Claremont Insider: Get me rewrite!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Get me rewrite!

Our last note regarding Elderkin's handling of her conflict of interest on the PVPA land contained an observation that instead of getting a free consultation from the city attorney (using public resources for electioneering--a no, no), Elderkin had several other options to choose from. We pointed out that Elderkin really should have either consulted the Fair Political Practicies Commission hotline (a toll-free call) or hired her own attorney to get an opinion.

It occurred to us that during the anti-McHenry Preserve Claremont campaign of January 2005, McHenry was forced to hire a private attorney to defend her at a cost of several thousands of dollars. The charges stemmed from then-City Manager Southard's claim that McHenry had created a hostile work environment. Southard's allegations were never made public, and when it appeared that an actual investigation by an independent judge might ensue, Southard suddenly dropped the matter, and the council didn't pursue an investigation. Southard's and Preserve Claremont's bluff was called. In any event, McHenry did not have the luxury that Elderkin had to go to the city attorney for a consult. Double standard? You betcha.

A couple interesting sidenotes to the last link. First, the article quotes former councilmember Al Leiga as saying that McHenry micromanages and that the council-city manager relationship should be like that of a private company's board of directors to its CEO: the board sets policy, the CEO implements it. What Leiga ignored was the fact that in Claremont, the council had become so acquiescent and unanimous in its unquestioning support of Southard that it was really more like the Enron board of directors or the Tyco board of directors. Nearly every decision was 5-0, and no one questioned Southard's and his staff's assumptions. That was what led to things like the city's 1994 investment of over $5 million in the failed Orange County Investment Pool, or the infamous roundabout at Indian Hill Blvd. and Bonita Ave.

The Orange County investment is an example of Southardism in action. As the above link showed, it took six years and a great deal of litigation for the city to eventually recoup 100% of its investment, plus attorney fees. Southard trumpeted this as a great victory but failed to point out that the city lost out on whatever interest the city might have gained over six years if that same $5.3 million if it had been invested in a safer vehicle, bonds say. Instead of working for us, the money was held up in legal limbo.

The other aspect of this that is revealing is the Southardian revision of history. This happened after every crisis Southard created. It is happening again with Preserve Claremont. Rather than owning up to their actions in 2005, the same people are behind the Pedroza and Elderkin campaigns, and McHenry is remade into the cause of that crisis rather than the victim of it. Chicken Creek may be long gone from Claremont, but the River Lethe flows strong through the heart of town. Drink, Claremonsters, and forget....


The other ironic thing about the 2005 TSL article on Preserve Claremont is that Pedroza, who ran and lost in that election, seemed to be both defending McHenry and endorsing her value to the community:

"When you have someone calling the shots for 17 years, they get complacent,” explained Pedroza of Southard. “Jackie has brought an important element to the council when she forced the city to cross its t’s and dot its i’s. Did the city need to? Yeah, maybe in some cases.”
Sam, Sam, how soon we forget.


A voter writes:

I went to one of Sam Pedroza's 'Meet and Greet', because I wanted to get to know the guy better. I was somewhat appealed to his environmental credentials. But his introduction about his life story was given in a way that people almost fell asleep. Not much charisma there. Also what bothered me a lot more, is how much he talked about where and for whom he worked, but literally nothing about what he accomplished. And to me that is a bad sign for a future city council member. His answers to most of the questions were very general, almost to the point that he tried to figure out what people want to hear. Based on this impression I am not sure I can vote for him, because it seems he will be one of these 'bureaucrats', who will sift to paper after paper without ever coming to a decision.