By: Mario Conde
An intense debate about the future of the Calexico Heffernan Memorial District took place as the City Council deliberated on sending a resolution to the County to dissolve the entity Tuesday evening.
An item placed on the agenda by Councilman Guillermo Hermosillo called for a resolution to recommend LAFCO to dissolve the Hospital Board. By law, LAFCO will be the entity in charge of dissolving the board which, after getting a petition by a legislative body or 10% of signatures by the voters, will initiate a long process to deliberate and make a decision about the future of the district.
The District is currently facing a Grand Jury investigation for misappropriation of public funds due to their land deal with the Mega Park. That project had to be rescinded due to a lawsuit against them and the current state of the economy.
Councilman Hermosillo pushed for the dissolution of the District since he said that there is no purpose for it to exist and it has made many mistakes that have caused the taxpayers of Calexico to lose money. Heffernan Board members Rosie Fernandez, Maria Camacho, and Chairwoman Sylvia Bernal spoke against dissolving the board. Hermosillo reiterated that the District, that has been in existence since 1947, no longer serves a purpose and only takes property taxes.
Bernal responded that those property taxes were used to purchase two new ambulances for the City of Calexico.
After public comments were over Councilman Daniel Romero said that before coming to the City Council he was in favor of dissolving the board and was going to take action to make it happen. But said he changed his mind after being appointed to the JPA board along with Councilman Luis Castro and learned about the role of the Heffernan District.
He said to be incredulous that they are discussing the elimination of the board and believes that the current attacks to the board are unfair. He said that the board has not been able to do anything because of lawsuits made against them that stopped many projects the District was working on.
Romero challenged the audience to instead of having a collective effort to dissolve the board then “why don’t you instead go to their meetings and help them, make them succeed?” He said.
Romero asked the audience to be the Devil’s advocate and challenge the board to make good decisions. He said that as a citizen he hasn’t done enough to support the board but said that if everyone put five minutes of their time toward helping the board then things would be better for the community. Members of the audience applauded Romero at end of his speech.
Mayor Pro Tem John Moreno said that this is not an easy decision and cannot be solved in one meeting and said to be concern about the future of Hefernan funds Hermosillo made the motion to approve the resolution but since there was no second the motion died.