New Calistoga council member cited by state regulators

2013-02-14T20:52:00Z 2013-02-27T17:37:55Z New Calistoga council member cited by state regulatorsSEAN SCULLY Napa Valley Register
February 14, 2013 8:52 pm  • 

CALISTOGA — Newly appointed City Councilmember Irais Lopez was cited by state regulators on Tuesday for running an unlicensed residential care facility for senior citizens.

An inspector from the California Department of Social Services visited her home and business, at 2315 Foothill Blvd., after inquiries from The Weekly Calistogan and at least one member of the public about her status.

Department spokesman Michael Weston said the inspector ordered her to either close the business or apply for a license. Lopez applied for the license Wednesday.

Lopez was appointed on Feb. 5 to a seat left vacant by the resignation of Councilmember Carl Sherrill in December. On her application and in remarks before the council, Lopez said she had a license application pending before the state.

“I am in the process of obtaining a license for a residential care facility for the elderly,” she wrote on her application, “which will serve the senior population in our town.”

Weston said the department has no record of either a license or a pending application for the property. Lopez does have a current “administrator certificate” that allows her to manage an existing facility, he said, but that does not substitute for licensing of the facility itself.

Lopez declined to comment Thursday

“I cannot give you any information about it,” she said when contacted Thursday by phone on her status or on what she told the council. “I am still waiting to get a letter” from the state.

The letter, a “Notice of Operation in Violation of the Law,” was issued on Wednesday. The department provided a copy to The Weekly Calistogan.

Weston said the inspector was clear with Lopez on Tuesday that she was operating without the license required by state law.

Lopez has two elderly residents living in her home, Weston said. They will be permitted to remain while the license application is pending, though they will have to leave should the application be rejected.

Weston said Lopez will not face disciplinary action for having previously run an unlicensed facility. The department prefers to educate care providers on the law and bring them into compliance rather than punish them, he said.

The application process will require her to provide detailed plans for her business, including staff schedules and training, use of specialized equipment, and the storage and dispensing of medication, he said.

Inspectors will make follow-up visits to make sure her home complies with the law and that she is following her stated plans.

Mayor Chris Canning, who supported her nomination, said he was unaware that Lopez did not have a license or pending application. He said he was operating under her assurance that she did.

“This is a matter between Ms. Lopez and the state of California for them to work through, reconcile and resolve,” Canning said.

He said he would be discussing the issue with Lopez.

“At this point there is no evidence to suggest that her service on the council should be or would be impacted,” he said. “She was appointed based on the information we had at the time.”

He declined to say whether her unlicensed status would have changed his position during last week’s council meeting.

The only council member to vote against Lopez, Jim Barnes, said he “had no idea” about her licensing status at the time of the vote. Barnes had nominated former City Council candidate Charlotte Williams for the vacancy, a nomination that died on a 2-2 tie before the vote on Lopez.

“It wasn’t a vote against Irais,” he said, “It was a vote for the position I had taken before.”

City Manager Richard Spitler said Lopez told him about the state inspection Wednesday.

“I encouraged her to get in compliance with the state and she said she would,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(14) Comments

  1. stellabatory
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    stellabatory - February 14, 2013 9:34 pm
    How timely...wow!
  2. maldetesta
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    maldetesta - February 15, 2013 7:49 am
    Why would Canning and Spitler have any problem with the fact that she bamboozled to the whole town? She fits right in with the council crew.
    Just more business as usual - What are you going to do about it, Calistoga?
  3. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - February 15, 2013 8:31 am
    Doesn't the council do background checks on potential candidates? This person has broken the law and should be dismissed from the council. Did this person have a city business license for the board and care home? It appears she lied on her council application that she had a pending application with the state when in fact she did not have a pending application. When they get caught in a lie they always decline comment to the media.
  4. allsvns
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    allsvns - February 15, 2013 8:52 am
    That council is like a mafia. They steamrolled their police department, misused funds related to flood projects (see recent article) and now this.
  5. Outsiderlookingin
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    Outsiderlookingin - February 15, 2013 9:31 am
    It's sounds like, yet again, the children on the playground didn't get there way so this time rather than taking their toys and walking out of a meeting... Um.. I mean going home, they've decided to tattle.
  6. ValleySwag
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    ValleySwag - February 15, 2013 3:03 pm
    The motives for her being investigated are completely irrelevant. She broke the law and lied to the city council about doing so. The mayor is on record as saying she lied to him. He also says he wont take any action? Rubbish. Get rid of her immediately.
  7. napa1957
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    napa1957 - February 15, 2013 4:27 pm
    How sad. So many were proud of the accomplishment of this woman and now it's kind of embarrasing! I don't understand the comment by Outsider exactly, but I think it means that the people who are complaining that this person who broke the law is being exempted from any retribution are just snot nosed kids and are just looking for a fight. How absurd! Small town shenanigans for sure!
  8. LocalYocal
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    LocalYocal - February 15, 2013 5:14 pm
    Hahahaha. They talked her up real good too. Lol
  9. Ricecooker
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    Ricecooker - February 15, 2013 6:04 pm
    The Latin word for this situation would be "Sinestra", which became the word sinister in the english language.
    This is" PAR for the Course" what the council has done since the election is beyond belief once again.
    This just happened with a no due diligence of the appointee where as election candidates garner petition signatures, have press scrutiny, and present there views at live forums to allow opinions for the voting body they will serve.
    This appointee better submit a resignation post haste.
    The Mayor and several councilman will enjoy this gaffe for the rest of there term or quit early also.
    The motive was very poor political savvy
  10. Zorro
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    Zorro - February 16, 2013 9:12 am
    Couldn't have said it better myself. Breaking the law seems to be a tradition of the Calistoga City Council. Appointing a Council member who is not afraid to break the law might have sounded like a good idea since this council seems to need a majority, otherwise Charlotte Williams would have been appointed.
    Sounds like this council has plans for to continue on with their tradition of running the town like a fiefdom.
    The Council again has only shown how blatantly stupid they are, which only took a couple of days to surface.The question now is what is this town going to do about it?
  11. BRGMGB
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    BRGMGB - February 16, 2013 6:32 pm
    She received the citation before she was appointed to the city council. She chose not to mention this in her 5-minute speech at the city council meeting. She also did not state that she had been featured in two promotional videos promoting Enchanted Resort.

    This is why elections are preferable to appointments. In the election process, there is a greater likelihood that a candidate will receive some scrutiny and their background and political ideas will be made public before they are in office.
  12. maldetesta
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    maldetesta - February 18, 2013 9:50 am
    Question is: "WHAT DID THE MAYOR KNOW, AND WHEN DID HE KINOW IT?"
  13. ConcernedCalistogan
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    ConcernedCalistogan - February 19, 2013 9:34 am
    Sounds like business as usual for Calistoga! What's even worse in my opinion, is families that care so little about their aging relatives that they let them move in to an unlicensed care home! And to not do anything speaks volumes about what this council really thinks of the need to uphold laws...apparently they are all above them and Ms. Lopez is now as well...
  14. Ricecooker
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    Ricecooker - February 20, 2013 8:52 am
    The only thing left to do is have the Mayor sponsor her for Rotary and appoint her to the board of Lengendary Napa Valley in his stead.
    The Town of Calistoga will not be saved by development, only more litigaton will bankrupt it and the history will record the Mayors Good Deeds.
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