In­dus­try’s city man­ager steps down

Of­fi­cial said he feared for job if can­di­dates backed by ex- mayor won coun­cil races.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Richard Win­ton richard. win­ton @ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ LAcrimes

Coun­cil­man calls the de­ci­sion an am­i­ca­ble sep­a­ra­tion that al­lows the city to move for­ward.

In the weeks lead­ing up to the City of In­dus­try’s f irst elec­tion in nearly two decades, City Man­ager Kevin Radecki can­didly ex­pressed his fear of what would be­fall him if three can­di­dates backed by for­mer Mayor David Perez were elected: He would lose his job.

Radecki be­lieved he would be f ired for chal­leng­ing the lu­cra­tive con­tracts that Perez and his fam­ily have with the sprawl­ing in­dus­trial sub­urb in the San Gabriel Val­ley. The scale of the mul­ti­mil­lion- dol­lar con­tracts was re­vealed by au­di­tors com­mis­sioned by the city on Radecki’s watch.

The three Perez- backed can­di­dates now form a ma­jor­ity on the f ive- mem­ber City Coun­cil, and on Mon­day, Radecki stepped down as city man­ager.

Fol­low­ing a closed ses­sion last­ing more than two hours, newly hired City Atty. James Casso an­nounced that Radecki had ex­pressed an in­ter­est in step­ping down, and the coun­cil voted 4 to 0 to ac­cept Radecki’s res­ig­na­tion. He will stay on for one year as a con­sul­tant to smooth the tran­si­tion.

Radecki was on va­ca­tion Mon­day, city of­fi­cials said. Newly elected Coun­cil­man Newell Rug­gles in­sisted the sep­a­ra­tion was an am­i­ca­ble one that would al­low the city to move for­ward.

“We might be with­out a city man­ager for a day or two,” Rug­gles said.

Casso, who was re­cently hired as city at­tor­ney and rep­re­sented the city of Bell in the af­ter­math of its cor­rup­tion scan­dal, said the search would be­gin im­me­di­ately for an act­ing city man­ager un­til a per­ma­nent re­place­ment is hired.

Two weeks ago, the new coun­cil led by Mayor Mark Radecki, the brother of the for­mer city man­ager, f ired the long­time city at­tor­ney who over­saw a law­suit against the Perez fam­ily and its busi­nesses. Au­di­tors hired by the city found that the Perez fam­ily and its busi­nesses reaped $ 326 mil­lion over last two decades from city con­tracts.

Seek­ing to re­coup the money, In­dus­try sued Perez, his com­pa­nies and four fam­ily mem­bers in May, al­leg­ing the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of mil­lions of dol­lars in public funds through false or inf lated in­voices and the per­for­mance of unau­tho­rized work on city con­tracts, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

The suit echoes the au­di­tors’ find­ings, which were re­leased ear­lier this year and made the po­lit­i­cal land­scape tu­mul­tuous in the city of 400 res­i­dents and 2,500 busi­nesses.

Ac­cord­ing to the au­di­tors’ f in­d­ings, pay­ments to the Perez com­pa­nies av­er­aged $ 16 mil­lion a year over the last two decades.

The con­tracts in­cluded $ 4.9 mil­lion for lawn- mower rentals and street- clean­ing fees billed at six times a com­peti­tor’s rate, au­di­tors found.

Af­ter the lu­cra­tive con­tracts came to light, the Los An­ge­les County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice launched a probe and the state con­troller be­gan in­ves­ti­ga­tions into In­dus­try’s con­tracts with the Perez fam­ily.

Perez, who stepped down as mayor in 2012, has also been ac­cused by city of­fi­cials of or­der­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in unau­tho­rized work to be per­formed on city prop­erty, with the money f low­ing to the fam­ily’s busi­ness in­ter­ests.

A Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that nearly nine years ago, In­dus­try’s re­de­vel­op­ment agency paid the Perez firm $ 495,000 for a house and the lot it rested on, ac­cord­ing to city records.

Long af­ter the sale closed, how­ever, the 1,415square- foot abode was mys­te­ri­ously back in the fam­ily’s hands — up­rooted from its foun­da­tion and trucked to another prop­erty con­trolled by the Perezes, about two miles away.

The Perez- backed ma­jor­ity on the five- mem­ber coun­cil is ex­pected to cur­tail the lit­i­ga­tion, which was also dis­cussed in closed ses­sion Mon­day. Casso said no de­ci­sions have been made.

The newly elected ma­jor­ity voted ear­lier this month to re­peal part of a re­cently en­acted or­di­nance that pro­tected the city at­tor­ney and other city em­ploy­ees from los­ing their jobs dur­ing the 180- day pe­riod af­ter a new coun­cil body is elected.

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