At a special La Puente council meeting earlier this month, Mayor John Solis requested moving the regular Jan. 10 council meeting to Jan. 11.
“The reason I did that was because I don’t think we’re going to have a quorum that day,” Solis said.
He explained that Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza recently had a few deaths in the family, so she likely wouldn’t be able to attend.
Solis also mentioned that he and Councilman Vince House would be out of town at a conference in Sacramento for “one-on-one” time with legislatures and to voice their concerns about the end of redevelopment.
Councilman Dan Holloway wasn’t so convinced – was there something specifically on the agenda that Solis didn’t want approved by a majority vote?
“I want to make sure that we’re being told (Mendoza) won’t be here,” he said. “I will support this if I have assurance that there’s not going to be a quorum. I don’t want to move a meeting just because two council members will be out of town and three of them will be here.”
No fuss, no muss. It was easily approved by the three present members.
And then on Monday, Jan. 9., County Sheriff’s officials released a sketch of a man suspected of raping a La Puente girl. The TV crews were all over it – and so was John Solis.
Residents captured glimpses of Solis being interviewed by several local television stations that night. (Too bad I can’t find any online videos to post. Except this one.)
Anyway, I go about my business and attend a very late night public hearing in West Covina the next day – the day Solis was supposed to be at a conference, right?
Nope. He was at the same West Covina meeting I was at. His friend, Mayor Mike Touhey, is on the council.
“I thought you were going to a conference?,” I asked Solis.
Looking a little flustered, he said he was sick and dragged himself out of bed to do interviews that morning. I guess he was fully recovered by the time the West Covina meeting came to an end at about midnight.
Solis assured me House went to the conference.
Still, at the Jan. 3 meeting, both Solis and House got defensive about the number of conferences they attend and the expenses they incur.
Council members have come under heavy scrutiny for the trips they take by members of the Coalition of Concerned Residents, a watchdog citizens group that recently formed.
“I keep hearing and hearing over and over again that we’re blowing the city’s money going to these conventions,” House said. “We don’t go up there to party and have a good time. I don’t get paid one penny more for those days I’m out of town. I only get my expenses and that I have a legal right to have.”
“Don’t just assume we’re out having a party every time we’re out of town,” he added. “I’m doing my duty. Please don’t berate me for doing it.”
“We do go and we’re going to continue to go to it because it benefits the city,” Solis said.
Maybe that stance changes when TV cameras are around.