Ongoing Pico coverage

Whittier Daily News reporter Airan Scruby has been closesly following the inner workings of Pico Rivera’s City Hall.

Her most recent story ran in today’s paper and was about Mayor Ron Beilke’s threat to recall two of his colleagues on the dais —- Councilmen Gregory Salcido and David Armenta.

Tomorrow, Scruby looks at City Manager Chuck Fuentes and how he may or may not play a role in the council’s deep divide. Here are some excerpts from the story:

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PICO RIVERA — City Manager Charles ”Chuck” Fuentes has been at the center of Pico Rivera politics since he took his position for the first time in 2005.
His supporters say he is a capable civic leader, but detractors say Fuentes has politicized City Hall, showing favoritism to the three City Council members who hired him.
“Am I more political? I’m the first one to say yes, and that’s a plus,” Fuentes said. “Every city manager does what he or she has to do to take care of his majority.”

*****

When City Manager Dennis Courtermarche was fired in 2005, Beilke, along with then-allies councilmen David Armenta and Pete Ramirez, quickly brought in Fuentes, an acquaintance of Beilke’s.
Armenta, Ramirez and Beilke were ultimately served with recall papers because of hiring Fuentes.

*****

Armenta left the voting bloc and voted with Gregory Salcido and Carlos Garcia to fire Fuentes just nine months later. They cited Fuentes’ lack of education and city administrative experience as reasons for his termination.
Fuentes said he felt wronged by the decision and believed his work for the city had been positive.
He said being fired motivated him to help Beilke when he backed Gracie Gallegos-Smith and Bob Archuleta for City Council in 2007. Fuentes even did consulting work on their campaigns, he said.

What do you think?

  • Anonymous

    There is not one single city that has a city manager that favors certain elected officials. All you have to do is count to three or four. City Managers and Superintendents,throughout the San Gabriel Valley play favoritisim to the majority of a particular city council or school board. Unfortunetly it is the “nature of the beast.” They know all too well which side their bread is buttered on. THey MUST PLAY BALL or lose their job. It becomes discouaging when they do this. They know better, but their hands are tied. These city managers and superintendents help creat, mistrust, gossip, jealousy, and fighting amongst the five elected officials they should represent equally. But,sadly enough that is never the case. They take it upon themselves to act as if “they” are the mayor, councilmember, president or board member. They resent taking orders from someone younger, older, or someone that has little to no college education. They can be such a dividing factor in preventing councils or board to make policies or work on projects that can help a city or school district. For some reason or another “they think that THEY are the final stop.” In reality they are insecure and self centered. Most if not all have a low self-esteem. They worry to death when the next election comes around. They try to please all, when the time comes to do so. They buy expensive gifts, during the holidays, wine and dine them, once a month, at least or attend the elected officials parties, family gatherings and fundraisers (foe re-election) just to get in good with them. brown noseers)But most are “not trusted” by their own elected officials. The elected officials tend to play the game, by using them, and getting as much as they can out of them, until another one comes along. One who can play the “political musical chairs game” a lot better and a lot smarter.It is a vicious cycle. They speak with a “fork tongue” as usual. Very typical of their desperate pathedic personality.

  • Anonymous

    To the previous poster: Yes, much of what you say bears truth. I do notice that all too often City Managers are made scape goats for the failings of city councils. This might explain why city managers try really hard to stay in their good graces. The quality of local elected does often seem to be lacking but I think an apathetic citizenry is largely to blame. We treat local government with all the seriousness we treat exercise: something that we’d really like to do one of these days but just NOT TODAY. One thing is true about politicians: they bend with the winds. If enough people simply showed up at council meetings or wrote in to their elected on issues of importance you might see alot of decisions go differently.

  • Meeting Watcher

    I agree with your comments. Residents that show up can definately determine which way a vote goes. Especially if it impacts them. Elected officials tend to feel the pressure and fear for their seats. They tend to “chicken out” when a mob mentality forms.It can be a do or die for council members or school board members.

  • Anonymous

    It is the people of these cities that need to voice their concerns. If they do not hear from us, they think that we don’t are at all. We elected them to serve and represnt us. Not the other way around.

  • Yankee Bravo

    I’d agree with much of what the first poster wrote, except when he started talking psycho-babble. City managers have plenty of self-esteem, probably more than your typical councilmember.

    It is true that city managers will almost always be better educated than their political “masters.” Nonetheless, they are appointed to their job by a city council majority, so if the city council is divided, the city manager’s job is going to be a difficult one. Ideally, all all city council members would have the best interests of their city at heart and they would understand and be supportive when a city manager implements what ever the city council majority votes for. But, in practice, council members in the minority somehow think they should have veto power over the majority, and they expect the city manager to back them up. When the city manager does not, the council majority takes out their frustrations on the city staff and city manager, and usually try to clean house when and if they wrest the majority away from their opponents.

  • Realist

    Psycho-babble or not it is called a councilmembere reality. It can sometimes become a nightmare, if you are one lone rider. City managers try to balance out the needs of a city council. But most of the time they too are part of an on going rivalery amongst councilmembers. It becomes apparent with their tone of voice and body language. When “one of their favorite” councilmembers speak up, they actually become arosed from their vegatative coma. They jot down notes and ask questions. They ignor the “less favored” councilmembers. Afraid of retaliation from the rest of the popular councilmembers. They learn to master the game of the have and have nots. Knowing that IF THEY screw up, it’s curtains for them in the end.

  • Council Watcher

    I have gone to several council meetings, in different cities and find what you say to be true. City Managers tend to be self centered. They think that they are the “kings” of a city. For some reason they position themselves in a place of control. They create most of the problems that and verbal fights that go on between council members. They enjoy being the referee, or the peace maker. But in reality it helps him keep a short leash on them all, pulling back only when one is out of controll.