affront to the authority and process" of the city's selection of a new chief of police. City Councils should demonstrate not just a respect for the rule of law, but a regard for the United States Constitution. Along with their ongoing responsibility to represent the best interests of the public interest, city councils should report their decisions and the processes for making them to the very public which authorized them to do so in the first place.Bobkohas been in the heat of Hermosa Beach political controversies before. With the police (as well as the city firefighters), Bobko has been the focus of investigations, even though most of them were incidental, and the final outcome demonstrated that all of the political uproar was "much ado about nothing."
Two years ago, news reports questioned Bobko’s city residence, suggesting that he had no right to represent anyone in Hermosa Beach. Police were dropping off mail at his door, observing whether he actually lived in the city. Critics of this invasive practice suggest that they were intimidated a city leader who was willing to stand up to public sector unions. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office investigated the allegations, which have burned city council leaders before (Alarcon),yet the results revealed nothing against Bobko.
The LA County Grand Jury's report that Hermosa Beach faced $14 million in unpaid pension liabilities spurred Bobko's concern, and also public employee union leaders. Bobko has been taking his fight to reform city pensions to the public, more recently to Culver-City based alternative publication LA Weekly. Why does a city of 19,000 residents, which had only one murder in seven years and very few fires, compensate its public safety administrators with $200,000+ salaries, plus the accompanying generous pensions? Bobko has questioned these benefits, but the union leaders have threatened that diminished compensation would endanger the city.
Recently, Bobko issued an independent press release to the public regarding his concerns over the newly appointed chief of police. He signaled his support for another candidate, yet acknowledged that his opinion did not change the council's decision. Last year, Hermosa Beach public sector unions took their arguments to the public, issuing flyers about the risk of losing quality staff should pension reforms continue as planned. Bobko publishes his views on a city appointment, and he gets a scolding. Really?Still, Councilmembers Jeffrey Duclos, Howard Fishman, and Peter Tucker, along with a nudge from former councilmember George Schmeltzer, have moved for Bobko's censure because of his breach of city protocol. Instead of scolding Bobko, Hermosa Beach residents should rebuke those same city leaders who refuse to lead but instead choose to screed personal displeasures on the city council record while affronting the First Amendment.
Let's consider what city councils minus transparency can create:
Bell, California, whose City Manager redefined municipal corruption, collaborating with a police chief taking in a six-figure salary and generous pension because of claimed disability (even though he once ran a marathon). No doubt Bell residents would have preferred someone managing city affairs who cared more about the residents, who resisted six-figure salaries for public officials. Now retired and disgraced Robert Rizzo once confided in an email: "Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered," then proceeded to orchestrate one of the most flagrant fleecing of the public interest in Los Angeles County in decades. All but one member of the Bell city council was indicted for manifold corruption charges.Controversy and claims of misconduct have not been new to Hermosa Beach city leaders this past year. Former Treasure David Cohn was caught up in an embarrassing extortion scheme from a masseuse in (what a coincidence) Bell, California. She possessed the former Treasurer's Ipad containing confidential city information. Any censures released against the Treasurer? None. The Daily Breeze took three councilmembers to task for their inaction, the same members who are moving to censure Bobko. The mayor wants to make public to the public his concerns about the appointment of the city’s chief public safety officer. And he gets censured. Confused?
Certainly the residents of Hermosa Beach should know the selection process behind their new police chief, and they would like to know that the process was so flawed, that the previous potential appointee had black marks on his record. They might also want to know why Duclos, Tucker, and Fishman are picking their battles so arbitrarily. . .
Instead of castigating a mayor for informing the voters about their processes of hiring, Hermosa Beach residents should applaud that the city executive refuses to cave into political games and goes out of his way to make known the goings-on of their beautiful beach city.
If a cat interrupting a city council meeting deserved any press, then mayor Bobko was not out of line sharing his thoughts about his preferred candidate. Would that more city leaders were leading the fight to inform their residents about city government, rather than censuring such disclosures.