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Bryant Denies Making Racial Slurs : Pomona Worker About to Lose Job Files U.S. Complaint

June 29, 1989|JEFFREY MILLER | Times Staff Writer

POMONA — Councilman C. L. (Clay) Bryant this week angrily rejected charges of racial discrimination made by a city employee whose position has been cut from the budget.

Executive Assistant Hector Godinez filed a complaint against the city with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on June 15, alleging that he was subjected to unspecified racial slurs from Bryant since shortly after he was hired in January.

Bryant called the complaint "absolutely groundless."

"There's not one word of truth in what (Godinez) says," Bryant said. "He's got as much chance of proving that as he does of keeping his job. . . . He doesn't realize that I've got a hell of a good reputation with the Hispanic community."

Code Violations Contended

Godinez, reached this week at his City Hall office, declined to elaborate on the charge.

Bryant has sought Godinez's dismissal since Godinez was hired by former City Administrator A. J. Wilson. Bryant contends that Wilson violated hiring policies contained in the Pomona City Code by failing to get the approval of the city's Merit System Commission.

In rebutting Godinez's complaint, Bryant said this week that he had never spoken to the employee.

"Since he's been in Pomona, I've not said one word to that guy," he said. "He's here illegally, so I never wanted to acknowledge his presence. If he says I said anything like that to him, he's a damned liar. And if someone else says I said it to them, they're liars and they'll have me to face."

Bryant has alleged that Wilson sidestepped the normal hiring process to secure a job for Godinez because of Wilson's friendship with the employee's father. The hiring was among the grounds Bryant cited for voting with council members Tomas Ursua and Nell Soto to fire Wilson on May 1.

3 Positions Eliminated

The three council members later voted to eliminate three administrative positions, including Godinez's, from the city's 1989-90 budget.

The district attorney's office declined a request by Bryant to prosecute Wilson for the alleged violation of the City Code. However, Deputy Dist. Atty. James Hickey informed Bryant in a letter that the city could file a civil suit against Wilson to try to reclaim wages paid to Godinez.

In the city's response to Godinez's complaint, City Atty. Patrick Sampson said Godinez's hiring involved a "deviation from established procedure" and was being investigated "to determine if any substantive impropriety occurred."

Officials with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) said they have contacted federal officials to ensure that Godinez is treated fairly.

Unaware of Relationship

"Are we going to start firing people just because they're related to somebody or know somebody?" asked Jose Diaz, president of LULAC Council No. 2875 in Santa Ana. "People should be judged on how they do their job. . . . All we're asking for is equal treatment and respect for him as a human being."

Diaz added that he was not aware of any relationship between Wilson and the employee's father, whose name is also Hector Godinez. The elder Godinez is a former national director of LULAC.

Bryant argued that he often has been the only council member to represent minority concerns and appoint minority residents to city commissions. He placed an item on Monday's council agenda to give his supporters in the community an opportunity to contest the racism charge.

"This accusation of racial discrimination is really ridiculous," said Carol Linares, a Latina. "This man's door always seems to be open to people of all races."

Resident Frank Estrada blasted council members who oppose the new council majority of Bryant, Soto and Ursua. "I don't know who is more prejudiced, the people who vote against community needs or the man who is accused unjustly," he said.

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