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Conflict of interest issue is raised about Grijalva

August 07, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — If City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva is hired by the Calexico Housing Authority board as the authority's interim executive director, he'll be hired by commissioners he had a hand in appointing.

In the past two months Mayor Victor Carrillo has appointed two new commissioners to the authority board: Irene Hueso-Mora and Adriana Esparza.

Grijalva voted to confirm those appointments.

In the past three years he also voted to confirm the appointments of then-mayors Javier Alatorre and Eduardo Rivera.

Alatorre appointed commissioners John Romo and Manuel Ayala and Rivera appointed current board Chairman Jesus "Chuy" Solano.

Last week the Housing Authority board voted 4-1 to offer the position of acting executive director to Grijalva. Romo dissented.

The board is short-handed because two commissioners recently resigned.

At an authority meeting this Thursday the board will vote on the terms of Grijalva's employment.

"We are in the process of negotiations," Grijalva said.


"If we can reach an understanding I'd work with the authority as a consultant. I'm very honored they even considered me for the job," he added.

He said he doesn't think accepting a job from commissioners he had a hand in appointing is a conflict of interest.

"It's more of being a consultant to the group — if they hire me. Maybe they won't even accept me.

"I'd just help out on a temporary basis until the director is back on her feet," he said.

Authority Executive Director Lupita Rios is on a month-long medical leave.

In the mid-to-late 1990s Grijalva worked under Rios at the Housing Authority as her housing administration director.

Solano said the interim position was hastily offered to Grijalva because of his experience and the expediency with which the board had to act.

"We're getting heat from (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) because we don't have an acting director and are only in this position because Juan Ortiz turned down the job," Solano said.

In the past year, Ortiz had filled in for Rios as acting executive director when she took vacations or went on previous leaves.

Last week Ortiz, the authority's administrative services director, turned down the interim director job because he said he thought the demands of the board were "unrealistic."

Said Solano of offering the job to Grijalva: "I honestly believe it is not a conflict of interest."

"Calexico is a very small town. Cats and dogs know each other here. They mingle in the alley," he added.

Rivera, the interim legal counsel for the authority board, said it is not a conflict of interest because "the commissioners were already seated" before they offered the job to Grijalva.

"Nobody could have predicted the circumstances that led to the job offer.

"Nobody could have thought that the executive director would leave for a month.

"Anybody that is concerned about (a conflict) is speculating for speculation's sake," Rivera said

However, if Grijalva is hired by the board this week it would be a conflict for him to vote on any authority business that comes before the council during his employment, according to Rivera.

"That's my legal analysis of the situation. All of the other commentaries are outside of my bailiwick," Rivera said.

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

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