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Dirty deeds alleged in Pacifica

By Aaron Kinney
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 at 2:36 pm in 2008 Local Races, Aaron Kinney, City Council, Corruption, Lawsuits, Pacifica, Political Campaigns.

A potentially embarrassing lawsuit filed against the city of Pacifica by former finance director Maureen Lennon reared its head at a recent Times editorial meeting with three City Council candidates.

Challenger Tod Schlesinger cited the suit in alleging that Pacifica’s city government does not operate with sufficient transparency and even engages in wrongdoing behind closed doors.

Schlesinger specifically cited a letter, dated Sept. 30, in which Lennon’s attorney mentioned “rumored attempts” by members of the City Council and City Attorney Cecelia Quick to “hide or destroy documents.”

Councilman Cal Hinton responded to Schlesinger’s accusations by saying the challenger does not have all the facts.

“I know of no inappropriate actions by the city,” Hinton said.

Hinton and Schlesinger were joined at the meeting by challenger Jeffrey Simons. Incumbent Pete DeJarnatt and challenger Mary Ann Nihart were unable to attend.

Much of the discussion focused on the Rockaway Quarry and whether it should be developed. All three candidates at the meeting support some form of development to boost the city’s flagging revenues. Hinton’s four colleagues on the council are more inclined to heed the concerns of environmental groups opposed to such development.

But the Insider’s interest was piqued by the prospect of shredded documents.

Attorney Gregory Antone’s claim appeared at the bottom of the Sept. 30 letter, which he began by expressing his “regret” and “chagrin” that the city hadn’t responded to his request for settlement talks.

Lennon’s suit alleges that Quick and other city officials, including Mayor Jim Vreeland, conspired to get rid of her after she revealed information about Quick’s billing practices that made Quick look either shady or incompetent and made the council look like it was asleep at the switch.

But the matter didn’t end once Lennon was gone. Lennon alleges in the suit that she lost a job offer with the city of Palm Springs after Quick badmouthed Lennon to her prospective employer.

In his letter, Antone said losing that job has caused more hardship for Lennon and means the cost of any settlement between her and the city is escalating “daily.”

“This is the first severe consequence of your following the ‘sage’ advice of Cecilia Quick,” Antone wrote.

We don’t know how this will turn out, but we’re eagerly looking forward to a trial. Antone wrote that he is aware of more misconduct than has been alleged in the suit but is holding off to use those claims as “substantiating evidence.”

Maybe he’s bluffing, but we kind of hope not. Let the dirt fly!

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