Monday, May 20, 2019

Cortez Pleas For Mercy -- While Getting Paid to Do Nothing

Sorry, Dana, but YOU'RE FIRED!

I can't wait to see her recalled.

Dana Cortez breaks silence in emotional interview, saying it's 'scary … to put your personal matters out there in the public'

Torrance City Treasurer Dana Cortez, who has not reported to work in nearly seven months because of an undisclosed medical condition, broke her public silence this week to explain why she has been so cryptic about her absence.

This is wrong. She needs to step down.

In an emotional interview with the Daily Breeze, Cortez — who quit showing up for work last October after she was stripped of half her duties and half her pay following allegations of mismanagement — said she stopped speaking publicly when it became emotionally exhausting.

Feelings cannot be the final arbiter or right and wrong. She needs to take responsibility for her actions. She was hired by residents of the city of Torrance to do a job. She has refused to do that job. She needs to be removed from office. Her dithering before the press and in the city is hurting lots of people, and that is simply unacceptable.


“This adds stress and worsens my condition,” she said, noting that the pressure has only intensified since last July, when the city aired its grievances about her competency in an open forum.

What about the tress for the residenst as a whole? Why about responsibilities for everyone else?

Cortez was slated to return to work again on Monday, May 13, but was a no-show. After prompting by city officials, she replied with a one-sentence email: “This is my doctor’s recommendation.”

She refused to come to work. What gives?

It included an attachment with a new doctor’s note — the fifth she’s given to the city thus far — stating that her new anticipated return-to-work date would be July 17.

She doesn't look sick. She just looks tired and bitter, nothing more.

City approves recall campaign

Cortez’s absence and subsequent lack of communication, both with the public and city officials, forced the City Council to declare a fiscal emergency late last year. Earlier this week, a citizen-led recall effort was approved by officials. Cortez had an opportunity to respond to the recall, but declined to do so.

She just wants to drag down the city. That is so shameful, so selfish. This woman needs to get with the program or get out of office. She is still getting paid big money, and she isn't doing anything! I know that she works for the government, but for her to go on like this is just sickening!

Cortez argued then, as she does now, that she has been transparent with her constituents, citing the public hearing last July — which, had she not requested, would have been held in private — where her management style and abilities as treasurer came under fire. A 300-page report alleged Cortez’s fiscal mismanagement had cost the city millions of dollars.

This woman has NOT be transparent with the city. She is more interested in everyone feeling sorry for her. She is not being honest, she is not demonstrating any level of integrity. She has no business acting like this. I think the city of Torrance should consider suing her and collecting back from her all the pay which she has collected even though she has done ... nothing.

The treasurer left on bereavement leave shortly thereafter and started sending in doctor’s notes a few weeks after that. Her duties were wholly reassigned to the Finance Department and her position was effectively dissolved in her absence.

Still, she collects a paycheck — about $65,000 a year — while also taking a $450-a-month car allowance. She’s also building a pension because she was a city employee before she became an elected official.

Not faking illness

Regardless, the timing of her absence prompted Councilman Mike Griffiths to wonder if it wasn’t premeditated. Griffiths speculated in March that this could have been a ruse, meant to buy time while Cortez readied a lawsuit.

“My focus is not a lawsuit, I’m not about revenge,” she said vehemently in the interview, denying that she was faking any sort of illness.

Lady, we have no reason to trust you at this point.

Griffiths’ suspicions were fueled by the dearth of information offered by Cortez. She has not told anyone what her diagnosis or prognosis entail.

Image result for dana cortez torrance
Absentee Treasurer

Yes, indeed. Talk about a lack of transparency.

Questioned by the Daily Breeze, she conceded that it is too painful to acknowledge. Saying the illness publicly — it made it worse. It made it real.

‘I am terrified’

“I still have a child in the community,” she said, choking through tears. “Kids try to pretend that they’re strong and it doesn’t bother them — she gets to see her mother every day, going through everything I’m going through and … she has to go to school and pretend that everything’s OK.

Give me a break! Mrs. Cortez' child is not in any mortal danger. This is unreal. I had no idea that she was a mother. One should rather ask: What kind of example are you giving to your child? You are shirking your duties as city Treasurer, Mrs. Cortez! What gives?

“I fear for her, too. I don’t want to push her over the edge,” she said. “Maybe if she reads it in the paper, it will make it more real for her, too. I don’t know that I can do that to her. Right now, we like to pretend that things are going to get better. And I really do want them to get better.

“I am terrified. I will own that. And I’m sorry. I’m just human.”

We are all human, Mrs. Cortez, but that is not an excuse not to do your job. You need to get back to work or get lost!

She argued that she has gone above and beyond what the law demands, which, under the Torrance charter, means that she only needs to tell officials that she is unable to come to work. Submitting doctor’s notes is above and beyond the requirements, she said.

So ...  it's time to amend the city charter. Simple as that.

“If people choose to believe that this doctor, who I have no personal relationship with other than the fact that I’m his patient, is lying for me … wow,” she said. “I will never change their minds.”

‘Let someone else’ step in

For activist Rick Marshall, who is leading the recall effort against Cortez, it’s not about changing minds. It’s about doing a job.

“Life can bring about changes, hardships, and personal situations that impair an elected official’s ability to do the job they were elected to do,” he wrote in an email to the Daily Breeze. “In that case, an elected official should resign and let someone else fulfill the duties of the job.”

Exactly. Be an adult. Be responsible.

Cortez said she wants to come back to work as soon as possible, but insists she is following the advice of her team of doctors, who have advised against it.

And yet the doctor's notes do not contain any information in regard to any of this!

So why not resign?

Needs health insurance

“My one and only concern at this time is my health,” she said. “If you want to understand why I haven’t resigned — it’s because I need health insurance so I can continue my treatments.”

Marshall argues that Cortez would leave office with a city pension and health benefits.

Yes. She has a pension coming to her, as well! This is unreal.

Griffiths, an outspoken critic of Cortez, shares similar sentiments.

“If this is just about medical benefits, she can decline her salary. She can decline her car allowance. No one is forcing her to take those things,” he said.

Yes indeed. Why is she still claiming the car allowance. This is bitterness on an unprecedented scale.

Has an obligation to public

Griffiths said Cortez has a duty to the public that she’s neglecting.

“She’s acting like an employee, which she is not,” he said. “She’s an elected official. She has to report to the people that put her in that position and she has not.”

Marshall makes a similar argument, which he says is what prompted the recall in the first place.

According to city officials, Marshall will need to collect nearly 13,000 signatures before Oct. 21 to put a recall on the ballot. Because some signatures inevitably will be invalidated, he said he will seek out 15,000.

I am helping Rick Marshall with this effort. Contact me if you want to help, too!

Marshall said the group will begin pushing in earnest during this weekend’s Armed Forces Day Parade.

Cortez said that she feels torn between her public duties and her personal needs.

That's a daily tussle for lots of people. Her decision to care for herself at the expense of everyone else is just sickening!

“I feel obligated to tell (the public) the truth,” she said. “At the same time, I’m scared. I’m scared because — do you know how scary it is to put your personal matters out there in the public?

“The only thing I’ve been wanting to do is just to get better. That’s it.”

She can get better without depriving the city of Torrance of its treasurer.


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