Calexico gives $400,000 to L.A.-area developer

December 19, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Moments after the City Council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, gave a Los Angeles-based business owner $400,000 to expand his fledgling operation here, City Treasurer Rudolfo Moreno took to the council chambers' dais and harangued the board for even considering giving two pharmacists a $243,000 loan.

After a spate of debate among the council members, the RDA board rejected the pharmacists' request by a 3-1 vote with Gilbert Grijalva dissenting.

If Moreno's advice was taken into consideration during the board's deliberation, he wasn't publicly credited.

However, the council did end up supporting the project he didn't object to and rejecting the one he opposed.

Asked during a meeting recess why he didn't object to the council giving $400,000 in RDA funds to a Los Angeles-based business owner, Moreno said the difference in the type of businesses was the deciding factor.

Los Angeles-based businessman Marvin Madden owns U.S. Data Source. He has proposed expanding his Calexico data-production facility by moving into the old Kmart building off Yourman Road and employing up to 500 people within five years.


The RDA board voted 3-1 to give Madden a $200,000 grant and a $200,000 loan. Councilman Javier Alatorre dissented.

Part of the loan will be forgiven if U.S. Data Source continues to employ Calexicans and continues operating in Calexico.

Madden employs 51 people, 31 from Calexico. His employees enter information from handwritten forms into computer databases.

Alatorre asked Madden if he would truly hire all the people he said he would. Madden said he would.

His business will be monitored by the council every six months to make sure he backs up his claims, according to Mayor Pro Tem John Renison.

Later in the meeting, the pharmacists brought their request before the RDA board.

Gary Metelski of Imperial did all the talking.

In a speech that would have winded Strom Thurmond during his early days in the Senate, Metelski stood before the council and explained why he thought the RDA board should give him and his business partner a loan, pay for renovating the Hotel De Anza's available commercial space to accommodate a pharmacy and allow the men to operate a pharmacy in the hotel for six months without paying rent.

Metelski told the council about all of the services a "De Anza Pharmacy" would provide. He said it would be the "pharmacy of the future."

While he spoke, Moreno and other members of the public began to line up behind him, waiting for a chance to speak.

After Metelski was finished, Moreno asked City Manager Richard Inman if there is a set of guidelines city staffers consult before they bring requests for financial assistance before the council.

Inman said there isn't.

Mayor Victor Carrillo said the City Council listens to proposals brought before the RDA board and weighs the merits of each case.

Asked Moreno: "On a case-by-case basis? How do you decide if it should be rejected? How do you decide if it is a good proposal?"

At that point, the council took a recess. When the council returned, it heard from local businessman David Ouzan and real estate agent Linda Barrientos.

Ouzan asked Metelski how he would guarantee to provide the set of unique services he had said his pharmacy would provide.

Metelski said he had his word.

Barrientos said the pharmacists' business plan looked good.

"He's my tenant if you don't want him," she said.

Renison made a motion to pay for the renovation of the Hotel De Anza's commercial space. While that renovation would have been tailored to house a pharmacy, the RDA board wouldn't have been required to rent to the pharmacists before it Tuesday night.

That motion died for a lack of a second.

Grijalva made a motion to approve the staff's recommendation to approve the project.

Inman had said earlier that the city would receive a 35 percent return on its investment if it loaned the pharmacists the money.

That motion died for a lack of a second.

"Do I have a motion to reject the request?" Carrillo asked.

Alatorre made the motion, it was seconded and, by a 3-1 vote, the motion was approved.

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

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