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PASADENA : NAACP Calls for City Atty. to Resign Discrimination: Chapter accuses Victor Kaleta of bias against female staffers. They say city should fire him if he doesn't quit, and threaten legal action.

August 11, 1994|RICK HOLGUIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The local chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People called Wednesday for the resignation of Pasadena City Atty. Victor Kaleta on grounds that he allegedly discriminated against female staffers.

And if Kaleta refuses to step down, the City Council should fire him, the group said at a press conference.

The group also threatened to take legal action.

"We in Pasadena just cannot allow this situation," Taylor Morton, president of the NAACP's Pasadena chapter, said in an interview. "If the City Council allows the city attorney to do this, what kind of a message is it sending to the rest of the community?"

One of the women attorneys Kaleta supervises is black, but the NAACP official said his group also is fighting discrimination of any type.

Kaleta said in an interview he did not plan to step down. He denied that he had discriminated against the female lawyers in his office. But he acknowledged a 1992 reorganization left an impression of inequity because two male attorneys won promotions after saying they would seek jobs elsewhere.

Kaleta said one of his female employees, lawyer Carolyn Williams, who is black, was promoted several weeks ago. Further steps are planned to address discontent, he said.

"There's still some dissatisfaction in the office and I'd like to address that," he said.

Council members say they are moving cautiously.

"It's our job to get the facts and understand the nuances," Councilman Chris Holden said. "We're trying to avoid litigation on all ends."

Councilman Bill Crowfoot recently revealed that Kaleta narrowly survived a "no confidence" vote that the council took in a closed session last month. Councilmen Crowfoot, Holden and Isaac Richard voted "no confidence" in the city attorney.

But the three were overruled by Mayor Kathryn Nack and Councilmen Rick Cole, William M. Paparian and William E. Thomson Jr.

The council majority plans to hire a consultant to review the department's management practices and make recommendations for improvements.

In his defense, the city attorney noted he had met the city's affirmative action guidelines for hiring women and minorities in his office. Kaleta also said the controversial reorganization was reviewed by various city officials and approved by the council.

The investigation of Kaleta was triggered by a December, 1993, memo, which was written by an unidentified staffer, complaining of disparate treatment of women.

A consultant hired by the council found women lawyers in the civil branch of the city attorney's office suffered discrimination when it came to promotions, salaries, bonuses and fringe benefits.

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