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BELL GARDENS : Garcia Assailed for Receiving Loans

July 04, 1993|JILL GOTTESMAN

City Councilman Rodolfo (Rudy) Garcia has come under fire for soliciting and receiving nearly $1,500 in personal loans from city officials in the past year.

Garcia borrowed nearly $1,000 from City Manager William Vasquez, whom the councilman later cast a vote to fire, in an apparent violation of state law. Garcia also borrowed $150 from Assistant City Manager Lawrence Salazar, who was later fired, and $300 from Councilman George Deitch.

Deitch questioned the propriety of the loans at a recent council meeting. He asked Garcia to explain why most of the money has not been repaid, but Mayor Frank Duran ruled Deitch out of order before Garcia could respond.

Vasquez and Salazar said last week they had concerns about Garcia's loan requests.

"I think (we) lent him money because we feared some sort of retaliation," Salazar said.

Salazar said he lent Garcia $150 last summer to buy a plane ticket for Garcia's girlfriend so she could accompany the councilman to a conference in Monterey. The city paid for Garcia's trip. "I usually don't lend money to anyone, but this was my boss," Salazar said. "I felt I didn't really have a choice."

Vasquez said he thought the request was inappropriate at the time, but gave Garcia cash anyway to help pay for food and rent: "It was a human response to someone who needed help."

Vasquez said Garcia has repaid about $200 on his loan. Salazar said he has received about $40 on his loan, but Garcia insists he repaid the entire $150.

Vasquez fired Salazar late in February under pressure from the council, which said the assistant city manager lacked experience. In early March, the council voted 3-2 to fire Vasquez. Garcia cast one of the votes to fire Vasquez.

A spokeswoman for the state's Fair Political Practices Commission said officials are prohibited from voting on issues involving people with whom they have loans. Jeanette Turville would not say if Garcia were under investigation.

"All my funding has dried up," Garcia said. "I don't like to borrow money, but I had to."

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