Attorney aims to stop controversial Supercenter
October 02, 2012 9:38 PM
Brooke Edwards Staggs, City Editor
VICTORVILLE • An attorney has filed a lawsuit over Mayor Pro Tem Rudy Cabriales’ participation in a controversial vote to approve a new Walmart Supercenter.
Cory Briggs is suing Cabriales and the city of Victorville, alleging that the mayor pro tem had a conflict of interest and should have abstained from the Sept. 18 vote on the store planned near the entrance to Spring Valley Lake. Had he done so, the project would not have had a majority City Council approval and it would have been shot down.
“By not abstaining from the vote on the contract, Rudy Cabriales placed himself in a position where private personal interests conflicted with his officials duties,” Briggs states in the lawsuit, which is filed on behalf of citizen groups CREED-21 and Inland Oversight Committee.
Briggs is asking a judge to throw out Cabriales’ vote, rendering the approval void. He’s also asking the judge to stop Walmart from starting construction on the project.
The Upland-based attorney cited a potential conflict of interest because Cabriales’ wife, Vickie, in her former role as director of the High Desert Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, once received commission from donors such as Walmart. State law dictates that elected officials can’t participate in votes that benefit them financially.
The lawsuit filed Monday in Victorville Superior Court alleges that “Mrs. Cabriales lobbied Mr. Cabriales to vote in favor of the contract because, among other things, she would ultimately receive a larger paycheck from the chamber, which would also inure to the benefit of Mr. Cabriales.” It goes on to allege that Vickie Cabriales may have been promised a job in exchange for helping to get the project approved.
Rudy Cabriales did not respond to a request to discuss the lawsuit, but has previously denied benefiting financially from his wife’s position or being influenced in his role as a councilman due to her affiliation with the HDHCC.
City Manager Doug Robertson said he couldn’t discuss the suit Tuesday afternoon, as the city hadn’t yet been served. However, City Attorney Andre de Bortnowsky said during the Sept. 18 meeting that his firm had reviewed the situation and found Cabriales had no conflict.
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