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Commerce Mayor Pro Tem Baca Del Rio Violating City’s Vehicle Use Policy

By Brian Hews

A Hews Media Group-Community News investigation has revealed that current Commerce Mayor pro tem Tina Baca Del Rio is once again abusing the city’s  Vehicle Use Policy (VUP) collecting a $500 monthly stipend while continuing to use the city’s vehicle for official and personal use.

HMG-CN personnel have viewed the city car in Baca Del Rio’s driveway several times in the past few months in violation of the city’s VUP.

The VUP states that an official can collect the $500 monthly stipend only if they use their own personal car for city business, an official cannot accept the $500 and use a city-owned car.

The lone exception to use of a city-owned car is when an official event is more than 75 miles from the city, then the official can use the car to travel to that event.

A public records request of Baca Del Rio’s council calendar of daily appointments shows all events well within the 75-mile range when HMG-CN documented the city car in Baca Del Rio’s driveway, thus violating the city’s VUP.

This is not the first time Baca Del Rio has abused the VUP and mis-used city funds.

In May of 2012, the City Council passed a car policy that was very specific, stipulating that the cars could only be used for city business including “attendance at local and regional meetings, appointments, or events involving business affecting the city, meetings or appointments of various boards and/or agencies of which the City is a member.”

The policy stated, “They are to return the car immediately after the event, if it is a late event, the car can and must be returned in the morning.”

At the end of the vehicle use policy, the document specifically states, “the vehicles are not to be used for personal business.”

Longtime activist Mike Alvarado told HMG CN that then Mayor Baca Del Rio was the main abuser. “Everybody in town knows Baca Del Rio never takes her city car back to the lot, it is outside her house 24/7. ”

Based on Alvarado’s assertion, along with several other residents who complained, HMG-CN drove by Baca Del Rio’s house several times in May 2014 and viewed the Chevy Impala in the driveway at every instance.

Gas records obtained from the city via the Freedom of Information Act also show Baca Del Rio using the most gas out of the five Council-members.