MAYWOOD : Official Censured for Using City Car

The City Council last week censured a council member for using a city vehicle without permission.

After an hour of deliberations, the council concluded that Councilwoman Elvira Moreno-Guzman used poor judgment in taking a city vehicle four weeks ago without proper authorization.

"She knew if she asked me, I would have told her no," Chief Administrative Officer Ronald L. Lindsey said after the meeting, adding that the city, primarily because of insurance reasons, doesn't have a policy that allows council members to use city vehicles.

The council voted 4 to 0, with Moreno-Guzman abstaining, to rebuke the councilwoman in a written letter to be drafted by the next council meeting.

Admitting that she used poor judgment by not asking permission before taking the vehicle to visit a church, Moreno-Guzman said: "If there was any type of abuse to the city of Maywood, I wouldn't have done it."

"Having to censure a council member has not been easy for me," Councilwoman Dorothy Ramirez said. "But this had to be done to send a message to any one of us that we have to conduct ourselves in a professional manner."

Moreno-Guzman contended that she used the vehicle for city business. But city staff and council members disagreed because the number of miles logged over the weekend--130--seemed out of the ordinary for a church visit.

"I've been up and down every one of the streets in this town," said Councilman William Hamilton, "and I'd ask someone to show me how you compile 130 miles."

Moreno-Guzman denied the charge that she used the car for 130 miles, saying other city officials also used the vehicle.

Moreno-Guzman said she had asked a code enforcement officer for the keys to the car with the belief that she needed no other authorization.

"If any of the other council members had done the same thing, they wouldn't have been treated so harshly," said Moreno-Guzman, who contends that she is being scrutinized unfairly because she is a first-year councilwoman.

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