Wanted: Highly motivated candidates to serve in an appointed position on the City Council of a scandal-scarred suburb of Los Angeles.
The city of Cudahy is looking to fill one of two seats left vacant when two city councilmen were arrested in June in a federal bribery investigation involving a proposed pot shop. Both later resigned.
"In the spirit of openness, we’re advertising to cast a wider net for potential residents who are interested in becoming a council person," said Cudahy City Manager Hector Rodriguez. "Obviously, we’d want the best for the city."
The perks include a salary of $467 a month, up to $770 a month in medical benefits, and an opportunity to help set the city on a new course.
Applicants are running for an open seat left vacant by former Mayor David Silva, who resigned from his post on July 3 and pleaded guilty nearly a month later to accepting $5,000 in bribes in exchange for his support of a medical marijuana dispensary.
Silva's council term was set to end in March 2013.
Silva and ex-Councilman Osvaldo Conde each pleaded guilty to single counts of extortion and bribery that carry up to 30 years in federal prison. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced in November.
The two men, along with onetime interim City Manager Angel Perales, solicited and accepted $17,000 after meetings with the dispensary owner, who was working as an FBI informant. Perales pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery charges as well.
The arrests are the latest in a series of corruption scandals involving small Los Angeles County cities. The former city manager and several other officials from neighboring Bell are awaiting trial on charges of misappropriating funds to overpay themselves.
Two former Lynwood City Council members were found guilty of illegally boosting their salaries and racking up inappropriate bills on city credit cards.
The Cudahy case portrayed the suburb of 25,000 people as a corruption-riddled municipality where "money makes the monkey dance," as Perales told the dispensary owner, according to court documents. In his plea agreement, Perales admitted to rigging municipal elections in favor of incumbents by dumping ballots for challengers.
The person chosen for the council seat will serve on an interim basis as a City Council member from September 2012 until the swearing-in of a replacement selected by Cudahy voters following the city’s March 5, 2013 General Election.
The deadline to apply is Aug. 17.
A special meeting will be held Aug. 22 to let the council and the public hear from applicants. The council will vote Aug. 28 on whom to appoint.
Rodriguez said he didn’t think it would be difficult to find someone interested in becoming a city council member in a city with a recent history of corruption.
"The community wants to be involved, has in fact become involved," he said. "It’s a very positive step."
The news comes as community members have been clamoring for reform and demanding a special election so that voters can select who fills the empty seats.
"This is supposed to be an 'open & transparent appointment process' so we really hope our three sitting council members take the input of Cudahy residents when making their appointment," said the group Cudahy Association Unidos Salimos Adelante, or CAUSA, on their Facebook page.
Cudahy is currently only seeking to fill one of the two open seats to better ensure it has a quorum at council meetings. The other seat is set to remain open until the March election.