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Bell Gardens City Council Fires City Manager Vasquez


Bell Gardens City Manager William Vasquez--who had reprimanded two City Council members for asking that friends and campaign workers get city jobs--was fired Friday during a special council session.

A visibly shaken Vasquez had no comment after the 3-2 vote and quickly left the meeting after it adjourned. He became the seventh administrator to leave city government since a new council took office a year ago.

Vasquez, 48, was hired last March, when four Latino council members took office after the recall of four Anglo council members, creating a Latino majority for the first time in the city's history.

During the past six months, however, Vasquez has come under fire for clashing with Mayor Frank B. Duran and Councilman Rodolfo (Rudy) Garcia.

The council members have pushed for Vasquez's removal since October, when he sent them a memo critical of their asking that certain people get city employment. Vasquez, who refused their requests, also complained that they had berated city employees.

Duran and Garcia have admitted asking that friends and campaign workers be hired by the city. And Duran has admitted asking that his son be given a $30,000 plastering contract with the city.

But both council members said they have never said anything improper to a city employee.

Vasquez had maintained the support of the council majority until a meeting Monday night, when he was taken to task for authorizing a generous severance check for former Assistant City Manager Larry Salazar, who was fired by Vasquez last month under council pressure.

According to city policy, Salazar was entitled to two weeks pay, or about $2,300. Vasquez said he misunderstood a city ordinance, and approved three months severance pay, or about $14,000.

Duran voted with Garcia and Councilwoman Rosa Hernandez to oust Vasquez.

The council is scheduled to choose a new city manager Tuesday.

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