Cudahy city manager ousted over 'general direction' of city; mayor vows financial review
The mayor of Cudahy said the City Council ousted longtime City Manager George Perez because of the "general direction" of the city, adding he was reviewing the small community's financial records.
Perez said Tuesday that he was at peace with his firing.
“I fully respect the City Council’s decision,” said Perez. “I understand how these things work. I enjoyed a very long run as city manager -– 10½ years. I wish them all the best in taking the city of Cudahy in the direction they feel it needs to go and I feel they’re fully capable of doing that.”
The Cudahy City Council voted Monday night to fire Perez and David Olivas, its city attorney. City Clerk Larry Galvan and Human Resources Director Crystal Hernandez were placed on leave.
On Tuesday morning, Cudahy City Hall was closed, with new locks on the door. Inside, newly appointed Mayor Josue Barrios, a Cudahy native who graduated from UC Santa Barbara and was once the student president of Bell High School, was reviewing city records.
In a brief interview, Barrios said he wouldn’t comment on why Perez was fired, except to change the “general direction of the city.”
He said he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Perez, but said the locks were changed and a review of city records was underway to be sure.
“I will be reviewing all the books, the financials,” he said.
He said he was aware of no investigation of the city, or of Perez, by any agency, and didn’t anticipate firing any more city staff.
Perez leaves the city with a robust budget surplus – of $7.5 million – a rarity in tough economic times. The city budget is $8 million.
The vote marks the latest political upheaval in the small communities that dot southeast L.A. County. Neighboring Bell has been rocked by a corruption scandal after revelations by The Times about the high salaries paid to eight former officials. The state Legislature is considering a bill that would disincorporate Vernon, where the former city manager was indicted last year. And Maywood is struggling to recover after disbanding its Police Department and contracting out many city services to Bell.
After announcing the changes, Cudahy Mayor Barrios, elected to the council in 2009 and appointed mayor last week, said Perez was fired "for cause," though he gave no specifics.
Perez's contract with the city, signed in 2008, provides he be paid 18 months' salary — which began that year at $172,548 — if he is terminated for any reason other than the commission of a felony involving personal gain.
-- Sam Quinones in Cudahy
Photo: George Perez stops by an apartment complex near the town's City Hall in November 2006. Cudahy Mayor Josue Barrios, who was appointed mayor last week, said Perez was fired "for cause," though he gave no specifics. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times