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MONTEBELLO – The city’s search to replace its top administrator continues today with the council holding a closed door meeting at 4 p.m. The City Council voted 10 days ago to fire City Administrator Richard Torres from the job he held for 18 years. The firing came on a 3-2 vote and highlighted some of the changes the city has undergone in recent months. “We will be looking for an individual who will be proactive and not reactive,” Councilman Jeff Siccama said. “We need new leadership that will move us in that direction.” The firing came just a month after the council voted to hire J. Arnoldo Beltran as the new city attorney, in a similar 3-2 split. Beltran replaced interim City Attorney John Pringle. “This should be a full-time person, with strong skills in management and economic development,” she added. Vasquez said the ideal replacement for Torres should have an understanding of the demographics and population of Montebello, and experience with union negotiations. “We’re right in the middle of negotiations with the police and fire departments,” Vasquez said. Torres’ dismissal was the latest in a series of firings that began with the termination of city Fire Chief Jim Cox, Community Development Director Ruben Lopez and City Attorney Marco Martinez, who was replaced in the interim by Pringle. Those firings have all taken place since the voting bloc of Mayor Norma Lopez-Reid and Councilmen Siccama and Bill Bagwell gained their edge in the 2005 citywide elections. “\ have a hit list of people they are going to eliminate,” Vasquez said. “It’s most unfortunate and at this point the community is upset.” Among Vasquez’s concerns over the latest firing is the cost to city taxpayers. Under the terms of his contract, Torres will receive 18 months pay at his salary of $131,000 per year. Additionally, he will continue to receive benefits. “We’ll be paying double. That’s taxpayer’s money,” Vasquez said. “They should have brought in Torres and try to make it beneficial for him to retire.” Siccama noted that Montebello, a city of 68,000 on the gritty southwest edge of the San Gabriel Valley, faces several challenges as it moves forward. Primary among those challenges is money – specifically, there is not enough to properly run the city and offer essential services to its residents. A new city administrator would be charged with finding ways to stretch an already thin budget. “So much has been cut back in programs and services,” he said. “\ will have to find the money to pay for these things.” Vasquez noted the process should be thorough. “On paper a candidate might look good,” she said. “But until you meet the person you never know.” email@example.com (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2717160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! While little controversy has attended the search for Torres’ replacement, Beltran’s role in replacing Bell Garden’s city manager with a sitting city councilwoman in 2000 caused a political firestorm. The councilwoman, Maria Chacon, was charged with criminal conflict of interest after an investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office that included a search of Beltran’s offices in 2001. The candidate hired as a result of the ongoing search will hold the title of interim city administrator; a search will continue for a permanent replacementG. Siccama, who described the search for Torres’ interim replacement as a regional recruitment effort, said four candidates had been considered for the job initially, and two remain in the running. He would not identify the remaining two candidates, other than to say they are from outside Montebello and have asked for confidentiality. Siccama was clear about what he believes are the qualifications for the job. “They have got to know the California way of things,” he said. Councilwoman Rosie Vasquez, who opposed the firing of Torres, said the interim city administrator should possess “skills of experience in redevelopment.