Whistleblower city worker sues Maywood, Bell over firing

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Maywood's former Building and Planning Director David Mango (center) appeared at a news conference in Pasadena yesterday with his wife and attorneys. Mango says he was wrongfully terminated after he made allegations to the FBI that city councilmembers were misusing pubic funds. Mango has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city.

A longtime Maywood city employee who says he blew the whistle on what he thought were shady dealings at city hall is now suing the city. He says he thought his boss would stand up for him. He was fired instead.

David Mango’s name is still listed on Maywood’s government website. But the city fired him as planning director more than six months ago.

As head of the planning department for a decade, Mango says he came to believe that municipal officials were swindling low-income residents. “There came a point where the city council, they would bring in consultants and we’d be spending tens of thousands, in some cases far more than that on things that weren’t benefiting the residents.”

Like researching express stops, he says – or painting streets that didn’t need it or a public arts project that has yet to be seen. Mango eventually spoke up about it.

“This is a man who stuck up for the poor people of his community and the thanks he got from the leaders of that community was that his career was ruined," says Dan Stormer, one of Mango’s attorneys. His client’s lawsuit against Maywood alleges the city violated Mango’s civil rights.

“They just decided that they were going to get rid of this guy who was trying to prevent them from dealing in a manner which lined their pockets and lined the pockets of some of these consultants.”

Mango says he took his concerns to the FBI a few years ago – and began working with investigators as a confidential informant. Later, he shared that information with City Manager Lilian Myers.

“What I got from her from this discussion was that she wanted to do the right thing and run the city the right way," Mango says. "I thought she would appreciate that I had gone the extra mile.”

Myers fired Mango about two weeks later. He says she told him she didn’t have to give a reason. Myers could not be reached for comment. But she has previously denied Mango was let go for trying to expose public corruption.

Mango is still out of a job. But he says he doesn’t regret cooperating with federal officials, though it was difficult wearing a wire at times. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yeah, I was extremely nervous.”

Mango says an engineering firm tried to buy him off by slipping him thousands of dollars to secure contracts with the city. He says that money went straight to FBI agents as evidence.

Mango’s attorneys included the City of Bell in its lawsuit. Mango worked for Bell officials during a short period when that city took control of Maywood’s municipal services.

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