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Quintero ouster attempt fails again

Judge rules that state attorney general was right to block suit against Quintero seat.

January 09, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Two Glendale residents who have been trying to kick Councilman Frank Quintero out of office have failed again.

This week a Los Angeles Superior Court judge supported California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ decision to block residents John Rando and Mariano Rodas from challenging Quintero’s April appointment in court.

The pair needed approval from the state’s top lawyer before filing a suit seeking to oust Quintero. The rule, which applies to public officials, is aimed at curbing frivolous lawsuits.

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The duo claimed that Harris overstepped her boundaries when she wouldn’t greenlight their so-called “quo warranto” request to file a lawsuit against Quintero, whom they believe was wrongly appointed to office due to an ambiguous city provision that they interpret as a term limit.

But Judge James Chalfant said in his tentative ruling released on Jan. 7, which he noted in court that day would become his final ruling, that the “Attorney General did not exceed or abuse her discretion.”

Back in April, city officials played a game of musical chairs: former Councilman Rafi Manoukian left his seat to become the City Treasurer. Although Quintero’s term on council was over and he planned to retire, his colleagues decided to appoint him to a 14-month term to fill Manoukian’s empty seat.

Rodas and Rando didn’t like that appointment. According to court documents filed by their lawyer, Sean Brady, a 1982 city provision that prevents council members from holding “any compensated city office or employment until two years after leaving office as council member” would block Quintero from being appointed.

Harris, however, disagreed, 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, affirming what city officials had been claiming all along.

She said her 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.

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