DOWNEY - Fernando Vasquez, a Downey planning commissioner and candidate for City Council, received a phone call from the Downey Police Department recently after he attempted to secure office space from a development firm with pending business in the city.Vasquez allegedly requested office space from Yanki Greenspan, vice president of leasing and development with Westland Industries, which is developing a retail center at Downey Avenue and Firestone Boulevard. As a member of the planning commission, Vasquez voted on April 7 to recommend the retail center's approval to the City Council. The project, dubbed Downey Gateway, will replace the existing Gourmet Café with a variety of restaurants, retail space and a yogurt shop. It was eventually approved by the council. The request for office space came after April 7, but Greenspan denied that Vasquez asked for a campaign contribution. "He needed a temporary office and wanted to lease it," Greenspan said. "It certainly was not one of those situations where he was expecting a favor from me." Greenspan said Vasquez did not lease an office from his company because the project was still in its initial construction phase. The Downey Police Department spoke to an attorney for Vasquez after becoming aware of the request. "We just wanted to help make him aware of the various laws regarding campaigns and contributions. It was mostly to ensure nothing happens in the future," said Capt. Jim Heckel, who added that a formal investigation was never launched. When asked if he had asked for office space from a person with pending business before the Planning Commission, Vasquez responded in an e-mail. "I have not accepted ANY campaign funds from anyone who has had business before the Planning Commission while I have been a member," Vasquez wrote. He also said there was "no substance to this wild accusation." "During this campaign, some opponents have risen to a new level of dirty politics, making numerous accusations and claims that are untrue and unfounded. My opponents are trying to defame my character rather then speak about the issues facing the City of Downey. Earlier this year, a complaint was made that was found to be unsubstantiated. "As you know, no matter how outrageous a claim is made, the police department has a legal responsibility to investigate. After looking into the matter, the Police Department found out that there was no substance to this wild accusation." Along with Lee Ann Sears and Alex Saab, Vasquez is seeking to replace Mayor Anne Bayer on the City Council, who will be termed out in November.
********** Published: September 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 23