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Publicity over Dhillon's claim to be mayor punishment enough

issue dropped

June 21, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

In a conciliatory gesture Wednesday, the El Centro City Council chose to drop the issue of one of its members conceding to passing himself off as mayor.

Councilman David Dhillon apologized for any instances in which he claimed to be mayor when he wasn't and apologized for others who on his behalf claimed he was mayor.

Dhillon last served as mayor during 1999 and since then rumors had surfaced by other council members that he was still claiming to be the mayor.

The recent issue surfaced when Mayor Cheryl Walker and City Manager Abdel Salem visited Sacramento to speak with the governor's legislative assistant. Walker's assertion that she was mayor was questioned repeatedly by the legislative assistant's assistant.

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Walker later said the incident was embarrassing and led to a loss of credibility for the city.

Walker, at Wednesday's council meeting, read and criticized portions of a June 18, 2000, letter sent by staff at the Southern California Association of Governments to Salem, in which SCAG staff admits to erroneously referring to Dhillon as mayor in SCAG's dealing with state officials.

Councilman Larry Grogan said the incident in Sacramento was not the first such incident and that the use of the title by Dhillon has at least led to a loss of credibility for the city and that Dhillon should therefore see some sort of cost as well.

Councilman Jack Dunnam criticized Dhillon for allegedly throwing out the first pitch at Imperial Valley day at a San Diego Padres game as mayor during 2000, when Dunnam was mayor.

Dhillon denied any such thing took place, claiming he has a videotape showing he was introduced at the stadium as councilman.

As at the last council meeting, Dhillon admitted his errors and apologized, adding he does not think the city's credibility has been compromised in Sacramento.

Councilman Jack Terrazas said the publicity the issue has received to date is sufficient punishment and urged the council to put the item behind it and move on.

The other members agreed.

Dhillon said he was pleased the council chose to do so, that the item did not need to be public or as dramatic as it has been made out to be in the media.

"I'm very pleased that that is the theme," he said after the meeting. "It's always been our theme to move forward with the city. I think everybody concluded there's nothing to be gained by these accusations. There's nothing there. It's hearsay. Nobody's proven that I did that."

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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