By Steven Tavares.
The leader of the local non-profit, who last week said San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata attempted to offer a publicly-financed loan for the Davis Street Family Resource Center in exchange for an intimate relationship, says she plans to file a lawsuit.
A lawsuit against Zapata and the city is pending, said Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Davis Street Family Resource Center CEO Rose Padilla Johnson. and stems from Zapata’s 23-page letter, which he released to the public on Jan. 16.
Singer asserts Zapata’s voluminous letter further defamed Johnson and the family resource center, and was written not by Zapata, as a private citizen, but as city manager. Therefore, Zapata’s actions, potentially represent legal liabilities for San Leandro taxpayers.
Johnson has said the impetus for her complaint to the city last month was to protect the Davis Street Family Resource Center from derogatory comments allegedly made by Zapata to members of the community against her and the non-profit, which has helps feed and clothe the poor, in addition, to providing health care services.
In an interview last Friday, Johnson said donations from the public were down in December by roughly $30,000, a downturn she blames in part on Zapata.
On Thursday, Johnson and the Davis Street Family Resource Center called on Zapata to resign or for the San Leandro City Council to terminate his employment. Zapata has served as city manager since 2012.
Last week, San Leandro City Attorney Richard Pio Roda said he was not aware of the letter before Zapata distributed it to the public.
“I think that’s true,” said Singer. “I don’t think any city attorney would allow a city official to write that kind of letter.”
San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter also said she did not know about Zapata’s letter beforehand.
In the letter, Zapata denied Johnson’s allegations, first made to the city on Dec. 8, but unknown to the public before Zapata’s letter was released last week.
Instead, Zapata said the complaint is an effort by Johnson and business partner Gordon Galvan to secure final approval for a medical cannabis dispensary located within the non-profit’s current home.
The city maintains the Davis Street Family Resource Center, located on Teagarden Street, must repay the remaining $325,000 of a forgivable loan used previously by the non-profit to purchase the property before the dispensary can open for business. City officials say a dispensary is not a permitted use based on the original loan agreement.
During a city zoning board meeting last November, a representative from the Davis Street Wellness Center dispensary said the loan would be repaid, although, he also asked for additional time to come up with the money.
But Johnson says her complaint has nothing to do with the dispensary and instead about a $1.5 million loan from the city–since repaid–that she says Zapata supported and push through the City Council.
However, when the family resource center struggled in late 2016 to pay it back in a timely manner, Johnson said Zapata renewed years of inappropriate sexual comments and dangled the loan extension in return for a romantic relationship.