Ex-official seeks $12M from city

first_imgAfter Lopez was hired in November 2001, he often was criticized by Siccama and his community group, Montebello Citizens for Open Government. Siccama often claimed Lopez had too many ties to Los Angeles-based developer TELACU. When Siccama won a council seat in the November 2005 election, he joined Lopez-Reid and Bob Bagwell in a new three-vote majority that immediately called for performance evaluations of all department heads. At the time of Lopez’s resignation, Siccama told this newspaper that he thought the director had focused too much on senior housing projects that provide relatively little tax revenue. He also questioned millions of dollars in forgivable loans Lopez had recommended for council approval, including some for TELACU. Councilwoman Rosie Vas- quez said she was not surprised that Lopez was seeking damages “after the way he was treated by the majority.” Vasquez, along with Councilman Bill Molinari, had voted against replacing Lopez. “\ thinks they’re above the law, but \ is just following his legal right,” Vasquez said. “It’s heartbreaking to see this action taken against the city. We’re not in any way, shape or form financially ready for any kind of a lawsuit of this size. It’s a lot of money.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MONTEBELLO – Ruben Lopez, Montebello’s former community development director, is seeking $12 million from the city in damages, saying city officials ruined his reputation by making negative comments about his performance when he was forced to resign in August. Lopez had agreed to leave in return for a severance package and a stipulation that his job performance would not be discussed publicly. In a claim form submitted last Friday, Lopez alleges that disparaging remarks made by certain council members and staff to the press have caused harm that is “continuous and ongoing.” As a result, Lopez has had difficulty acquiring another full-time position since he left, said his attorney, Arnold Alvarez-Glasman. Alvarez-Glasman is a former Montebello city attorney who was terminated by the city earlier. Alvarez-Glasman said if the city denies the claims, he and his client intend to pursue a lawsuit for the damages. “Damage to someone’s professional reputation is significant and can cause serious problems,” Alvarez-Glasman said. “\ is intended to send a message. The council can’t conduct themselves like they have.” Councilman Jeff Siccama declined to comment on the case Wednesday. Mayor Norma Lopez-Reid could not be reached for comment. Alvarez-Glasman blamed Lopez- Reid for saying the city wanted someone with a “different vision.” “Unfortunately, the mayor especially has not been cognizant of the fact that she breached her contractual obligation,” he said. last_img