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Maywood mayor, 2 others face recall vote

Bloomekatz is a Times staff writer.

Maywood voters will go to the polls today to decide whether to recall three of five City Council members and adopt an ordinance that would boost the qualifications for police chief and discourage nepotism in city hiring practices.

Supporters of the recall drive and Measure M said their campaign stemmed from the council’s decision in February to appoint Al Hutchings, who was convicted of theft and resigned from the Los Angeles Police Department, as the city’s interim police chief. Mayor Felipe Aguirre and council members Veronica Guardado and Ana Rosa Rizo are the targets of the recall effort.

“They voted three to two in favor of Alfred Hutchings,” said Ramon Medina, 49, who hopes to unseat Aguirre in today’s election. The auto repair shop owner said he voted for Aguirre when he first ran for office in 2005.

But after Hutchings’ appointment, Medina said, he felt the mayor was not acting in the best interest of the city.

“I was disappointed because we’ve been hoping to take Maywood in a direction where the neighbors are living a normal life, having a safe community, a place where you enjoy living,” Medina said. “We lost all of those feelings.”

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Hutchings’ selection prompted protests from residents. Aguirre then asked Hutchings to step down and withdrew his support after meetings between the city and the state attorney general’s office, which had been investigating allegations of wrongdoing by officers in the troubled Police Department. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office was also conducting an investigation, authorities said.

Two weeks after Hutchings’ appointment, the City Council voted unanimously to appoint Maywood Police Cmdr. Frank Hauptmann as interim chief.

But senior Assistant Atty. Gen. Louis Verdugo said at the time that in selecting Hutchings, Maywood may have violated state and city legal codes regarding background checks and qualifications for those serving as chief of police.

Seven polling places throughout Maywood will be open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. A Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder official said that there are about 7,500 registered voters in the city and that a simple majority is needed to recall each council member and to pass Measure M.

In addition to Medina, Maywood Planning Commissioner Zoila D. Tuaua and real estate broker Miriam Kirk-Gallarado also hope to take Aguirre’s spot if he is recalled.

Flower and music shop owner Nelson Osorio and Raymundo Lopez, a recreation leader, hope to take Guardado’s spot. Businessman Enrique Curiel, community volunteer Gloria Viramontes and truck driver Jaime C. Vasquez hope to succeed Rizo.

Measure M, titled “The Maywood Ethics in Government Hiring and Contracting Practices Initiative,” includes sections amending the city’s municipal code and requiring that the chief of police have at least a “bachelor’s degree in public administration, criminal justice or a closely related field” and “a minimum of four years of command-level experience at the rank of lieutenant or above.”

The proposed ordinance would also amend the municipal code by adding a chapter titled “Nepotism.” It would require that “no public official shall appoint, employ or participate in the hiring, employment decision or the contracting of any person, employee or contractor that is an immediate family member.”

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com


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