One day after Roger Hernandez was sworn in as Mayor of West Covina, Councilman Steve Herfert filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that Hernandez violated two government code sections.
Herfert alleges that Hernandez is trying to influence the outcome of a proposed settlement with the city’s Community Development Director, Chris Chung, who is demanding $3 million from the city because of the alleged hostile work environment Hernandez subjected him to.
But on Nov. 25, the FPPC returned the complaint, stating that the information Herfert provided was “insufficient to established a violation of the Act,” wrote executive director Roman Porter.
In his Nov. 19 complaint, Herfert states:
“Mr. Hernandez is participating in legal discussions regarding a lawsuit involving the City of West Covina and Chris Chung, Community Development Director. At the heart of the lawsuit is a contention that Mr. Hernandez has created a hostile work environemnt for Mr. Chung. The lawsuit is confidential at this time and I cannot release any documents. However I am attaching a copy of a confidential letter I have sent to the City Manager of West Covina… .”
Herfert goes on:
“My complaint involved Mr. Hernandez participating in our closed session and trying to influence the outcome of the lawsuit. In the closed session of November 4, he proposed a financial deal and participated fully.”
Witnesses are needed for a valid FPPC complaint. The signed witnesses are City Manager Andrew Pasmant, City Attorney Arnold Glasman, and Councilwoman Sherri Lane, records show.
Here is the confidential letter Herfert send to the City Manager:
This letter is to serve notice that participation by Councilmember Hernandez in further closed sessions regarding legal actions between the City of West Covina and Chris Chung, Community Development Director is illegal. It is clearly a violation of the fair political practices act. His participation violates Gov. Code Section 81002(c) and 87100.
I site two items and the law:
As stated in the Closed Session on November 4, 2008; Mr Hernandez can be held liable for punitive damages in the lawsuit.
As stated by Mr. Hernandez in the Closed Session on November 4, 2008; “if the Council takes a certain action, I will pledge to backstop the City financially”.
“Assets and income of public officials which may be materially affected by their official actions should be disclosed and in appropriate circumstances the officials should be disqualified from acting in order that conflicts of interest may be avoided.”
Gov. Code section 81002(c)
“No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”
Gov. Code Section 87100
City of West Covina
***UPDATE: For the record, Herfert did not give me these documents.