El Cajon City Council member Ben Kalasho is accusing the city's mayor and another colleague of discrimination and of refusing to let him put items on the agenda or talk during public events.
The Reader obtained Kalasho's October 13 complaint through a public records request to the city.
In it, Kalasho says mayor Bill Wells and councilmember Gary Kendrick called Kalasho derogatory names such as "camel” and “foreigner" and questioned whether Kalasho knew the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, Kalasho said Wells and Kendrick conspired against him, both refusing to post items he introduced to the council docket.
The complaint was filed two days after Wells and Kendrick had threatened Kalasho with censure for using his cell phone during council meetings, a violation of city-council policy.
The state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing rejected Kalasho's claim, but only after the city was forced to hire outside counsel to address the allegations. According to the city's response, also obtained in the public records request, there were several instances when Kalasho did in fact put items on the council agenda. In addition, the city found no previous mention of mistreatment by Wells and Kendrick against their colleague.
As far as claims that Kalasho was silenced during public events, Wells stated that he introduced Kalasho on numerous occasions, including the opening of El Cajon's Ronald Reagan Community Center.
Mayor Wells says Kalasho is playing politics and wasting city resources.
"These complaints are pure fantasy and are consistent with the way this man uses the legal system like a club to manipulate and harass others," Wells said in a February 3 email.
"I did not call him these childish names. I would not engage in this kind of base behavior with anyone or in any way. I never have, and my life bears that out…. It’s hard to understand why an elected official would commit obvious perjury, but I assume it is to get the attention off of his sexual harassment and fraud scandals that have dominated the media for the past six months."
Wells was referring to a lawsuit filed by a former beauty-pageant queen of Kalasho's Miss Middle East Pageant. Zhala Tawfiq says the oversized check she received at the 2016 pageant wasn't worth the cardboard it was written on.
And when Tawfiq questioned Kalasho about the payment as well as about him tapping into her private social media accounts, she soon discovered a fake Instagram profile had been created; on it were doctored photos suggesting she had posed in the nude. She believes Kalasho is to blame.
Since filing the lawsuit, Tawfiq's attorney has submitted evidence linking Kalasho's wife and a former beauty queen to the fake profile. The attorney also found several other phony profiles that were started from Kalasho's IP address.
Kalasho has denied all of the allegations. He did not respond to several requests for comment on the complaint.