Mayor’s Vendetta Ousted Him, Says Irwindale Official

Times Staff Writer

A former redevelopment consultant to the city of Irwindale has said a move to fire him was part of a vendetta by Irwindale Mayor Pat Miranda, who was frustrated in an attempt to use the city’s redevelopment agency for personal gain.

Fred Lyte told Miranda in a statement that the mayor had “disrupted and harassed our staff because we would not take unethical or illegal actions for your personal benefit.” The statement was given to the mayor and City Council before it voted to fire him Dec. 22.

Lyte accused Miranda of trying to destroy the city’s redevelopment agency and called his actions “a disgrace.”


Determined to Stay

“You have said that . . . even if you can’t get the votes to fire me, you will continue to harass me until I quit,” the statement said. “Don’t hold your breath. I do not intend to leave Irwindale voluntarily because I am needed here to protect the people . . . against your deceit and greed.”

Miranda responded to Lyte’s charges with a brief statement of his own, addressed to the city residents. The mayor said he had become convinced that Lyte, a key figure in negotiations to bring the Los Angeles Raiders to Irwindale, had been paid too much in commissions in his post as redevelopment consultant.

“I asked Charles Martin, our city manager, how much the city had paid Fred Lyte in about 10 years and he said about $6 million,” Miranda said. “That may be about $4.5 million more than other cities may have paid (their consultants).”

For this reason, he indicated, he wanted to rewrite Lyte’s contract before the council decided to fire him.

A spokesman for Miranda said Tuesday that any further response would only give credibility to Lyte’s remarks, which Miranda considers “nothing but sour grapes.”

Point of Accusation

Miranda did not answer a pointed accusation in Lyte’s statement that “probably no one” had benefitted more from the activities of the redevelopment agency than the mayor.

Referring to property where Miranda operated a taco stand, Lyte declared that the site, “which was worth about $25,000 12 years ago, has been leased to Hopkins Development under an arrangement where you will receive a minimum of $1,680,000 over the period of your lease. I understand that the execution of this lease by you was a probable conflict of interest violation.”

Lyte accused Miranda of wanting to fire him in part because the agency made another deal with Hopkins Development which would have paid other parties more than Miranda would get from his deal with the company.

“You came to Charlie (Martin) and me and said that your manhood would be questioned if the (other party) got more than you did,” he charged. “You asked us to coerce Hopkins . . . into paying you . . . another $800 per month through denials of permits and other governmental actions.

“We were told that we would regret it if we didn’t. However, we refused to blackmail Hopkins for your benefit and this was when your attacks on me first started.”

Motive Suggested

Another motive, Lyte charged, was that Miranda may be “trying to kill the Raider deal and a good way to do it would be to get rid of Charlie (Martin) and me.”

Miranda has questioned rising legal and environmental costs associated with the Raider project, but he has not said he wants to kill it. An environmental impact report is scheduled for council discussion this week.

Lyte’s statement is the latest in a series of allegations that Irwindale officials have profited immensely from dealings as officials.

On Sept. 24, 1987, a Times story detailed instances in which Irwindale officials had steered millions of dollars in city contracts to private businesses that they either owned or had a substantial interest in. The story also said that Lyte, in negotiating the Raider deal, appeared to have violated a provision in his contract forbidding him from recommending to the City Council a project in which he had a financial interest.

Under his contract with Irwindale, Lyte, who virtually directed the redevelopment agency although he had only the title of consultant, was to receive a fee of $2 million once the Raider stadium in Irwindale was completed.

Total of All Fees

In his statement, he acknowledged that for industrial and other projects he had arranged over a 12-year period for Irwindale, he stands to receive a total fee of about $6 million.

“To date, my projects will result in Irwindale receiving about $600 million . . . and I will receive about 1% of that amount,” he said. “That’s not bad for a city that had $25,000 in the bank 12 years ago.”

Lyte said that for 12 years the mayor had insisted on such a fee arrangement and “rejected a straight salary arrangement” suggested by Lyte. He noted that part of his contract called for him to pay all his own expenses.

Miranda said in his statement that he understands “our city was about the only city of the cities near us that paid anyone in the community redevelopment agency on a commission basis to bring business into the city.”