Vows for a new day in In­dus­try

Win­ning coun­cil mem­bers backed by ex-Mayor David Perez, who is a tar­get of a law­suit, say they’ll be in­de­pen­dent.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Paloma Es­quivel and Frank Shy­ong paloma.es­quivel@la­times.com frank.shy­ong@la­times.com

Three win­ning City Coun­cil mem­bers play down their ties to a former mayor un­der f ire.

The City of In­dus­try’s first City Coun­cil elec­tion in nearly two decades has em­pow­ered three new coun­cil mem­bers with ties to the in­flu­en­tial Perez fam­ily, whose mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness con­tracts with the city have come un­der in­tense scru­tiny.

The new coun­cil ma­jor­ity comes a week af­ter the coun­cil voted to file suit against former Mayor David Perez, his com­pa­nies and four mem­bers of his fam­ily, al­leg­ing mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pub­lic funds. City of­fi­cials are also in the process of re­view­ing a lu­cra­tive trash con­tract with a Perez-owned com­pany.

Af­ter Tues­day’s vote, the win­ners — Newell Rug­gles, Cory Moss and Mark Radecki — played down their ties to the Perezes and said they would be in­de­pen­dent, not­ing that they live in a small town in which ev­ery­one knows the Perez fam­ily. But they also said the cur­rent coun­cil has not shown lead­er­ship.

“We want to bring In­dus­try back to its former glory,” Radecki said.

Rug­gles, the top vote get­ter with 58 votes, said he would not re­store a re­cently can­celed con­tract with Perez’s com­pany, Zerep Man­age­ment Corp., say­ing the city was “cor­rect to can­cel it be­cause of the risk of law­suits.”

He promised to com­ply with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the city’s deal­ings with the com­pany, which were re­cently launched by the Los An­ge­les County district at­tor­ney’s of­fice and state con­troller. Those in­ves­ti­ga­tions fol­lowed a city-com­mis­sioned fi­nan­cial re­view that found that Perez fam­ily com­pa­nies had been paid $326 mil­lion un­der In­dus­try con­tracts over two decades.

Au­di­tors con­cluded that the out­lays to the fam­ily’s com­pa­nies were ac­com­pa­nied by in­voices that lacked de­tailed de­scrip­tions, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was over­charged for ba­sic ser­vices.

Moss, who has lived in the city for 14 years, crit­i­cized the city’s re­view, say­ing the Perez com­pa­nies didn’t have a chance to re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions.

But, she added, she wants any billing dis­crep­an­cies to be ad­dressed.

Stephen Lar­son, the Perez fam­ily’s at­tor­ney, said David Perez sup­ported the three win­ning can­di­dates.

“But they are cer­tainly not be­holden to Mr. Perez. They are not part of any team. They are can­di­dates that Mr. Perez, and ap­par­ently a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in the City of In­dus­try, sup­ported.”

Lar­son said the law­suit and ac­cu­sa­tions of fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­eties against Perez com­pa­nies were part of an ef­fort by the city man­ager to main­tain con­trol of the city. Now that the elec­tion is over, he said, “we are hop­ing that some of the politi­ciza­tion of the process has been taken out of the equa­tion.”

Charles Slyn­gstad, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the city in the Perez law­suit, said the re­view of Perez com­pany billings raised “sub­stan­tial is­sues” that the new lead­er­ship should be con­cerned with.

“The fu­ture City Coun­cil has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­sider it and make choices care­fully,” he said.

Brian van der Brug Los An­ge­les Times

CORY MOSS, right, one of three new mem­bers of the In­dus­try City Coun­cil, cel­e­brates with the wife of fel­low win­ner Mark Radecki af­ter Tues­day’s elec­tion.

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