Elected leaders and their lawsuits

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Montebello Councilwoman Kathy Salazar is still suing the city she serves because she was booted out of a community patrol group. But Salazar is definitely not the first council person to sue a city.

One example is El Monte Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki sued El Monte several years back, according to this story. Do you know of any other council members who have sued the cities they served?

Ishigaki settles with El Monte council
Whittier Daily News, The (CA) – Thursday, September 4, 2003
Author/Byline: Karen RubinStaff Writer
Section: News

EL MONTE — The El Monte City Council approved a settlement with Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki , who agreed to drop her lawsuit against the city, officials announced Wednesday.

In a closed-session meeting Tuesday, Mayor Ernie Gutierrez and councilmen Art Barrios and J. Gomez voted to approve Ishigaki’s proposal. Councilwoman Pat Wallach was absent and Ishigaki recused herself.

The 59-year-old Ishigaki says she is relieved it’s over. “I truly appreciate the sensitivity of the City Council,” she said. “It was a huge misunderstanding and at times it was hurtful, but being patient worked everything out.”

The terms of the proposal are spelled out in a Wednesday letter from Michael B. Montgomery, Ishigaki’s attorney. Ishigaki has agreed to resign voluntarily and will not have to pay back approximately $27,500, the money she earned working from March 20, the day she was sworn into office, to July 17, the day she was forced to resign.

In addition, she is entitled to her retirement benefits and accrued sick leave and vacation. She can also pursue retirement benefits with the Public Employees Retirement System.

The final settlement will be signed by Sept. 23 or sooner, said El Monte City Attorney Clarke Mosley. “This is a case of misunderstanding,” Mosley said. “Mrs. Ishigaki operated under the honest belief that she could (work for the city) while in office.”

Mosley said his firm made a mistake when they told Ishigaki she could continue working for the city while serving on the City Council. “We though it would not be a … conflict,” Mosley said. “We missed it. We honestly missed it.”

In June, Ishigaki sued the city for an undetermined amount of money and “declarative relief” over a dispute concerning the amount of her final salary that could affect her retirement benefits. Ishigaki was forced to retire July 17 because a state mandate forbids a city employee to be sworn into office unless they resign. Ishigaki says she planned to retire Aug. 1.

Ishigaki claimed the city was cheating her out of $108,000 in retirement. Under CalPERS, a retired person’s monthly retirement is based on the highest salary made during the last year of employment. For this to occur, Ishigaki, who earned $82,000 per year, needed to retire Aug. 1.

Under the August date, she would be eligible to $680 per month in state retirement. — Staff Writer Cindy Arora contributed to this story.

  • El Monte

    In the end how much was Isigaki paid in El Monte?

  • anonymous

    So the City Attorney admits he/his firm gave inaccurate legal advice….I wonder what his firm has billed the City in legal fees for all items related to this matter? Is he going to refund those fees? Is he going to pay the settlement with the Councilmember since it was his poor advice that cost the city? Is the City going to replace him?….after all, this was a simple one and he got it all wrong?