Former Colma mayor will not be censured

Despite a report that found Larry Formalejo used his position as a city official in attempts to curry favor from police officers and other city employees, the Town Council decided against censuring the former mayor Wednesday.

The report, released Wednesday and conducted by outside investigator Linda Tripoli, said Formalejo was upset with the way officers handled his son’s arrest in August 2006 but that he helped “get [officers] good raises relative to [collective bargaining] negotiations.”

The council, however, said he had been through enough.

“It has been a very awkward, distressing situation,” said the newly sworn in Vice Mayor Joanne del Rosario. “Hopefully, we can move on.”

Formalejo, who said he plans to remain on the Town Council until the end of his term in November, called the report one-sided, despite having declined to be interviewed by the investigator.

“They didn’t hear my side,” he said. “The district attorney couldn’t find any criminal action. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Formalejo stepped down from his post as mayor last month after an incident stemming from his son’s DUI arrest became public.

He is accused of asking the arresting officer to “make the [DUI] charges go away,” using a credit card allotted to city officials to sign up for a FasTrak pass two years ago and asking an officer to help reduce the fine on his niece’s speeding ticket in January, which prompted an investigation.

The report also stated that Formalejo asked City Planner Andrea Ouse in 2006 to apply for an affordable-housing unit in Colma. A town ordinance bars anyone in charge of “making decisions over the unit” from living there. Ouse, the report states, found the request odd and Formalejo to be “naïve.”

In the most recent case, Formalejo is accused of asking Colma Police Cmdr. Greg Hart to use his ties at the South San Francisco Police Department to reduce a fine for his niece, who had been ticketed for speeding in South City. The report said Hart “felt like he was back in the ’70s or ’80s with a request like that.”

City Manager Diane McGrath said a learning curve is normal for new council members, but after four years on the council, Formalejo received enough ethics training to know better.

“I don’t think it was a lack of knowledge of his ethics obligations — maybe a lack of judgment,” she said.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

Ethical breaches

Possible breaches of ethical standards committed by Larry Formalejo:

» Asked Colma police officer to make DUI charges against son “go away”

» Reminded Police Department about his power in labor negotiations in dealing with his son’s charges

» Used town-issued credit card to sign up for FasTrak pass

» Asked Colma police commander to help reduce the fine from his niece’s speeding ticket

» Asked city planner to apply for vacant affordable housing unit

Source: Report from attorney Linda Tripoli

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