Colma’s new mayor accused of unethical behavior

Larry Formalejo, the newly elected mayor of Colma, may be under investigation for alleged misconduct and possibly suspended after the City Council accused him of engaging in inappropriate behavior, according to a city staff report.

The first Filipino-American mayor of the city, Formalejo was elected in November and began serving his only year in office. The former vice mayor of Colma, who lost his first bid for the council in 2002, Formalejo has denied all allegations, the report states.

Itis uncertain what inappropriate behavior the mayor engaged in, and city staff and council members have been tight-lipped about the exact allegations. On Wednesday, City Council members will discuss whether to authorize the investigation and suspend Formalejo.

Vice Mayor Helen Fisicaro, though she would not reveal any specifics, said Formalejo has not been following some ethical guidelines despite receiving ethics training.

“It’s about him doing certain things — we just want him to understand that some of the stuff can’t be done,” she said.

Elected officials receive periodic training on ethical issues, City Attorney Roger Peters said, such as the duty to disclose economic interest or to disqualify yourself from making certain decisions, holding incompatible offices and dealing with staff members in a civil manner.

Peters did say that the accusations against Formalejo are not similar to the corruption charges brought upon former City Council member Philip Lum, who was indicted in 2006 after accepting first-class airline tickets from Lucky Chances Casino owner Rene Medina for trips to the Philippines over the past few years.

Formalejo did not return calls to comment on the allegations. However, his older brother Bernardino Formalejo said he did not believe his brother did anything wrong.

Alice Bolos, an active member of the Filipino community considered to be Formalejo’s mentor, said she was very surprised to hear about the allegations.

“The Filipino community is very sad about it,” said Bolos, who along with Formalejo has been a member of the Filipino-American Democratic Club of San Mateo County. “He is very committed to his work as a mayor of Colma. He is a role model.”

Peters said he does not expect the accusations will lead to a lawsuit, but did not know whether Formalejo retained an attorney. Peters recommended that the City Council appoint an independentinvestigator on the case.

The meeting takes place Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 1198 El Camino Real.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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