By Garrett Bergthold, Staff Writer
Posted Aug 31, 2019 at 2:15 PM
Updated Aug 31, 2019 at 2:25 PM
ADELANTO — Councilwoman Stevevonna Evans has been removed from her post of mayor pro tem.
After a dramatic back-and-forth verbal exchange between Evans and Mayor Gabriel Reyes during Wednesday’s meeting, the Adelanto City Council voted 3-2 to replace Evans with Gerardo Hernandez.
“I don’t trust you,” Reyes told Evans, who was seated to his right. “You have lied to me. You plotted behind my back.”
Reyes and Evans campaigned together during the 2018 election. They often voted alike on contentious issues, including City Manager Jessie Flores’ reinstatement from administrative leave and various high profile contract extensions.
At the heart of the disagreement between the two council members is a $15,000 donation by a cannabis event organizer that helped pay for rings for Adelanto High School’s 2018-19 championship football team.
In separate interviews with the Daily Press, Reyes and Evans accused each other of conspiring to trade the donation for a special credit at Adelanto Stadium, an arrangement the event organizer took advantage of after Kushstock 7 in April until earlier this month, when the stadium debt was paid directly.
The rift between council members surfaced on Aug. 14, when Evans could be seen entering council chambers wiping tears from her eyes. Minutes later, Reyes, along with council members Joy Jeannette and Gerardo Hernandez, voted to place on Wednesday’s agenda a vote to choose a new mayor pro tem.
As Reyes tells it, the issue goes back to January, when he, Evans, Flores and the organizer of the cannabis-themed festival Kushstock, Kadan Borg, met at City Hall regarding the 4/20 Kushstock event.
At the meeting, Reyes suggested that Borg donate money to pay for the football team’s championship rings. At that time, no one had offered to pay for the rings after the Saints’ memorable season.
Borg had previously said he wanted to help the city however he could, Reyes said.
“They want to do so much for the community of Adelanto, not just cannabis events,” said Reyes, including community gardens and farmers markets.
Borg, who did not return a request for comment, agreed to help pay for the rings, Reyes said. The mayor later connected Borg with Ghalee Wadood, the team’s head coach, who handled the payment.
Reyes said he and Flores left the meeting, leaving Evans alone with Borg and his wife.
It was this time, according to Reyes, “multiple sources” alleged Evans agreed to give Borg a $15,000 credit at the stadium in exchange for helping pay for the rings. Evans denies the allegation, saying that everyone left the meeting at the same time and that she did not stay to discuss a $15,000 credit.
Borg owed the city $15,000 in exchange for being allowed to use Adelanto Stadium for the Kushstock event.
She showed the Daily Press text messages between her and Borg that she said proved it was Reyes who negotiated the credit.
“We have already moved forward with the mayor for getting the football team their rings,” the text read.
Evans contends Flores may have damaging information on Reyes, which prompted him to protect Flores from Evans’ push in recent weeks to have him fired as city manager.
“It’s a gift of public funds that Jessie tried to help him clean up,” Evans said, referring to Flores’ siding with Reyes against her.
In April, stadium management reported to Flores that the city was shorted $15,000 after the festival, saying Borg claimed he had a credit in connection with the ring payment.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Reyes said his call to remove Evans as mayor pro tem had nothing to do with her effort to fire Flores, a move he said he does not agree with.
“Her reason for wanting to fire Jessie has nothing to do with work performance,” said Reyes. “Her reasoning is because Jessie has, she said, lied to her and she doesn’t trust him.”
Reyes said Evans asked stadium management earlier this month to change a stadium report set to be presented at the Aug. 14 meeting for “the sake of transparency,” he said.
“She modified the stadium report to show there was a credit issued by the city,” Reyes said.
To read expanded article, click here.