By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But the next day, Hernandez had a change of heart. He personally asked Chief Carrillo to withdraw the report.
Carrillo told him nothing could be done: An account of the incident had been processed, and the department was legally mandated to report domestic violence.
Four days later — after the police report was filed but before any restraining order had been issued or the incident had become public knowledge — the council met in a closed-door session. There, Mayor Esqueda placed an item on the agenda: the termination of Carrillo's contract with the city.
Esqueda argued to the council members, she would later tell me, that there were a variety of reasons to let Carrillo go: lack of managerial skill, the budget — and, oh, then there was the remark he'd made at lunch weeks before. When asked what he thought of the council, Carrillo allegedly replied, "Well, I think all five of you are like a Mexican family on welfare." (Carrillo could not be reached for comment.)
Esqueda says she told the rest of the council that she, for one, wouldn't stand for that kind of disrespect to the council, Mexicans or people on welfare. (The other members of the council declined to discuss the conversation, calling it a confidential personnel matter.)
De La Torre abstained, and Hernandez was absent. But the two other members were still upset that the council majority had installed Carrillo without their consent. They jumped at the opportunity to release Carrillo from his contract. Their two votes, plus Esqueda's, were enough to fire the chief.
It was not until the next afternoon, says Councilwoman Ballin, that details began to emerge about the altercation between council members De La Torre and Hernandez — and its aftermath.
A few days later, when the gossip could no longer be ignored, Ballin called her fellow "yes" vote, Councilman Antonio Lopez, and told him they needed to meet for a drink.
"Antonio, I'm going to have to ask you to get a little closer, because I don't want to say this too loud," Ballin remembers telling him, before sharing what she had heard: the fight, the police report and Carrillo's refusal to sweep it all under the rug.
By the end of the week, the news was everywhere. Mario Hernandez resigned from the City Council the following Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, our city became entangled in my personal life back in November, and once again faces the same challenge today," he said in a characteristically unrepentant statement distributed by the City Clerk.
When Gil Carrillo first appeared on the scene, the Sun was skeptical of the new chief, to say the least. "Police Chief Gil Carrillo, hired through the back door by the three, had some difficulty staying awake during last Monday's council meeting, [sic] will supply the brute strength to enforce the will of The Three," the paper wrote early in his tenure in a recurring feature titled "As the City Turns."
But when he was fired, Carrillo suddenly became a hero. The following week, a flattering photo of the cop, wronged by the trio of conniving council members, graced the cover of the Sun, under the headline "Connecting the Dots: Why Police Chief Gil Carrillo Was Released From His Contract."
The paper's allegiances may shift, voter opinion may change, but nearly a year after Mario Hernandez's confession made international headlines, the problems in San Fernando drag on. And all anyone can say is what a shame it is.
Hernandez resigned in disgrace. De La Torre is scheduled to stand trial on charges of battery and vandalism on Nov. 3, just days before she and Esqueda face a recall election on Nov. 6. Her lawyer insists in court documents that De La Torre "has incurred the wrath of the San Fernando Police Officers Association" over her efforts to reform the department. The charges against her, he maintains, are retaliation.
After months of rallies, petitions and appeals to corporate management, San Fernando lost a very public campaign to keep JCPenney. Its historic building, owned by Aszkenazy, was vacated at the end of the August.
The loss in taxes can be added to the list of San Fernando's financial woes: At a budget presentation in August, the city administrator reported that the city is facing a $1 million shortfall. If the council does not take action soon, he warned, San Fernando could go into bankruptcy.
And still the public shaming continues.
"We're tired of this!" citizen Renato Lira, a regular speaker, railed at that same meeting. "You work for the City of San Fernando, we pay you to be there — not to be boycotting these meetings!"
Before he was finished with his speech, Lira presented De La Torre with the "Telenovela of the Year" award. The trophy was a framed copy of an editorial cartoon that appeared in the Sun. One panel depicted De La Torre and Hernandez at each other's throats; the other, wearing straitjackets in a padded room, blowing kisses at each other.
Mario Hernandez, now retired, was sitting in the front row in flip-flops and jeans. He had one question for Lira: "Hey butthead — where's mine?"
It would be funny if it wasn't such an outrage. In defense of the current councilmembers, San Fernando city government ineptitude is hardly a new phenomenon. For decades, city leaders have either been nasty or dumb as lampposts. This trio seems to be both nasty and dumb, which is why it's newsworthy.
I grew up in this town in the pre-Ashkenazy days when it may as well have been an outpost in the old West. Many young people left after finishing high school/college to move to communities where it wasn't so difficult to see a movie and have a craft beer on a Friday night, neighborhoods with a bookstore or a restaurant with vegan menu options. I'm sure that sounds like snobbery, but I'd rather be a snob than be stir-crazy from isolation. The town's chief characteristic is a strange combination of provincialism, nimbyism, and insularity from the rest of Los Angeles. There have been some upgrades in the last decade, chiefly Library Square, and I'm happy to hear that the Sun now does more than publish legal notices and grip-and-grin photos of Chamber of Commerce execs. Perhaps this recall election and JC Penney finally giving up the ghost are golden opportunities to shake off the cobwebs and tumbleweeds collecting around the rest of the city.
why did thishappen between two elected officials? it's nature and nurture (underdeveloped frontal lobes and high school memories lost).
At Brian Arra. I don't think you have actually seen her in person have you? Cause she is not hot at all. Don't go by the picture on this magazine or the google images. This article made DeLa Torre and Barajas look hot!! But if you look at them in person one of them looks like the chilindrina and the other like... Well.... De La Torre
The owners of the San Fernando Valley Sun Newspaper, Sev and Martha Aszkenazy are in foreclosure and jeapordizing San Fernando's livelihood.
TWO MAJOR PROPERTIES ARE IN FORECLOSURE AND SET FOR AUCTION SALE ON OCTOBER 31ST AT 9AM IN POMONA!
Check it out for yourself.
Look at properties that are in foreclosure and up for sale!
#F12-00066 120 N. Maclay Ave
#F12-00091 1030 Pico Street