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Legaspi confirms bickering spurred decision to walk away

May 24, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Was the bickering during Tuesday's Heffernan Memorial Hospital District meeting the sort of behavior by the board that led Henry Legaspi to walk away from his job as its administrative assistant?

"Well, obviously," he said this morning.

Legaspi, a former hospital district board member and Calexico city manager, declined to make any further comment concerning the board he worked with for a dollar a year.

He stepped down from his post earlier this month after a year and a half on the job.

The district's attorney, Eduardo Rivera, said today he will not step down but was disappointed with the actions of the board Tuesday, specifically those of trustees David Ouzan, Mark Perrone and Ray Falcon.

"Robert Swerdling has completed almost all of the work required to sell the new bonds and now the board wants to try and negotiate his fees?" Rivera asked. "I think that is unfair."

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Swerdling is a managing director of Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffrey, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp.

On direction from the district board, he has been working for more than a year to sell $11 million in municipal bonds that would net Swerdling a percentage of the transaction and allow the district to pay off $1.5 million of debt.

Rivera is worried the actions of the board Tuesday have alienated Swerdling about future dealings with the board, specifically upcoming negotiations with the Calexico Redevelopment Agency.

Next week the district board will attempt to sway the City Council, seated as the RDA board, to waive some of the debt the district owes the agency or adjust the interest rates the hospital board is paying.

In 1997 the RDA board loaned the district $450,000. The amount owed is still $450,000 because of the interest on the loan and the small number of payments the district has made.

This year, the agency took the district to court to recoup the money.

Rivera had hoped Swerdling would be a part of the negotiations that will accompany that lawsuit. Now it looks like Swerdling might not participate, according to Rivera.

"Are Mr. Ouzan and Mr. Perrone and Mr. Falcon going to be able to do the negotiations without Mr. Swerdling?" Rivera asked.

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

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