Whether that's ultimately true, the perception lingers. And now that the city has acted so decisively, demoting Ramirez, there's a certain chill around Montiel's cubicle. (Montiel is out of the office and did not respond to e-mails seeking comment. He also didn't respond to a message on his cell phone.)

The perception that Montiel sold out a friend has also complicated his relationship with the Spanish-language media. Ramirez was popular with the area's veteran Spanish-speaking journalists. Many of them had met Montiel through him.

"Our involvement with David was not only professional — we considered him our friend," says Lety Garcia, publisher of Prensa Hispana, the area's largest Spanish-language newspaper. "I know Alejandro through David. I'd always see them together. And if Alejandro had anything to do with it . . ."

David J. Ramirez, at lunch with the city's public information staff during happier times.
David J. Ramirez, at lunch with the city's public information staff during happier times.

Coco Taylor is a producer of Mujeres Unicas, a Spanish-language talk show that broadcasts daily on 1190 AM. She says her station recently discussed Ramirez's demotion on the air — and got an anonymous call from a woman claiming Montiel was to blame for the investigation.

That might not sit well with Spanish-speaking journalists, she says, for cultural reasons.

"We play like that," Taylor says. "We tease. When we see a cute guy, we tease. We're like that in our culture. That doesn't mean we're harassing anyone."

Taylor says her program has put in a public-records request at City Hall to find out more about what happened. In the meantime, she's trying to refrain from judgment.

For now, everyone is just trying to be cautious.

"If we have to work with Alejandro, we have to work with Alejandro. There is nothing we can do about it," Garcia says.

But, she adds, "There is always the question of, 'What if I say or mention something that makes him uncomfortable? Will he turn us in for sexual harassment?"

That may not be an idle fear. After Ramirez was demoted and Montiel began to get the cold shoulder around the office, I'm told that Montiel complained to supervisors that two public information office employees weren't saying "hi" to him. (The city says it has no written record of such a complaint, but my sources are certain it happened.)

I'm told they're now saying "hi." But in light of everything that happened to David Ramirez, that's about all they're saying.


Last week, I told you about Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio's business dealings with the Gila River Indian Community. The councilman, who represents the Ahwatukee neighborhood just north of the reservation, has been working to develop two 75-acre parcels on tribal-owned land. DiCiccio's development plans would clearly gain value should ADOT extend the Loop 202 freeway to the south and west.

Why is that controversial? Well, even though ADOT considers the extension an eventual certainty, DiCiccio's Ahwatukee constituents do not. They've fought the plan for a decade.

The area's previous councilman joined with neighbors in the fight. But DiCiccio has taken a more nuanced position. While officially claiming to oppose the extension, his actions suggest that he hopes to resolve the issue: He's met with ADOT, brought the area's two congressmen into negotiations, and even put together a "kitchen cabinet" to unify the neighborhood over an alternative to ADOT's much-loathed route.

And he did all that, as I reported last week, without disclosing his business interests to many of the key stakeholders — including Congressman Harry Mitchell.

After ignoring my requests for comment, DiCiccio gave interviews to the Republic's Scott Wong (who repeated DiCiccio's excuses in a credulous blog post on October 17) and Channel 12's Brahm Resnik (who reported the story more skeptically on October 20).

In his defense, DiCiccio trotted out City Attorney Gary Verburg, who confirmed that DiCiccio had asked him for advice. Verburg said he'd found no conflict with DiCiccio's participation on Loop 202 matters.

I called Verburg three times last week, with no response. After I finally wrote an e-mail instead, the city attorney wrote back to say that he couldn't talk — he had to abide by attorney/client privilege. Apparently, DiCiccio waived that "privilege" and allowed Verburg to talk to the Wong — but he wouldn't waive it and let Verburg talk to me. Nice.

But after watching Channel 12's follow-up report last week, I think I've got an inkling as to why DiCiccio is being so cagey.

On camera, when reporter Resnik queried DiCiccio about his conflict, the councilman brandished the letter he originally wrote to the city attorney.

I was so stunned by what the letter said, I literally pressed "pause" as the camera panned past it.

"Due to my past business relationship with the Gila Indian Community," DiCiccio wrote, he was seeking "the guidance of the law department."

Past business relationship? Past business relationship?

The councilman has leases on tribal land that will be good for another 64 years! He's making regular payments to the tribe through the Bureau of Indian Affairs! He's appeared in front of the tribal council to work on amending his development plan, even as he sits on the Phoenix City Council!

Pardon the exclamation point overkill, but even beyond all that, the conflict isn't so much that DiCiccio's spent years dealing with the tribe — it's that his development plans currently stand to benefit from any movement on the long-stalled extension plan.

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Coco Taylor's comment -- "We play like that. We tease. When we see a cute guy, we tease. We're like that in our culture. That doesn't mean we're harassing anyone" -- is ridiculous. Ramirez is American, not a recent immigrant. And he's working in the U.S. white-collar culture. He needs to be professional. It isn't like there are two sets of rules on the job.


I just want to know why anyone working for the government makes 100K a year? 35 hour work week? No wonder why the state budget is out of wack!!!! Fire them all, do they really do anything, would their absence be felt? I think the good citizens of Arizona would get along just fine with out them!!!!!


Mr. Montiel had made a horrible career choice in doing this to the man who extended his hand out to help him and even get him hired.

Montiel is nothing but an ungrateful fool. I think he just got a bit too comfortable NOT working for the City of Phoenix to realize that Ramirez was only trying to say.. dude, get back to work.

The jokes, comments and openness of Ramirez' conversations only speak of the tight family environment Ramirez and obviously before this scandal.. Ramirez had a well-tuned running machine in the PIO office.

Montiel - tu no sabes en el lio que te has metido. Te digo desde ahorita que empiezes a buscar un nuevo trabajo porque este ya no te va a durar mucho. Y creo que con la mala publicidad que te has traido, seria preferido que te mudes a otra ciudad para que nadie conozca tu historial.

Tal ves el dano que le has hecho a Ramirez sea temporal pero en muchos circulos todos saben que tu eres un tracionero. Tal vez en California or la Florida seas mejor acceptado.

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