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El Monte city manager resigns in wake of prostitution sting, interim manager is named

October 17, 2009 |  5:36 pm

El Monte officials said today that their city manager has resigned, one day after his arrest during a prostitution sting in Pomona.

In a 5 to 0 decision, the El Monte City Council appointed Rene Bobadilla, 38, as interim city manager to replace Jim Mussenden, 59, who had held the job since 2006.

The closed session meeting today was called to evaluate Mussenden's performance after council members learned early Friday morning that he had been arrested.

"We can’t sit back, we cannot hesitate, we cannot even appear that we are not taking any action," Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki said Friday night.

They were spared the decision of whether to fire Mussenden. In a letter dated Oct. 15, which Deputy City Atty. Dave Gondek said he received this morning, Mussenden said he was leaving his position without severance or other compensation.

"It was a tough decision but [the resignation] kind of made it easier on everyone to move on," said Councilwoman Pat Wallach.

Wallach said Mussenden called each council member to explain and apologize. Mussenden answered his phone this afternoon but said he wouldn't comment until he'd spoken to his attorney.

Gondek said any city property currently in Mussenden's possession, including the Toyota Avalon he allegedly drove the night of the arrest, would be collected soon.

Some city residents came to the meeting in support of Mussenden, including El Monte resident Kim Goddard, 56.

"These things happen with men," Goddard said to council members, later adding, "None of you are fit to sit on an ethic committee."

Bobadilla was one of two candidates for a 90-day position as interim city manager. The council also considered Assistant City Manager Dante Hall. Council members Ishigaki, Wallach and Art Barrios praised both candidates but pointed to Bobadilla's El Monte roots, youth and charisma.

"I've got a lot of enthusiasm, I'm homegrown . . . for me, it's personal," Bobadilla said while waiting for the council to come out of closed session.

Hall shook Bobadilla's hand after the appointment was made public.

Bobadilla said he had mixed feelings. "It's bittersweet," he said. "Not exactly the way you'd like to become interim city manager."

-- Amina Khan reporting from El Monte

Related: El Monte city manager caught in prostitution sting