San Jacinto City Council

Rusty Strait | Senior Reporter

San Jacinto’s City Council is as angry as a hornet over the conduct of one of their own.

At the meeting Tuesday Night, the regular agenda played second fiddle to not one, but two arrests of Councilman Joel Lopez, charged several serious felonies and a couple of misdemeanors – all within the past month. It is not the first time that San Jacinto’s City Council has been dragged over the road thanks to criminal activities – It is a story hotter than Hades, but first, let’s get take care of the mundane matters.

As always, the Council came to order on time, with roll call (4-0) with the unauthorized absence of Councilman Lopez; several citizens had questions regarding the city. Mara Levy called in during public comments with her usual statements about the drugged-out and homeless situation behind the local Rite Aid Pharmacy, declaring that the city was going about the situation in all the wrong ways. She sat and waited by the phone last week, waiting to be heard, but the meeting lasted only 15 minutes due to the lack of enough council persons in attendance.

That was followed by several community events and anniversaries (all of which can be accessed on the San Jacinto website).

Approved 4-0 to review and approve warrants and disbursements for the period of July 2021 in the amount of $9,080,872.75.

Approved 4-0 Resolution of Intention to Annex Territory into Community Facilities District No. 2003-1 and to Authorize the Levy of Special Taxes Therein.

Approved 4-0 Adoption of a Resolution of Intention to Annex Territory, located on the north-east corner of South Juanita Street and Buena Vista Street, into Community Facilities District No. 2043-` and Authorize the Levy of Special Taxes therein.

Approved 4-0 Adopt Resolution of Intention to adopt Resolution No. 3878, Declaring the Intention to Annex Territory, located on the north-east corner of Juanita Street and Oakwood Street, into Community Facilities District No. 2020-1 and Authorize the Levy of Special Taxes therein.

Passed 4-0 Approved a third and final 1-yr Professional Services Agreement extension with Dave’s Hauling. The scope of work includes Parks and Bus Stops trash and debris removal for 14 LLPD-1 and 25::{D-2 locations, the Police Station, 4 City maintained Bus Stops, 3 Park restroom cleaning, and the Estudillo Mansion Restrooms.

Having covered all that, the meat and potatoes came up for discussion. Mayor Pro-tem Ruiz fired the shot that reached across town to Hemet when she introduced a Resolution to Censure Councilman Joel Lopez. Much discussion and dissing the absent Councilman prior to any vote.

Led by Councilperson Ruiz, the Council to a man took turns defiling Lopez, claiming that he was not the kind of person who should be representing the city in any way. The Mayor said he had urged him to resign but Lopez wasn’t about to just slide into the darkness and be forever just a memory of a bad incident. No, he not only refused to resign but swore to run for re-election next time, but it likely happens if he gets any jail time out of the charges against him.

The truth is, the San Jacinto City Council was run out of office, with one exception, a few years back and the bitter taste continues. To refresh your memory, four Council members, including the Mayor and several prominent business members were involved, in allegations that included circumventing a state election financing and bribery. By the court stopped counting charges faced 155 charges that included 56 felonies, involving “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Only Councilman Steve DiMemmo (a former Federal Customs Agent) escaped the scandal. Heads rolled, fines were stupendous, the Mayor went to Jail and the scandal was hot news from Los Angeles to Manhattan.

Then we have Lopez, the current culprit. Lopez and his cohort, Edward Padilla, Jr. of Santa Ana were arrested on June 13th, indicted on four counts involving the operation of an illegal pot dispensary in San Jacinto. Both face two felony and two misdemeanor charges. Each has been charged with a felony count of conspiracy to commit misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance for sale, one felony count of maintaining a place for the of unlawfully selling or giving away a controlled substance without a permit plus a misdemeanor count of failure to file a sales and use tax return. Lopez was placed on a 5 million dollar bond bailed out.

But wait, there’s more. Lopez was arrested again on August 5th as a suspect in a domestic case charged with three felonies, including committing a felony while out on bail.

Now to the censure; the censure denies him appointments to any city, county or state committees as a representative of the City of San Jacinto. The quite long wording of the censure will be available on the city’s website. Other than that, not an unkind word was spoken throughout the evening. Speaking of being shunned. Just sayin’

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