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Huntington Park Recall Leaders Become Target of San Francisco Political Law Firm

Updated at 5:13 a.m., Wednesday:

Los Cerritos Community Newspaper has been told that at least six supporters of the recall effort in Huntington Park formally informed City Clerk Rosanna Ramirez late Tuesday afternoon that they would be “withdrawing”  their current effort to remove three of the members of the HP City Council citing “intimidation tactics.”

LCCN was sent a copy of an email by Huntington Park city spokesman Michael Chee in which Ramirez informed city officials: “This e-mail will serve as notification that the Notices of Intention to Circulate Recall Petitions on Rosa Perez, Ofelia Hernandez, and Mario Gomez that were filed in my office on November 15, 2012 were withdrawn this afternoon therefore the recall effort is now terminated.You will receive a copy of the letter that I will be sending to the proponents of the Notice. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.  s/Rosanna Ramirez, City Clerk, City of Huntington Park.”  

Recall supporter Marilyn Sanabria told LCCN in a phone interview late Tuesday night that a “new effort seeking the formal removal of Perez, Hernandez and Gomez would begin as early as Wednesday.” “We are not going to be intimidated by anyone, including by a political law firm based in San Francisco.  The people will not tolerate these tactics in Huntington Park, period.  The recall effort is going to continue.  We are going to take back our city hall,” said Sanabria. 

Original post:

By Brian Hews

Note: Email from Sutton Law Firm can be found at the end of this article.

Residents involved in a recall effort against five elected members of the Huntington Park City Council have been served with a stern written warning by a high powered San Francisco based law firm that demands that their efforts be halted or they could find themselves in a legal lawsuit.

Attorney Bradley Hertz, with the Sutton Law Firm lashed out in a four page letter to nearly two dozen Huntington Park recall organizers over the weekend that “demands to withdraw Notice of Intention to circulate Recall petition” against controversial city councilwoman Rosa Perez.

Hertz represents Perez, according to documents obtained by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper on Monday.

Perez, a Mexico-born Huntington Park City Councilwoman sparked a national controversy after she blamed “the Americans” who served as past elected officials for problems with residential and business water meters at a city council meeting three months ago.

Perez, who was elected in 2011, stunned the mostly Spanish speaking audience during that meeting stating that that she “wanted to come into (elected) office, and to see what the problems are in the city and try to bring solutions to them. A big problem is that people think that when the Americans were in office everything was all great and when the Latinos came in, then all the problems came in.”

On Monday, Los Cerritos Community Newspaper was sent a copy of a sternly written notice from Hertz that states “while Ms. Perez respects the right of recall and your rights to serve as proponents of a recall effort against her, many of your grounds for the recalls are false, defamatory and libelous statements that have no place in a Notice of Intention.”

Hertz is demanding that the recall effort against Perez be scrapped and that the process start over from scratch.

The recall effort is being lead by Huntington Park activist Marilyn Sanabria, former City Councilwoman Linda Guevara  and long time community members Nick Ioannidis, David Leija along with 22 others.

On Monday, LCCN was told by Sanabria that “residents have united against what we believe to be a City Hall filled with corruption, mismanagement of public funds and unanswered questions.”

“Residents in our mostly immigrant and low income community have banded together, and have began to back the city and to recall, just like residents in the city of Bell, and began the process of Recalling the elected officials,” Sanabria said.

She lashed out even further by stating “the community efforts in the Recall have hit unexpected maniacs, its own councilmember Rosa Perez intimidation tacks aimed at scaring residents to withdrawing their support in the recall efforts.”

Recall proponents also tell LCCN that they have been threatened during the past weekend with “heavy handed tactics.”

“The 24 residents who support the recall where paid a visit by two young men who informally delivered a threatening letter written by Hertz,” Sanabria said.

Ioannidis told LCCN that two men came to his door on November 18, and stated that “if he did not back down that he would have a lawsuit in his hands and he would lose everything.”

Ioannidis, who is an iconic community figure in Huntington Park owns and operates a tailor business and has been praised by elected officials throughout the country for his efforts on behalf

“This is highly disturbing behavior for a councilmember, especially when the community has a constitutionally protected right to recall an elected official for whatever reason” said a long time residents who wishes to stay anonymous due to fear of retaliation.

Michael Chee, a spokesman for the City of Huntington Park told LCCN that Perez sought “outside legal advice on her own.”

“Councilwoman Perez took it upon herself to hire an attorney to represent her in this matter.  It has nothing to do with city business,” Chee said.

“Council member Rosa Perez has chosen to exercise her personal right to defend herself against the outrageous and unfounded claims made in the most recent recall filing she was served with earlier this week. Her legal counsel is being paid out of her own personal pocket and is retained solely by her. The city is not involved with her decision to retain legal counsel. She is entitled to her rights and has chosen to exercise them,” Chee reiterated on Tuesday night in an email to LCCN.

Sutton has a noted reputation for being hard hitting.

LCCN was sent a previously published article in The San Francisco Bay Guardian that stated “Sutton solidified his reputation as the Dark Prince of San Francisco elections, a hired gun who helps downtown interests and well-funded campaigns continue to dominate the electoral field even after voters passed reforms that restricted campaign giving and spending and required more official disclosure.”

Four telephone calls to  Hertz by LCCN went unanswered as of 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

 

Click here to see letter from law firm.

 

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