INDIO – A controversial ordinance that would change how residents who volunteer to serve on advisory panels could be removed will resurface for the City Council to consider, Mayor Lupe Ramos Amith told Uken Report.

At issue is how planning commissioners, for example, can be removed

Currently, a commissioner can only be removed at the recommendation of the Councilmember who appointed him or her.

The Indio City Council earlier this year voted to amend the controversial ordinance that pertains to the commissioner removal process. It needs two formal readings. It would then be 30 days before it would take effect.

Last week, Ramos Amith’s motion to adopt the ordinance failed for lack of a second.

“The item will come back once staff does a cleanup of all the other items that Council had concerns with,” Ramos Amith told Uken Report. “There were a number of items that were brought up.”

The proposed revisions to the controversial ordinance are a cleanup of some contradictory and obsolete conditions the City Council isn’t adhering to anyway, she said.

“A condition that has been recently debated is with respect to the role of commissioner accountability,” Ramos Amith said. “Specifically, the proposed revision would change the process for the removal of a commissioner. It would hold a commissioner accountable to the entire Council rather than to only the appointing member, which has been the past practice of Councils when it came to removal and what we were under the impression was in the existing ordinance.”

Ramos Amith has come under fire from some who accused her of wanting to oust a particular person.

“I’m asking for a process to be changed,” she said. “I’m not asking for a commissioner to be removed.”

The City Council’s desire to change how it removes commissioners comes after an Indio Planning Commissioner, Sam Torres, came under fire for his alleged open and unequivocal bias against projects the Chandi Group USA is developing in this community. Torres, a sometimes controversial man, is also accused of harassment.

Attorneys for Chandi Group USA are demanding that Torres recuse himself from any and all votes or public hearings involving the Group’s projects, Jefferson North Gate, Golf Center, and Gurdwara.

Torres told Uken Report he has no plans to recuse himself.

“I can impartially render decisions on upcoming projects,” Torres said.

Councilmember Oscar Ortiz, elected in November 2018, appointed Torres to the Planning Commission earlier this year despite “a few” people advising him against it.

He bristles at the efforts to change the removal process through a controversial ordinance. Senior members on the City Council — Elaine Holmes, Glenn Miller, and Ramos Amith — for years have gotten to make appointments or reverse them. Now, Ortiz argued they are now trying to take away his authority.

The Palm Springs-based firm of Blasdel Guinan Lawyers on March 18 sent a letter to members of the City Council, members of the Planning Commission, City Manager Mark Scott, and City Attorney Roxanne M. Diaz objecting to Torres’ appointment to the Planning Commission and more.

The letter was sent on behalf of Nachhattar Singh Chandi; his wife, Susana Chandi; and Chandi  Group USA.

Ortiz said he has been pleased with Torres’ performance on the Planning Commission. Torres served one term on the City Council. He was unsuccessful in his re-election bid.







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