By Jason Henry, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
and Rebecca Kimitch, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 07/31/15 – 10:06 PM PDT |
Three months after Industry city hall erupted with inside allegations of corruption and demands for justice against the former mayor, the fervor has died.
City officials backed down this week from a lawsuit the city filed in May against former Mayor David Perez, alleging decades of fraud after an outside audit showed his companies were paid more than $326 million in city contracts.
In a court document, city leaders decided to stop work on the case for “no less than 18 months.” A judge has yet to rule on the delay, but Perez’s attorney Stephen Larson signed off on the terms, according to the document.
A second lawsuit filed last year against Perez is also expected to stall shortly, according to city officials.
The turnaround comes as no surprise to political observers like Doug Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, who earlier described Industry’s relationship with Perez as “crony capitalism at its worst.”
Last month, three Perez-backed candidates won seats on the City Council. The three had promised to act independently of the former mayor, but their actions since being elected show otherwise.
“To the victors go the spoils — at least in the short term,” Johnson said. “When the targets of the lawsuit got their strong allies elected to the council, it is no surprise. At least as long as this council is in office, I would be stunned to see (the lawsuits) revived.”
The new council immediately removed Perez’s critics. They fired City Attorney Michele Vadon, who authored the lawsuits against Perez, then deposed City Manager Kevin Radecki, a vocal critic who said Perez and his family had a “death grip” on the city.
Under an agreement with the city, Radecki will work as a consultant at his current salary for at least a year.
An indefinite delay of the lawsuits seems like the logical third step when cleaning house, Johnson said.
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