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Recall Effort in Pico Rivera Targets O'Hara

February 23, 1995|JILL GOTTESMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Pico Rivera City Councilwoman Helen O'Hara, who has been at the center of controversy since her unexpected election in April, has been served with a recall notice describing her as self-serving, mean-spirited and incompetent.

The notice, which contained the signatures of 25 city voters, was delivered Feb. 14 to O'Hara's home. She said she did not recognize the names of residents who signed it.

"I don't think these people have ever even been to a council meeting," said O'Hara, a political novice whose victory stunned council watchers. "They don't know what they are talking about."

Spearheading the recall attempt is Frank Patino, a Pico Rivera real estate agent. In the recall notice, Patino accuses O'Hara of alienating the council and staff and of "attempting ill-fated, unworkable schemes that cause other cities to view Pico Rivera as out of control and in disarray."

Patino cited a letter sent by O'Hara to neighboring cities outlining an anti-gang program she wanted to establish. However, when the city officials called Pico Rivera City Hall to find out more about the program, no one knew about it, he said.

"She's just a loose cannon," he said.

O'Hara, however, said she believes the recall attempt is in retaliation for her vote earlier this month against placing a card club measure on the June 6 ballot. She was the only council member to vote against the proposal.

Patino denied that her vote against the casino measure prompted the recall effort. He said the recall drive began a month after she won the council seat.

O'Hara said she is too busy to respond to the allegations. "I just don't have time to worry about these kinds of things," she said.

The recall proponents will have 120 days to collect about 5,000 signatures, 20% of the number of registered voters in the city, said City Clerk Chris Schaefer.

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