HERCULES -- A City Council with two new faces will discuss Tuesday the possible censure of the new vice mayor over her efforts to silence a critic in the last term.
A draft resolution containing the wording "Conduct discussion regarding the possible censure of Council Member Myrna de Vera" follows one in November that flopped without coming to a vote. That one, drafted by lame-duck former Councilman Gerard Boulanger and another, unnamed resident, contained serious flaws, according to City Attorney Patrick Tang, forcing the council to postpone it.
De Vera and her husband, Manuel de Vera, had taken offense at a June 15 blog post by Hercules resident Kent Von Aspern on Pinole-Hercules Patch that praised former Councilwoman Joanne Ward by comparing her to de Vera.
Von Aspern works for HDR, Inc., which holds an $800,000 design contract for the joint Pinole-Hercules wastewater treatment plant improvement project and hopes to secure another contract for a subsequent phase of the project this year.
Pinole Public Works Director Dean Allison contacted Von Aspern's boss at HDR and reported back to de Vera that Von Aspern would stop blogging. In July, de Vera emailed Allison that Von Aspern was blogging again. No blog posts under Von Aspern's name have appeared on Patch since July.
In September, then-candidate Bill Kelly, who won election to the council in November, requested in a letter to Tang that the council ask state Attorney General
Tang wrote Tallerico back in late October saying he has no independent authority to conduct a criminal investigation. And in November, a month before Kelly assumed office, Tang, confirming an October telephone conversation, wrote Kelly that the council had voted in closed session not to act on his request, adding that any member of the public can ask the state to investigate.
Kelly did so in late October, in a letter to Harris and the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury.
On Nov. 13, the council postponed a resolution to censure de Vera that had called for a $1,000 fine and for de Vera to forfeit her upcoming turn as vice mayor, after Tang said the council lacked the authority to impose either sanction. Moreover, the preamble of the November resolution said, incorrectly, that de Vera had publicly admitted she interfered with the administration of the Pinole-Hercules design contract. In fact, in a Sept. 24 letter of apology, de Vera admitted to poor judgment and denied telling the Pinole public works director to silence Von Aspern.
In November, voters replaced incumbents Boulanger and William Wilkins with Kelly and Sherry McCoy, and re-elected Dan Romero.
What: Hercules City Council meeting
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: City Council Chambers at City Hall, 111 Civic Drive