Council takes citizens' day comments to heart

June 26, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — It looks like it's working, as some of the comments that Calexico residents made at Monday's citizens' day were referenced before Tuesday's City Council and Redevelopment Agency board meetings.

The council's discussion of citizens' day constituted the vast bulk of public comment Tuesday night because the council met in closed session during both the council and RDA meetings, taking no action after either.

According to the agenda for both meetings, the council, seated as the RDA board, discussed loaning the Housing Authority money to pay for an attorney in the first closed session and, later the City Council discussed employee union negotiations and reclassifications of city staffers.


Before the council went into closed session as the RDA board, Alex Perrone, the councilman who hosted Monday's citizens' day, told City Manager Richard Inman there are a lot of problems in downtown Calexico that need to be fixed now.

"I don't want to be a pest but we can start right away fixing the lamps in the downtown area; there are potholes we can cover up, sidewalks we can fix," Perrone said.

Perrone said the city shouldn't wait to make repairs until it hires a project manager for the city's downtown revitalization project. Perrone said there are plenty of city staffers who could get the work done.

During Monday's citizens' day at City Hall, residents complained about the shabby conditions downtown.

During public comments before the council's closed session Tuesday, Jesus "Chuy" Solano, a former Calexico Housing Authority commissioner, asked if there would be a set procedure for how citizens' days would be conducted.

Solano objected to Perrone meeting with residents on a one-on-one basis in the small ante room of City Hall's council chambers where the council has closed-session discussions. Perrone said some of the residents who attended citizens' day preferred the "privacy" of talking in the ante room.

Regarding Solano's comments Monday during his time in the room, Perrone said, "I listened to Mr. Solano. He was not very happy with Parks and Recreation because they're not really informing the public about the programs that are available for the youth. I informed Mr. Solano there is outreach, in fact all my children are in programs."

"Another concern he had was he felt the City Council was being unfair to him. There was a rumor that he felt that the recommendations for his appointment as a board member to the hospital board was tarnished by the City Council. I disagreed with him. I told him no way. … I told him not from our City Council was there anything ever derogatory mentioned about him."

Solano said, "Just as a point of information, a correction, regarding the recreation department, I didn't state that it wasn't doing enough. My question to you yesterday was, did the council know regarding a master plan pertaining to the recreation department? That was my question yesterday to you and what were we going to do with the youth because summer is here and school is going to be out. Not that the recreation wasn't doing enough, I have spoken to Mr. (Javier) Gonzalez, (city recreation director), and I believe that he is doing a very good job so —"

Perrone said, "Then I think I answered your question when I told you I knew the programs. You said that there was no outreach, there was no media, they weren't really getting to the people. I think they are doing a good job, people are aware of it, there is community awareness of what's going on at the Community Center."

Councilman David Ouzan said, "I agree with you, Mr. Solano that we do need some more programs for the youth after school, not only after school but now it's time, it's vacation time and it's really hot out there. We need to keep them active, indoors," he said.

Ouzan thinks the Mario Esquer Building on Eady Avenue could be used for youth events.

Councilman Victor Carrillo addressed Solano's complaints about how citizens' day was conducted.

He said, "Every city councilman here can adhere to their own personality and how they want to address it.

"I'll tell you what I'm going to do Friday."

Carrillo is scheduled to host a second citizens' day from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday at City Hall. He said he would open the meeting to the audience but agree to meet in the ante room if a resident asked to.

Ouzan said it was a good idea to continue allowing one-on-one meetings for people who are "shy" or uncomfortable with bringing their concerns before a City Council audience.

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

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