National City council member Jerry Cano has been cleared of wrongdoing by an outside investigator who looked into whether he used his political clout to escape scrutiny and five years' worth of fines as he undertook as many as a dozen projects on his property without required building permits, according to a report of a nearly three-month probe dated Tuesday, July 24.
The report adds that “definitive” conclusions could not be reached because Cano refused to be interviewed. That refusal, writes the report's author, William P. Curley III of the Los Angeles law firm of Lozano Smith, denied the investigator “knowledge of facts which could mitigate, clarify and perhaps demonstrate the culpability” of councilmember Cano. Nonetheless, the report states “No evidence of abuse of office in the form of seeking preferential treatment or intimidation by councilmember Cano was uncovered during the investigation.” The non-definitive findings remain emphatic. "No evidence was found to support the determination that Councilman Cano influenced the decision-making” about the enforcement of building codes at his property. So did Cano violate any other state laws? "Based on the evidence,” the report states, “no, no laws were broken by Councilmember Cano."
The probe was sought by the city council on April 18 after published reports said Cano had somehow escaped paying fees and fines for some five years for a dozen projects at his house for which he had no permits. The report notes that the episode began to unfold in an ironical fashion after Cano invited a building official over to his house to view possible code violations at a neighbor's place. The building staffer started noticing problems at Cano's, though.
Projects that Cano had undertaken with no permits included the installations of water lines from the dwelling to the pool, a gas line to an outdoor barbecue, and electrical lines at the back of the house for an outdoor television and sound system.
The city council had asked whether Cano violated government code section 87100, which reads: “No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”
Since April, Cano has settled his accounts with the city building department.
The council also asked attorney Curley if there was any truth to Cano's allegation that he was inappropriately touched by colleague Mona Rios, but Cano withdrew that complaint.