.

"It's always good to bring a fresh perspective in from the outside," he said.

Ursua said the report confirms his belief that city government has not been well run and that the city has made poor deals in redevelopment, though he said it is an open question whether "it was because of corruption or stupidity."

The councilman said the city is making progress but still suffers from "sloppiness, waste and inefficiency."

Proctor said the Pomona study was one of the highlights of her term on the grand jury because it offers a means of improving the workings of government.

In this instance, she said, the grand jury was not looking for wrongdoing but for a way of helping a city deal with problems that grew out of years of conflict and turmoil. She said Pomona officials took a very positive attitude toward the study and hopefully "they can use this as a tool of change."

Grand Jury Findings

In its report on Pomona, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury compared the municipality with four other Southern California cities of roughly the same size: Pasadena, Ontario, Riverside and Torrance. The panel found that Pomona has the lowest revenue per capita but some of the toughest problems. It has more violent crime than any of the other cities, ranks just behind Ontario in population growth and has the second-highest unemployment rate.

Population (1990 Census)
Pomona: 131,723
Ontario: 129,300
Pasadena: 131,591
Riverside: 218,500
Torrance: 133,107
Total revenues (1989 fiscal year)
Pomona: $69,355,844
Ontario: $80,249,025
Pasadena: $251,318,344
Riverside: $306,165,634
Torrance: $120,521,140
Revenue per capita (1989)
Pomona: $527
Ontario: $621
Pasadena: $1,910
Riverside: $1,401
Torrance: $905
Full-time city employees
Pomona: 844
Ontario: 892
Pasadena: 1,600
Riverside: 1,973
Torrance: 1,366
Population growth from 1980 to 1990
Pomona: 42%
Ontario: 46%
Pasadena: 11%
Riverside: 28%
Torrance: 3%.
Average unemployment rate 1990
Pomona: 7.2%
Ontario: 5.0%
Pasadena: 4.6%
Riverside: 7.5%
Torrance: 3.3%
Violent crimes as a percentage of all crimes in 1989
Pomona: 21%
Ontario: 20%
Pasadena: 18%
Riverside: 15%
Torrance: 11%
Note: Pasadena and Riverside own and operate their own electric utilities; the other cities do not. Figures include electric utility revenue of $93.8 million for Pasadena and $131 million for Riverside.

Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2001

Ex-official teams up with ex-city attorney in lawsuit

By Dan Abendschein, Staff Writer

MONTEBELLO - An official forced to resign by the City Council in 2006 is being represented by the former city attorney in a lawsuit against the city, a councilman and two former council members.

Ruben Lopez, the former community development director, is suing for breach of contract, defamation, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.

He is being represented by Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, the former Montebello city attorney who was ousted in a 3-2 vote by two of three council members he is suing on Lopez's behalf.

Lopez signed an agreement with the city when he left, stating that officials cannot "criticize, discredit, or otherwise disparage" him. He filed a legal complaint with the city in February saying council members and officials made "false and damaging statements" to the press and others.

Lopez requested $12 million as compensation for breach of the contract. The council rejected his complaint.

"The suit does not have merit," said Bob Bagwell, a former councilman named in the lawsuit.

Phone calls to Lopez and Alvarez-Glasman for comment were not returned.

Alvarez-Glasman is city attorney for several San Gabriel Valley cities, including West Covina and Pomona.

Lopez agreed to step down in July 2006 under threat of being voted out by a three-council-member majority of Bagwell, Jeff Siccama and Norma Lopez-Reid.

Siccama said Lopez was too attached to development projects that were not bringing in any tax revenue, and the city wanted to go in a new direction. He said both Glasman and Lopez were out to get the city. "I think they want to get in their shots at the city," Siccama said.

Bagwell and Lopez-Reid lost their seats in November's election. Siccama is facing a recall election later this month.

All three were linked to the dismissal of Lopez, the head city administrator, and the fire chief. They were also accused of trying to scrap the Fire Department in order to bring in county fire services.

Alvarez-Glasman, who served on the Montebello City Council from 1985 to 1997, had his contract terminated by the city in 2005 by a three-member majority that included Bagwell and Lopez-Reid.

Bagwell said Alvarez-Glasman was too connected to developers, some of whom Lopez was initiating development deals with.

Bagwell and Lopez-Reid were joined by Councilman Bill Molinari in voting Alvarez-Glasman out.

Molinari later spoke out against the city pressuring Lopez to resign and opposed Siccama, Lopez-Reid and Bagwell when they voted to terminate the contracts of the city administrator and fire chief.

Bagwell said he never was entirely clear why Molinari voted against Alvarez-Glasman.

"I was surprised we got Molinari's vote," said Bagwell. "I think he and Alvarez-Glasman are back on the same page now."

Molinari said he did not have concerns about Alvarez-Glasman, but felt the alternate law firm "better fit the city's needs." He did not offer specific reasons.

As part of his severance package Lopez received 12 months of pay, benefits and accrued retirement benefits, according to city documents.

Patricia Macht, a spokeswoman for the state's Cal PERS public-employee retirement system, said that while she was not familiar with Lopez's agreement and could not comment on it, city employees are not generally allowed to continue to accrue retirement benefits after they leave.

"Severance packages are not meant to be used as a way to keep people on the payroll to accrue benefits," Macht said.

She said it was possible that Lopez might not be able to collect retirement benefits for the 12 months after his dismissal from the city.

The city has not been served with the lawsuit yet, officials said, so for now there are no court dates set.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, December 9, 2007

Program Benefits; Mayor Buys In--Literally--To Aid Plan for First-Time Home Buyers

By Sharon Hormell

SOUTH GATE, Calif--The city has a kitty of $1.12 million to lend interest-free to 25 first-time home buyers, and the short list of people who seized the opportunity includes a bachelor high school science teacher, a two-income family of five and Mayor Albert Robles.

"It's a great program," said Robles, 29, whose $28,000 junior high school teacher's salary plus $10,000 mayor's pay qualified him as just the kind of moderate-income, first-time home buyer the program was intended to help when he and the rest of the City Council approved it last July.

He has opened escrow on a $140,000 townhouse on Karmont Avenue on the city's east end. If his loan application is approved, he stands to get a no-interest "silent second" mortgage of up to $40,000 that need not be repaid until the home is sold, transferred or occupied by somebody else.

Thus, the price of his new home would be reduced by the amount of the silent second mortgage, making it easier for him to qualify for a regular bank mortgage to finance the balance.

There is enough money in the program, depending on the needs of each borrower, to fund about 16 loans of up to $40,000 for moderate-income home buyers.

That would describe Mark Trepanier, to whom teaching is like a religious calling.

Although the wages are higher than the priesthood's traditional vow of poverty, his salary as a South Gate High School science teacher just wasn't enough to buy a house.

Until now. As one of a handful of moderate-income people to qualify for "silent second" mortgages, he was able to buy a house in South Gate's Hollydale neighborhood.

"I wanted something with two bedrooms, nothing fancy, just something with a nice yard, because I like gardening," said the 36-year-old bachelor, who lives with his cat, Booger.

Now, as he waits for the spring planting season, he plans his garden and enjoys his newfound status as a homeowner.

"I really feel like I'm part of the community," he said, "a citizen of South Gate."

Another nine loans of up to $50,000 are destined for low-income households like that of Griselda and Rafael Rodriguez.

Their home ownership plans seemed dashed when an unexpected third pregnancy ate up their savings.

But Rafael suggested they apply for the home buyer assistance program he saw reported in a newspaper.

Griselda told him, "That's a bunch of baloney; I don't believe it," but they applied anyway, and were accepted into the program for low-income, first-time home buyers, eligible for a silent second mortgage of up to $50,000.

To house their three growing boys, they found a two-bedroom house with a den that could be converted into a third bedroom about a block from the Tweedy Boulevard commercial district. They moved in Dec.4.

"The first thing we did was give thanks to the Lord, and we laughed, remembering the first time I told my husband, 'No, no, and no,' " Griselda Rodriguez said. "Because now he says, 'You see, you see?' And he's happy."

Robles and the city's four other council members approved the program last July, which increases by a fraction of 1 percent the number of South Gate homeowners.

The Community Development Department drafted the loan program to comply with state laws requiring that one-fifth of the proceeds of the Redevelopment Agency be spent increasing the city's stock of low- to moderate-income housing.

South Gate's entire $680,000 housing set-aside account is being spent on the Homeownership Assistance Program, along with $440,000 in federal money earmarked for first-time home buyers.

City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said that even though Robles voted to create the home ownership assistance program, he was free to apply for its benefits as long as he was treated like every other applicant.

"There isn't a conflict (of interest) if the mayor is participating in this process," Alvarez-Glasman said. "He's having to go through all the same hoops as everyone else."

Although the program's money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, no qualified person who has applied has been denied money yet, said Community Development Director Andy Pasmant.

Several people have been disqualified because their earnings are too low, their pre-existing debt is too high, or their credit record is poor.

The intent of the program is to increase the number of owner-occupied houses in the city, Pasmant said.

Although 25 is a very small percentage of the 22,000 households in the city, "it's 25 more than last year," Pasmant said.

Nearly half of South Gate's dwellings are owner-occupied, about the same percentage as the county average, the 1990 U.S. Census said, but that rate is lower than the national average of 64 percent and the state average of 56 percent.

The median value of South Gate owner-occupied homes is about $161,900 in this 86,284-population city, where the median household income is about $27,279.

Chicago Tribune, February 5, 1995


Political Allies at Issue in Bid to Unseat Soto; Campaign: The Councilwoman Says Her Opponents Want to Return Control to the Old Boy Network. Challengers Question Soto's Ties to Ousted Councilman C. L. (Clay) Bryant

By Mike Ward, Times Staff Writer

POMONA -- In the midst of her first reelection campaign, Councilwoman Nell Soto says she's still a valiant enemy of the Old Boy Network.

Her opponents in the March 5 election, however, seem more concerned about her friends, who they say include special interest contributors and recalled Councilman C. L. (Clay) Bryant.

Neither the Old Boy Network nor Bryant is on the ballot, of course, but they have emerged as the prime campaign targets.

Soto, 64, said her opponents are bent on returning Pomona to the control of the people who nearly ruined it, the group she has dubbed the Old Boy Network.

"The people who are supporting my opponents are those people who have been kicked out of City Hall, the old leeches, the old hangers-on, the people who have gotten rich off Pomona taxpayers," she said.

Meanwhile, Robert Jackson, a 33-year-old teacher who has become the most aggressive campaigner among her three opponents, said the removal of Soto from office is the logical follow-up to the recall of Bryant, her political ally on the council who was ousted in June.

"She was and is the other side of the Clay Bryant coin," Jackson said. "We must rid ourselves, as we did of Clay Bryant, of those responsible for the turmoil this city has faced."

Both Jackson and another candidate, Timothy Smith, a 41-year-old air-conditioning technician, have accused Soto of catering to special interests. Smith said Soto has given the city "the worst representation in recent history" and "has been a constant source of embarrassment."

Jackson and Smith are appealing to the same block of voters: those who advocated Bryant's recall. Bryant was targeted in part for his role in effecting wholesale change at City Hall, including the firing of a city administrator and police chief and the ouster of other key officials.

The fourth candidate in the race, Reyes Rachel Madrigal, a 57-year-old associate professor at Mt. San Antonio College, is trying to remain above the fray. She has avoided criticizing Soto directly, saying only that "the image of Pomona has suffered as a result of the infighting that has occurred."

Madrigal and Soto are Latinas in a district whose population of about 22,000 is estimated at 43% Latino.

Soto won election to the council four years ago and in 1989 forged a "new majority" with Bryant and Councilman Tomas Ursua that remolded city government before the coalition fell apart, first with a split between Ursua and Bryant, and then with Bryant's recall.

Soto said the political turmoil has produced positive changes, including a new city staff that is more responsive to citizens. "Sure, there's been a lot of bickering and you know why?" she said. "Because change is hard to come by. . . . Change is hard to accept by those who have been in power for the last 30, 40 or 50 years."

Soto was born in Pomona and counts her great-grandson as the ninth generation of her family to live in the city. As she was growing up, she said, Pomona was a segregated town, with Latinos barred from the municipal pool except on days set aside for them, exiled to a special section at movie theaters and excluded from living north of Holt Avenue.

Discrimination and growing up poor shaped her politics and her attitude toward the Pomona establishment. Active in the Democratic Party most of her life, she helped her husband, Phil, win election to the state Assembly in the 1960s, and she ran campaigns for other politicians before winning a seat herself on the Pomona City Council in 1987.

She knows many city officials throughout the region because of her job as local government and community affairs representative for the Southern California Rapid Transit District. Through her contacts in city government, she recruited the current Pomona city administrator, Julio Fuentes, and other newcomers who have filled key positions in the city.

Soto lists among her achievements the formation of a community group to fight gangs, the initiation of a volunteer mounted patrol and a mobile substation for the Police Department, and the installation of new playground equipment in neighborhood parks in her district.

Both Jackson and Smith have accused her of siding with special interests, such as billboard companies and gambling club promoters, and have criticized her vote for a motel project on Holt Avenue.

Jackson has strongly criticized Soto for accepting nearly $3,000 in campaign contributions from the billboard industry and $1,000 each from City Atty. Arnold Glasman and Miller & Schroeder, a bond consulting firm employed by the city.

Jackson said the donations represent a conflict of interest because Soto voted to hire Glasman and the bond firm and has been backing a proposal that would allow billboard companies "to keep their dilapidated eyesores in our city."

Soto said there is no conflict of interest because she promises nothing in return for contributions. For example, she said, she has never voted to increase the number of billboards but favors allowing sign companies to replace some aging billboards with new ones on the outskirts of Pomona.

Both Jackson and Smith have assailed Soto for voting last year to put a measure on the ballot to legalize card clubs. The council withdrew the measure after a barrage of protests from residents.

Soto said her opponents have wrongly accused her of favoring casino gambling. Soto said she voted to put the measure on the ballot only because she believes residents have the right to make that decision. She said revenue from card clubs, such as those in the City of Commerce and Gardena, could produce enough money to enable Pomona to cut or eliminate its unpopular and relatively high tax on utility bills.

Smith and Jackson said they strongly oppose card clubs in Pomona.

Jackson, a veteran of the Marine Corps, holds a teaching credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills and has lived in the city for 12 years. He teaches at a Pomona junior high school.

Smith, who has lived in Pomona 19 years, said he offers voters independence without ties to any group. "I think we're ready in Pomona for a new politics," he said.

Madrigal, who has lived in Pomona more than 30 years, teaches Spanish at Mt. San Antonio College. Her varied background includes work on farms and factories and as a teacher and school administrator. She holds a doctorate in education from Claremont Graduate School.

She said the current council has been quarrelsome and indecisive. She said she can make difficult decisions and would work diligently to bring harmony to the council.

The 1st Council District takes in the central portion of the city west of Garey Avenue and south of the San Bernardino Freeway. The March 5 election will be the first in Pomona in which voters choose council members by district. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two finishers will meet in a runoff April 16.

Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1991