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Residents Express ‘Outrage’ Over Barrows, Chen, Ray Decision on Planning Commissioner Yokoyama

Former Cerritos City Planning Commissioner Frank Aurelio Yokoyama.  Randy Economy Photo

Former Cerritos City Planning Commissioner Frank Aurelio Yokoyama. Randy Economy Photo

By Brian Hews

The decision by Cerritos Mayor Bruce Barrows, and City Councilmembers Carol Chen and George Ray to deny a city planning commissioner’s reappointment has sparked a huge outcry from readers of Los Cerritos Community Newspaper during the past week.

Frank Yokoyama, a local real estate executive, was a recent candidate in the March 5th Cerritos City Council election, and finished in third place behind winners Chen and Ray. His campaign was heavily backed by current Vice Mayor Mark Pulido.

During a meeting of the city council earlier this month, Yokoyama was publicly denied another two-year term on the influential planning board after a strong public rebuke was given by Barrows, Chen and Ray.  The trio cited a past action against Yokoyama by the California State Bar Association in 2012 for his denial for another two-year term.

Since the heated meeting which saw Pulido leave quietly in protest, LCCN has been inundated with more than 100 letters, notes and comments from Cerritos residents about the removal.  An article about the situation at www.loscerritosnews.net generated more than 6,000 reader views during a one week period from as far away as London, China, Washington DC and South America.

An overwhelming majority of the comments are in support of keeping Yokoyama, and some of most well-known and respected members of the community have weighed in on the controversy.

Below is a sampling of the comments received by LCCN:

Chit Yokoyama, the mother of Frank, weighed in with a comment to LCCN: “I am very sad and cannot believe that Carol (Chen) cannot even remember that when she was first running for City Council me and my husband (Tom Yokoyama) supported her by letting her come to our office. We introduced her to our agents and got their votes. Now that she is on top of the world she cannot even think back how she got where she is now.”

“A big slap to the Filipino Community, they punished him because of jealousy and envy. Frank has two degrees that includes Law from Harvard. What did Carol Chen and Bruce Barrows finish? Because George Ray was carried by Carol, he will just say “Yes Ma’am”. I lost my respect already and sorry to say that,” said Pete Benzon, a longtime resident of Cerritos via Facebook.

“Stupid politics,” said Norman Caprio. “There’s always a selfish ulterior motive in the hunt for power. I’ve known Frank since he was 12. We grew up together. My parents bought their home from his parents back in the 70’s. Frank Aurelio Yokoyama’s integrity is clean as a whistle,” Caprio stressed.

“This is very sad. I know in Norwalk, Planning Commissioners serve at the will and pleasure of the councilmember who appointed them. Yes the whole council votes, but that is a formality. While I don’t agree with Mark’s (Pulido) style from time to time I would have to say that I feel he and Frank were railroaded,” said Scott Collins a current member of the Norwalk Planning Commission.

Melette Lampino said in her comments that it was “an abuse of power shown by three Council members! Unbelievable! Keep your head up, Frank! We, who believe in you Frank and Mark, were stabbed by this Council action!”

Stan Klecha labeled the action as “Mad-dog politics. Revenge. George Ray now becomes the third party to abuse the power. Good old politics. Bruce Barrows is the leader; the public voted him in again, blame the public, not the message.”

Lydia K. from Cerritos said in her letter to LCCN that, “I too find it amazing that new Cerritos Councilman George Ray reappointed most of former Council Jim Edwards’ commissioner retreads. He did add two new ones, a former city employee Becky Lingad, (manager of finance) to the Planning Commission and Dan Padelford an Artesia resident, to the Economic Development Commission. ARTESIA? HUH!! What the?? Come on George, surely there is one resident in our city of 45,000 plus who would qualify for this commission position. Have you ever heard of any other city around here appointing a Cerritos resident any of their Commissions? I haven’t. “GOOD OLD GEORGE,” retreads and out-of-towners, how exciting!!”

George Medina, a resident of Cerritos since the late 1960’s strongly agreed with reader Carpio’s appraisal of the decision to deny Yokoyama another two years on the Planning Commission by stating: “I agree with Norman Carpio about stupidity and warn the Citizens of Cerritos, that, what comes after stupidity is CORRUPTION.  Just look at the City of Bell. It started with stupidity and ended up with corruption.”

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