The City of San Fernando has settled what some may perceive as a frivolous lawsuit while others may consider an actual case of sexual harassment, but the bottom line is, the real losers are the city’s residents.
Because today the City’s coffers are $62,500 lighter, the price tag of a settlement with former commissioner Yolanda Haro.
This is the result from the latest of a string of antics and poor judgement by Councilmember Jaime Soto, who had gossiped about the body size of Haro — his former commissioner — via text messages that were later turned over to her and became the basis for the lawsuit, which said that not only had she suffered emotionally and lost income, but her reputation and standing in the community had also been negatively impacted after he removed her from the commission.
The lawsuit stated that Soto had 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 indicated 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 said that Haro was removed from the commission as retaliation for her phone call requesting him to stop.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, July 11, the City Council voted 3-1 in favor to settle, which was announced publicly following a closed session. Soto was the lone dissenting vote. Councilmember Antonio Lopez was out of town and not at the meeting.
Soto, who had already been put on notice for violating the Brown Act, has been warned not to share information discussed in closed session, and refuses to heed to the advice of the City’s attorneys, takes pride in being a lose cannon without decorum.
Now San Fernando — still working to get on steady financial ground following years of an unscrupulous City Council that was recalled and a weak city administration is working to get on steady financial ground — has to contend with Soto costing it more money.And so the city turns….