INDIO –Residents who volunteer to serve on advisory commissions, boards, and committees serve at the will of the City Council – and soon can be removed by the will of a least four councilmembers.
Currently, a commissioner can only be removed at the recommendation of the Councilmember who appointed him or her.
The Indio City Council voted this week to amend the ordinance that pertains to the commissioner removal process. It will need two formal readings. It would then be 30 days before it would take effect.
It really comes down to check and balances, Councilmember Waymond Fermon said, adding that it does not mean anyone will be removed.
Mayor Lupe Ramos Amith came under fire from some who accused her of wanting to oust someone.
“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 decision to change how it removes commissioners comes one month 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.
Attorneys for Chandi Group USA did not respond to a request for comment.
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 did not take kindly to the efforts to change the removal process. 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 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.
- Sam Torres: Facebook
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