The Press

Maywood council approves CDBG spending plan

MAYWOOD — The new City Council majority Jan. 28 approved on a 4-1 vote the use of federal Community Development Block Grant funds and a food bill of several thousand dollars, possibly from a reception after the swearing in of two new council members Dec. 9.

In favor of the two items were Mayor Ricardo Villarreal, Councilman Thomas Martin, and newly elected Mayor Pro Tem Ramon Medina, who hosted a reception at his auto repair business after he and Councilman Sergio Calderon were installed.

Dissenting on both items was Councilman Eduardo De La Riva, the only remaining member of the old majority, which was composed of  Veronica Guardado and Oscar Magaña, who were defeated in the Nov. 3 election by Medina and Calderon.

Interim City Manager Pedro Cabrillo, hired Dec. 9 after the new majority removed City Manager Lilian Myers, said he approved payment of the food bill, which he received his first day on the job because he feared causing liability to the city. He said he would report back Feb. 10 on details of the bill and who authorized it.

De La Riva said expenditures of the CDBG funds were proposed by Martin and are not needed.

They included $20,800 to the regional HUB City Job Training Center in Huntington Park; and about $20,000 each for painting murals at city parks, installing Wi-Fi throughout the city and replacing out-of-date computers at city facilities, with about $270,000 for economic development.

De La Riva said Hub Cities is a federal agency and received funds from the government, that the city does not need to offer Internet access at city parks and supplying computers to the public and that a mural was recently painted free of charge at a baseball field by  local art students who would be glad to paint more.

He added that the $270,000 should go toward needed upgrades of the city sewer system, adding that land purchased by the city to encourage economic development is mostly unused.

Calderon said he saw community benefits in all of the allocations. Martin added that at one time Internet access was available all over the city. Concerning new technological equipment for the public, Martin said “not everyone in the city has a computer.”

The CDBG allocations were also opposed by Guardado, who said the new majority proposed them Dec. 9 as soon as Medina and Calderon were sworn in without any resident comment.

That was echoed by Helen Wilson, who told the council “residents have a right to speak” on how the $355,000 in CDBG funds should be spent.

Cabrillo said the Maywood CDBG plan must be submitted soon to the Los Angeles County Social Services Commission, which handles federal funding for cities with less than 50,000 population.

On Jan. 28, the council rejected all bids for the sewer upgrading project, saying the bids came in at $70,000, twice the amount expected, and told Cabrillo to rebid as soon as possible.

The council also unanimously approved the use of Street Lighting Assessment Funds and state gas tax rebates for the citywide tree maintenance program, after interim City Attorney Michael Montgomery said it was legal.