PREVIEW UPDATE: City Special Meeting Wednesday | Council Discusses Filling Khubesrian Seat After Resignation

The meeting is scheduled for 7:29 pm, one minute prior to the Council’s regular public session on Wednesday night

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | South Pasadena City Council during a February 5, 2020 meeting


Council Meeting August 19th, 2020 Will Not be Available on Time Warner Cable Channel 19 and AT&T Channel 99. Due to technical issues with the audio visual equipment, the City of South Pasadena Council Meeting for August 19, 2020 will not be shown on the local cable networks of Time Warner channel 19 and AT&T channel 99. We are working with the cable channels to expedite the repairs.

This evening’s meeting will still be live streamed online using the link below, and archived.

- Advertisement -

The South Pasadena City Council will hold a special remote video meeting at 7:29 pm Wednesday, Aug 19 to decide how to go about filling the Council vacancy created by the resignation of District 2 Council Member Dr. Marina Khubesrian. It will also make appointments to the various commissions and boards Khubesrian was serving on, including the Council’s Police Reform and Caltrans Homes subcommittees.

The meeting will be followed by the regular city council meeting, where the topics will include a presentation by the city’s accounting firm on the status of the city’s long-overdue financial audit; a discussion on Meridian Ave. traffic calming efforts; and an update on the al fresco dining and retail pilot program.

Khubesrian announced her decision to resign Saturday, saying it would take effect 8 am Tuesday morning.

State code provides that when a vacancy occurs, the Council has 60 days to fill it, either by appointment or by calling a special election. If the latter, the election must be held no sooner than 114 days after the resignation. Since the District 2 seat is already set to be on the Nov. 3 ballot, a special election to fill the seat “is not available option,” according to a city staff report.

Neither state nor municipal code provide a method for filling a vacancy, the report continues. “The Council could determine to take applications from interested electors who reside in District 2 or choose some other method of appointment; however, there appears to be insufficient time to establish a procedure for appointment and also select an appointee” before the end of the 60-day deadline on October 16. “And an appointment made by October 16, 2020 would only permit the appointee to serve approximately a month and a half, until the newly elected Councilmember for District 2 is sworn in and takes office on December 2, 2020.”

Only one person, John “Jack” Donovan, completed the paperwork to run for District 2.

Staff offered two options. One is to take no action and simply leave the seat vacant until Donovan is sworn in Dec. 2.

The other is to have staff present for Council approval a procedure for the appointment, then take applications for the position, from which the Council would then select a finalist, a process that could take at least four more weeks.

It was unclear why the staff did not also present the option of simply appointing a replacement at Wednesday’s meeting.

The Council will also consider a resolution for replacing Khubesrian on the following boards and commissions (name of replacement in parentheses): Cultural Heritage Commission (Schneider); Natural Resources and Environmental Commission (Mahmud); Parks and Recreation Commission (Cacciotti); South Pasadena Tournament of Roses (Cacciotti); Arroyo Verdugo Communities JPA (Joe); San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District (Joe); and the following ad hoc committees: City Council and South Pasadena Unified School District (Mahmud);  Economic Development (Schneider); Mission-Meridian Village Subcommittee (Joe); Caltrans Homes Subcommittee (Joe); and Police Reform Subcommittee (Mahmud).

Lastly, in an allusion to the rhetorical tumult of the past few months and the admitted conduct of Dr. Khubesrian, the City Council will “review and reaffirm” its commitment to the Code of Ethics and Conduct it adopted only three months ago.

“Since its unanimous adoption,” according to a staff report, “the City has been subject to many disputes and contentious issues, including, but not limited to, expressed concerns about the process of developing the 2020/2021 budget, public criticism of management of operations, policing reform policy demands, housing development and land use concerns, litigation matters and, concerns about fairness and equality for all citizens.”

“Communications are most effective when expressed with respect and courtesy for the position and beliefs of others,” it states, citing a provision of the Code read Aug. 5 by Mayor Robert Joe: “The professional and personal conduct of members must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members shall refrain from abusive conduct or verbal attacks on the character of motives of other members of the Council, Boards and Commissions, the public and staff.”


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.