HUNTINGTON PARK (CBSLA.com) — Huntington Park residents joined together Monday night to serve recall papers to the mayor and the entire City Council because of alleged corruption.
The officials are accused of mismanaging the city into a $9 million deficit.
Residents also claim city attorney Francisco Leal was paid a $500,000 salary for a city of more than 60,000 people.
“The contracts are being given without bid systems. High contracts. Mr. Leal is just an example. $600,000 a year. He makes more in one month than our residents do in a year,” said recall leader Margaret Sanabria.
Leal said the city pays a retainer for legal work done by his law firm and he’s an outside consultant, not a paid city employee.
“My salary is not $700,000, it’s not $600,000, it’s not $500,000. It’s $37,500 a month. And it’s not my salary,” said Leal. “It is the amount of money the firm earns to do legal services. The rumors are malicious, they’re not authentic and they want to paint me as an employee with benefits, which I don’t have.”
Leal also said ex-councilwoman Linda Guevara, who served the recall papers, has ulterior motives because she was forced to leave the council when she was accused of not living in the city.
“The leader of this group, she’s a former city councilwoman. She’s got a beef to grind here,” he said.
Guevara responded, “I exited the council because they accused me of not living in the city. I had to go to trial with the District Attorney’s office, which is now dismissed.”
Residents charge the corruption roots in the city run deep, starting with the former mayor.
John Noguez, now the L.A. County assessor, is on leave from his job while the District Attorney investigates charges of a scheme where assessments were reduced on expensive properties in exchange for campaign contributions.
“These people are so tied in with John Noguez. He still has control here. He says who comes in and who doesn’t come in. A lot of these contracts don’t come out to bid. They’re just approved because they give large contributions to their campaign,” said Guevara.
Recall supporters must now collect signatures from 3,100 residents before the issue can actually be put on the ballot.