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City Selects David Bass as New Council Member

City Council reaches an agreement after six hours of interviews and deliberation.

David Bass is sworn in to Lake Forest City Council 10 minutes before midnight on Tuesday. Photo/Martin Henderson
David Bass is sworn in to Lake Forest City Council 10 minutes before midnight on Tuesday. Photo/Martin Henderson
By Martin Henderson

David Bass, who for a decade took direction from the Lake Forest City Council as a staff member of the city, will now put the shoe on the other foot.

At the end of a meeting that lasted more than six hours Tuesday, Bass received three of four available votes to become the fifth member of the city council.

Bass will fill the empty seat left by Peter Herzog's resignation on Oct. 15. He served previously with the City as its director of finance/treasurer from September 1993 to November 2003. As a consultant, he was called in to help bring the City of Bell back into line after its scandal.

Bass was chosen on the 10th vote of the night, after two different processes of selection had been exhausted—and had exhausted those in the audience. 

Seemingly at an impasse because of Mayor Pro Tem Kathryn McCullough's abstentions because she was "not comfortable with the process," Dwight Robinson finally heaved a Hail Mary, asking if he could make a motion for his colleagues to vote on his first choice, planning commissioner Andrew Hamilton.  


Adam Nick said he would need to think about it and he would like to come back on Wednesday, and with McCullough not endorsing anyone, it effectively killed Hamilton's chances. 

But Mayor Scott Voigts took the lead from Robinson and made a motion on Bass, who was Voigts' first choice for the position. Nick, whose first choice had clearly been Jim Gardner, thought about it for about a half-minute, appearing to be in distress over the situation before him. Finally, he said yes. Robinson and Voigts also agreed, a compromise had been made, and Bass was The Man. 

He was chosen from among 12 candidates, all of whom gave a good account of themselves despite their varying degrees of experience and involvement with the city.

By choosing Bass before midnight on Saturday, the council avoided having to go through a special election in April that could have cost the City about $180,000. Bass' term will conclude at the end of 2014, so he—or anyone who might have won a special election in April—would still have to run a campaign for the November 2014 election to remain in office.  

McCullough and Nick both indicated they were comfortable with allowing the vote to go before voters in April, with Nick determining the cost to be about $2.50 per resident for the will of the people to be ensured. However, he clearly wanted to reach a decision before creating a special election.

"We are blessed but freedom sometimes costs money," said the Iranian-born Nick. "Where I'm from, freedom costs blood."
LFLegalEagle December 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Anderson and Gardner were the people’s choice. Instead they were passed by for a lifelong civil servant with little involvement in the City. Voigts ineptitude, McCullough’s disgraceful performance, and Nick’s backtracking should be disturbing to anyone who watched the proceedings. We should RECALL the bunch.
Merijoe Axe December 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Dave Bass, nothing personal, and I know your tenure is short, but I didn't vote for you, you are not considered my representative in this city. Whether 8 days or 8 months, the democratic way, the right way, the Constitutional way, is for the PEOPLE to VOTE for city representation, it's not up to a few council members to decide what's best for everyone and "save the taxpayer money by avoiding a special election" by picking someone to fill a vacancy in a council seat-not with that issue, not that one-ever.
LF Matters December 11, 2013 at 12:07 PM
To LFLegalEagle: it's interesting to know what YOU would've done if you were in the position of each of the four members. please do tell.
Martin Henderson (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM
As a point of clarification, Bass was a city staff member for 10 years, so I'm not sure the "little involvement in the city" argument is applicable. The City's strong financial base is likely due, at least partly, to his efforts as the head of Lake Forest's finances.
LF Matters December 11, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Martin: Thank you for your point of clarification as well as your unbiased reporting. It is always easy to criticize but the difficult and sometimes agonizing burden in life is taking charge and coming up with solutions. Spending almost $200,000.00 of taxpayers' money so someone can fill a void for what would have turned out to be ten or fifteen semimonthly meetings, especially when this individual would have had ONLY one in five votes as a council member, would have been IRRESPONSIBLE. But, only those who are responsible and pragmatic understand this.
Martin Henderson (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Now posted: the round-by-round vote from the meeting with each candidate's vote. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/1hMUtr2
Merijoe Axe December 11, 2013 at 01:09 PM
I understand very well about being responsible and pragmatic ... but right is right and wrong is wrong, only someone who cares nothing about the Constitution or a community would say something like "Spending almost $200,000.00 of taxpayers' money so someone can fill a void for what would have been turned out to be ten or fifteen semimonthly meetings, especially when this individual would have had ONLY one in five votes as a council member, would have been IRRESPONSIBLE". If I don't comment anymore about this issue it doesn't mean I have changed my mind-I stand by what I say, and what I think about this.
LF Matters December 11, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Merijoe: I normally find it beneath me to dignify your comments by addressing them, however, I suffice to say that you clearly do not have the aptitude to understand what is or is not "Constitutional." You have demonstrated to be painfully inept. You may not like something but that per se does not make it illegal or "unconstitutional."
Bob Holtzclaw December 11, 2013 at 01:32 PM
I'm glad the three city councilmen were mature enough to compromise and come up with a good pick for Peter Hogzog's seat. With that said, I have attended over 100 city council meetings and Councilwoman McCullough proved last night to be one of the most incompetent people representing our city. Last night she set a new record for embarrassing actions on a city council with her countless abstentions and long winded incoherent speeches. I hope Nov 2014 will be her graceful way to retire.
LF Matters December 11, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Bob: Councilwoman McCullough WILL retire next year but it will not be graceful. I'm certain she will run, and I'm equally certain she would have the same fate as former Councilwoman Rudolph.
Lionel M. December 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM
LFEagle - in 2012 I voted for Anderson and Gardner. They came in #3 and #4. I fully expected the City Council to honor our votes by appointing one of them. Instead they show they don't care what the people want. That's why 5000 people signed a petition to oppose their votes on Brookfield/Trumark. This council has shown a complete disregard for the people. I support your idea of a recall.
Jim Richert December 11, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Dave Bass is a competent, decent, and honest person who will do a good job on the Council. Councilwoman McCullough did a real disservice to the community and her fellow Council members by nominating someone "she did not want" in the position and by continually abstaining on all the other choices, most of which were well qualified for the position.
Alex Pariso December 11, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Lionel M.: please extend the courtesy of not talking in abstracts and tell us how you would have voted if you were in the position of each of the council-members. Come on and give it a shot for just three rounds. let's see how you do it.
LFLegalEagle December 11, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Alex – to answer your question – Mr. Nick waxed eloquently about the fact that freedom isn’t “free” and his commitment to support the “people’s choice” whom he identified as Jim Gardner (based on 2010) and Terry Anderson (based on 2012). He maintained his integrity and principles for hours, then some 5 ½ hours into the marathon session, suddenly expediency, the late hour, and his desire to save money outweighed his principles, and he voted for a man who never received a single vote from a citizen of Lake Forest. Well, at least he was the only one up there to demonstrate principles, even if only briefly. Had I been in his place I would have stuck to my principles.
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention December 12, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Under California state law and local Lake Forest ordinances the remaining duly elected members of Council have the obligation to appoint a replacement to fill any vacancies that occur between elections cycles with the appointee serving until the next election cycle attached the seat being filled. This is not new and it is not ever remotely unconstitutional. Quite to the contrary, the Constitution of this great nation makes allowances for the exact same type of process when a vacancy occurs in a elected federal government position, there is no requirement for a special election to fill vacancies in either house of Congress or in the White House. As for the "peoples' choice", neither Anderson nor Gardner have ever been the peoples' choice. When has either ever won an election last time? The reality of the peoples' choice is that over the course of the past 2 election cycles the people of LF have spoken in favor of a significant shift in the leadership and direction of the city. Every member of the Council has an obligation to those who voted to put them there to exhibit leadership and to fulfill the duties of their office to the best of their abilities. Peter Herzog slapped the face of ever person who voted for him when he created this mess by being unable or unwilling to act like a professional and find a way to work with people he didn't agree with politically. Mayor Pro Tem McCollough lately has seemed more like she is auditioning to play the role of a Tyler Perry character rather than serving as a professional civic leader. Her rant and toddleresque refusal to participate when she couldn't get her way being the most recent example of that. At the end of the day, Voigts, Robinson, and Nick exhibited true leadership when they were able to overcome their differing personal preferences and put the best interests of the population they were elected to represent first. Mr. Bass wasn't my first choice, but by all accounts he wasn't the first choice of any except Voigts which further exhibits the level of mature leadership shown in selecting him. Mr. Bass is clearly well qualified to serve the Council and I am sure he will do well. If not, that's what the election in 2014 will be all about.
Alex Pariso December 12, 2013 at 04:34 PM
LFLegalEagle: What you call backtracking is, indeed, nothing but responsible statesmanship. That said, when all context put together, Nick said that he would be comfortable with a costly special election if and only if a compromise could not be reached. A "compromise" inherently often involves settling for someone or something other than one's first preference, and that is exactly what he did. Further, Nick did say, "freedom is not free", however, must he have really added "... but why pay for the exercise of true democracy much handsomely if an INTERIM compromise can be and is reached?!" If you really cannot grasp what I just wrote, ask yourself this, "would I have spent that much money for the matter at hand had it been MY money, especially given the circumstances (I.E. That the council seat shall be up for grab in a short few months anyway during the November regularly scheduled ELECTIONS and that meanwhile this individual's decision on the Council shall be ABSOLUTELY subject to the approval of at least two other publicly-elected Council Members?" I think not. And, if your answer is truthfully "Yes, I would have", then you're either not true to yourself, or to me, or you are just fiscally incompetent and irresponsible and cannot see the forest for the trees.
LF Matters December 12, 2013 at 09:04 PM
To LFLegalEagle: We must not allow "the best to be the enemy of the good." Given your syntax in your posts, I infer that you are educated, which would mean you do know both the origin of this quote and the true meaning of it, and I know many may not. With that prefaced, I cannot say it more eloquently than either Alex or Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention has.
LFLegalEagle December 13, 2013 at 03:16 PM
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock” – Thomas Jefferson
Alex Pariso December 13, 2013 at 06:17 PM
To LFLegalEagle: "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle". Thomas Jefferson.
Lionel M. December 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM
LF CPA - don't be ridiculous. You say - "The reality of the peoples' choice is that over the course of the past 2 election cycles the people of LF have spoken in favor of a significant shift in the leadership and direction of the city." Nothing could be further from the truth. What happened in the last 2 elections is that the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, having done poorly at the National level, went into local politics and outspent everyone. Elections are based on $. Voigts outspent Herzog $37K vs. $27K and came in 1st. Nick and Robinson outspent Anderson $150K vs. $37K and came in 1st and 2nd. There was no "shift" in people's opinions, only a shift in $. BTW - I agree with you on McCullough and Herzog.
LF Matters December 14, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Lionel: if money were the only criterion or even the essential criterion in ELECTIONS, today, Perot, Forbes, and Romney would be on the list of US presidents.
LFLegalEagle December 15, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Alex – Your quote from Jefferson is not appropriate to the situation at hand. Mr. Nick articulated a “principle” - to whit, the choice of a replacement for the vacant seat should reflect the will of the people through the election process. His “opinion” was that Dr. Gardner met this criterion. Others opined that Terry Anderson met this criterion. The “principle” and the “opinion” were two different entities. During the course of the discussion, Mr. Nick remained steadfast to Dr. Gardner, but as the evening wore on, he eventually kept his “opinion” (i.e., Gardner most reflects the will of the people) but abandoned his “principle” (the council should appoint the person who best reflects the will of the people). Mr. Bass, whatever his merits, clearly does not meet the test of reflecting the will of the people, yet Mr. Nick ultimately abandoned his principle. It was refreshing to see anyone on that Council have a principle, much less stick to it, even if only briefly. You may offer a dozen reasons for Mr. Nick to ultimately abandon his principle, and many will agree with you that he took the appropriate action. I, for one, stand with Jefferson. If the principle was important enough to articulate and defend, it should be defended at all costs. It was that kind of courage and determination that set Jefferson apart and why we are taking the time to quote him now.
Alex Pariso December 17, 2013 at 05:04 PM
LFLegalEagle: fFirst, thank you for extending the courtesy of writing me back. Second, I will address your latest post shown immediately above at my first opportune time, although it seems probable that you and I would have to agree to respectfully disagree . Thank you, again.

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