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Mayor of El Monte: He Might Grope You in Public, But He'll Get Your Road Paved!

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Ah, the dark underbelly of local politics... The Mayor of El Monte, Ernie Gutierrez, has been accused by a resident of being intoxicated at a city-sponsored event recently, which may have led him to shout vulgarities and publicly grope his alleged girlfriend, Graciela Solano. Gutierrez, who is married, did not respond to the accusations, which were raised earlier this month in a City Council meeting.

In response, City Manager Jim Mussenden says "a report on the city's internal investigation should be ready by next week and that once he reads the report, he will decide whether to place it on the City Council agenda for public discussion," according to the Pasadena Star-News. If there is to be a discussion of the report, protocol dictates that it must be done "in an open meeting."

Because El Monte faces a budget crisis much like many other SoCal cities, the decision whether or not to pursue this mayoral matter legally must be carefully weighed. Some feel that because the alleged inappropriate conduct took place at a city-sponsored event it warrants investigation, however some feel that to look into what seems to be the Mayor's personal problems would be a waste of much-needed funds.

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What may complicate the issue is the legality of Gutierrez's 2004 council vote cast that impacted improvements on the street his girlfriend lives because California law stipulates that elected officials must "abstain from voting on a project within 500 feet of property owned by them, their spouse or their dependent children." The law, however, does not cover romantic relationships outside the marriage, which leaves many feeling that while overall Mayor Gutierrez has not behaved illegally, he has behaved perhaps unethically.

Photo of Ernest G. Gutierrez via the City of El Monte official website