Two Glendale residents have asked the California attorney general for permission to file a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Councilman Frank Quintero to fill a vacant seat on the council dais just days after he retired from office.
The residents, John Rando and Mariano Rodas, contend Quintero's appointment violates a more than 30-year-old policy meant to prevent a revolving-door opportunity among elected officials who could leave City Hall only to be appointed to a cushy municipal post.
The City Council was aware of the policy — which bars council members from holding "any compensated city office or city employ until two years after leaving the office" — when members unanimously appointed Quintero to a 14-month term in late April, about two weeks after his retirement party. He replaced former Councilman Rafi Manoukian, who left after being elected city treasurer.
At the time, City Atty. Mike Garcia said the policy didn't apply to Quintero's appointment because elected positions were exempt. This week he reiterated his position in an email.
While the original policy exempted elective office, it's not specifically addressed in the current language. In 1982, the electorate voted to change the City Charter provision because it seemingly prevented council members from holding any outside employment.
Garcia had said voters in 1982 didn't intend to block council members from holding elected offices after they left the dais. But according to the request received by the state attorney general's office on Tuesday, Rando and Rodas contend the policy should be taken at its face value, without interpreting legislative intent.
"When something is clear on its face, you don't go to the intent unless it reaches an absurd result. I don't see how [Quintero not returning to office is] an absurd result," said Sean Brady, an attorney for Rando and Rodas.
But Quintero said he's being targeted for his opposition to the Glendale Gun Show, which the City Council banned — along with all other gun sales — from city property in March. Brady represented the gun show's operator and Rando and Rodas both spoke against the proposed gun sale ban during several council meetings.
"My position on the gun show and gun legislation is well-documented," Quintero said. "I find it interesting that the same law firm that represented the gun show is filing the lawsuit."
Brady rejected that claim, saying Quintero's position on the gun show "has nothing to do" with the current case, noting that his law firm represents many individuals on government issues, from firearms to labor negotiations.
Instead, the lawsuit is meant to force Glendale to follow its own rules, he said.
"Do we just say, 'They violated the charter, but [Quintero's] a good guy, let's just look the other way'?" Brady asked. "They violated the rules."
In order to file a lawsuit to oust a public official from an elected office he or she shouldn't be holding, people must first apply for permission from the state attorney general in a process known as a "quo warranto" action.
The action can be brought against any person "who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises any public office or franchise," according to the California Department of Justice. The strategy has been used before unsuccessfully by opponents of President Obama who claim he wasn't born in the United States and so should be disqualified from holding office.
Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said requiring approval is meant to protect public officials from frivolous lawsuits.
It may take months before an opinion is rendered, she added.