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Hearing slated to replace Calexico Housing Authority board

March 21, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Despite objections by Mayor Javier Alatorre, the City Council here voted 4-1 to set a public hearing to consider replacing the six-member Calexico Housing Authority board with the council itself.

"It will be a destructive way of solving the problem," Alatorre said during Tuesday's council meeting.

By setting a hearing to consider removing the entire board, the council Tuesday decided not to consider removing individual members, a course of action recommended by Calexico City Attorney Mike Rood.

The public hearing will be conducted during the City Council's next regular meeting on April 3.

Calexico Housing Authority Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Solano addressed Mayor Pro Tem Victor Carrillo regarding the hearing and the upcoming mayoral change of guard.

"Carrillo, you are our next mayor," Solano said. "Let it be clear that we, the people, will work with you."

Before the April 3 meeting, Carrillo is expected to be sworn in as mayor and Councilman John Renison as mayor pro tem, according to city officials.

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Solano added, "For the people's sake you need to finish this and restore respect to the Housing Authority."

Raul Palomino, a Housing Authority resident, said the council's political future is at stake.

"The people don't forget," he said. "Just as you have power in these halls, you have the power to bring justice."

Of the decision by the council not to replace individual commissioners, Casas Del Sol Resident Management Corp. president Tony Ramirez said it will be a shame if Solano and other commissioners who support the people are removed from the housing board along with "the bad ones."

He told the City Council that if they decide to replace the authority board they must appoint seven new commissioners who will look out for minorities and get rid of Housing Authority Executive Director Lupita Rios.

Rios sat in the front row of City Hall taking notes as speakers called for the board's removal with the intention of removing her.

She did not speak publicly and left shortly after the vote was cast.

Since Rios is an employee of the Housing Authority, the City Council cannot remove her.

Ramirez and others called for the City Council to remove the board and appoint an entirely new board that would hire a new executive director when Rios' contract expires.

In other matters at Tuesday's meeting, the council decided to sell Rockwood Plaza Park to the Redevelopment Agency.

By selling it to the agency, members of the council said they will be able to clean up and redevelop one of the centerpieces of the city with agency funding.

The sale of Rockwood Plaza passed by a narrow 3-2 vote. Councilmen Gilbert Grijalva and Frank Montoya, who both voted against the sale, said agency money should be used for projects that stimulate the local economy.

Montoya said the agency has a number of projects slated that should take priority over the park, especially since there is no concrete plan for improvement only maintenance.

In another 3-2 vote, the City Council decided to pull all of its advertising from the Calexico Chronicle in response to a cartoon that council members found offensive.

Renison and Alatorre voted against pulling the advertising.

Renison called the move "rash."

Grijalva responded: "I'm a rash guy when it comes to stereotyping my heritage."

He said he was not impressed with Chronicle Publisher Steve Larson's letter of apology and Grijalva said he felt Larson was condescending.

The city has pulled its advertising from the Chronicle before, according to a former editor of the Chronicle, Hildy Carrillo-Rivera.

She said at Tuesday's meeting, pulling the advertising would cost the city more because advertising in other papers is more expensive than the Chronicle.

Grijalva countered and said that since El Sol del Valle is now legally allowed to run public notices the cost would be the same.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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