Bell Gardens Council Assignments Get Heated

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

A heated argument broke out Monday at the Bell Gardens City Council when the annual reorganization of the council and committee assignments upset one council member so much he threatened to use social media to broadcast council actions he claims are “irresponsible” and “unfair.”

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Fricción Durante la Reorganización del Concejo de Bell Gardens

The meeting started smoothly enough, with the council unanimously voting to make Councilman Daniel Crespo mayor for the first time during his 12 years on the council, and Councilwoman Priscilla Flores the new mayor pro tem.

“I wasn’t ready for this tonight,” said a surprised Crespo.

Daniel Crespo (left) was elected Bell Gardens mayor and Priscilla Flores (right) elected mayor pro tem Monday during the annual reorganization of the council. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Daniel Crespo (left) was elected Bell Gardens mayor and Priscilla Flores (right) elected mayor pro tem Monday during the annual reorganization of the council. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Flores, who like Crespo is up for election in November, said her nomination of Crespo was “deserving.”

Doing a complete about-face, Councilwoman Jennifer Rodriguez, who has been known to engage in shouting matches with Crespo during council meetings where each has accused the other of making decisions for “political gain,” said she now has “confidence” in Crespo’s leadership.

“Mr. Crespo and I have a long history but I think that our common interest is the betterment of our community,” Rodriguez said.

But the cordial atmosphere soon turned sour as the council turned to the business of reorganizing council member assignments to the various external boards, commissions and committees where council members represent the city.

Former Mayor Pedro Aceituno said he put the item on the agenda to make sure the appropriate adjustments were made, a task that usually takes place after the annual council reorganization.

Particularly contentious was Rodriguez’s nomination of Crespo to replace Councilman Sergio Infanzon as the city’s representative to the Gateway Cities Council of Government (COG), which includes representation from the twenty-seven cities of southeast Los Angeles County —such as Vernon, Montebello, Commerce, Bell, South Gate and Bell Gardens — the County of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Gateway Cities advocates on issues regarding air quality, housing needs, job creation and economic revitalization for the region.

It is a politically influential group that can impact legislation, policy and large amounts of government funding that flows to the area.

Infanzon told the council that his four years at Gateway Cities has put him and the city in a leadership position that would be lost if he is replaced.

“I just want to make sure that we understand the responsibilities and what it entails to be part of this and what it has taken to get a leadership role in this committee,” Infanzon said. “I believe it’s in the best interest in the city to keep it [the assignment] the same.”

Infanzon is also up for reelection this year and emphasized that he has only missed one committee meeting in four years, insinuating that other council members do not take their roles in their respective committees as seriously.

Currently Gateway Cities’ Board of Directors 1st vice president, Infanzon said he is on track to be elected president at the board’s next meeting in August. It would be the first time someone from Bell Gardens is president, he emphasized.

“I would like to continue representing the city in this organization because of the critical leadership that we have been able to create and develop,” he urged.

According to Gateway Cities’ Deputy Executive Director, Jack Joseph, traditionally the first vice president rotates to become president. Joseph told EGP this year would be an “exception” and the board would have to vote for someone else in order to address the change in representation. He added that while a new representative starts off as a delegate, there is no need to wait a certain number of years before being elected president as long as the other board members approve.

Rodriguez told Infanzon he should trust the new mayor to take over his duties on the committee. Nothing is preventing you “from being as involved as you have been.” Rodriguez added.

“Mr. Crespo has great expertise and he’s been on the council I believe longer than anyone of us and I think he will do a great job at representing us.”

The council is heading in right direction despite the challenges it faces, she said, raising her voice.

Infanzon said the issue is not about whether he can provide support to Crespo but about the four years it took for him to be on the verge of being elected president. Using his hands to illustrate his point, he said the city’s new delegate would have to start at the very bottom and Bell Gardens would lose its chance to finally have a representative in top leadership.

Infanzon said he “truly believes” the council members do not understand “how government works,” and that it would be irresponsible for council members to make a decision that night.

His comment riled Crespo who noted he was the Bell Gardens’ representative to Gateway Cities in the early 2000s.

“I’m perfectly aware of its functions and responsibilities,” he retorted. “I do look forward to having you briefing me on where we are at in this specific committee,” he added indignantly.

The mayor then called for a vote on Rodriguez ‘s nomination, but before it could be taken, Infanzon said the council voting that night would demonstrate a “lack of responsibility” to the people.

“I’m glad that the public is here, I’m glad that we have representation here, I’m glad that its being recorded because I don’t think that it’s fair,” he said, clearly upset. “Now just for political purposes or for whatever reason we are changing it.”

His passionate plea escalated when he told the council that every single resident in the city was going to know what happened at the meeting and they would “fight this.”

“We are going to use every single piece of media; Facebook, Twitter, press releases everything to let them know the decision that we make here,” he said angrily.

He accused the council of not understanding what needs to be done to “take the level of integrity and honesty of this body to a different level.”

Rodriguez shot back that if he wants to talk about politics and lack of responsibility, he should remember that all of the members of the council beside him are lifetime residents of Bell Gardens, insinuating that it’s him who does not understand the troubled times previous councils experienced.

“We have always been a very responsible council,” she said loudly. “I resent the fact that you would use social media as a threat to try to subordinate this council and convince us to do what you want us to do,” she said angrily. “I take that as a threat, I think that sometimes as a councilmember you have to let go of your ego, ” she said as the city council chambers grew uncomfortably quiet and some in the audience got up and left.

Despite the city attorney’s attempt to move the meeting along, Infanzon continued to press on and attempted to clarify he was calling the decision irresponsible, not the council, but Rodriguez was not having any of it, and told him he should be careful how he says certain things.

Crespo said the debate needed to stop so they could move on to other committees and called for the vote.

Stating that he was at first leaning toward voting for Infanzon, Councilmember Aceituno said Infanzon’s “unfortunate” comments led him to change his vote to Crespo.

“I took offense to some of the comments and the tone in which they were made,” Aceituno said.

When it came for Infanzon to vote he told the council it was “okay” and they could do whatever they please.

“All of you know that I work hard,” he said in a defeated voice. “Yes I know I wasn’t born in this community but my community is the people not the place.

“None of you should be offended,” he said in his final plea to the council. “I should be the one [who is] offended,” he said before abstaining.

Crespo was elected.

Infanzon turned down Rodriguez’s nomination of him to serve as the city’s alternate to Gateway Cities. “Thank you…but its okay,” he said emotionally when she pleaded with him to accept the nomination.

His rejection of her nomination sparked another round of arguments between the two, with

Rodriguez ultimately nominating Aceituno to be the city’s alternate.

Attempting to try to strike a conciliatory note, Infanzon told Crespo after the vote that he would support him.

“Tomorrow, after this meeting, you will be someone representing this city, I will be someone representing this city, because of that I will respect you and if you need something I will provide it to you, and I will support you with whatever it is that is needed to protect the interest of this city.”

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July 25, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

27 Responses to “Bell Gardens Council Assignments Get Heated”

  1. Ana Marina Juarez on July 29th, 2013 1:44 pm

    Ineptly done, the ignorance those council members posses is beyond embarrassing and a shame to their city.I grew up in BG and I’ve yet to see a more progressive, proactive, effective and politically savvy council member than Infanzon represent Bell Gardens. They lack everything, including integrity… as I am not surprised by their embicilic decision, I am disgusted by the continued disservice to the community.

  2. Claudia Hernandez on July 29th, 2013 8:14 pm

    I am resident living in Bell Gardens and I can honestly say Sergio Infanzon is actually one of the only people who reaches out o the community. I have gone to some of the hearing and the other members struck me as cold and distant. I was a student in Bell Gardens High School and out of all the Council Members Sergio was the only one who let his presence known. That guy was everywhere, especially helping out the DREAMER’s. He has leadership and charisma, something those council members do no have especially Crespo. I do not look forward for him being the mayor of Bell Gardens.

  3. Luis Miguel on September 26th, 2013 6:39 pm

    Oh please, cry me a river… Both claudia hernandez and ana maria juarez are…. (Drum roll)… Sergio Infanzon. It might as well be anonymous. Listen, sergio is a antonio villaraigosa apologist, so they are one and the same… Trust me i know the guy. I dont know the other members, but sergio has forgotten where he came from and completely betrayed his principles… Simply put, hes a savvy savvy dirty politician…. There i said it…. Stop this already sergio…stop acting like u care cause u dont. …. HAVE U NO SHAME SIR??????????????

  4. Luis Miguel on September 26th, 2013 9:44 pm

    And if we are going to talk INTEGRITY, lets talk about how at first S.I. ( sergio ) lied about how he had a bachelors in engineering, when in fact he never finished school… Ouch!… Too soon?? So you’re promoting higher education?… So please start with yourself dude, u need to get your bachelors first… U stepped over other ppl at ELAC to get an undeserved break at USC, but didnt finish? U wanna promote higher ed sergio? Really? Come on! First of all everything u got has been appointments (including your current post which u never got but got “appointed” like everything else u have…) and political favors…. How did u became project manager at the questionable LAUSD? Well we all know how buddy! Dont come lecture us, first finish your bachelors then promote higher education. Every single post u have held ( including at bell gardens) has been a political favor, so please stop telling your co-politicians at BG that u are better than them buddy…

  5. Luis Miguel on September 26th, 2013 9:49 pm

    One more thing, everything here is true, u know its true sergio, stepping over others to get to next level or using and abusing ppl has finally catched up… I guess the villaraigosa “ghost” is catching up ha? We all know villaraigosa cheated on his wife and divorce her on her dying bed, yet u just turn a blind eye to yours buddy… Well guess what the Bell Gardens people figured you out already…. The emperor has no clothes!!! ( its a fraud!)

  6. Luis Miguel on September 26th, 2013 9:52 pm

    Time for plan B?… Plan B= get a real job for once and work for a living.

  7. Dover, Ben on September 26th, 2013 9:58 pm

    I agree i have seen personally the backroom deals and backstabbing and mudslinging, trash talk, etc, of how everything he ever got wass given to him, im telling u if ppl vote for him they must be masochist i guess?!

  8. Juanito on September 26th, 2013 10:00 pm

    Cant we all just get along Ben Dover!?

  9. Juanito on September 26th, 2013 10:02 pm

    Its a shame u are not posting the ppls comments! Yet u publish his supporters! Interesting!

  10. Juanito on September 26th, 2013 10:42 pm

    How is saying the truth an attack? For example when he claimed on his resume that he had a bachelors in electrical engineering, when in fact he never finish the degree… U see the problem and/or point is not that he doesn’t have a degree, ORNOT EVEN that he promotes higher education when he never finished his degree…. No no no, the problem is he lied about it! U see now? Thats the real issue, integrity… He wasnt straightforward there, what else is he not being not truthful about? EXACTLY!

    Rule #1 to get my vote is not that u have a degree, but that u dont lie about saying u have one when in fact u never finish your degree, i have a problem when ppl hide the truth (especially if u promote higher ed, although I would think that if u are going to promote something then u set the example more like a doctor u know like PhD-not someone who didnt finish his degree but anyways…).

  11. Dover, Ben on September 26th, 2013 10:46 pm

    I just dont get it…. Sheeple sometimes amaze me how they follow the crowd masses without using their analytical skills! Wake up sheeple of bell gardens.

  12. Rosa Milenyo on September 27th, 2013 5:53 pm

    I know, this doesn’t seem right, the point is not that sergio infanzon doesn’t have a degree, or even that he’s promoting higher education, all that is not the point… the POINT is that when he lied in his resume about how he had a bachelors in Science in Electrical Engineering… THATS the REAL ISSUE… NOT that he doesn’t have a degree, but that he’s lying in his resume about having one… ITS CALLED INTEGRITY! U need integrity to run for office… so he needs to come out in public, and said… I put in my resume that I had a degree but never really finished the degree…. U noticed the whole engineer thing just got put to the side? NOw he doesn’t even mention it, why???? that’s right you guessed it, cause it wasn’t true to begin with…. And I agree, if you want my vote, I also want you to be straight forward with me and my ppl.

  13. Rosa Milenyo on September 27th, 2013 8:09 pm

    Bottom line is politics will always politics, just become one of the crowd, we’re use to it… but dont try to say “all the bell gardens politicians are irresponsible cause they missed alot of meetings, and I’m the best!, i’m hard working and this and that” because then we start digging and we find out it’s not necessarily true… so just do like the rest of them, take your “cut” that everybody takes (in spanish we say “agarra el bueso que to toca”) and “run with it”, but don’t critizice, cause that makes you worst than them… and thats bad… LISTEN, we know why you in it, and ITS NOT for US… please just be honest, dont worry we know why… we been to thousands of politicians in our home country who say they are honest, and at the end it’s all the same… just stop pretending please… like every election in bell gardens, we’ll just choose between the “lesser of two evils”… So maybe you just wanna say, “I’m not as bad as them, i’m still looking out only for myself, but i’m not as bad as them…” AT THAT POINT, WE’LL KNOW YOU ARE NOT LYING ANYMORE… we’ve been thru this a 1000 times, every politician is the same….

  14. Aquiles Bael Garrot on September 27th, 2013 8:36 pm

    I think MONEY $$$$$ changes people… think about it! Maybe he started off as good and everything was going just fine, but then he started to “play around/manage alot of $” and I mean the big bucks, then what are you going to do? As every human being, of course you’ll take your “CUT” if you know what I mean… MEN are not angels, lets face it… THINK about it, he (sergio infanzon, or in this case any politician really) said he/she came from nothing, then after moving a couple thousands dollars here and there in your college years as president of this club and that organization in your college years (which is what he did), all of a SUDDEN you find yourself in LAUSD and you are not managing thousands, but… MILLIONS! (117 millions), you think that you’re not going to turn a “blind eye” to a million here and a million there??? come on SHEEPLE of bell gardens, lets get real? For example, I’ll hire a CONSULTANT and “pay” him 2 or 3 million to “study” why students drop out… here you go a million bucks to tell me why they drop out… and SO ON and SO FORTH…. Now you see why they want to be politicians right? U think it’s about u SHEEPLE of bell gardens? come on! Now if he was the vice-president of the –Gateway Cities Council of Government (COG)– and he was on his way of becoming president but got “replaced” by “his buddies” (no wonder he’s offended, I’ll be offended too if they stopped me from being the president of this COG group)…NOW at the COG group of 27 cities, we are no longer talking managing 117 million like in LAUSD (117 million is “chump” change now)… NOW we’re talking “KUKU BUCKS” my friends… are you listening to me? KUKU BUCKS!!!!!!!!!!, maybe in the BILLIONS, or at least half I BILLION I would say (that’s 500 million)… AT this point it becomes much easier to make unreasonable studies that nobody cares about and spend a couple million here and a couple more there…. or MAYBE buy toilets for the parks of the…

  15. Aquiles Bael Garrot on September 27th, 2013 8:46 pm

    ….(CONTINUED)… OR maybe buy toilets for $10000 each from a “misterious” company, who in turn buys them from COSTCO at $100 bucks, now you see why they wanna be your LEADERS??? Or the classic one, I’ll hire a consultant and pay him $5 million to tell me why business fail, why students drop out, what % of days are cloudy in california, or whats better for the community, Retail company A or B… you get my point? We’ll, or I’ll, as your represented leader and manager of your millions of dollars for the city ($, were talking KUKU BUCKS), I’ll decide what consultant I’ll hire and tell me something that nobody really cares instead of spending it in something real… LETS face it sergio and everybody else have been there 4 years already and what has changed? If anything, things only got worse… why? u think maybe cause all the $ went into hiring consultants to study stuff that nobody will ever use or care… again sheeple of bell gardens, money $$$ changes ppl, and that’s anybody… trust me, i know what i’m saying….

  16. Aquiles Bael Garrot on September 27th, 2013 9:19 pm

    in summary, God help us all from the CORRUPT, we know we are all sinners, and we’re not Saints thats for sure, but lets not be Corrupt and stay away from the corrupt and lets run for the hills when we meet a corrupt person, unfortunately, when we think corrupt, we also think politicians… Sooo in summary, we are sinners, so don’t say you are not a sinner, cause you are just like the rest of us, and at that point we’ll be suspicious whether you’re also corrupt like most of the politicians… ( so for example when you say, “they are irresponsible, but I’m hard working…” that’s really really really bad… lets face it, we’re all human and we all have shortcomings. God Bless us all

  17. Aquiles Bael Garrot on September 27th, 2013 9:39 pm

    Basically, when sergio says “I only missed one meeting… (implying they are irresponsible)..” “I’m hard working” “I… I ….. I… me …. me…. me…” well you’re throwing your other councilmember buddies under the bus my friend. Dont throw them under the bus, maybe you would of become the president of COG, but when you throw them under the bus and say they are irresponsible, but youre not and you’re better than everybody else, then they will also throw you under the bus when they got a chance….

  18. Aquiles Bael Garrot on September 27th, 2013 9:45 pm

    In spanish I think it goes something like “no muerdas la mano que te da de comer!” “or don’t bite the hand that feeds you”… your buddies in the council have been there for you when you guys were doing all these backroom deals, appointing each other mayor and pro-tem mayor, and basically rotating the power grab, keeping the “bueso” (the bone, the hueso, la mochada, the cut) as evenly as possibly between all of you, but when one tries to take the “whole pie” vs just a piece of the pie like every body else, then that’s when they will turn their back on you…. think about it when you “move” to your next random city in LA county and try to say you’re a resident there sergio, and then then get appointed by some VILLARAIGOSA associate to become councilmember…

  19. Samuel Juarez on September 27th, 2013 10:00 pm

    So please tell me if this theory is far fetched…. Lets say you’re a ficticious character. Lets call you Sergio (no coincidences to Sergio Infanzon), and that one day your buddy and Mayor of the big city of Southern california Tonito Billaraigosa (think Charlie Sheen partying in Cabo San Lucas with the ‘loose shirt and mr party animal himself tonito billaraigossa’ on new years), one day your buddy tonito Billaraigosa, since you been a loyal follower to him, even though we know Tonito is a not the most honest person there is, Tonito tells our friend sergio of our story ” Hey Sergio, why don’t you rent a studio apartment, and say you are a resident of a ficticious city, lets call it bell gardens, even though you live in a mansion in a exclusive city next to pasadena… and I’ll make a few phone calls here and there to the right people and you’ll be appointed (not elected, but appointed) to the city council, I have alot of “clout” as the mayor of the biggest city, and my power runs that deep… what do you say? you want to be councilmember? OK… (waves magic wand…), DONE! But now, after Tonito disgracefully leaves the mayors office, scandal after scandal, our ficticious friend sergio is left alone against the whole city council, and they start plotting against him, cause they know how he got there in the first place… and in FACT this is the FIRST TIME EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER…(drum roll)… that sergio is running for public office, cause EVERY single post he’s held, it’s never been thru public elected office, but thru appointments… now i’ve said PUBLIC OFFICE, i’m not talking LAUSD, College, etc, where it’s really not public, but thru appointments… anyways you get the idea…. OK so basically since Tonito Billarrrraigossa is no longer mayor of the big city in california, then I guess ppl start to slowly removing/stripping the powers from all the tonito associates…. But this is just a far fetched idea, ina ficticious story, dont listen…

  20. Esther Romeli on September 28th, 2013 10:13 am

    When I think of Bell, robert Rizzo comes to my mind…. And when I think of Bell Gardens, sergio infanzon comes to mind,.. Nuff said!!!! I always wondered why it became an obsession to sergio to become a politician, cause now this is an obssesion for him. The fact that a politician is savvy and charisma and all that stuff the first 2 comments say, that doesnt mean anything… Hitler was also charismatic and savvy but he had an obsession… So please dont tell us this charisma mumbo jumbo, bottom line is when u claim to be holier than thou ( more responsible than his peers) that only tells me u throw ppl under the bus when u no longer need them…. The way i see it sergio strategically chose bell gardens (as any savvy politician) in a map to launch his polotical career, thats right he is running for elected office for 1st time ever….hes always been appointed before.

  21. Esther Romeli on September 28th, 2013 10:25 am

    Dont be fooled by him, remember u can always do some research and verify if this is true or not, wake up ppl!

  22. Melini meel ambes on September 28th, 2013 10:34 am

    Yo no se mucho, pero una cosa si les digo cuidense de este cuate sergio, yo se lo que les digo agsnme caso… Acuerdense que todos todos todos todos los politicos son iguales, y mas cuando dicen y embavucan ala gente y le dicem que ellos no son como los demas!!! Este cuate tiene carisma pero pa embabucar nomas, eso que yo soy diferente no me lo trago, si esta ai espara algo y creanme no es para nosotros, si no por sus propios intereses, ay muchisssimo dinero en el govierno y eso es el unico buesa que este cuate busca, igual que todos, es igual o peor que los demas….no me crean di no quieran pero si no de mi se acuerdan… como siempre, el mas vivo vive del mas pen-tonto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Ernesto Costelo on September 28th, 2013 11:24 am

    Bueno bueno gente no se me alebresten en todo caso yo no culpo a sergio infanzon ya que por ay se dice que el es producto de villareconquista digo tonyito vill@rrraigosa so si lo creemos o no que importa. La cosa es que su compadre tonito lo puso en el poder pero alos unicos que culpo es a ustedes….si a ustedes ovejas digo gente de vell bardens que va votar por el, por que asta eso ahi fue puesto por los de arriva, ya que nunca lo eligieron…. Nunca lo eligieron pa empezar…. So la gente que vote por el son los de la culpa, ellos ay que culpar…. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

  24. Cirilo Agual on September 28th, 2013 11:28 am

    De que se quejan de este cuate, todos son iguales compa, todos son iguales, sin ninguna excepcion, todos son iguales….

  25. Cirilo Agual on September 28th, 2013 11:31 am

    Robert Rizzo, Sergio Infanzon, schwarzenagger, y los que faltan……….etc etc etc etc etc etc, todos bienen nomas por el bueso y aver cuanto les va tocar……..

  26. Cirilo Agual on September 28th, 2013 11:32 am

    Vill@rrraig0sa, etc etc todos son iguales… Por favor no me agan reir !

  27. Luciano Angulo on September 28th, 2013 11:45 am

    No se agan ni nos agamos gueyes, este compa serjio infanson esta ahi por su compadre vill@rrraigossa, tonito villaeraiggosa… Preguntas?

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