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Council rejects claim filed by Rios

June 19, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council here on Tuesday rejected a claim filed by Lupita Rios, a former City Council candidate and one of the former executive directors of the Calexico Housing Authority.

Rios will have six months to file a complaint in Superior Court to recover alleged damages, according to City Attorney Michael Rood. If the council hadn't rejected the claim, attorneys for the claimant had two years to file a complaint, he said.

The council made no public comment before taking action, rejecting Rios' claim during approval of the consent agenda.

Rios claims she has incurred damages in an amount that exceeds jurisdiction of a limited civil case, which means she wants more than $25,000, according to California's Government Claims Program.


Rios contends in her claim that the Calexico Housing Authority breached her employment contract when its board of commissioners, which had been appointed by the City Council before it took over as commissioners, placed her on unpaid leave, failed to pay her for accrued vacation pay and wrongfully terminated her contract on November 15 of last year.

In addition, Rios claims certain Housing Authority Commissioners, and others, published false unprivileged statements and writings which exposed her to "hatred, contempt and ridicule and which injured her in her occupation."

The claim continues: "Prior to and subsequent to Nov. 15, 2001, the Housing Authority rendered performance by Lupita Rios of her employment agreement impossible, impractical, or futile by, among other things, limiting her authority to discharge her obligations and interfering with the day-to-day operations of the Housing Authority."

Rios claims the city of Calexico, the resident council of the Housing Authority and the Casas Del Sol Resident Management Corporation authorized, directed, ratified and joined in the acts described above.

Due to all these alleged acts against Rios, she has been "damaged … in that she has been denied the salary and benefits due her under her employment contract. Further, the acts described above have interfered with her ability to obtain future employment and has caused emotional distress."

She names three councilmen in her claim among the large group she feels she was wronged by, which includes former housing authority commissioners, now removed from their posts, members of the resident council and housing residents.

The list of councilmen include Mayor John Renison, Victor Carrillo and former councilman and mayor Gilbert Grijalva.

Rios did not appear at Tuesday's council meeting.

She was fired in November after an independent assessment of the Housing Authority operations by New York-based accounting firm Mitchell and Titus was published on Oct. 30, 2001.

Mitchell and Titus concluded, "An area of concern at the HACC (Calexico Housing Authority) is the role of politics. It appears that the conflict between the board and the executive director (Rios) began when (Rios) ran for a seat on the City Council in the spring of 2000. This caused conflict with the resident council leaders, employees and board members."

In addition, the firm noted overstaffing, a lack of training, inadequate fiscal policies and a lack of effective communications among a laundry list of problems.

During this year's political campaign, when Rios was running for the council for the second time, some of her supporters passed out edited copies of the Mitchell and Titus report of Oct. 30. The copy that Rios' associates passed out was two pages long. The full report is 27 pages long.

The pages Rios' associates passed out included passages cobbled together from the full report that noted the governance of the authority is ineffective, politics affect the operations of the authority, board oversight was ineffective and the property appeared to be maintained at an acceptable level.

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

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