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Legal fight to oust Quintero continues

Two residents challenge Frank Quintero's appointment to the City Council.

January 02, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • From left, former mayors Frank Quintero, Sheldon Baker and John Drayman.
From left, former mayors Frank Quintero, Sheldon Baker… (Glendale News Press )

Their request may have been turned down by the state’s top lawyer, but two Glendale residents haven’t given up their efforts to unseat a councilman.

The duo, John Rando and Mariano Rodas, failed in October to get California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris to let them challenge Councilman Frank Quintero’s April appointment in court — a necessary green light to legally contest one’s right to hold office.

But now they’ve asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to force Harris to let them try to oust Quintero from office via the court system.

Judge James Chalfant is scheduled to review opposition arguments from the city of Glendale, which is legally representing Quintero, and the attorney general’s office on Tuesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

This all started when Quintero was appointed to replace a seat left vacant by Councilman Rafi Manoukian when Manoukian was elected city treasurer in April. Although Quintero had retired that month from 12 years on council, his colleagues asked him to return until a special election slated for 14 months later. Quintero obliged.

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That appointment didn’t bode well with Rando or Rodas, who then filed a request with the attorney general’s office in May to allow them to file a lawsuit to unseat Quintero, an action known as “quo warranto.”

They contended the appointment violated a 1982 provision that prevents council members from holding “any compensated city office or employment until two years after leaving office as council member.”

But Harris denied the request five months later, noting that while the provision can be read on its face as a term limit, it was actually aimed at prohibiting a council member from improperly using his or her influence to gain nonelective office.

The opinion was based on a variety of factors, including ballot information for the 1982 change to the city charter that created the provision in question, the absence of term limits, in general, from the city's books, and an individual's fundamental right as a California citizen to hold public office.

City officials have claimed that when voters approved the revolving-door policy, it was never meant to prevent people from holding elected office. Rather, it was meant to clarify a former policy that seemingly prevented council members from holding outside employment.

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