If you have nothing better to do, and you’re a fan of comedy, you should watch the latest City Council meeting video. It’s available at the City’s website. You can go to the City’s website, click on “City Services”, then “Agendas”, then “Current Agendas”, and finally “City Council Regular Meetings 2/18/2014”. The video will open in the right hand corner. Scroll down the agenda to item 12 (Planning Commission Interviews) and click and that should move the video to the appropriate place. But the funny part comes later, after the applicants have finished their interviews, and the Council begins to vote.
It starts off relatively harmless. The City Clerk hands out ballots and the Council members start to vote. But then, no one seems to know what to do next. Apparently, even though they’ve done this 4 times in the past year, neither the staff nor the council members know what to do next. At least this time we’re spared the hysterical ruminations by Councilwoman McCullough that she doesn’t understand what to do. That’s what happened at the last appointment meeting (Dec 10) when they were picking a replacement for Council member Herzog. McCullough got so confused that she said she wasted her vote by choosing someone she thought no one else would vote for. That didn’t make any sense to anyone, apparently not even to Mrs. McCullough, who then changed midstream and decided that she would abstain from any future voting that night.
Strangely enough, each Council member selected a different applicant for the PC post. The likelihood of that happening by chance is small, but not impossible, so there's no need to look for collusion or Brown Act violations. But then no one knew what to do next.
- Do they go forward and then eliminate the 5 people not mentioned?
- Do they eliminate the 5 people they already mentioned and go ahead and select from the 5 they didn’t mention?
- Do they go ahead and do whatever they want, and then go back and see who showed up in the first 2 ballots and select from them?
- Or maybe it’s time for a break?
It’s hard to imagine that the Board of Directors of a multi-million dollar corporation, with staff in attendance who collectively earn $1.5 Million a year, were at a loss for what to do! Maybe our new Mayor can be excused for getting stumped, but surely the City Attorney or the General Manager are versed in government procedures. Surely there is some reason why in December they went in random order but in Feb they went in alphabetical order. Why in December they had a large detailed process laid out, and then failed to follow it, while in Feb they had no process laid out? Why in December applicants were curtailed as soon as they showed up and given the bum’s rush into a separate room, but in Feb they were merely asked to go outside? Do they just make this stuff up as they go along?
In the final analysis, collectively they decided to combine all the people mentioned in the first 2 ballots, and then select from those 6 people (Cagley, Campos, DeAlmeida, Everhart, Ludden, and Okano).
If you’re wondering why former Mayor Marcia Rudolph wasn’t among the final applicants, even though her BFF Kathy McCullough sat on the Council, the reason was clear – Mrs. McCullough indicated she didn’t feel comfortable voting for Mrs. Rudolph given their close relationship. It was a rare example of public disclosure from a Council that normally never mentions possible conflicts of interest. Indeed, the City’s code of ethical conduct specifically says –
“Safeguard ability to make independent, objective, fair and impartial judgments by scrupulously avoiding financial and social relationships and transactions that may compromise, or give the appearance of compromising, objectivity, independence, and honesty.”
So Mrs. McCullough is to be applauded for going out of her way not to “give the appearance” of voting for her BFF because of their “social relationship.” The same can’t be said for Councilman Bass. It turns out that Tom Ludden, the man whom Bass voted for, has been a 15 year friend with Bass, but Bass did not reveal this nor did he refrain from voting for him. Contrast that behavior with Mrs. McCullough who not only disclosed the relationship but also refrained from voting for her. It’s a sharp contrast.
Perhaps Councilman Bass just forgot to mention it? That’s not likely. Just before they voted, I took the opportunity of using the Public Forum section of the meeting to specifically call upon any Council member to reveal any relationship that might color their vote. So Bass was forewarned.
Perhaps Councilman Bass doesn’t consider Ludden a friend, even though Ludden lists him as a “friend…for 15 years.” That’s possible, and it would explain Bass’ lack of disclosure.
Or perhaps Councilman Bass isn’t aware of the ethical code. Most of the violations of the code of ethics which happen at the Council level involve the exchange of money. These examples have been listed so many times on The Patch I hesitate to repeat them one more time. So it’s possible Bass thinks that’s it’s only the financial relationships that are relevant, and not the social relationships.
Bear in mind, with several of the last appointments, there were exchanges of money involved (for both Scott Voigts and Dwight Robinson) and no one did anything about it. So if no one is going to do anything about appointments which seem to be based on financial relationships, Bass may think “Why would they care about votes based on social relationships?” Apparently the people who wrote the code of ethical conduct that you swore to uphold also cared, because they specifically mention “social relationships”. And we care, Mr. Bass, we care.