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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Resign and fight

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Mayor Ron Gonzales of San Jose, Calif., center,
with his wife, Guisselle Nunez, outside City Hall
on Wednesday after the City Council's vote.

San Jose Council Asks Mayor to Resign, but He Vows to Fight

Published: June 29, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, June 28 — In a sharp rebuke, the City Council of San Jose, Calif., formally asked the city's mayor to resign Wednesday, just days after he was arraigned on fraud, bribery and conspiracy charges.

The mayor, Ron Gonzales, rejected the request for his resignation, which came on an 8-to-3 vote of the Council. "I plan to complete my term as your mayor," Mr. Gonzales said to a smattering of boos from audience members in the Council chambers. "I say this because I am innocent."

Mr. Gonzales, 55, was arrested Thursday, along with his top budget aide, Joseph Guerra, on charges of secretly arranging an $11.25 million contract with Norcal Waste Systems to provide garbage services for the city, and lying to cover up the deal. Mr. Gonzales has repeatedly denied the charges, though he previously apologized to the City Council for arranging the deal without consulting it.

The Council censured the mayor in December. On Wednesday, members went a step further, quizzing the city attorney, Richard Doyle, about ways it could punish the mayor, including limiting such things as travel expenses and freezing the hiring of any staff members.

In an odd twist, Mr. Gonzales presided over the meeting and also spoke, asking his family and staff members to stand and thanking them for their support. "This afternoon is not about Ron Gonzales," he said. "This is about our family name."

Mr. Doyle cautioned the Council that it could open itself up to accusations of violating Mr. Gonzales's civil rights if it tried to remove him from office before he is convicted of anything. "The Council has to establish grounds, and grounds have not been established," Mr. Doyle said.

On Wednesday, some of those residents rebuked the Council for rushing to judgment. "Council members, please stop," said Bill Chew, a former fringe candidate for mayor. "Today's actions make you look like a lynch mob."

Lynch mob my ass. People elect honest officials. When their character is questioned by a multi-count indictment, they need to resign. This isn't about innocence or guilt, but character. It is selfish and unfair to try and do the city's business in good faith with this question hanging over him. The city isn't your defense committee. Go fight on your own dime and if found innocent, run for reelection next time.

I have no opinion about his innocence or guilt. I do know he can't help his defense and run a city.

posted by Steve @ 1:57:00 AM

1:57:00 AM

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