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Angeles County | Community News File / Bell Gardens

Council Members Vote to Censure Chacon

October 28, 1998

The political feud among Bell Gardens City Council members escalated Monday when a majority voted to censure Councilwoman Maria Chacon, a community activist who helped elect the city's first Latino majority.

The censure motion, which is equivalent to a formal rebuke, accuses Chacon of disrupting council meetings, bullying city employees and abusing her position to obtain confidential information on private citizens.

Although it was not clear who requested the censure motion, Chacon criticized Mayor David Torres for the measure, accusing him of trying to keep her from speaking out on City Hall corruption and mismanagement.

"You are upset because I speak the truth," she said during a rancorous council meeting that was interrupted with catcalls and applause.

Without comment, Torres and his two allies, Councilmen Joaquin Penilla and Salvador Rios, voted for the censure motion. Chacon and council ally Ramiro Morales voted against it.

In a statement, Torres said: "It is time that the city of Bell Gardens be governed by leaders who obey the law and who use their positions to help the citizens of Bell Gardens instead of to intimidate them."

The censure resolution cites seven incidents over six months in which Chacon is accused of abusing her position and disrupting city meetings. In closed session, the council majority also voted to give Torres the authority to file a lawsuit against Chacon if she refuses to "temper her behavior."

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