JUNE 23, 2006
A popular Northern California mayor who raised thousands of dollars for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and was named a rising star by the influential Democratic Leadership Council, has been indicted on fraud, bribery and conspiracy charges.
San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales secretly negotiated a garbage contract that cost taxpayers $11 million and filled his pockets with bribes. An 18-page indictment tells how the mayor and his top aide worked out a lucrative contract with the company (Norcal) that hauls the city’s trash in exchange for big bucks.
Gonzales isn’t your typical big-city mayor. He considered a rising star in the Democratic party and in 1988 made headlines for becoming San Jose’s first Latino mayor. He was tight with former California Governor Gray Davis, raised $50,000 for Kerry and regularly appears on magazine lists as one of the nation’s most influential Hispanics.
Although this is the first time Gonzales has been indicted and arrested, it isn’t his first involvement with scandal. A few years ago he got busted for having a romantic affair with a subordinate half his age, even though he was married for 22 years, and later the city technology guru quit when an investigation found that a company with a close relationship to Gonzales got a lucrative deal to install an $8 million phone system in City Hall.
Sounds like perhaps the mayor had this indictment coming. Now his fellow council members are calling for his resignation. Gonzales refuses to quit and maintains his innocence, saying, “[E]very administration and every mayor has certain crises.”
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