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Attorney resigns, director confined to city


July 13, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — At Thursday's meeting of the Housing Authority board, Steve Walker of El Centro walked away from his job as the board's legal counsel while authority Executive Director Lupita Rios was told she isn't allowed to travel outside this city while on the job.

The meeting also marked a change in leadership on the board, as well as the appointment of a new commissioner. Jesus "Chuy" Solano was named chairman and Irene Hueso-Mora took over as vice chairwoman. Calexico resident Adriana Esparza was appointed to the board.

Late in Thursday's meeting, on a motion by Hueso-Mora, the board voted 4-1 to advertise for legal counsel.

Hueso-Mora gave no explanation as to how this legal counsel would be used but Walker stood up, gathered his things and said, "It looks like four members of the board are going in a different direction. As of right now, I'll resign."

He continued, "You've got some items in executive session that require an attorney. Right now you don't have one."


He walked out.

Earlier in the meeting, Solano addressed Rios' role in the community by confining her to it.

In a laundry list of directions to authority staff, he told Rios that she was not allowed to travel outside city limits.

He also gave direction to "tear down the wall" that allows receptionists to "hide" from visitors, referring to a partition-like structure toward the front of the authority's administrative office.

Solano was asked during a recess in the meeting if he found any specific trip Rios took outside the city inappropriate. He mentioned none.

During that same recess, Rios said she thought Solano's direction would impede here ability to do her job.

"I don't think that (the direction) is proper," she said.

Concerning Walker's resignation, Rios said she had no inkling why the board would advertise for legal counsel, adding they recently approved all billings submitted by Walker.

In other action Thursday, the board postponed the implementation of the homeownership plan that would allow Casas del Sol residents to buy the homes they now rent from the authority. Board members were not happy with the version of the plan presented to them Thursday.

Representatives of the residents present at the meeting were pleased with the delay because they think more low-income families will be able to buy homes if a different version of a federal homeownership plan is adopted.

They also have a number of concerns with the plan submitted by Atlanta-based housing consultants Goodwin and Associates.

Goodwin was hired by the previous board to fix problems with the federal home-buying program's implementation plan.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow the residents to buy homes from the authority under stringent requirements, which are negotiable in the pages of the implementation plan that must be submitted to HUD for approval.

Housing consultant for Casas residents, Victor Rocha, thinks an earlier version of the plan — not Goodwin's version — would help his clients get approved for loans.

The earlier plan that Rocha favors was already conditionally approved by HUD.

When Goodwin was brought in to address the three conditions HUD has outlined, Goodwin and Associates made other changes that weren't necessary, Rocha said.

Goodwin representatives have said they made the changes to allow for the maximum number of families to secure home loans.

The issue will be revisited in 15 days.

The postponement is just another delay in a long line of setbacks for Casas residents. Still, they did get some good news at Thursday's meeting.

The board, in a unanimous vote, decided to start repair work on the Casas homes, which needs to be done before the homes can be appraised and sold.

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

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