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Is L.A.-area mayor living in office?

December 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It's not hard to find the mayor of South El Monte Blanca Figueroa. She's usually in her office. However, the South El Monte City Council is accusing her of living in her office, violating an 11 p.m. curfew.Blanca Figueroa is at work at South El Monte City Hall on a day that the offices are closed. Figueroa says her job requires her attention 24 hours a day. However, she is spending so much time at the office that some accuse her of living there.

"If you can find a bed, please let me know where it's at, because I could sure lay down right about now. But no, I don't live here," said Figueroa.

The mayor admits she is sometimes at the office late at night and into the early hours. Some city council members don't feel that is appropriate.

"The office is being misused. I feel that on top of me being a council member, I am also a resident ... and I feel that she's almost taking advantage of her position," said Angelica Garcia, South El Monte City Council.

Some say the mayor is living in her office because her house is unfit to be occupied. Eyewitness News went to Figueroa's home and spoke to her neighbor.

"She lives right there. ... She's a beautiful woman. She's a great neighbor," said Lisa Barajas.

City council members say they are proud of their small city. Crime is down 28 percent and they feel this simply doesn't look professional.

"Somebody walks in and they're in their slippers and not dressed appropriately. I myself feel very uncomfortable," said Hector Delgado, South El Monte City Council.

Delgado showed ABC7 surveillance video of a burglary that allegedly occurred in the city hall parking lot. According to council members, having someone at the office late at night could be dangerous. In fact, they passed a rule banning anyone from being on the premises past 11 p.m.

"I appreciate their concern for my being here late, I really do. But sometimes these things happen," said Figueroa.

In the city, the mayor and four council members share two modest offices. The mayor has taken over the biggest office, and they say it is almost as though she has taken over city hall.

"What it comes down to is office space. I mean, we all share office space and she somewhat has commandeered one office," said Joseph Gonzales, South El Monte City Council.

For now, nothing will change. The mayor says she will continue to work late hours if that's necessary. The city council members say they'll just wait to see what happens.


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