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By Kristin Grafft
Tuesday’s City Council meeting in Commerce boiled over into a verbal altercation between city council members, while three of the council members were also served with recall papers.
Councilwoman Tina Baca Del Rio and councilwoman Denise Robles, who have been bitter political rivals for years, got into a verbal spat that lasted throughout the night that included name-calling, character attacks and a political call to war by Baca Del Rio.
“You want to play politics? It is on girlfriend. I will gladly dance with you, because you are not going to disrespect me, or any of my family or anyone else here in this community,” said Baca Del Rio.
Although some of the meeting was indeed productive with presentations on the ‘Clean up Commerce’ event and AB 109, much of it was overrun by petty comments and arguing.
The battle between Robles and Baca Del Rio first broke out as early as public comment, following the remarks made by Robles’ daughter, Angela Sandoval, against a letter written by Bonnie Lopez, Baca Del Rio’s sister.
The letter included accusations that Robles has a “dirty political agenda” and that she allowed a registered sex offender to live in the community.
Sandoval said, “I don’t know what Bonnie thinks you guys can do, but you can’t dictate who lives and doesn’t live in the city of commerce.”
Sandoval also said that she is the one in charge of that property, not Robles.
However Sandoval’s comments were made before the letter had been read into public comment prompting Baca Del Rio to raise serious issue with the fact that Sandoval “negated” the letter before it had a chance to be read.
Robles defended Sandoval and argued that once a document is submitted to the council it becomes public record.
Their banter continued for almost ten minutes, until they were interrupted because the topic was “not on the agenda”.
Before moving on, Baca Del Rio took one last jab and requested information on how to sensor a councilwoman in the future.
The negative comments continued during council reports, with councilman Ivan Altamirano beginning his report with complaints that staff is overwhelmed by public record requests being made by Richard and Denise Robles.
An already hostile Baca Del Rio became further agitated upon noticing that Sandoval was recording the meeting on her Iphone and devoted her report time solely to addressing her issues with Robles and Sandoval.
The subject of Robles’ public records requests was also brought up again, with Baca Del Rio accusing Robles of being on a witch-hunt.
Baca Del Rio ended her comments by scoffing at Robles, “Christian – psh – in whose eyes?”
The adversarial climate continued as they moved on with the agenda and council members jumped at opportunities for personal attack throughout the items addressed. Many items were also postponed, although still discussed, due to the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Lilia Leon.
Recall papers were then issued to Baca Del Rio and Altamirano following the meeting that night (see additional article). A process server also attempted to serve Mayor Pro Tem Lilia Leon with her recall papers at the hospital, but it appears she was able to avoid the processor. They have now resorted to serving her papers through the city clerk, but will still attempt to make contact with Leon in the next few days.
The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 3 in the Council Chambers.
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