Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Lacey Sues to Oust Carson Mayor From Board
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has sued to remove Carson’s mayor from a water board on which his service allegedly constitutes a conflict of interest.
The district attorney said Albert Robles was served yesterday with a quo warranto complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Lacey contends that ceased to serve legally on the board of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California once he was elected to the Carson council in 2013.
Robles has been a member of the water board since 1992.
Robles is now the mayor of Carson, having been appointed to that office by the council earlier this year to succeed Jim Dear, who is now the city clerk.
A quo warranto action may only be filed by leave of the state attorney general. Attorney General Kamala Harris gave Lacey the go-ahead last month, saying a substantial issue exists as to whether Robles is violating Government Code §1099, the statutory form of the “incompatible offices” doctrine.
Harris cited a 2008 opinion in which her predecessor, now-Gov. Jerry Brown, said Lacey’s predecessor Steve Cooley could seek the removal of Sergio Calderon from the same board. Calderon, a political ally of Robles, was serving simultaneously on the water board and the Maywood City Council at the time.
The complaint alleges that the two offices are “incompatible under Government Code section 1099 because the WRD and the City of Carson have overlapping territory, duties and responsibilities, and a clash of duties is likely to arise in the exercise of both offices simultaneously.”
Section 1099 provides that public officers “shall not simultaneously hold two public offices that are incompatible.” The law does not apply to a position of employment, such as a civil service position, and states that—unless state law expressly compels or authorizes the contrary—two offices are incompatible if either one can exercise supervisory powers over the other, if there is a possibility of a significant clash of duties or loyalties between the two, or if public policy considerations make it improper for one person to hold both.
If two public offices are incompatible, the public officer is deemed to have forfeited the first, and the state attorney general or a private party—with the attorney general’s permission—may bring a quo warranto action seeking the removal of “any person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises any public office…within this state.” From the Medieval Latin meaning “by what warrant,” such actions usually arise in civil cases where plaintiffs claim that a government or corporate official was not validly elected to office, or is wrongfully exercising powers beyond those authorized.
A district attorney spokesperson said the case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Terry Green, who sits at the Mosk Courthouse downtown, and that Deputy District Attorney Marian Thompson with the Public Integrity Division is handling the case.
The case is People v. Robles, BC608075.
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