Los Angeles News

Huntington Park City Council recall effort under way

Monday, October 15, 2012

The entire Huntington Park City Council has been served with recall papers. Council members are being accused of financial mismanagement and lack of leadership.

The City Council was ready to begin business as usual when an old colleague stepped to the microphone and took control of Monday's meeting.

"Shame on all of you! You are going to be all gone," said Linda Carballo Guevara, a former Huntington Park City Council member.

Guevera, who was once forced off the council amid questions about her residency, returned to serve intention to help circulate a recall petitions. She attacked all five current members individually, while residents hand-delivered the notices.

The notice points to financial mismanagement, including a budget deficit of $9 million. Residents are angry that City Attorney Francisco Leal's firm bills the city close to $40,000 a month for services. Leal says that is not really a lot of money.

"Not really when you compare it to other cities. And it's not my money, it's a law firm," said Leal.

Activists say former Mayor John Noguez has too much influence here. Noguez took a leave of absence from his role as county assessor. He's being investigated by the district attorney for giving tax breaks to campaign contributors. Last year, Noguez helped elect three candidates to the council.

"These people are so tied in to John Noguez. He still has control here. He says who comes in and who doesn't come in," said Guevara.

Some in Huntington Park compare the situation to what happened in Bell, where multiple city leaders faced criminal charges and a successful recall by voters.

We asked Huntington Park's City Council members for a response on-camera before the meeting but were denied. So we attended their public cake-cutting ceremony for immigrants of the year.

Vice Mayor Elba Guerrero said she didn't have a response. Council member Mario Gomez said nothing is official.

"I have no response. Until this is served officially by the city clerk, I have no response," he said. "When I get the official papers from the city clerk, then I'll respond."

The other council members went out a back door when I asked if anyone else had a response. Noguez's attorney has not answered our requests for a response.

The recall notices require only 33 signatures apiece. They still need to be filed with the city clerk, and then residents need 3,100 signatures before putting a recall on the ballot.

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