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[whitespace] Crying Foul

Witnesses say Hernandez's allegations are based on remarks that weren't said

By John Yewell

AT THE JUNE 13 CITY COUNCIL MEETING, Councilmember Michael Hernandez demanded that Mayor Keith Sugar resign over alleged comments Sugar made at a private meeting attended by Hernandez, Sugar and five others to discuss the Dolphin/Lee dilemma.

"His statement to me was 'All I said was that if you want to live like pigs, you should go back to Mexico,' " Hernandez said.

There's only one problem: according to everyone else at the meeting, Sugar didn't say what Hernandez says he said.

The alleged remarks were made at a June 7 meeting at the home of Bernice Belton, co-chair of the Santa Cruz Action Network. In addition to Hernandez, Sugar and Belton, others in attendance were SCAN coordinator Tom Shaver; Mercy Housing's associate director of housing development, Elisabeth Vogel; Sandy Silver, chair of the Beach Flats Committee of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; and Ceil Cirillo, director of the city's Redevelopment Agency.

"If Michael Hernandez said that Keith called Mexicans pigs, he just lied," Belton says.

"I'm just stunned to even hear it was brought up," says Silver. "It never happened at that meeting. Keith never said anything like that to Hernandez."

Cirillo and Vogel had identical statements. "I didn't hear him [Sugar] say it," both remarked.

"What Michael Hernandez alleges was said by Keith Sugar was definitely not said," Shaver says. "Keith has been the most supportive member of the council of the point of view of Latino residents. He's more connected to that community than Michael at this point."

Hernandez stands by his accusation. "He said what I said he said, and I have no reason to say otherwise," Hernandez says.

"I just hope he does the honorable thing and retracts what he said," Sugar says.

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From the June 21-28, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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