By LOUIE DIAZ
Rosanna Aguilera, now former board president of the San Benito Housing Authority, filed a federal lawsuit against the City of San Benito on March 16.
The City of San Benito motioned to dismiss the case during an earlier court proceeding; however, the City’s motion was denied.
Aguilera was appointed to serve a two-year term on the board of directors by former San Benito Mayor, Benjamin Gomez in 2019. Her term was set to expire on Oct. 31, 2021.
According to the case file, Aguilera received a letter from San Benito Mayor Ricardo Guerra on Jan. 27, stating that she would be removed from her position. The case file continues to state that she was removed without cause, without a mandated 10-day notice of removal, and without a due process hearing.
According to the case file, Aguilera wrote a letter to the City and Mayor Guerra on Feb. 2, challenging her removal from the board. The letter requested a 10-day notice, alleging one of three grounds for removal from the housing board, a due process hearing, and her first amendment right to speak for herself or have counsel to represent her. The case file states that the city responded to Aguilera’s letter on Feb. 8 denying her due process hearing. Aguilera sought out a lawyer as soon as she received the letter on Feb. 8, the case file reads.
Aguilera’s counsel argues that her removal violated her First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. She cites Sec. 392.041 of the Housing Authority Act which sets the guidelines for the removal of a commissioner of a municipal housing authority and claims that the City violated the act.
Her attorney also claims that a writ of mandamus is appropriate in this instance. A writ of mandamus is an order from court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.
Aguilera seeks to be reinstated to her former position on the board of directors. She also seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunction requiring the City of San Benito to refrain from further depriving her of her property right to serve the citizens of San Benito, the case file states. Aguilera requests actual damages, costs, and attorney’s fees, however, no specific dollar amount was given.
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