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Ex-City Attorney Calls Appointments Invalid

TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) - When the mayor of Nogales died suddenly in 2007, a group of city council members met secretly and devised a plan to replace the mayor and some of his appointees, including city attorney Jan Smith-Florez, with friends and political allies, the ousted city attorney claims in Federal Court.

On April 2, 2008, the city council voted to replace deceased Mayor Ignacio Barrazza with city council member Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel, which generated a domino effect of vacancies that council members scrambled to fill with their friends and political allies, the lawsuit claims.

Smith-Florez says council member Jose Padilla wanted to replace her with his mentor and friend, Joe Machado.

She claims the April 2 vote was invalid, because it was based on an agreement struck by a handful of council members who met secretly on March 28, in violation of Open Meeting Laws.

Smith-Florez is suing the city, its council members and others for violations of due process, whistleblower statutes and equal protection laws. She demands actual and punitive damages, and is represented by Douglas Clark with Mesch, Clark & Rothschild.

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