City Councilmember Jaime Soto began his term with much bravado. It was clear that he enjoyed sitting on the council dais and he liked the sound of his own voice, even if what he said didn’t make a lot of sense or he didn’t seem to take the time to read the council agenda. Even when residents in the chamber laughed at some of his comments, he shot from the hip without filters.
It wasn’t too long ago that Soto got a pass with just his knuckles quietly rapped for violating the Brown Act after sharing confidential information from closed door sessions. The consequences could have been much more severe, but he was given a pass. Soto, instead of humbly apologizing when this violation was discovered, went so far as to blame the City for not giving him proper training.
It seems the college professor isn’t able to learn his lesson.
His habit of letting his mouth run has got him in trouble again, and the city now has another lawsuit to deal with that will cost some money.
Soto’s former ally, Yolanda Haro, who he had appointed to the Parks, Wellness and Recreation Commission, has filed a lawsuit that includes sexual harassment, wrongful termination, unlawful retaliation, harassment and the kitchen sink against the City of San Fernando — all because Soto couldn’t stop himself from gossiping about her with his friends.
The lawsuit contends that Soto sent multiple text messages to three community members, also allies of Soto and acquaintances of Haro.
In conversation with others, Soto’s text messages read:
A. Yolanda Haro got skinny?
B. When did she get skinny?
C. I don’t like those surgeries… I think they are dangerous
D. I have not seen her… but I prefer the old Yolanda Haro
E. The community will not listen to really thin people
F. Remember the Rev. Al Sharpton and Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers? They lost their edge. When they lost the weight.
G. I like all my Commissioners plump…that’s why I chose them. Pilar, Julie, Yolanda. They make me look nice and slender.
H. Plump is good and attractive.
The lawsuit indicates that Haro called Soto to tell him to stop sending these text message as they were offensive, unwanted, discriminatory and demeaning. He didn’t answer her call and she left him a voicemail. Haro said he didn’t return her call, but later sent her an email from the City’s email account to inform her that he decided to release her as his commissioner. The lawsuit contends that Haro was removed from the commission as retaliation for her phone call requesting him to stop.
Soto was legally served with the lawsuit on the evening of May 1 in front of his home. He didn’t attend the council meeting that night indicating that he had opted to go to protests that day.
Curiously, Haro has listed the city as her employer although commissioners only received $50 per month.
Haro’s lawsuit contends that not only has she suffered emotionally and lost income, but her reputation and standing in the community has also been negatively impacted after he removed her from the commission.
And so the city turns….