There are some pretty loaded accusations made by Councilman Roger Hernandez about Councilman Steve Herfert. The letter below was sent from Hernandez to City Manager Andrew Pasmant last month, and it appeared in my inbox yesterday.
City Hall is closed today, so I will not be able to confirm any of these accusations. Herfert could not be reached for comment.
I’m not even sure if this is worthy of a story. The first reaction when I told collegaues about this was, “Here we go again.” West Covina Council members always seem to be bickering. But then, they are not the only ones.
Here’s the letter:
From: Roger Hernandez, MPA
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 4:48 PM
To: Andrew Pasmant
Cc: Frank Wills
Subject: Formal request for assistance with respect to closed session
I am writing in order to make two formal requests, which I have outlined below.
As you are aware, during the closed session of September 2, 2008, Councilmember Herfert directed several loud and threatening statements towards me. Specifically, he directed the following comments towards me: “We’re gonna come after your ass,” “If not us, someone else will, ” and “We are gonna sue your ass.” They were made in a physically aggressive manner, while leaning into my personal space and waving his finger in a confrontational manner, which made all staff and councilmembers visibly uncomfortable. I understood his statements and body language as making a threat upon my life and livelihood. As I noted to you then and the Chief of Police thereafter, these statements caused me to fear for my personal safety.
At that time, I asked for your assistance in documenting the events I described above. You responded, while throwing your pen upon your notepad, that you could do nothing because it was a closed session. I understand that information discussed during a closed session is confidential; however, Councilmember Herfert’s comments, first of all, had nothing to do with any closed session item that was placed upon on the agenda and nothing to do with any matter for which we could have legally convened a closed session. Moreover, Councilmember Herfert’s comments, which I deem to be a threat upon my life, may be criminal activity. I would think that criminal conduct, in the form of battery or assault, for example, cannot be protected from disclosure. Therefore, I believe that Councilmember Herfert’s comments were not confidential. They were stand-alone personal attacks upon me and, whether criminally actionable or not, should not be permitted.
In addition, I understand that as a councilmember, I have a right to feel safe when attending to my duties as an elected official. As councilmembers, we all do. Therefore, at this time, I’d like to make the following two requests:
1.) I would like law enforcement personnel to be present during all closed sessions. I have contacted the Chief of Police in order to request his assistance in this regard. I was, in fact, absent for twenty-five minutes of open session due to both my fear and my desire to properly document the events that had transpired with the appropriate authorities. Had there been law enforcement present during the closed session, I may have had the opportunity to join my fellow councilmembers at the beginning of the meeting. This should not happen again.
2.) I would like all closed sessions to be tape-recorded in order to potentially deter further attacks and also for evidentiary reasons, should there be a need to take further action.
Lastly, I would like to note for the record that Councilmember Herfert’s conduct was, at minimum, unprofessional and alarming for the other councilmembers present. His actions undermine the institutional foundations of our governance: Intimidating other councilmbers is inimical to productive discussion and action. It further undermines our duties as elected officials and the proper execution of our responsibilities. As Councilmember Herfert should know, terror is not conducive to the creativity and hard work necessary to overcome the challenges faced by our City.
Please confirm that you have received this email and advise me of your conclusion with respect to my requests.