Mayor Laurene Weste and the City Council gave exiting State Assemblyman Keith Richman a heartfelt thank you and a key to the city at last night’s city council meeting. Richman was hailed for his work on a number of important issues including: water quality, the city’s fight against Cemex and his help in securing Santa Clarita as an Enterprise zone. Richman has reached the term limits for his office and will be replaced by Cameron Smyth, who won the seat in last week’s election.
Here’s what else happened at last night’s Council meeting.
Bob Kellar took a moment to clarify a mixed message sent by the Daily News in an article that had been in the day’s paper. The article interviewed Bob Kellar about Richard Spierer, who may or may not apply for the council vacancy created by Cameron Smyth’s departure. Kellar had been asked specifically about no person other than Spierer and he answered questions on his character and qualifications. When the article came out, however, it was perceived by many to portray that the council was leaning towards only that candidate, which is not the case. Kellar said that he specifically told the reporter that the field of applicants is wide open. Kellar apologized for any awkwardness caused by the article.
Aside from Keith Richman, a member of his staff was also honored. Cathy Kennedy was hailed as being instrumental as a liaison between the city and Assemblyman Richman.
City employee Cruz Caldera was recognized by the council for acts they described to be nothing short of “heroic.” On November 6th, Caldera noticed that a trailer had broken loose from the truck that was towing it, and had become stranded on the train tracks. He stopped his vehicle, and immediately began to help re-connect the trailer. Before he could finish, however, the alarm sounded and the blockades started to come down. Hurriedly, Caldera hooked the trailer to the truck via a chain, and directed the truck and trailer out of harm’s way with thirty seconds to spare before the Metrolink train came across the intersection. It is unclear just how many lives he saved by getting the trailer off the track, but he is most certainly worthy of the title of hero.
Arts Advisory Update
The Arts Advisory committee gave a presentation of what they have accomplished since their inception, and what their future plans are. In the past, they have been responsible for trash can paintings, the Street Art Festival and extending resources for local artists.
A few community members commented on their disagreement in regards to $100,000 being spent by the city to move forward on preserving open space. City Manager Ken Pulskamp explained that half of the money was needed to pay for a property assessor, which is a legal requirement, and the other half would be spent on community education.
The council approved Phase 1 and 2 of the River Village development track plans. The deal will bring over 700 acres of land that will be designated to the city.
The council also approved an ordinance banning smoking in city parks. A previous state ruling had already made it a violation to smoke around playground equipment.
Councilman Smyth Replacement
A new plan for selecting Cameron Smyth’s replacement was proposed by Councilman Frank Ferry.
Two options were expected to be discussed, one of which being a special election and the other being council appointment of a person to fill in for the remainder of Smyth’s term which would last until April of 2008.
Public comments included calls for an election to avoid giving an appointee an unfair advantage in the next council elections, where the member could seek re-election. Comments for council appointment were mostly grounded in the belief that for such a short period of time, the estimated $175,000 cost of a special election would be unnecessary.
It had been publicized that Councilman Frank Ferry would like to have a special election, however his comments served up a surprising alternative. Ferry noted that should a special election take place, it would not be until June of 2007, leaving the council 1 member short until then. He also stressed that public inclusion in the process is absolutely necessary. So in his new plan, he proposed that the city open the application process to those who would like to fill the vacancy, and require that they garnered 25 residents’ signatures. After that, the applicants would be interviewed by 3 separate groups of citizen panels where they would be subject to a blind ranking. The top five ranked applicants would then be presented to the council, and enter a week long round of public debates and media coverage. After such time, the council would make a decision to appoint around January 2nd.
The alternative plan was a surprise to the council and the audience, but was mostly met with preliminary satisfaction.
Bob Kellar said he liked the idea, but would like to see if there was a way to streamline the process, as he believes that action needs to be taken quickly. Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean also liked the idea, but worried that the timeline would be too short. Mayor Laurene Weste was in favor of the idea, for she felt that Smyth’s replacement needed to happen as quickly as possible, but yet it still needed public involvement. She asked that they look into moving up the start date, so that the process could be finished before the holidays.
City Manager Ken Pulskamp agreed to open up the application process as soon as possible, but said that choosing the process should wait until after it is known how many applicants they will have. “You don’t have the same process for 15 applicants as you do when you have 40.”
The council agreed, and will discuss further action at their next meeting in two weeks.
KHTS AM 1220 News