City Fails to Keep Timeline Commitment to Residents | Questions About Empty District 2 Seat

South Pasadena City Council Fails to stay on task with filling the vacant district 2 seat. Citizens left with many questions.

Despite promises to do so, the city of South Pasadena on Saturday failed to provide the list of the candidates from which the City Council will choose to fill the remaining term of District 2 Councilmember Maria Khubesrian, whose resignation took effect August 18.

The City has also pushed back the Sept. 2 date on which the City Council on Aug. 19 voted 3 to 1 to both hold public interviews with the candidates and vote on which one to select.

At the time, Mayor Robert ‘Bob’ Joe and other Councilmembers cited the need to get someone appointed quickly because the term runs out Dec. 2. The city later hedged on the selection date, saying the Council “anticipates” being able to take the vote Sept. 2. But the interviews are now set for Sept. 9, with the vote on Sept. 16.

According to guidelines posted by the city, those seeking the position had to turn in their applications by 3 pm Friday, August 28. “Once an application is filed with the City, all information contained therein (except for telephone number(s), email(s), and other personal contact information) becomes a public record.” The application form itself included a timeline saying a special City Council agenda would be posted “at the latest, Saturday August 29” (emphasis original) that would “include the applicants for consideration.”

But messages left with the city after 3 pm Friday seeking the names of the candidates went unanswered. Meantime Friday evening, the Council held a closed meeting to discuss negotiations over cost-of-living-adjustment concessions the city wants from its labor unions.

Saturday, Councilmember Richard Schneider told the South Pasadenan News that Council members were told six persons applied for the vacant seat, but one was not qualified for consideration. He said the Council was not given a list of the candidates.

Schneider also that because of the large number of applications, the city decided to hold its public interviews during a special meeting of the City Council on Sept. 9, rather than during the regular Sept. 2 city council meeting that Councilmember voted on Aug. 19.

City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe could not be reached Saturday.

Late Saturday afternoon, Mayor Robert Joe, who is up for reelection Nov. 3, said he too did not know who the District 2 vacancy candidates were. “I am not the person. I am one of four Council members. The information should come from the staff.” He said he had not spoken Saturday to anyone in the city about the list but agreed to work to have someone in the city respond.

By 8:00 pm Saturday, no word had come.

Meantime however, different information was being provided elsewhere. Stephen Rossi is one of the District 2 residents who have applied for the appointment. Rossi said he’d been in touch via email with Chief City Clerk Maria Ayala and asked her if the list of candidates would be published Aug. 29 as promised.

“No, sir,” Ayala replied at 3:49 PM Saturday. “The list of applicants will not be released until the agenda is posted. The list of applicants will be on the agenda.” She also affirmed that the final vote on the vacancy would take place Sept. 16.

 

Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle. He and his wife Karin, an arts administrator from El Sereno, live in South Pasadena.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Most striking about this article is that the District 1 incumbent and current Mayor BobJoe, said ““I am not the person. I am one of four Council members. The information should come from the staff.”

    “I am not the person”…..No sir, you are not the person to lead this city into the next four years.

    South Pasadena can not sustain another four years of your heedlessness.

    Please withdraw your candidacy.

  2. I have lived in District 2 since 1999. Since and before the City was reorganized into districts, this part of Meridian Avenue (between Monterey Road and Kendall Avenue) has been mostly abandoned by City staff and City Council until the last couple of months due in large part to the persistence of the residents. Now to further compound the neglect for this area, the City has changed its own guidelines and failed to disclose the applicants, and pushed the appointment even further into September. Please proceed with what was originally planned, and let us have full representation!

  3. May I be so crass as to ask, who made the decision to withhold a public record? Specifically, the names of the candidates for Council District 2.

    With all the negativity running amuck in our city, I’m doing my best to remain positive but this ineptitude is pushing me in a direction I do not wish to go.

  4. As a resident living in District No. 2 for over 12 years, I would like to know why the sudden changes to the protocols for selecting the interim city council member? Why has the City Council’s directives to City staff that were acted on at it’s previously scheduled meeting no longer applicable? These are such important times, I would like to know who the applicants are immediately. Why the secrecy? District No. 2 needs representation on the council. It is not fair to silence our voices. Please proceed with what was originally planned.